Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Snow on the Grapevine, just north of Los Angeles!

I've had a great winter break at home so far. It's been relaxing, and filled with family, friends, and baking... what more could a girl ask for?! Oh, presents, you're right. How could I forget? Those come tonight and tomorrow :) Anyways, here's a little recap of my break so far, with pictures and all.

I spent a day shopping in San Francisco with Emily on her 22nd birthday, went back to her house for dinner and dessert, and then took BART back into the city for a night out on the town!

Me, Michelle, and Emily

A few days later, I headed down to Newport Beach for Chrissy's Bachelorette party. Seven girls, including Chrissy's sister/maid of honor, bridesmaids, sorority sister, and former roommates watched the Boat Parade and went out to a couple bars in Newport. We all had a great time, and Chrissy was a really good sport for doing all the silly tasks we made her do while wearing a tulle veil and a "bachelorette" sash.

Chrissy, Jennifer, me, and Jamie

I've also spent a lot of time with my family. My aunt, uncle, and cousins from are visiting from Michigan, and my cousin Christine just got back from studying abroad in London. Since we weren't able to see them a few weeks ago for Turkey Day, we had Thanksgiving Part Two in Danville, which Christine (one of my inspirations for cooking!) planned and cooked.

All the cousins! Luke, Me, Christine, Matt, Andrea, Heather, William, and Kevin

Luke, Matt, Christine, Me, Kevin, Andrea, and Heather

Yesterday, all the cousins made our way to San Francisco on BART, with the new Academy of Sciences as our destination. Unfortunately, a few hundred other families had the same idea, and tickets were sold out when we arrived. We walked across the park to the De Young Museum, where we saw the beautiful 360 degree view of San Francisco on a clear day (see pictures below), ate lunch, and browsed through the art displays.

Hello, Golden Gate Bridge!

Luke, Andrea, Matt, Christine, Me, Heather, William, and Kevin

Matt, Andrea, Christine, and Uncle Bob

Huge satellite map of San Francisco

And I've put in plenty of time in the kitchen, baking cookies and desserts and planning for tomorrow's dinner for 18. I wanted to share one of the desserts I'm making for Christmas: Chocolate Walnut Biscotti.

This recipe has gotten amazing reviews on Epicurious: four forks (the highest rating) and over 200 positively glowing comments. I've only tried an itty-bitty corner piece myself, so the true test will be tomorrow after dinner, when these guys are served with coffee and hot apple cider!

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti Recipe

From Gourmet, December 1994


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional; I didn't include)

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

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