Christmas Re-Cap, Italian Style!

Happy Monday all!

How was your Christmas? Mine was pretty freaking awesome if I may say so myself. Yesterday I basically lounged around in my Christmas robe and pajamas with my mom, dad, and sis until my dad and I went stir crazy and ran to the grocery store for chocolate chip cookie supplies (recipe to follow at a later date). After a day spent making cookies, eating some bomb smoked brisket that my dad’s co-worker gave him as a gift, sleeping, and eating more brisket, it was finally time to head to my aunt’s house for the Christmas evening festivities. 

Now, with my dad’s side of the family you can always expect some sort of excitement at each family gathering. And by excitement I mean drama, but I have decided it would just not be a family get together without some excitement. This may have to do with the fact that you can’t put 30+ opinionated, stubborn, and might I add, loud American/Italians in a room together and expect not one of them to but heads. Not gonna happen. This is how family Christmas gatherings usually occur in my family: On the way over we usually end up talking about how the night is going to go, who is going to be missing from the party, etc. Then, when we arrive, we see who is there, huddle in a small conversational crowd and talk about the people that are not there and start coming up with reasons why they should be there. When the “missing links” finally do show up, it is then our job to continue heckling them about their tardiness. 

That’s not even the best part. Super exciting things happen when any one of my cousins brings their girlfriend or boyfriend of the month to Christmas. It is always fun to pick and choose the said boyfriend or girlfriend that actually has a chance of surviving in the family. This usually does not end well, yet there was a particular cousin whose girlfriend has really really great potential, plus she has some tenure with the family so she is pretty much the “bees knees”. While family gatherings can be somewhat of a headache at times, last night was one of the best family gatherings I have ever experienced. Of course, there may have been a few heckles here and there, but it was all in genuine, good fun. At the end of the day, we are all family. Love is definitely the reason for the season and there was plenty of it last night.

Dad and brothers and sisters (took them 15 minutes to actually get this photo)
Leetle cousin Gracie…love this kid.
Most of the cousins 
 Baby Lucas joins in
 Cousinly Love
 Family Portrait!
MANGIA!!!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas y’all! 

F.Y.I. That is totally not my tree. Today I will be lounging around in my Christmas robe and fuzzy house boots until I force myself to get up off the couch tonight for some family fun at my aunt’s house.

What are your plans?

MANGIA!!!

Secret Recipe Club and a Meatless Monday

Happy Monday all!

Today I am headed back to the H for my holiday gig that I have been doing for a while. Just call me “spritzer girl.” What can I say? Just trying to make that paper! The food blogger lifestyle doesn’t come easy. Haha! Anyhoo, today is a special day because it is the last Secret Recipe Club reveal for the year! Whoop! I am totally doing a fist pump right now as I sit in the coffee shop. BTW I have no idea why the older man filling out tons of Starbucks gift cards (maybe for his employees?) is looking at me strange…nothing wrong with a little fist pumping action…jeez. Back to the SRC reveal…I am super stoked to present to you my SRC reveal for December, Jennifer at Mother Thyme


Now, Jennifer is no stranger to me, if fact I consider her my home girl, seeing as I have been food blog stalking her even before joining the SRC. We are both members of Tasty Kitchen and just so happened to be friends! Who would have thought? FYI, she probably has no idea who I am…but she is definitely about to find out. A little tid-bit about Jen (I’m sure she doesn’t mind if I call her Jen, right? I mean we are like family now): She was born and raised in NY, stay-at-home mother of the cutest freakin’ twins (Tyler and Eden), and loving wife. I think her concept is pretty much on point: simple, delicious, affordable, family-friendly recipes. Plus, if you are into crafts, Jen is definitely the woman to see about decorating and entertaining. BTW, I am super, super jealous of all the places she has traveled, ex: Vietnam and Paris. I am putting a proposal together for adoption (that is, her adopting me of course). 


I just loved all of Jen’s delicious recipes but honestly, I cannot for the sake of my life get off my breakfast kick. Hell, I just love breakfast any time of day, especially when it’s chilly outside. Lucky for me, Jen had a few breakfast recipes that looked scrumptious, in particular, her Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes. I had purchased a can of pumpkin puree which I was going to use to make these pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but seriously pancakes are my bff, so I caved.

 Best idea ever. 
Piece of cake…
I like a little pancake with my apple butter… 
You know what happened after this photo…completely devoured
I did switch up the recipe so I could test-drive a gf version…my plan is to make these for myself  leetle seester and family on Christmas morning. So excited! Thanks Jen! Love ya girl! 


Pumpkin Pancakes (GF):

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. blanched almond flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 T arrowroot powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 T agave nectar
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 c. canned pumpkin puree
2 T grapeseed oil, plus more for greasing

Instructions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot, and spices.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave, vanilla, almond milk, pumpkin, and oil.
3. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the batter in 1/4 c. increments to a skillet (I used cast iron) and cook over medium heat. 
5. Cook the pancakes until small air bubbles start to form, then flip. 
6. Serve warm with maple syrup or a drizzle of honey.


MANGIA!!!








Friday Link Love: My Favorite Things

Happy Friday all!

First off, I need to make an important announcement regarding a life-changing recipe that I encountered this week. Listen up people because what I am about to tell you is very important, so important that it just might in fact change your life. I met my new best friend this week.  
 
Meet Ms. Muffin…Ms. Lemon Cream Flax Muffin, that is.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have an extreme SWEET tooth, or um, teeth. So much so that I discovered a wisdom tooth growing in the back of my mouth on Wednesday. I am pretty sure that this will make my appetite even sweeter, seeing as I will have an extra tooth for devouring scrumptious sweets and all. Well, these muffins are no exception. I know this whole muffin thing is throwing you off so think of it like this, muffins are just cupcakes in disguise. You know, sans the icing on top. Instead, some muffins, like Ms. Lemon Cream over here are drizzled with a classic powdered sugar glaze. In my opinion, this is frosting’s down-played step-sister who often goes unnoticed. 
My relationship with lemons has always been pristine, but add some sugar and I am all over that like white on rice. I mean, c’mon, it’s a muffin right? So, it has got to be healthy, right? Lemons are a fruit and flax seed have a lot of fiber in them, so this must be a health muffin. Yea, we will just go with that because it will reconfirm my decision to make them in a ravenous panic yesterday after which I devoured 1.5 of them with a glass of almond milk two hours before dinner. Even while eating my chicken and butternut squash for dinner, my mind was fixated on the little halve of the muffin that I didn’t finish, staring at me through the plastic window of my Tupperware. Anyway, what I am trying to say here is, you need this recipe in your life, like NOW. Big ups to my home girl Jess over at How Sweet It Is for making my week extra sweet!
On another note, I was listening to one of my fave Austin morning talk shows, the Bobby Bones Show, and they were discussing a segment for today called “Bobby’s Favorite Things.” Basically, the segment runs kind of like Oprah’s favorite things, where Bobby, the main host of the show, gives his one of his favorite things to each of his co-hosts, Amy, Lunchbox, and Carlos. Anyway, this got me thinking? What are some of my favorite things? Well, you are about to find out. In no particular order, here is a rant about things that are my favorite!

Chelsy’s Favorite Things:

So, here is the deal, I have this obsession, and I owe it all to my experience as a barista in college. It’s called coffee and it is definitely my kind of drug. You see, before I was a barista I seldom even drank coffee. In fact, I had no idea where coffee even came from, much less the difference between a light roast and a dark roast. Here is a fun fact: Did you know that light roast actually has more caffeine? Yea, that’s right, I said it. That’s for all of you early morning working Joe’s and Jane’s that stood outside of my cafe waiting for the doors to open in the wee hours of the morning just to get your “tons of caffeine” dark roast coffee. Little did you know, that in your rush, I just let you think that the dark roast had the most caffeine. If you would have stuck around, I could have given you the coffee talk. Yet, you chose to be a “know it all” and suffered the consequences of a coffee high and subsequent crash an hour later, barely into your morning office gossip. F.Y.I. the light roast would have lasted you at least another two hours to energize through your morning paperwork. Anyhoo, now that I have ranted…I should be talking about espresso instead of coffee, which is my drink of choice. Yea, I know, it’s real Italian. This is my coffee hangout and if you ever visit round’ these parts, get you some espresso from here, ya hear? 
It is seriously a coffee “house” if you know what I’m saying
It will change your life and you will never step foot inside of a Starbucks again. Seriously. 
That being said, I really, really want one of these  because it is the traditional version, and obviously the less expensive version of what my heart really, truly desires. The mecca of espresso machines. Yea, one day I will own one in my house on my private island, where I will serve my guests the best espresso they have ever made. No charge. 
Moving on, let’s talk about fashion. Because you just can’t have coffee without looking fashionable, right? I say this to you as I sit here, sipping my coffee in my stretchy luon pants, hair in a messy ponytail, and no makeup. Yes, I am tre chic. I know. Anyway, I absolutely love, love, love this store. There is a part of me that secretly wishes that I had a professional job, you know, a job full of pencil skirts, white button down blouses, rose-gold watches, and a beautiful coffee cup sitting on my desk in my own office. You see how coffee ties into everything, right? Anyway, all of that would come from Anthropologie, the main supplier of my “working girl” closet. Sometimes I get really jealous when I walk into the store to see them conducting group interviews with girls dressed head-to-toe in Anthrobed displays. Hah! Just know that when you really see me wearing these. I am dying to dress like this.
Now this, this is really Me
Me again…
Now, let’s chat a bit about one of my really, really, ridiculously favorite things. I love me some Foods of the Whole. You should all know about our love/love relationship by now, it’s pretty freakin’ obvious. I shop there. I lose lots of money there. Is it worth it? Totally. The End. 
 
 
By now, you all know that I have an even greater relationship with peanut butter. I obviously just can’t get enough of it. To make matter’s worse, as I was browsing a food magazine yesterday I came across this . Really? That is like adding fuel to the fire. Then my brain started racing with ideas as I gazed open mouthed at their unique nut butter varieties. 
If those aren’t nut butters, then I don’t know what is…
Because we are on the subject of food. I must share with you my current favorite Austin eatery. 24 Diner…it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who would of thought? Now, this is not your plain ole’ eggs and bacon kind of place. My sis and I have been frequenting this place ever since it opened a little over a year ago, maybe? Anyway, we always get the same thing, a frittata that is bigger than our heads, yummy coffee, fresh fruit, and homemade veggie sausage. It is too die for.
Now, that place is more of your contemporary breakfast joint. Now this, this is my all time favorite place for breakfast in the world. Frank’s not only serves up the best breakfast round’ these here parts, but the hospitality is always the same. Bonnie, our waitress,  has been greeting my family and I on a first name basis for years! When I go with my Dad we always sit up at the bar, where we engage in light-hearted conversation with the head chef, Leo. You can always expect to see him wearing his favorite Dallas Cowboy’s hat, flipping homemade buttermilk pancakes on the flat-top grill like no body’s business.  We always talk about the same things, soccer and family. This guy makes the best omelet’s in the world. I always get the loaded veggie omelet with a side of crispy hash browns that are absolutely to die for! This isn’t Mickey D’s here people. Real talk: real down-home food. When your Dad sends you an evil early morning text with a picture of Leo standing over the sizzling pancakes on the flat-top grill you know it’s bad. I nearly cried. True story.
Let’s talk about happier things, like the ah-mazing Christmas party for work that I am going to tonight. I love me a good party, watch out I can bust a move. Anyway, because I have the day off, and because I love to dress up, I am headed to get myself pampered at one of my fave salons. They are going to pimp me out with my usual holly would do’. That is only my first party this weekend, my second round of partying will be with my lemons on Sunday night. They have no idea what a treat they are in for with my White Elephant gift. I am coming at them hard with food gifts. Get excited!
Let’s wrap this up with my all time favorite things in the world
 
My parents…they like to ride bikes
Leetle seester (on the left), we like to ride bikes too!
That’s all folks!
 
MANGIA!!!

Friday Link Love: Christmas Love!

Happy Friday all!

Instead of hitting you with a bunch of recipes like I normally do on Friday, I have decided to change it up a bit and make things a little more interesting round’ these parts. So, today I will be sharing with you some random Christmas-y link love things that I have stumbled upon lately. Hopefully I will be able to keep y’all entertained.

I would like to start this off by noting that apparently I am famous (Read the article)! Did you guys know? I was shocked!

So, it has been quite cold round these here parts and I have basically been living in these, except mine are red and fuzzy and might I mention, falling apart.

I have also been living in these as well…what can I say? I love me some stretchy pants. Perks of stretchy pants: you can eat the whole bag of cookies in the lunch break room at work and no body will ever know.

As much as I live in my lululemon athletica gear, I am a fashionista at heart and would much rather be wearing something like this, or even this. One thing about winter that I just love is the clothes…over sized sweaters, skinny jeans, and knee high leather boots have my name written all over them.

So, you know how I have blasted you all with three different peanut butter recipes this week. Well, if you thought that was obsessive…here is what has gone viral in the food blogging world this week.

Ya, that’s right people Speculoos Cookie Butter. If you don’t know, Speculoos are my favorite cookie…my sis brought them back for me from Belgium and I fell in love. Speculoos: basically a translation for a crisp, ginger cookie. All you need to know is that it goes fantastically with espresso. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting any of this goodness anytime soon. This is the time when I really wish that Trader Joe’s had migrated towards these here parts. Makes me miss California. There is always another option: I could make it myself…look for the recipe soon!

Here’s a random fact: I have tried this with my hair about ten times this week in an order to look effortlessly chic. I have failed, miserably. I need to call 1-800-Ken Paves right now…he needs clientele besides Jessica Simpson and Eva Longoria, and I am just as special! Plus, I am sure he would love my goddess-like tresses (so I’ve been told)!

Have I mentioned how much I love Christmas? Well, lately all of this Christmas jolly-goodness has got me daydreaming. Even to the point where I dazed off in the Whole Food’s checkout line for about a good five minutes. I finally realized that Ryan Reynold’s waving me down on the island of Tahiti was indeed only the checker at register six trying to get my attention to purchase my damn groceries. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she? These are the places that I have been this week.

To a winter wonderland in Chicago

Walking through the tree tunnel in Belgium

And feasting on feta cheese with my old friend Ms. Riesling on the island of Santorini

Truthfully, those are all places that I would love to visit for a Christmas vacation. Maybe my new boyfriend, Mr. Reynold’s will take me. Apparently, this is his new flavor of the week. Really Ryan? Can you say Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Can’t say that I hate her fashion sense, girl is definitely my style icon! Eh, she can babysit for us once we have kids. Yea, most definitely.

Speaking of style…I am definitely digging the glitter trend for Christmas and especially New Years.

I am totally pulling this off for New Year’s…definitely not cupcake friendly!

On another note, I have been doing lots of Christmas-y things lately, like baking tons of Christmas goodies, eating all of those yummy treats, watching my fave holiday movie, over and over again, and crying over and over again while watching my fave holiday movie…over and over again.

Does anyone else get really sentimental around the holidays? I do! It’s like the holidays spark so many good memories for me…coupled with the Christmas lights lining the streets and the trees lit up inside the houses I pass on my way home…I am an emotional hot mess.

Things that have been making me emotional lately…I miss my dog…he looked exactly like this. His name was Jake and we were bff’s for 13 years. My sis and I used to dress him in my dad’s old t-shirts and he would lay there without a care in the world. He would sleep beside me as I lay bundled up in my sleeping bag near the fireplace around Christmas time. So, it’s especially this time of year that I miss him. Yea, he is a legend.I have come to terms that I will name one of my future children, given it’s a boy, Jake.
Another thing that I have been crying (with laughter) over for the past couple of months are these chica’s right here:
Sophia Grace Brownlee and her “hype” girl, a.k.a. Rosie. If you haven’t see their “make me famous” video, here it is. Watch it, now. Every time I watch it, I have a flashback to me and my sister singing Wilson Phillips on our make shift “stage” in the living room. If only YouTube had existed back then…or did we just not know about it?

On another note, I would just like to say that I have a fetish with giving gifts. You see, I’m the type of person that would rather give gifts than receive. Especially, if I get to give homemade gifts. I recently heard someone say that if they didn’t really care about a person they just give them a batch of brownies or something. I gave that person the most “are you cray cray” confused look. I mean, seriously? If I am going to take the time to bake you a dozen cookies from scratch and wrap them up in a little container with a bow on top, you better believe that I love you like, this much. To me, nothing says love like food gifts. If I could give each one of you a homemade food gift, I would. Believe me.

So, since this is a blog about food, let’s end this with some food porn. Let’s say I were to invite you all to a Christmas dinner party at my casa. This is what I would serve.
For the appetizer
Entree…because I love lemon with my chicken, and because Barefoot Contessa is my French g-ma
For dessert: Because lemon and olive oil are bff’s, topped with powdered sugar icing…even better

No need to bring your own wine, we will just go out back and make some…
Hey, who knows, maybe Mr. Reynold’s will show up.

MANGIA!!!