Pomegranate Sparklers

Pomegranate sparklers

Happy New Year's Eve! I hope you all have some fun plans for ringing in the new year. Jeff and I are planning to stay in, cook a nice meal, and sit by the fire in our new house. That's right... we bought a house! And we finally moved in just before Christmas. We are still settling in and are very much looking forward to a low-key New Year's Eve. There's so much to tell you all about the house, but that will have to wait for the new year.

As for New Year's Eve, perhaps these cocktails, which I actually made when my family came up the weekend before Christmas to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Garden with us (and, um, to help us move), might make an appearance. They're a simple but elegant concoction of prosecco and pomegranate juice. There's no exact recipe for them either, so that makes them super simple to throw together.


Baked Wintermint Cake

Baked wintermint cake

This wintermint cake -- composed of moist dark chocolate cake layers; rich, peppermint-scented ganache; and light, fluffy, minty frosting -- is the quintessential winter holiday cake. The moment I saw a picture of it, I knew I'd be making it for Christmas. While this post comes a little after the holiday, I see no reason why you can't still make this cake to satisfy any lingering chocolate and peppermint cravings. I assure you it's wonderful for breakfast too -- not that I know. And even four days after it's baked and assembled, it's still really moist (though it probably won't last that long unless you're able to snag and hide a big chunk of it, something I highly recommend doing).


Chocolate-Peppermint Cookie Bars

Chocolate-peppermint cookie bars

Jeff always says I'm a marketer's dream. Any time I see something new and unusual in the grocery store, I run over and pick it up and check it out to see if it's something I want to buy. So naturally when I saw a bin at Roche Bros. with Andes Candies baking chips, I had to see what they were all about. They had green and brown ones that are crème de menthe flavored like the usual Andes Candies. And they also had red and white peppermint crunch ones. A bag of each somehow ended up in our basket.


Honeymoon -- Day 8 -- Positano (Evening)

Positano, Italy

After my usual late-afternoon nap, we hiked back down to the beach area to find aperitivi. I was under the impression that everyone in Italy goes out for aperitivi -- pre-dinner drinks and snacks -- and I looked for evidence of this in every city we went to but didn't find it. I'm not sure if my timing was off or what, but I decided regardless, we would go find some pre-dinner drinks and snacks in Positano.


Holiday Gift Ideas For The Food Lover In Your Life

The holiday season is upon us! This year I have been looking forward to Christmas more than usual, and I'm not even sure why. I just know I was already watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving... which I never do! I must just have an extra jolt of Christmas spirit this year.

I know you're all probably deep into the holiday shopping now, so I just thought I'd share some ideas for the food lovers in your lives. Some of these are things I have and some are things that I -- as a food lover, baker, and cook -- want.


Holiday Strollin' And Dinner In The North End

Last Friday night, Jeff and I had plans to meet friends for dinner in the North End. As Friday drew closer, I realized our dinner coincided with the annual North End Holiday Stroll -- an event during which participating North End shops and boutiques offer special discounts and even samples from 7-11 p.m. We pre-strolled a little, met our friends for a 7 p.m. dinner reservation, and continued strolling after dinner.

We planned to have dinner at Pulcinella Mozzarella Bar and Restaurant, and I have to say I had some pretty high expectations. How can you not have high expectations of a place that bills itself as a mozzarella bar?


Honeymoon -- Day 7 -- Positano (Evening)

Tuscan hill town

When we left Montepulciano and set off toward Positano, we had this ambitious plan to get to Pompeii before the last guests were allowed in at 6, but traffic in Naples and some rain delayed us.


Honeymoon -- Day 7 -- Montepulciano (Afternoon)

Driving through Tuscany

As I was looking at the map, scoping out our route to Positano, I noticed that it would be pretty easy to take a detour to Montepulciano (a name that stood out to me because of the wine produced there). So we decided to head that way and stop there for lunch.