Category Archives: Holiday

Local Box Super Bowl Menu

I saved a bunch of great produce from my Local Box Delivery to make a feast for the big game tomorrow. I don’t particularly care who wins the football game, but I do feel very strongly about watching all the commercials. I’ll probably knock out most of the cooking for this early tomorrow afternoon so that I’ll have plenty of time to catch the commercials in all their glory starting during the pre-game show. Here’s what’s on the menu:

I’m using the avocados and cilantro to make my own version of Bob Armstrong Dip: a bowl of queso topped with a scoop of venison taco meat, guacamole, and sour cream.  We’re eating this with El Milagro tortilla chips, some of my favorites made right here in Austin.

I’m using the sweet potatoes and the rest of the cilantro to make Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Creamy Cilantro Dip.  The gorgeous tuscan (dinosaur) kale will bake up nicely into Kale Chips with sea salt and cumin.  I’ve been wanting to try to make “hippy chips,” as those are called, since I saw Addie Broyles write about them in the Statesman last week.

I’ll use the beets from Naeglin farm to make Beet hummus with pita chips. My husband and I had some beet hummus at the San Diego farmer’s market when we were in California over the Christmas break; I’ve been wanting to make it myself for quite a while now, and I’m excited to finally get a crack at it.

I’m saving all our gorgeous oranges, tangerines an grapefruits from G&S Groves to make cocktails.  These recipes for salty chihuahuas, shandies, and ruby champagne cocktails are all in contention; however my brother in-law has official bartender duty, so it will be up to him to dole out the drinks. Happy cooking tomorrow, and cheers to great commercial breaks!

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating out of the Local Box.”

A Bookish Baby Shower


Last weekend my mom and I co-hosted a book-themed baby shower for my sister Beth. The party was a big hit, and I had a blast putting together the menu: dishes based on foods from popular children’s books.  We carried the book theme through other aspects of the party, too, by writing a nursery rhyme-themed game for everyone to play, and by asking folks to bring Beth a copy of their favorite children’s book instead of a greeting card. We were amazed that with about 15 guests at the party, there were no duplicate books.  Everyone has a different favorite baby book!

Here’s the menu I prepared for the party, along with the books that inspired each dish.  Many thanks to my twitter friends for helping me to brainstorm the book-menu pairings in the weeks leading up to the party!

  • Plain Water and Fancy Pink Lemonade, inspired by Olivia’s Opposites by Ian Falconer.  “Plain” and “fancy” are one pair of opposites featured in the book, so we set out a pitcher of raspberry lemonade and another of plain tap water.
  • Spinach Deviled Eggs with Bacon, inspired by Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  I mixed some spinach and bacon in with the traditional deviled egg seasonings for this dish, and topped the finished eggs with bacon.
  • Bacon Wrapped Dates, inspired by Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Amelia Bedelia tries to make a date cake in this story, using “literal dates” by cutting a calendar into the cake batter.  We used fruit dates– not calendar dates– for this easy appetizer.
    Bacon Wrapped Dates
  • Apple Rosemary Pizza with Brie, inspired by Ten Apples Up on Top! by Dr. Seuss.

  • Peter Rabbit’s Garden Vegetables with Spicy Radish Dip, inspired by The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I used French Breakfast radishes to make the dip, so it turned out pale pink.

  • Assorted Cheeses & Crackers, inspired by Anatole by Eve Titus. This book is less well known than others on this list, but it’s a wonderful story about high quality  cheeses with French phrases sprinkled throughout.
  • Yucky Hot Sauce & Tortilla Chips inspired by Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli.  This hilarious book teaches toddlers what not to put in their mouths, and it describes hot sauce as “yucky.” We served Kelli Jo’s delicious salsa straight from the farmer’s market, along with Gardener’s Feast Tortilla chips.
  • Jam Tarts, inspired by Jamberry by Bruce Degen. Filled with raspberry jam, of course.
  • Butter Bars with Coffee Frosting, inspired by The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. These crunchy shortbread cookies with coffee frosting, from my mom’s recipe, are Beth’s favorite holiday treats. We make them every year together.
  • Mini Cherry Pies, inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My aunt makes sweet cherry jam from the cherry trees in her backyard in Iowa; I filled these mini pies with a jar of her famous jam.
  • Fancy Nancy’s Delectable Cupcakes, inspired by Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes by Jane O’Connor. I outsourced these and purchased a few dozen cupcakes from Hill Country Cupcakes. They were great!

I’m planning to blog separately the individual recipes, several of which are gluten & dairy free and which feature locally sourced ingredients.

Thanksgiving 2010 Recap

There is so much to be thankful for this year.  A new husband, a happy home, more blessings than I can count.  Rami’s and my first Thanksgiving as a family was magical.  We shared a wonderful meal here at home with our friends the Russells before heading over to the Pittel’s home for dinner number two.  Around both tables we shared hours of conversation and laughter with good friends. The joy and love I felt was utterly humbling.

Food, of course, played a huge part in making yesterday great.  Cooking with local, sustainably produced ingredients made the meal delicious and guilt-free.  At last count, the ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner came from ten different local growers! I am so thankful that Austin has fresh, delicious food so readily available.  Of course, I hope eating local will become a tradition in our home, no matter where are eating.

And although my family was scattered far and wide across the country yesterday, I did think of them fondly when I made mashed potatoes with my dad’s recipe. (Dad, I added extra real butter, just like you taught me, and mashed them right in the pot like you always do.) I also exerted some culinary independence by including a cheese plate, squash kugel, creamed kale, and vodka flips on my menu. Those items had never appeared on childhood Thanksgiving tables, and they helped make this year’s holiday my own.

Speaking of independence, roasting the Thanksgiving turkey for the first time was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Holiday turkey roasting is an activity that in my book means you are a Real Grown Up, kind of like buying a house, or getting married.  Now that it’s over, I realize I may have approached this task with more gravitas than was really necessary. For example, I cried and gnashed my teeth Wednesday night when I couldn’t find the giblets in the turkey. I tried and tried to find them to pull them out, but I couldn’t even fit my hand in the cavity! Not to mention my turkey felt like a big popsicle. After a quick YouTube tutorial I realized I had been digging around inside the neck cavity of the bird, and that my turkey was still frozen! Disaster averted, I let the turkey thaw overnight and the giblets were recovered just fine Thanksgiving morning.  I felt like Superwoman a few hours later when I pulled a big, golden roasted bird (sans giblets!) out of the oven.

Today I’m basking in the Thanksgiving afterglow, and feeling a little sad that the big dinners are over.  We’ve already polished off the leftover deviled eggs and the stuffing’s nearly gone.  The endless possibilities for my nine pounds of leftover turkey meat seem exciting now, but I’m sure by the end of next week I’ll be sick of cooking with it. Which is natural, I guess.

Hopefully the emotional glow of the holiday will fade less quickly than our leftovers. Gratitude and love, like turkey giblets, can be hard to find.

Thanksgiving Update!

Things are moving right along for Thanksgiving this year. I was pretty overwhelmed yesterday, so I revisited the Thanksgiving menu I made earlier this month and made some changes. The produce on the menu is still locally-sourced, and I’m making everything from scratch.  However, this simplified version of the menu cuts a few dishes I prepared last week and for earlier potluck meals– no repeats this way. I also added a few items to make a first course on Thursday: a cheese plate and deviled eggs.  Lynne Rossetto Kasper mentioned both of these things on “The Splendid Table” this weekend and now I can’t get them out of my head.

Thursday Meal
Cheese Plate with Homemade Wheat Crackers, Plum Black Pepper Jam &
Chili Lime Roasted Squash Seeds
Deviled Eggs
Roasted Turkey
Gravy
Apple Sausage Stuffing
Butternut Squash Kugel with Sage Chiffonade
Buttery Mashed Turnips & Potatoes
Creamed Kale
Home-infused Pumpkin Vodka Flip
Ricotta Creme Brulee (Asti’s recipe, made by Nathan & Amy!!)

Thursday Night Potluck
Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
Vegan Apple Crisp
Crudite with Daikon Radish Dip (if I have time. No promises.)