Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Got an Extra Buck? Support a Traveler's 2010 Photo Expedition

Sorry to disappoint but it's not me asking for funds for some outrageous travel expedition - although the thought has crossed my mind. No, this is a call for support of a fellow traveler in my cyber world and whom I've met in the "real" world. Check out my post about his groovy photography expedition for 2010 over on my SoloTravelGirl.com blog.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner 2009

Christmas Eve I enjoyed a Florida-style feast. It was a chance to enjoy the single set of dishes received when I got married. (Was that a sign? Only receiving one set of China?) My dinner consisted of steak, lobster tail, and stone crab claws. Yum!

Dessert - took the organic strawberries from last week's Worden Farm crop share and dipped them in chocolate. Tried to make tuxedo strawberries but think I melted the semi-sweet chocolate too long because it came out lumpy and not very pretty - although tasted mighty good.

I'm now thinking of the next special occasion when I can have stone crab claws. But do I really need a special occasion?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Easy Christmas Sweets

Not sure about anyone else but the holidays ignite a need to make sweets. Luckily I have neighbors and friends to share (and experiment with) so I'm not eating them all by myself. In addition to Nigella Lawson's Rocky Road Bars I baked chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms, made sugar and spice nuts (as found via Amy Clark's Motherload Blog), peppermint bark and salty almond bark (both pictured).

Following are recipes for peppermint bark and salty almond bark. My note: I modified these from other recipes I found to make them more budget friendly. The recipes I found called for either baker's chocolate or high-end, quality chocolate. My taste buds (and pocketbook) don't mind Hershey's or Nestle's chocolate.

Peppermint Bark
This is my FAVORITE Christmas treat. Chocolate. Mint. Mmm. Mmm.

1, 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1, 12 ounce package white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed candy canes
2 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

  • Crush peppermint candy canes, equal to 3/4 cup. I put them in a sealed freezer bag and whacked away with the hammer (hence the hammer in the photo). Set aside.
  • Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tsp vegetable oil and pour onto aluminum foil, smooth out with spatula to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Place in refrigerator for about an hour.
  • Melt white chocolate chips with 1 tsp vegetable oil.
  • Once melted, add 3/4 tsp peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candy canes, mix well.
  • Spread white chocolate mixture atop semi-sweet chocolate and refrigerate.
  • Once solid, break into pieces and enjoy!

Salty Almond Bark
Sweet. Salty. Nutty. All in one delish bite. Can you ask for anything more?

1, 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1, 12 ounce package white chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped almonds
1 Tbsp Kosher salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Coarsely chop almonds in baking pan until lightly toasted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove toasted almonds from oven, place in bowl and set aside.
  • Reduce oven heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Line baking pan with aluminum foil and sprinkle rows of chocolate, alternating between white and semi-sweet rows (or just toss them on the pan anyway you like).
  • Place chocolate in oven for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Remove when chips are soft and use spatula to smooth out chocolate somewhat evenly and thinly, about 1/4 inch.
  • Sprinkle chopped almonds and salt evenly over the chocolate.
  • Using spatula, lightly press almonds and salt into chocolate.
  • Refrigerate until solid.
  • Break into pieces and enjoy!
If you try these or have questions, let me know. If you're in the area, I'll save you some of mine!

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Solo for Christmas 2009

I've baked, mailed Christmas cards (Old School) and shipped out packages. Long story short, looks like I'll be spending Christmas solo. I opted not to fly home to Buffalo because of insanely overpriced airfare and wasn't sure I could take extended time off on the front end - since parents then visit my brother after. I'm not anti-family, I have plans to fly up in January.

I've received an invite from a co-worker (much appreciated) but Christmas is really about family time. Haven't heard from Florida relatives so debating between utilizing my Disney annual pass or just staying home catching up on writing and getting organized for 2010.

Not sure if I'll be posting before Christmas but enjoy this story about "The Worst Christmas Gift I Ever Received," which I wrote in 2007.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All it Takes is Twitter and a Dream to Win a Sarasota-Area Dining Certificate

Okay, the title of this post is a little dramatic but I'm soooo excited about winning a dining certificate from the Sarasota-Manatee Originals through a Twitter contest they're running. Check out the details over on my Solo Travel Girl blog here and see how you can win. All you need is Twitter, certificates are being given away each weekday and you have until Dec. 24 to enter.

And who said Twitter was a bunch of nonsense? Phooey!

Monday, December 07, 2009

I Met Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

Friday night was spent at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center watching a Florida Championship Wrestling performance (?) called Christmas Chaos. The event included eight matches and a pre-event meet and greet with Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat - I remember him when growing up, Jillian Beyor - 2008 Playboy Model of the Year and newly signed Diva for the WWE (pictured above), and Justin Angel - Current FCW Heavyweight Champion. (What a cutie! He's pictured below.)

I have lots of thoughts to share about the evening - considering I went alone - and will share my 10 observations another time.

10 People Who Haven't Slept with Tiger Woods?

Women claiming to have had relations with Tiger Woods seem to be crawling out of the woodwork. I've read there are between four and 10 alleged mistresses and have to wonder how many of these women are just trying to gain their 15 minutes of fame. I mean, do they realize they are admitting to having an affair with a knowingly married man with kids?

And how many of these women really had physical relations with the golfer beyond a handshake?

I love the stunt Tampa Bay's MJ Morning Show (radio, WFLZ) pulled off last month. They sent one of their personalities to stand outside Tiger's neighborhood donning a bikini and holding a sign reading, ‘Tiger – They Offered Me $500,000 – I’m Keeping My Mouth Shut!’ She also shouted, "He's not a Tiger, he's a cheetah." Considering I listen to the show daily, I got a good chuckle out of the radio stunt. Good stuff. Have to wonder how many people thought she was a legit mistress.

A caller to Rush Limbaugh's program this afternoon raised an interesting point. None of these women coming forward or being revealed are African American. Does this mean Tiger Woods didn't or isn't having affairs with African American women? Or maybe it's just if he was/is, perhaps they're keeping their mouths shut.

So I have to wonder, when will the list of '10 People Who Haven't Slept with Tiger Woods' start surfacing? Better yet, if you had to create a list, who would you place on it? Queen of England? Adam Lambert? An Orlando Perkins waitress? Oops, she's on the "did" list. So who would make the 10 list of have nots?

Enquiring minds want to know...