Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

 I love new years. Not New Years! Just new years.
I know its cliche but I love the idea of starting fresh.
New year resolutions.
New year plans.
New life.

I'm not sad this year is over. To be honest, it's been a rough year.
So I'm ready to start fresh.
Ready to spend more time on my blog.
Ready to really crack down and eat healthy. 
Ready to make 2012 my most active year.

Maybe in 2012 I'll run a marathon.
Maybe I'll go back to school.
Don't know yet. But that's what excites me.

What are you excited about in the new year? What are your resolutions?
Whatever they may be I hope you go for it with all your being.

Hope you all have a great time tonight!
Get your glitter on!
See ya next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Traditions: Christmas Eve

Happy Holidays!
I'm a little late for the Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays still works hehe

I hope everyone had a very special and joyous Christmas (or are still enjoying their last night of Hanukkah). I know my Christmas was filled with family and there for it was the best. How about yours? Did you stay home with your immediate family? Travel to see extended family or in-laws? Or maybe you spent it with your dearest friends? Either way I hope it was magical.

Our Christmas season starts around Christmas Eve, or at least it did this year. I can't tell you how fast Christmas came this year. All of a sudden, BAM, I'm wrapping gifts and scrabbling around for that last present for Mom. Not the way I usually work. I'm a planner, you see, but like I said... Christmas came out of nowhere this year!

And now it's already after Christmas and I didn't even say Merry Christmas to you all. TERRIBLE! Well I'm saying it now. Merry (belated) Christmas!

But on the bright side because it has past Christmas so I get to recap all the wonderful traditions I celebrate on Christmas Eve. I'm really into traditions. So this will the be first of many "traditions" posts. I think it's important to capture these important moments and archive them forever and for all to see!

 The first tradition on Christmas Eve is Eggplant Parmigiana.

Did I hear you say you don't like eggplant?!
That's okay. Me either.
So trust me when I say this stuff will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. Now I can't give you recipe. I know I know. But If I did give you the recipe, I'd have to kill you. And I don't wanna do that. I kinda like you guys. So lets just accept that if you ever wanna try my Great Great Grandma's Famous DELICIOUS Eggplant Parm you'll have to come over for Christmas Eve dinner.

And if you decide you really don't like it, there's always a TON of other food. We Fazio's know how to party!

After Eggplant is finished, the tree gets some attention. 

I know, I know it's Christmas Eve, why'd you wait until then to decorate the tree? Well, welcome to my family. It always turns out so beautifully though. We also have 3 menorahs in the house. I don't any of them have the correct amount of candles on them at this point. I love my family :0)

On that tree I have a couple of favorite ornaments.

This is the newest ornament. I got it for my mom this Christmas. As soon as I saw it I knew she'd love it. She loves wacky ornaments.

This is an ornament from when I was a baby. It has my full name on it. If you didn't know my full before, there it is. Amelia! After Amelia Earhart.

This is another baby ornament with my name.

 This is the ornament that reminds me of Christmas the most. I get really excited to put it on the tree. I push and shove and grab until it's mine.

This ornament, albeit fuzzy, is of Santa in a reindeer innertube. It comes with a story about my dad... 

"One day at one of those wet and wild amusement parks my dad managed to get himself stuck in an innertube. Well he ducked behind a shed to get himself lose. At the same time my mom was passing by looking for where my dad had gone. Seeing her he started to whisper *marie* *marie* *MARIE* Turning around she saw my dad. Naturally she starts laughing at the sight of my dad in the innertube ducked behind a shed. Well my mom laughing got my dad laughing, which made the innertube start jiggling, which made my mom laugh harder, which made my dad laugh harder. Well needless to say my dad eventually got out of the innertube and the moment will forever be commemorated by this Christmas ornament."

The next Christmas Eve tradition is Midnight Mass at Mission Dolores Basilica.

It's a wonderfully beautiful grand church and on Christmas Eve it's even more beautiful. This is church connected to my elementary school, it's where I had my first communion, my confirmation and eventually I'll get married here.

They have their own traditions at my church, of course. My mom's favorite is the trumpets. She hates to miss it. They also do the mass in half Spanish half English. Because of the strong Hispanic community the church does "Las Posadas" which is a recreation of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. It's very dramatic and symbolic. They knock a couple times on the door of the church and the choir sings. It just gives me chills :0)

And after we drag ourselves back home from church, half asleep, we immediately fall asleep.

And then, because all us chillins are grown, we let everyone sleep in as late as possible before opening gifts. The perks of getting old ;0) Santa was very good to us this year. For that I am grateful.

So, what's one of your Christmas Eve traditions? I'd love to hear them!
All the best to you and yours!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Easy Cheesy Crispy Potato Cups

I have four words for you: 
Crispy. Cheesy. Potato. Cups.

By themselves, they are wonderful. But together they spell my new favoritest thing ever!

Every Thanksgiving I am responsible for the potatoes. The past couple years it had been my Individual Potato Gratins. This year my Dad and Brother came across a new spin on my popular potato dish. This recipe came from Cooks Illustrated. The ingredients are almost exactly the same as my previous potato cup recipe just the execution is different.

And to be honest... it's better!
It's the crispy crust that KICKS IT UP A NOTCH! BAM! hehe Sorry. But really, not only does the crispy crust make the dish more appealing, it makes it more portable. It was a breeze to pop out of the tray and serve.

Not only was this a perfect for Thanksgiving but I imagine I will be making this many, many more times through out the year. It was just so easy.

So easy in fact my beautiful sister was able help with most of it. Haha I'm teasing Beck! But really, super easy. Maybe that's another word I should add to the list. Easy.

Easy Cheesy Crispy Potato Cups

I like that. It has a nice ring to it. Haha However now I feel like Jenny from Picky Palate. Hehe If you read her FABULOUS blog you'll know exactly what I mean. She always has the LONGEST names for her food. Like her Black Bottom Mini Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites or her Chocolate Cake Reese Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies. Hehe I've only got 5 in this title but I'm working on it, Jenny! How long is your longest recipe title?

Easy Cheesy Crispy Potato Cups
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Makes approx 12 cups
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1 1/4 cup half and half
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups cheese, shredded**
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup of cooked bacon, crumbled
**Don't use shredded cheese here, according to Cooks Illustrated. The recipe calls for cheddar, which would be great but for Thanksgiving I felt Jarlsberg and Gruyere would be more appropriate. Swiss would also work really well here.

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pulse panko in food processor until finely ground, about 5 pulses. Evenly coat each non-stick muffin cup with softened butter and then with ground panko. 

2. Cut each potato in hlaf lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 wedges. Cut each wedge crosswise into 1/4 in think slices. Combine potatoes, half and half salt and peper in large bowl and microwave cvered until just tender 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once. 

3. Meanwhile, toss cheese, Parmesan, and cornstarch together in bowl; reserve 1/3 cup for topping. Add remaining cheese mixture to hot potato mixture, stirring until smooth. Divide potato-cheese mixture evenly among muffin cups and smooth. Sprinkle cups with reserved cheese.

4. Cover muffin tin with aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable oil spray and bake for 10 mins. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 mins.

5. Run pairing knife around perimeter of the muffin cup. Let potato cups cool in muffin tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place rimmed baking sheet on top of muffin tin and invert potato cups, topping on muffin tin to release cups. Invert cups onto wire rack and let cool for 5 mins. Serve!

6. Share with the whole family!!
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