Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year, we are off to Portland!

We are off to Portland in the morning for the holiday and I cant wait to be ringing in the New Year with my family! I love Portland so much and I'm ready for a weekend away in my favorite city! I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Decemberists

Sitting in the office with my husband talking and listening to The Decemberists.  Brad and I fell in love with The Decemberists on a rainy road trip to Portland, since then they always remind me of Oregon, cold rain, and fall leaves.  I think every couple has a soundtrack to their love story.  The Decemberists is on ours.  Listening to them feels like what it feels like to fall in love, well to me anyways.  We leave on Thursday for Portland and I couldn't be more excited!  Part of my heart is always there, I fell in love in Oregon, I got married there, and some of my best memories are there.  Thank you Decemberists for giving us our excitement tonight for our trip and for being part of our soundtrack.

Might I also mention my darling husband surprised me with tickets to there show in February!!! Cant wait for their new album in January, until then I will have to settle with these teasers.  

Christmas, Christmas time is here!

After feeling like I had all the time in the world till Christmas, like always it snuck up on me and came and went in a flash. I laugh so much when I hear that song about "wishing Christmas was every day", I dont think any of us could handle it.  We had the best 2 days at my parents house eating, drinking, and enjoying each other with non stop christmas music as our sound track.  As always my parents went out of control to spoil all us kids.  I feel so blessed to have such wonderful and generous parents!! It is always so fun to see what we get each other, I think we all did really good this year!!  I surprised  Brad with tickets to Portland for New Years and I am soo excited to get to see my other family for the holiday!!  We leave on Thursday and I cant wait!  We had such an amazing Christmas this year and feel soo blessed and thankful for so much!  Hope you all had an amazing holiday and I wish you all the love and joy into the New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ina Gartens Cheese Danish

Christmas Morning I made Ina Gartens Cheese Danish recipe.  They were easy and tasted better than any store bought danish I had ever had, and with coffee they were perfect!  I think next time I might try them with a little raspberry jam inside also.  Cant wait to make them again on a rainy sunday morning.  Heres the recipe bellow, you have to try them!


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!
Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

My Christmas treats!

Our first christmas after we were married I wanted to start traditions with our new family that we would carry with us for years to come.  Being broke after the wedding and our 2 week honeymoon in Greece I decided to hand make everyones Christmas presents that year.  That first year I made 2 kinds of jam, and fudge.  Everyone loved it and I loved doing it even more.  Each year I have changed a little bit on what I am making and its fun to try out new ideas. This year I did Gingerbread Scone mix jars, Tomato Ginger Jam (which I have made every year cause it is a hit!), Plain and Rocky Road Sweet Dreams Fudge, Penny's Peanut Butter Dog Treats, and Cinnamon Ornaments.  I really love the personalization of a hand made gift, and I cant imagine this time of year with out every spare moment spent making treats for my family and friends!
Ginger Bread Scone Mix

Rocky Road and Plain Sweet Dreams Fudge

Penny's Peanut Butter Dog Treats

Tomato Ginger Jam

Christmas to me!

There is nothing that tugs at my heart strings more this time of year than this scene from Charlie Brown Christmas!

Ugly Sweater on a Boat Parade Christmas Party!

The weekend before Christmas we went to the 1st annual Ugly Sweater on a Boat Parade Christmas Party! Cocktails, good food, good friends, and Christmas lights on a boat, it was an amazing night!

Dad's Birthday and Gingerbread Houses

On the 18th we celebrated my AMAZING Dad's birthday!! Tri Tip, Greek rice, and cauliflower  mash and it was so good!! I made yellow cake with chocolate frosting (Dad's favorite) for dessert.  We then spent the rest of the night making gingerbread houses, of course mine came out the best :)!  Dad I hope you had a wonderful birthday, we love you soo much and don't know what we would do without you!

New York I love you!

At the beginning of December Mom and I headed back to NY for a long weekend.  We had such a great time around the city!  There is something about NY that just captures you, especially during the holiday season.  Mom and I got lucky the weather was perfection our whole visit.  Heres a few pictures from our trip...
We spent our first morning walking about Central Park.  The weather was perfect and there were still leaves on the trees.

Chelsea Market for lunch.  I love it there soo much! I wish I lived around the corner and could shop there all the time.  We had to stop at The Lobster Place for lunch and get lobster rolls and clam chowder! It was soo yummy, I could eat just that every day!

Rockefeller Center to see the beautiful tree!  It was gorgeous as always! Then over to Radio City to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, it was fantastic and put us in the Christmas spirit!

After the show we walked down 5th Ave to see all the shops decorated for the holiday.  The windows and the lights were so beautiful!  We walked all the way down to the famous Serendipity and had dessert for dinner.  Mom and I had such a fun time talking over ice cream and coffees!

The Christmas House.  While up at my brothers he took us to see a house that is right around the corner from him.  I have never in my life seen anything like this.  There were soooo many lights that were synchronized to Christmas music.  We kept lapping around to look at it again and again! 

All and all we had an amazing time, shopping, eating, and getting into the Christmas spirit.  We left just in time as the weather took quite a chilly turn several days after we left.  New York I love you and can't wait to come and see you again!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold cozy days

Today is cold and grey and there is nothing that I want to do more on days like this than cuddle on the couch with a cup of tea and my dog and watch movies all day!

I admit it, I'm a chapstick addict!

Yes I admit it, I am that person who at any given moment has to have chapstick on my lips.  I drive my husband crazy with it but he should be happy I have such soft kissable lips!  In my life as an addict I think I have tried every kind of lips out there and never really got hooked on just one brand.  That is until I found Terra Firma Botanicals.  Last year at the Oregon Country Fair my sister and I found their booth in a tucked away little corner.  I was suffering from exhaustion and heat stroke (not really, it was a 100' though and it was intense) and as my sister checked out all of their things I took a minute to relax and didn't give them a second thought.  That is until I tried her chapstick..... At this point we had walked so far from Terra Firma's booth there was no way we were going to find it again.  It hands down was the smoothest, non sticky, yummy tasting chapstick I had ever found in my life!  That night as we looked over all of our purchases from the day I still had such regret that I didn't buy that damn chapstick! Luckily they had their web site on the tube and thanks to my handy dandy IPhone I ordered one that night.  By the time I got home from Oregon it was at my house and I was ruined (in a good way) forever.  All of their things are wonderful, local, and certified organic!  My favorites are their Love Oil Lip Balm and the Tangerine Lipps.  I also use and love their Rosemary Hair oil and it smells sooo good!  Check out their site and if you are an addict like me, take my word for it, you will love their lip balms!

Black Swan

I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am to see this movie! I really hope I get the time this weekend to go see it, until then I will just keep watching the trailer!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All I want for Christmas is you!

Good Morning!!! As I get ready for a day of Christmas errands and Jam making I thought I would take a moment and share my hands down favorite Christmas song! My heart is soo full this time of year with twinkly lights, yummy smells, family, friends, and Christmas music.  Hope this one starts your day off right!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Small Batch

My friend Michael and his brother have an amazing raw pet food business based out of San Fran.  I have always made Penny's food and made an effort towards her nutrition, i'm determined to make her live to be an old lady with me.  Small Batch is all local and natural, all meat is human grade from animals not treated with hormones, and all fruits and vegetables are certified organic, and its all RAW.  I started feeding Penny  the Chicken Batch last month and my picky little eater hasn't missed a meal since.  I have to say I don't miss the 30min a week I spent making Penny's food and I love nothing more than supporting a friends business.  Check them out and buy their stuff, its awesome!

Pier One

Thank you Pier One for your amazing holiday oil diffusers.  I love walking in the door to these smells.  Jingling, and Gingerbread are my favorites and I will be sad when I have to take them down.  

Cheesecake cookie squares

Every year when I was little and still lived in Massachusetts we would go to my Grandma's house to celebrate Christmas with the whole McGrath side of my family! It was a huge pot luck and everyone brought the most delicious food and treats.  My personal favorite as a kid was my Auntie Mary's cheesecake cookie squares.  I remember hiding behind my Grandmas chair and sneaking one after another cause they were soooo good.  I brought them to a holiday party we went to on Saturday and as usual they were a hit.  Just had to share the recipe and a few pictures, hope you enjoy!

2 Rolls of Chocolate chip cookie dough
2 pkgs cream cheese
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Cut cookie dough into 1/4" slices and place in bottom of a 13/9 " greased pan.  Mix cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamed.  Pour over cookie dough in pan.  Slice second roll of dough into 1/4" slices and place on top of cream cheese mixture.  Bake at 350' for 40 minutes.  Let cool completely and refrigerate till chilled!

I made dog treats and it was easy!

Every year for Christmas I make goodies to give to our family and friends.  This year I decided to make treats for our doggie friends and they turned out soo cute and were easy to make!  I made peanut butter hearts and used Penny as my taster.  I think she loved them, she had about 10! Now just to find a cute way to package my treats, hope the Dogs love them!

NeNe's Tree

I love my Nene's old Christmas tree, it always reminds me of her and how much she loved all of us to be together during the holiday. So glad I have it now and I light it every Christmas in her honor and memory. I miss you Nene and hope you have a wonderful Christmas in Heaven!

Shelley Kyle

A few years ago in a small boutique in New York I found Shelley Kyle and fell in love!  She has the yummiest collection of perfumes, lotions, soaps and other girley goodies.  My personal favorite is her Signature Sent Shelley Kyle, it smells like lemons, freesia, and violet leaves.  Check out her site at

A Holiday Must!

With all this holiday baking I don't know what I would do without my Silpats! Perfect for every baking need and a must for every kitchen!


Just got back from NY earlier in the week and have been super busy trying to catch up to life, work, and Christmas.  Sooo much to blog about and I promise I will catch up at some point in the next couple days.  Until then I will leave you with this, not at all related to Christmas or my going ons but I really love this song right now!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lacy Oatmeal Cookies

Tonight we are going over to our friends for dinner and I made the yummiest cookies.  I've had this cookbook forever and it has the best cookie recipes in it.  The Lacy Oatmeal are one of my favorites! They are buttery and crispy, great on there own with coffee or tea but I like them best with ice cream! Tonight I will be serving them over Mango Sorbet.  Courtney is making Yellow Curry and I thought it would be a nice finish.  Here's the recipe below....


1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325'.  Cover baking sheets with foil and coat with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, salt and baking powder: mix well and set aside.  In large both, combine sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium until you have a grainy paste.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add flour mixture and mix till just combined.  Drop the dough by teaspoonful 2 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Let cool, then peel the cookies from foil with your fingers.  Be sure to respray cookie sheets between batches.

I find you have to watch them in the last few minutes depending on how you like them, either soft in the middle or crispy.  Perfect for Holiday cookie parties or just because, hope you enjoy!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Just ordered 3 of these, can't wait till I get them!! Hands down the most delicious Holiday smell ever!

Roger's Gardens

 The last couple of years on Black friday Mom and I have gone to Roger's Gardens to look at all their beautiful Christmas decorations.  I love walking around the gardens at dusk and seeing all their beautiful Christmas trees and lights.  Cant wait to start decorating! Here's a few pictures from our day.

Love their beautiful trees
I want this chair, actually I'll take the whole room

Christmas wonderland

The beautiful sunset as we left

Turkey Day!

 This has been an incredible year for us, not only for the good but also the bad! I feel so blessed to have an amazing husband to stand by my side through everything, an adorable doggy that makes me laugh everyday, a loving family that is so supportive, my health, food on our table and a roof over our heads (actually we have an old Persian lady over our heads, but over her head then).  We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Dana Point and had a fun filling day!
Dad carving up his masterpiece

Mom's Tablescape
Wine of course

Setting the table

After dinner we all relaxed on the couch in front of the fire and watched Christmas movies.

My desserts, Pecan pie and Apple dumplings
And one of the best part of Thanksgiving, the leftovers!

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, hope you all did too! Now I can't wait for Christmas!

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