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Posts tagged ‘christmas’

Craftmas 2012

This weekend I turned up the holiday music, opened a bottle of wine, and announced that I would be making my own Christmas presents.

Scott was doubtful.  “Do you. . . how should I say this. . . Do you actually know how to do arts and crafts, honey?” he asked.


I stomped off to the bathroom.

I sat on the side of the tub and tried to remember the last time I successfully crafted anything.  Unfortunately, Scott took the lead on our annual gingerbread house.  He also carved our Halloween pumpkin.  Technically,  I made a decorative gourd last year–but then I told the whole internet that an old lady sitting next to me did all the work.  Arg.

Scott knocked on the door.  “Are you okay in there?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” I snapped.  “Why don’t you relax by our Christmas tree, WHICH YOU MIGHT NOTICE I CRAFTED THE CRAP OUT OF.”

our tree

This ornament didn’t hang itself, people.  In a stroke of decorative genius, I attached it with a pink paperclip.  If that’s not “crafting,” I don’t know what is.

I spent the rest of the weekend researching homemade gift ideas.  And by that I mean I spent 12 hours hissing obscenities at Martha Stewart’s website, which is all: “This craft is super easy! All you need is a linoleum cutter, dried organic lemon verbena, and a gently worn cashmere sweater!”


I don’t have those things.  In fact, I don’t even have scissors.  I lost them six months ago and now I just use a steak knife to cut stuff.

our tree

This is not looking good, folks.  Craftmas 2012 is teetering on the brink.

our tree

So if you’ve ever made anything that doesn’t require advanced whittling skills or twenty yards of imported silk, help a girl out.  I’m getting desperate.

In the meantime, here’s some quinoa.

quinoaI stayed away from this stuff for awhile because it seemed like an annoying food fad.  But the truth is: it’s delicious.  And it’s good for you.  It’s a “supergrain”!  And it’s easier for me than rice because I can tell when it’s done: the germ sprouts out in cool little curlycues when it’s ready.


I like throwing some roasted vegetable in there.  Any roasted vegetable will do, but I like acorn squash.  Butternut or delicata squash or pumpkin would work, too.  Then I toss it with candied nuts, goat cheese, and an orange vinaigrette.   You can use any nuts you have lying around, and if you’re short on time you can just dress it in olive oil, citrus or vinegar, and salt.  If you’re a big onion fan, thinly sliced red onions would be lovely in this, too.

Red Quinoa with Acorn Squash, Candied Nuts, Goat Cheese & Orange Vinaigrette {Download & Print Recipe}

by eggton


For the squash

1 acorn squash

1/4 c. packed brown sugar

salt and pepper

For the nuts

4 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 Tbsp. bourbon

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. salt

a dash of cayenne pepper

1 1/4 c. walnuts

For the quinoa

1 c. red quinoa

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 c. chicken or vegetarian broth

For the dressing

1 c. freshly-squeezed orange juice

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. shallots, diced

4 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 goat cheese (optional), for crumbling on top

arugula or spinach (optional), to be served under or alongside the quinoa


Roast the squash.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the squash and cut it in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Cut the squash into slices about 1 1/2″ thick.  Place the slices on a baking sheet flesh-down (not standing up on the rind) and sprinkle the brown sugar over them.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast them for 10 minutes, then pull them out and flip them so that both sides get coated in the brown sugar.  Roast for another 10 minutes or more, until you can cut through the squash easily with the side of a fork.  Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool.

Make the nuts.  While the squash is roasting, heat the granulated sugar, bourbon, cinnamon, cumin, salt and cayenne in a small, oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  When the sugar has dissolved, add the nuts and toss until they’re evenly coated.  Transfer the skillet to the oven, which should be at 400 degrees for the squash.  Roast the nuts for 6-10 minutes, tossing them occasionally, until they’re a little browned.  Check them every minute or two to make sure they don’t burn.   (Note: if  you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, just use a regular one and transfer the nuts to a small oven-proof dish before putting them in the oven).  Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a plate to cool.

Make the quinoa.  Place the quinoa in a fine mesh colander and rinse for 2 minutes, using your hand to move the quinoa around a bit.  (This helps rid the quinoa of a natural coating that can make it taste bitter.)  In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the quinoa and cook it a few minutes until any water has evaporated.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Scrape down the sides so that all the quinoa is in the broth.  Cover and reduce the heat to very low.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the heat but keep it covered.  Let it rest for 5 minutes.  Lift the lid and confirm that the broth has been absorbed and the quinoa seeds have sprouted little curly cues (the germ).  (If not, cover the pot and return it to low heat (try a little higher than last time) and cook for for 5-10 minutes more.  Remove the quinoa from the heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.)  Fluff the quinoa with a fork.  If you’re not using the quinoa immediately, leave the lid off until it cools completely.

Make the dressing.   In a small saucepan, boil the orange juice until it reduces to about 3 Tbsp.  Remove from the heat and let it cool.  Add the lemon juice and shallot.  Whisk the olive oil in slowly.

Assemble the salad.  Cut or peel the skin off the roasted acorn squash and cut into 1-2″ chunks.  Add the squash to the quinoa.  Add the nuts to the quinoa, chopping them up a little if they stuck to each other when they cooled.  Toss with some of the salad dressing.  Taste it and add more salad dressing, salt and pepper as you prefer.  Sprinkle goat cheese, if desired, over the salad.  Spoon the salad over arugula or spinach and drizzle with any remaining dressing as desired.


dogs in leaves As these dogs should have learned in daycare, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye (narrowly avoided, in this case).