Wintertime Brie

Up until today, it had been quite wintry around here. Winter Blast, Snowmaggedon, every local news channel had their own way of over dramatizing the situation.

Simply put – Seattle and snow just don’t mix. People have been nothing short of freaking out.

Oh AND wearing all their great winter get-ups bought for the rare chance it snows. You know those hats that hang off the back of people’s heads and have the perfect strands of hair framing the face without covering the ears… or the furry snow boots that have a wedge heel and scream ‘I’m really not ready for this but I look cute.’ That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about here folks.

Well that’s not me, I find it’s the best time to just let go a little. Working from home or at a nearly vacant office means few human encounters, well besides the bus and I’m not sure I’m going to meet the man of my dreams on the bus. (except now that I said that God is going to make it happen…). So I leave my hair unwashed an extra day, take one or two extra days off from the gym, and lounge around in my oversized flannel shirt and leggings. So much easier than a floppy hat.

Cold wintry weather is the perfect time to make a nice hot pastry enveloped brie. [Admittedly, I didn’t make this during the last few days but made this recipe over Christmas (while cold and snowy) it’s kind of a new Christmas Eve tradition but can make any winter day feel a little warmer.]

No better background than some puffed pastry,(it’s the part of the recipe we added and it completely transforms the dish).

“Eat me”…. says the Pac-Man Brie Sandwich.

You think it looks good now. Just wait until it cooks and gets all….


No crackers required. We just slice this up and go after it with a fork… or your fingers.

Wintertime Brie

Adapted from Portland’s Palate.

3/4 C. Pitted Dates, chopped

1 Small apple, peeled, cored, and diced (any variety)

1 Small firm, ripe pear, peeled, cored, and diced (any variety)

1/2 C. Currants (substitute Craisins, if needed or desired)

1/2 C. Pecans, chopped

1/3 cup rose wine, apple juice or applejack (I always just use apple juice)

1 (2 lb.) wheel Brie, well-chilled (Costco has the best deal)

1 sheet pre-made Puff Pastry, at room-temp (Pepperidge Farms makes a good one)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine first 6 ingredients. Set mixture aside and refrigerate to soften for 2 hours.

Cut brie wheel in half horizontally to make 2 layers. Place one layer brine side down on the puff pastry, spread half of the fruit mixture on top. Place second 1/2 of brie brine side up on top of the fruit. Fold up the puff pastry over the top, sealing it all together. Squeeze the pastry together to seal. You may have to tug a little to get it all together. Pour remaining fruit mixture on the top of the pastry covered brie.

Bake 25-30 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

Serve with sliced baguette or nothing at all.

The Year That Was…..

Now that the year has come and gone, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the year that was…. 2011, outside of the kitchen. Here’s my top eight (it’s my lucky number) in 2011 (in no particular order, I’m too indecisive for that).

1) Riding the bus. Probably don’t hear that often but it is the best place to read, as long as you don’t get sick. I was able to get through so many great books in a year just by reading a half hour or less each way on the bus.

Some of my recommendations: Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream both by Francine Rivers. Atonement by Ian McEwan. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain. And so many more….

2) Okay, technically, this is my number 1. I mean seriously, cutest – cat – ever and he’s mine….

3) Every day after April 15th and before August 15th and the Holiday Season (Nov-Dec). Some of the best weather, well not April or May or June. Most importantly, it means I take lots of vacation and work more regular hours.

4)Hiking. Do it, lots of it, I did in 2011 and look forward to even more in ’12. This shot below is from Mt. Pilchuck in the Northern Cascades. I get goosebumps thinking about all the beauty and that it was all made by the One who made everything in the universe. Woah. Go explore it for yourself.

5) A good cry. My sister used to always tell me when I was in middle school and high school that I never showed emotion…. After dealing with various boys through college and taking on a new stressful and busy job (see 3 above)…. things have changed. I mean sometimes you just have to let it all out. Usually, my mom, dad, and sister have to take the brunt of it, God bless them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…. cue Kelly Clarkson.

6) This photo. This is Hunter, my family’s nine year old chocolate lab. I’m not prejudice… I just have the best pets ever, no competition. My favorite picture taken so far with my new camera. 

7)Potlucks. I’m in a bible study and it’s given me my first real exposure to potlucks, and we have lots of them. I mean you get to try so much great food, get full, and only have to make one thing! It’s also a great time to try something new and super fatty, so you don’t have to eat it all. 🙂 Just make sure you can try it first… that’s a whole bunch of stress, waiting for the suspense of someone taking the first bite and it’s not you.

8) Travelling. Well, this will be on the list for eternity. You learn and experience what just can’t be done at home. This year was full of domestic travel including Colorado and Texas (twice). It is so great to have the best friends and family all over the country.

Here’s to a sweet, joyful, successful, love filled 2012.

Nanny’s Cookies

For the last 24 years I have had a Nanny. It’s not what you think, I am plenty mature for my age and can rock myself to sleep. On my mom’s side of the family, it has been what we call Grandma.

This recipe was my great-Nanny’s. NOT to be confused with Russian Tea Cookies or Crescent Cookies, or really any other cookie covered in powdered sugar. Nothing compares, these are Nanny’s White Cookies. The fact that I’m even sharing this with you is big time…. they are that special to me….

While these cookies will likely not fit well with your New Year’s Resolution – if one of them is to lose a few lbs. (a perpetual one for me, probably resulting from my complete indulgence in things like this and my general love of food)- it’s a must try. That’s why we exercise, right?!

It may seem dry but should stick together when you make the balls. Also, it helps to make the balls a little smaller so that you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth at once and avoid the crumble and fall of powder sugar onto your shirt. This has happened to me one too many times, so classy….

You can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate for a few days, just take out and bring to room temp before shaping and cooking.

While we typically make these as Christmas Cookies… they are a great winter cookie too. I mean, it looks just like a bunch of snowballs, sweet-buttery snowballs. But in reality, I’d also happily eat these in the spring and summer. There is no such thing as a seasonal cookie….

Side Note: You may see some changes to the appearance of the blog. I’m trying to find something that I like, which means trying LOTS of different things, bear with me.

Nanny’s White Cookies

1 C. Butter, Softened

1/2 C. Powdered Sugar

1/4 tsp. Salt (Optional, we don’t usually do this. As the recipe says, its usually salty enough without it)

1 C. Nuts -Pecans, Chopped (Use a food processor, you want it to be like a small chop. Pieces a little smaller than pea size.)

2 1/4 C. Flour (It says Cake but we use A/P and it works well)

Vanilla (Try about a 1/2 tsp. or so, then taste to see what you think. If you’re one to worry about salmonella, there’s no egg so taste away.)

Combine all ingredients. Roll into balls and bake at 350 for 12 minutes, until you can pick up a cookie and its golden brown on the bottom. You can fit a lot of cookies on one baking sheet as the don’t really expand at all.

Once cooled, place cookies in a Ziploc bag with powdered sugar to cover them. You may have to do this twice to get a good layer of powdered sugar coating.