Posts in "Christmas"
A #LetsHoliday Dinner in Sausalito with Whole Foods
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

A couple weeks ago I was invited to a holiday dinner event in Sausalito with Whole Foods, and while going to events like that on my own is usually way out of my comfort zone, I was so excited to meet some new people and enjoy a glass of wine or two with a waterfront view of San Francisco—I mean how bad could that be? And it really was as dreamy as I imagined it would be.

We usually just drive right through Sausalito on our way to Sonoma, so it was nice to stop and walk around a little on my way to Casa Madrona, the hotel and spa where the event was being held. I don’t get very much alone time these days so I really enjoyed every minute of the journey from my house to the hotel—it took about an hour so I made a latte before I left and spent my drive finishing up a couple half-listened-to episodes of Pod Save America and The Dream (is anyone else listening to The Dream? Holy cow—but I guess that’s a whole other blog post).

The party took place on a gorgeous terrace on one of the upper levels of the hotel, with hors d’oeuvre stations scattered throughout and a couple beautiful tables outside styled with truly lovely place settings. I was given a name tag, a glass of sparkling wine, and a little plate with an assortment of caviar upon walking through the door, and I was officially in relaxation mode. Cheese, oysters, persimmon toast, and that view! What more could you ask for on a Sunday evening in December?

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

When I lived in Charlotte I got to go to a lot of events with food and lifestyle bloggers, and it was always so nice to feel like I was part of that world. The Bay Area is so much bigger—it took me a long time to feel like I had a place here, and sometimes I’m still looking for it, so it really meant a lot to get to experience a fun media night with a bunch of other food-obsessed writers and photographers. I’m definitely an introvert, but sometimes I crave that sense of community. (Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo was there and I fangirled so hard I basically just ignored her all night. Maybe next time.)

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
WFM x Casa Madrona (58 of 182).JPG
#LetsHoliday with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

The food was so good.

Dinner consisted of prime rib with horseradish cream, roasted acorn squash with maple and hazelnuts, potato gratin with truffles, cumin-spiced carrots, and some of the best flaky rolls I’ve ever had. I was too full for pie but snagged a cranberry white chocolate brown butter cookie before I left, which was so good (I also found a second one in my swag bag which didn’t last very long). Everything was so special and decadent that I almost forgot that I could re-create everything (or just buy those COOKIES!) from my local Whole Foods.

They also served a really interesting red wine at dinner that I actually plan to get for our own Christmas celebrations next week (I think it’s the Sean Thackrey Pleiades Red Blend but I’m going to double check to be sure—I think another taste is in order).

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian

All in all, it was a pretty special night. I hadn’t really planned to write a full blog post about the event but these photos were just too beautiful not to share! And I really love the idea of beef for Christmas—if you’re celebrating the holiday, what’s on your menu for next week?

#LetsHoliday Dinner with Whole Foods | Freckled Italian
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Traditions in the Making: Christmas Cookies
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Every year around the holidays, my mom makes these little butter cookies that are rolled out and cut into stars and half moons baked until they’re perfectly done and cooled before dipping them halfway in chocolate and sprinkling them with crushed nuts. They’re perfect and they fall apart in the best way if you dip them in hot tea and my brother’s girlfriend Jane and I sat down together and probably ate 30 of them the day after Thanksgiving this year.

I love the traditions that just happen, the ones you don’t have to plan for but then if you forget about them one year people (i.e. me) are like “BUT WHERE ARE THE COOKIES?”

I made the cookies last year before I had a baby and I froze them so my mom and I could eat them when she got to town. We defrosted them and dipped them in hot tea and they were good but they weren’t as good, so this year I didn’t make them (it could also be because I already ate at least 15 just a few weeks ago).

So this year Rob and I made some sugar cookie dough on a Saturday morning while Sophie napped, and we drank our coffee as I rolled the dough into four sections and twisted each one into a plastic wrap-covered ball. Into the fridge they went and later on that afternoon we rolled them out onto a marble slab and used a juice glass to cut them into perfect circles before baking them and then transferring each cookie onto one of two cooling racks which I ordered on Amazon two days before for exactly this reason.

Sunday was Cookie Decorating Day, so I set out a variety of sprinkles and those cinnamon red hots and we opened a bottle of sparkling wine before mixing powdered sugar with egg whites, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a shocking amount of milk because it seemed like we were mixing concrete, not icing. Countless Instagram cookie decorating videos had me feeling incredibly confident about my innate royal icing piping skills, so Rob and Sophie watched as I piped and flooded white backgrounds onto each of the cookies with the help of my friend Mary, who came over just to decorate cookies with us on a Sunday afternoon.

A few drops of food coloring into each one of four bowls and a few more piping bags later, we had cookies that were…not as cute as I thought they’d be.

Traditions in the Making: Christmas Cookies | Freckled Italian

But what a fun afternoon it turned out to be, and later that evening after Mary left we tucked Sophie into the stroller with a blanket and walked through our neighborhood, talking about what cookie cutters we should get for next year and how when Sophie is older maybe she’ll want to invite her own friends over for the annual Peterson Family Cookie Decorating Party.

PS we used this cookie recipe and it was perfect. This frosting, not so much. If you have a sugar cookie frosting recipe you love, let me know!

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Chinese Food for Christmas & a Recipe: Crispy Veggie Egg Rolls

This post is sponsored by La Crema Winery.

Chinese Food for Christmas | Freckled Italian

After an incredibly busy past few months, I'm really enjoying a slow holiday season and have been planning a super low-key Christmas at home with my little family. I've always loved the idea of doing something non-traditional for Christmas dinner (my family has been known to do seafood on Christmas Eve), and if you know me at all you know my love for Chinese food knows no bounds.

We could always go super easy and order takeout, but I started thinking it might be fun to make our own as a family, so I put together a simple menu of chicken chow mein, beef and broccoli, and some delicious crispy egg rolls to get the whole thing started. Stop by the La Crema blog today to get the two entree recipes, but keep reading here to learn how to make your own egg rolls! (And don't forget to put a few bottles of La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay in the fridge to top it all off.)

Crispy Veggie Egg Rolls | Freckled Italian

Ingredients: 

  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 10 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (I like regular ol' button mushrooms but you could use shiitake)
  • About half of a small cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped 
  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh bean sprouts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Spring roll or egg roll wrappers
  • Cooking oil (olive or canola), for sautéing veggies and frying the rolls

Instructions: 

  1. In a large pan, sauté garlic, ginger, and green onions together in a little oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are browned slightly.
  2. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring well to combine. Add the cabbage and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the cabbage has wilted slightly. Remove the entire mixture from the pan and set aside.
  3. To assemble the egg rolls, take a wrapper and lay it down flat. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture onto the wrapper and begin to roll from one side, tucking the edges in as you wrap the roll up. Use a little water on your fingers to seal the whole thing. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  4. Add more oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Fry each egg roll for 1-2 minutes per side, or until the wrappers are golden-brown. Serve immediately with your favorite spicy Asian dipping sauce (there's a spicy peanut one at Trader Joe's that I like) or a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot chili oil. 
Chinese Food for Christmas | Freckled Italian

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and delicious holiday this year.

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