Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas House / Christmas Bark / Javier!

Just after Thanksgiving I decorated our house for the holidays!  I've never actually had a "house" to decorate before (at least on the outside - I've always lived in apartments), so I was very excited to try outdoor decorating this year.  I think it turned out super cute!!

It was a beautiful night when I took this photo - a very pink sunset!  That's the moon in the background - pretty rad, huh? :)

Earlier this week I was working on some yummy Christmas food / cookies, so I decided to make some Christmas Chocolate bark, as well as one of my favorite recipes from last year - Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary & Sea Salt.  Here are the recipes! 

Christmas Chocolate Bark 
Adapted from Elana's Pantry
This recipe is gluten-free! :) 

2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used regular milk chocolate, but this would be great too!) 
⅓ cup pistachios (mine were salted, but unsalted is great too)
⅓ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt (or more, depending on taste)

In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate (stir with wooden spoon). 
Pour chocolate into a parchment paper lined 8x8 inch Pyrex baking dish. 
Sprinkle pistachios and cranberries over chocolate. 
Using a metal spatula, spread the mixture evenly back and forth to around ½ inch thickness. 
Sprinkle salt over bark. 
Allow to sit out until set, 1-2 hours. 
Cut into 16 squares and serve!

And here is the other one (it is seriously my favorite... I kinda want to eat it all myself!) 

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary & Pine Nuts
Adapted from Ms.T's Food52 Recipe
This recipe is gluten-free! :) 

2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups pine nuts
4 tablespoons (one half stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (I highly recommend fresh rather than dried for this recipe!) 
1 tablespoon finely ground sea salt 

Place the sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar begins to melt. DO NOT TOUCH IT - it will be ridiculously hot!  Lower the heat to medium-high and keep stirring just until the sugar is melted. Stop stirring and watch for it to turn a medium caramel color. About 10 minutes total. I added about 1/2 the butter at this point too - stir well (it will bubble up for a moment!) 

Stir in half the pine nuts. Allow pine nuts to cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in half of the rosemary and half of the sea salt.

Turn the mixture out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and spread it evenly to the desired thickness with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Sprinkle remaining rosemary, pine nuts, and salt on top, while brittle is still warm.

Allow to cool completely--at least one hour--then break the brittle into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature. If your brittle isn't brittle enough to break into pieces, pop it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it hardens enough to snap easily.

Last night we had my work Christmas party too.  I got this lovely Santa during the White Elephant gift exchange! 

We named him Javier, but then decided he kind of looked Russian.  So now his full name is Javier Svetlana-Claus.  I carried him around with me all night! 

It was such a super fun Christmas party - I love everyone I work with so much!  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.  LOVE THEM!!

I hope you've been enjoying the holiday time as much as I have!

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