Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Best of 2015

2015 has been a great year for us and while we're sad to see it go, we're so excited for all that next year has in store. One of the best things about having a blog is that we can look back on the year and see what we were up are a few of our favorite moments from the past year:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas

My parents are here for Christmas now and I'm taking this week off to spend time with family, do some sightseeing, eat lots of Christmas treats and relax! We're planning on one more visit to the Edinburgh Christmas market, treating my parents to real fish & chips in Anstruther, and a day trip to St. Andrew's on Christmas Eve for a candlelight carol sing. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, wherever you are in the world! xo

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Beef Stew

Many Christmas traditions revolve around food and in our house, there's no exception. We started a tradition when we lived in Cortina of eating beef stew on Christmas night for dinner. I'm not quite sure how it came about - Ryan always had practice on Christmas evening because he always had a game the day after Christmas - and after our big Christmas Eve party, I guess I didn't want to cook another elaborate meal, so we settled on beef stew which is hearty, delicious and super easy to make.

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1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of stew meat (check weight)
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
4 cups beef broth
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped

Heat the olive oil on medium high heat and add the stew meat. Sear until the outside is no longer pink, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion to the pot; cook until softened. Add the flour and stir to combine and cook for another minute. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, being careful that you aren't burning anything. Add the red wine and stir to combine, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pot as well. Simmer the wine for two minutes, then add the thyme, bay leaves and beef broth, as well as a bit of salt and pepper. Also add the beef back in. Turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for one hour.

In the meantime, you can chop up your vegetables. After an hour, add the carrots, celery and potatoes to the stew, cover again, and simmer for another hour and a half.

Serve hot with chopped parsley on top and crusty bread on the side.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Edinburgh Christmas Market

It's Christmas market season! After four years in the Dolomites, we're pretty well-versed in European Christmas markets and so we were happy to find that Edinburgh has a great one of its own. Here are a few pictures, if you'd like to see....

Typical Christmas markets are filled with stalls where you can buy presents, treats, sausages and gluhwein and this one is no exception. We did a bunch of Christmas shopping here and added to our ornament collection (we have a Christmas tree ornament from every market we've been to).

We were also pleasantly surprised by the real German sausages that we found....

....and these are the best donuts EVER.

They also have multiple ice skating rinks, rides for kids and a Christmas tree maze! We would highly recommend it if you're ever in the area in December.

PS - Past Christmas markets in Salzburg, Prague, Munich, Lienz and Switzerland...and a round-up of our favorites.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pecan Pie Tarts

December is the best time for sweets and we like to have some on hand at all times. This year, while making a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, I had extra filling and ended up using it to make these little tarts which were a big hit and are the perfect holiday treat.

I followed this recipe for the filling (I substituted the bourbon with scotch, because - Scotland! and left out the candied ginger too). I bought pre-made tarts at the store, poured the filling in and baked them at 350 for 30 minutes. And I have to say - while we are making Christmas cookies this year, these were much easier!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gifts for the Traveler

A little gift guide for you today, if you're looking for gift ideas for any travelers....

1. This weekender bag from Lo & Sons is one of my favorites. As an over-packer, short trips or weekend trips can be tough for me packing-wise, but this bag is truly the perfect size - and there's a secret compartment at the bottom for dirty clothes....or extras.

2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones - for those plane rides when you just want to sleep.

3. Currency! For whatever country they're traveling to next. Having a little cash on hand and not worrying about exchanging money right away is always so convenient. {Image via}

4. A world map and push pins so they can mark down where they've been.

5. A monogrammed luggage tag - one of those fun little things that you wouldn't normally buy for yourself.

6. A guidebook to the next place they're going....while Rick Steves has definitely saturated the guidebook market, rarely has he steered us wrong.

7. A journal for keeping notes during trips, holidays and vacations.

8. Good walking shoes. These are on my list this year....

9. A cross-body bag - perfect for sightseeing and balances out the weight better than a bag worn on one shoulder.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December is Here!

We love December in this house so we're thrilled that it's finally here! We're getting our tree this week, my parents are coming in two weeks for Christmas and this week marks the start of my third trimester so we're finally in the home stretch!

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Coming up this month - we're going to do a two-part gift guide this season and the first installment will be out later this week. Plus a few holiday recipes, a visit to the Edinburgh Christmas market and later on, our favorite parts of 2015. Happy December!

PS - Our favorite Christmas markets in Europe and it's finally time for.....chestnuts roasting on an open fire!