Nutella Cheeseball

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy Gimme Some Oven’s blog.  Before Christmas, she wrote about a Nutella Cheeseball she made.  I don’t know if anything in the world sounds more wonderful than Nutella and cheeseball. Aside from the fact that it is deliciously wondrous, it’s super easy to make. And everyone thinks you’re amazing when you take it to a Christmas (or any other type of) party.

I didn’t have time to shop for other treats to put with the cheeseball, but in addition to pretzels, I think those teddy bear crackers (I have no idea what they’re called) or graham crackers would be good with is.  Or peanut butter cookies!  I’m sure there are many other wonderful things you could dip in it as well.

If you’d like to make a Nutella cheeseball to take to your New Year’s Eve party tonight, head on over to Gimme Some Oven for the recipe.

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Pan Seared Lamb Chops with Balsamic Glaze

I love lamb.  It’s one of my favorite things, and if we are at a restaurant that serves it, I need to get it.  But I don’t really know how to cook it.  And I haven’t really taken the time to research it, either, which isn’t very smart since I keep buying it.  For instance, before Christmas, Mr. K and I were at Costco and they had a beautiful package of lamb chops.  They were so pretty, I couldn’t resist and we bought them to make for dinner that very night.  When it came time to cook dinner, I quickly googled some recipes and came up with one that seemed pretty good.  But I also rarely follow recipes when it comes to cooking (not baking), so I tweaked it according to what I had on hand and what I felt like doing.  And we were very happy with the results (though they maybe could have been cooked just a couple minutes longer).

To make these yummy lamb chops, sprinkle salt and pepper on your chops.  Toss some olive oil in your pan and heat it up.  Then place your chops in the pan and sear. I also sprinkled some dried rosemary over my chops (I never have fresh rosemary, though I always wish I did).  I think I covered the pan for a bit, then turned over the chops when they had nice coloring.  When they were cooked through (145 degrees for md. rare), I transferred them to a plate and poured balsamic vinegar in my pan. I deglazed the pan and let the vinegar reduce a bit, then spooned it over my chops.  Wha-la!  I think it took all of about 20 minutes from start to finish to make this meal.

Disclaimer: I wasn’t originally trying to be all fancy-pantsy with the above photo–I actually dripped the sauce on the plate by accident. Then I decided to drop some more so Mr. Kay would have a pretty plate.

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Flame Broiled Yams

Here’s a little lesson.  If you have one of those frustrating stoves where the broiler is on the bottom (you know the kind–where you have to get down on your hands and knees to make your garlic bread…who decided that was a good idea?) and the broiler pan in there, it is best not to put a deep dish topped with marshmallows under the flame.  Because it will catch on fire, and you could possibly end up in a somewhat dangerous situation.  Especially if you keep a dishtowel hanging on the oven door handle. My dish was under the broiler for literally 30 seconds and was going up in the flames as I pulled it out.  I am happy to report that under pressure, I do remember where the fire extinguisher is stored.

On a positive note, the dish did have a very nice smokey/campfire feel to it.  Aren’t marshmallows better when they’re burned anyway? If you decide to burn your marshmallows, please be sure to exercise extreme caution.

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Post Christmas Shopping Deals

I kinda like day-after-Christmas shopping.  It seems so much better than Black Friday shopping.  There’s lots less pressure to find stuff and the sales are tons better.  So this year, my mother-in-law and I decided we should go take advantage of all the deals out there.  On this year’s list: wrapping paper and new stockings for Baby K and our visiting family, because the Dollar Store ones we’ve been using are falling apart and aren’t big enough to hold all our Christmas treats.

We started off at one of my favorites stores, Target.  I had very high hopes for Target because I seemed to remember seeing wrapping stuff I really liked a few weeks ago.  But I’m sad to say, I was a little disappointed in Target this year.  Primarily because of their wrapping paper.  Even their “Premium” paper didn’t seem as thick as it was last year, though maybe it was.  I don’t know. All I know is that I can’t stand chintzy wrapping paper.  It always rips and that really bothers me.  Plus, it’s hard to cut nicely.  Anyway, all their premium wrap was $5 for 25 sq feet (unless it had glitter, in which case, there were only 20 sq ft) and 50% off.  After much deliberation, I decided to pass on the wrapping paper because I know it will all be 75% off in another day or two and I just didn’t love anything.  I did find a cute stocking and a couple bags. And my MIL made out like a bandit with holiday paper plates and napkins.

After Target we went home to feed the baby. And ourselves.  Then we decided we needed to look for more sales, so we got all the men and drug them to the mall with us.  And that is where I hit the jackpot.

First stop, Pottery Barn.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree: $14.69 (my friend got one on clearance last year and I felt like I needed one too)

Faux snow to fill my apothecary (which I still cannot pronounce) jars: $4.99

SUPERFIND!!! Beaded snowflake stocking (without Isabella’s name): normally $40, on sale for $15.59!!

Needless to say, I was thrilled with my purchases, especially the stocking!

After PB, we went to Hallmark to look for wrapping for paper.  I love Hallmark wrapping paper–it’s thick, it’s cute and it has grid lines on the back so you can cut straight.  I love cutting straight lines. Anyway, their sale was SO much better than Target’s.  Their rolls of premium wrap were all 40 sq feet but were also $4.99 and on sale for 50% off.  The truly amazing part though….it was buy one 1/2 off, get one for $0.99!  So I ended up with 6 rolls of wrapping paper (240 sq ft) for just over $11.  It seriously made my whole day.

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Homemade Baby Food: Pears

Before Christmas, I spent a day preparing baby food to get Baby K through the next couple weeks.  We ended up with one of new Baby’s favorites…….pears!  Oh my, how he loves them!

I used a recipe from Cooking for Baby, a beautifully illustrated book my sweet sister-in-law gave me. As with all other baby food I’ve made, it was super simple and very affordable–a 4 oz. jar of fancy-pants stuff is $0.89; I believe I spent less than $3.00 on my pears and ended up with over a pound of pear puree.  The exact amount cannot be known, as Mr. K kept snatching bites of pear throughout the entire cooking process.

To make pear puree, you need pears. Obviously.

Core and quater, but do not peel (more on this later).

Put pears in a steamer basket, set in a pot of boiling water, cover tightly and steam until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 7-10 minutes depending on ripeness.  My observations: it took a lot longer for most of my pears to cook, so they must not have been very ripe.  When the pears are fully cooked, they almost look translucent–think potatoes that have been boiled and are ready to mash.

Allow to cool.

Remove skins. I don’t know what I think about having this step so far down in the process.  Maybe the final product has more nutritional value or something if the skins are left on?  As I was cutting all my pears, I wondered if I would regret not peeling before cutting.  For the pears that were thoroughly and completely cooked through, the skins slid right off.  But for many of them, I ended up cutting off the skins with a knife.  Next time, I will probably peel before cutting and cooking.

Puree to a consistency of Baby’s liking.

Feed to your very tired baby. Who also has butternut squash puree between his fingers.

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