Christmas Sweets

Rolled Chestnut Cream Cake

We made multiple desserts for our Christmas feast with our dear friends Steff & Ken, since Ryan couldn’t decide which of these two cakes he wanted to make (I know, it’s a hard life we live when we MUST make 3 desserts instead of 1…don’t you feel sorry for us? Ha!) & I wanted to make Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Morning Muffins again. Since Steff has a gluten allergy, we made everything with gluten-free all purpose baking flour & everything looks delicious; we can’t wait for dinner & dessert tonight so that we can enjoy it all! Here are the Christmas sweets we’ll be bringing along: Spice Cake with Golden Raisins, Rolled Chestnut Cream Cake, & Christmas Morning Muffins. Merry Christmas!

Rolled Chestnut Cream Cake

Spice Cake with Golden Raisins

Spice Cake with Golden Raisins1

Christmas Morning Muffins

Christmas Morning Muffins

by Valerie | 12.25.10 | Holidaze, Recipes | No Comments »

Merry Christmas to all…

Val Santa

and to all a good night!

Val Santa

by Valerie | 12.24.10 | Around our home, Holidaze, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Christmas Past

Talbott Family Christmas 1958

Hold your loved ones close, share joy, laughter, & love this holiday & remember all the wonderful memories from long ago.







Molloy Family Photos




by Valerie | 12.24.10 | Holidaze | No Comments »

Secret Santa

Ryan Santa

We had a get together with friends for a Secret Santa party & a great time was had by all! We enjoyed Christmas music, lots of delicious appetizers, a gift exchange, a fireplace screen-saver on the TV (since, unfortunately, we don’t have a real fireplace), & wonderful company & conversation. Ryan got a ukulele from his Secret Santa & I got a beautiful scarf & broach from mine. Merry Christmas!


Petit Fours


by Valerie | 12.22.10 | Around our home, For Funsies, Holidaze | 2 Comments »

Slightly Asian inspired Falafel and Hummus

I’ve been wanting to make falafel for some time now and I guess somehow watching Top Chef All Stars inspired me to try something different with it. And though this doesn’t deviate too far from traditional Mediterranean cuisine it does have a tidbit of Asian inspiration. So here it goes:

Tumeric Falafel


  • 2 cans of chick peas (again you can soak yours overnight)
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • fresh parsley finely chopped (about a cup of the leaves before chopping)
  • fresh cilantro finely chopped (about a cup of the leaves before chopping)
  • 1+ teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of tumeric
  • 4-5 tablespoons of flour + some extra for dredging, about 1/2 a cup or so (I used gluten-free all biscuit and baking flour, since a friend of mine cannot have gluten)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne (and some extra to add for dredging)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt for the mixture (I used kosher salt for this)
  • 1+ tablespoon of pepper for the mixture (I actually use 4 peppercorn blend and some butcher’s pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • additional salt and pepper for taste/finishing (the 4 peppercorn blend for pepper and a flower infused sea salt blend)
  • lemon peel or zest for dredging
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying (you’ll want your pan about 1″ deep)

In a food processor mince/chop the chick peas into tiny bits, you don’t want them pureed just well mashed. Transfer the chick peas to a bowl add all of the ingredients with the exception of those that will be used for dredging and the flour. Mix those ingredients well with hands or a fork. Add in some of the flour about a tablespoon at a time and mash the mixture around, it should start to get to a doughy consistency to where you can make the falafel balls with your hands. On the side set some flour on a plate or bowl, mix in the additional cayenne and lemon peel/zest. Form into balls, by squishing the mixture in the palm of your hand, about 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter, dredge in the flour mixture, set aside. It should make about 12 balls.

In a pot or frying pan heat the oil up. I don’t have an oil thermometer so I cannot tell you how hot it should be; I think these things are supposed to be at about 345-375. I usually heat the oil up over medium heat and make a small, tiny ball of the mixture and add it to the oil. When it starts sizzling and floating at the top, it is my indication the oil is hot enough to fry in. Also if your ball falls apart it is a good indication to add more flour to the balls. Add in small batches 4 balls at a time and cook for a few minutes each side, about 3-5 minutes total or until light brown, flip only once. Remove from the oil, salt and pepper for additional taste. The Flower Power Sea Salt blend I use adds nice sweet floral finishes to it. Put it all in a pita with some parsley and some of the hummus below and enjoy.

Curry-Peanut Butter Hummus


  • 1 can of chickpeas (you can always use dried ones, I just didn’t have time to soak overnight)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of peanut butter (I use my favorite: Cream-Nut)
  • juice of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons
  • zest of 1 of those lemons
  • 3-4 small garlic cloves (or 2-3 large ones)
  • 1 teaspoon or a tidbit more of cayenne (I like things spicy)
  • 1+ teaspoon of hot curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of molasses
  • salt

This recipe is pretty simple, put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. I only initially put the juice of 1 lemon and then to make it a bit smoother in texture added in the juice of the additional half of a lemon. You can also add in some water or oil of your choice to get it to the texture you want. One thing I recommend is to add the salt in at the end, depending on the peanut butter you choose to use it will likely add some salt content to the dish, you don’t want to over salt but it will need salt so add it in after you blend the other ingredients. Also feel free to cut back on the spices; I like things to have a nice heat, the heat in this dish is subtle yet builds on your tongue after a while.

Falafel Sandwich

by Ryan | 12.21.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

Where the mummers are

Holiday Nights

We enjoyed a wonderful night at Greenfield Village Holiday Nights on Sunday; for Christmas they have special evening openings on select dates for their Holiday Nights & it is quite an experience! Included were the usual historically dressed characters (dressed for the holidays of course), as well as ice skating, carriage & model T rides, carousel rides, bonfires, hot cocoa & hot cider, lantern-lit paths in the snow, roasted chestnuts, & fireworks & caroling at the end of the night. And there were also mummers about in fantastic costumes which were quite entertaining to watch. If we weren’t already in the Christmas spirit, we are now!

Holiday Nights

Holiday Nights

by Valerie | 12.21.10 | For Funsies, Holidaze | No Comments »

Kiss kiss

Mistletoe Ornament

I picked up this adorable clear glass bulb ornament filled with real mistletoe from Pot & Box; Lisa has done it again with a creative, fun, & beautiful way to brighten up our home & our holiday decor – kiss kiss!

Mistletoe Ornament

by Valerie | 12.19.10 | Around our home, Holidaze | No Comments »



We had a small get together with friends at our place this week &, after watching an episode of Martha Stewart, I was inspired to create a beautiful antipasto platter to share with our guests for the party. I was pleased when I put it all together & it looked fantastic; everyone, including me, seemed to enjoy it so it must have tasted fantastic too! You can find Martha’s directions for an antipasto platter here, but I deviated a little. My antipasto platter had mixed olives (kalamata & green with herbs & spices), prosciutto, sopressata salami, red grapes, peppercorn goat cheese, a delicious aged cheddar & aged gouda, peppadew peppers, & baby sour gherkins; I started with radicchio leaves as a base (thanks for the inspiration, Martha!) & used them as little bowls to separate & hold each of my antipasto platter ingredients.


by Valerie | 12.19.10 | Recipes | No Comments »

Hats off to you

Monster hat

In between the last of our Christmas shopping today, we had fun trying on lots of fun hats today at Sam’s Clothing in Ann Arbor; I was partial to the monster hat myself, although the sock monkey hat did have a certain charm to it!

Penguin hat

Sock monkey hat

Spiderman ski mask

by Valerie | 12.18.10 | For Funsies | No Comments »

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

We had our first big snow of the season yesterday & everything was covered in a blanket of fresh fallen snow – it definitely made it look like a winter wonderland &, from inside the house, it looked like a living snow globe outside. We took a couple walks in the snow, despite the wind & cold, & enjoyed some time out in the winter weather; Melody seemed to enjoy it too!

Melody in the snow

Winter Wonderland

And here’s a closeup of my hat covered in melted snow & with a mistletoe sprig pinned to the side.

Mistletoe & Snow Hat

by Valerie | 12.13.10 | Around our home | 1 Comment »

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