ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Digress

Wow, what a month, huh?  It was the longest month, it was the shortest month.  I also do really think we had our best times and worst times of 2012 this December.  Luckily, the worse part was earlier, when we were juggling a whole lotta stress and work; the best was the last week, when we all just took time to chill out, hang out, and be.  Together.  Obviously the blogs didn't get much action, but that's life.  Now I have lots to blog about.

I just checked my VGP 2012 photo folder and there are like 30 recipes I never got around to posting.  I will.  Plus some really awesome awesomeness I made over winter break.  In the meantime, I've made some other really good food that's not traditional VGP material, but I want to share.  Sorry no piccies of my own, just links.  But the pics on the links are really great, so go there.

Sometime this month, I started craving scrambled eggs.  But not my own scrambled eggs; no one wants to eat those.  Rubbery gray-yellow blobs with burnt edges - no thank you!  We've taken eggs OFF our breakfast chart, except the occasional hard-boiled, because I have one of these, so I don't mess them up.  But other than that, I'm not very good at eggs.

I really wanted some good ones - creamy, well-seasoned, not over-cooked.  I didn't know when I could get out to a good diner for some.  Then a few nights ago, I decided, I can do this.  The internet is a wealth of knowledge and crazy foodies - there must be instructions on making proper scrambled eggs.  I didn't have to go far.  Thank you, theKitchn.  Absolutely amazing, and just what I was craving.  I'll (hopefully) never overcook my eggs again.  I even had chives!  It was a great meal for one.
Photo from theKitchn
 Now let's talk about Christmas Eve.  We hosted, and including us, the headcount came to sixteen - eight adults and eight children.  I would say dessert was the worst part, and even that was pretty good, so it was a lovely successful dinner, thanks to my brother Dave's helping hand when we got in the weeds.  Here's what we had:

Creamy Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Cups
Cranberry Curd and Cream Cheese on Baguette
Cranberry Juice with Ginger Ale

Pomegranate Salad with Honey-Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Main Course
Roast Stuffed Pork Loin with Port Sauce (it looked just like the picture!)
Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan (so good and easy - definitely doing this side dish for Dinner Swap sometime!)
Citrus Green Beans with Pine Nuts (also delicious)

Salted Caramel Cheesecakes 
Hot chocolate stir sticks (recipe coming)
(ice cream for the kids)

The cheesecakes were OK, I just had some trouble getting them neatly out of the muffin tin, so they were messy looking.  The caramel sauce from the recipe didn't turn out well, so I rummaged in the fridge - and it may not surprise you I had at least three kinds of caramel in there - and made a sauce from Smucker's caramel sauce, Nestle dulce de leche, and Fat Toad Farm Vanilla Bean Goat's Milk Caramel.  It was breathtaking.
Salted Caramel Cheesecakes Recipe
Photo from

I guess that's all for now.  My New Year's resolution is to keep baking and posting whenever I feel like it.

I'm into lofty goals like that.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dessert Club: International

 This is the big one, folks.  I throw exactly one holiday party a year, and it's our November/December Dessert Club.  I look forward to it like crazy.  It's how I kick off my holiday season. 

This year we decided to forego our usual "holiday cookies" theme and go back to one of our all-time favorites: International.  How can you go wrong?  We had six countries represented in nine dishes, and they were die. for.

Chocolate-Cherry Brioche (mine)

Naan-e Berenji (Persian Rice Cookies)

 Triple Layer Berry and Brown Sugar Pavlova  
(so delicious and melt-in-your-mouthy)

Tres Leches Cake

Poppy Seed Cake

Nougat Montelimar

Jamaican-Spiced Upside Down Cake (also mine)

Strawberry Savarin

...and while it was not a requirement to make a holiday dish per se, it is only fitting that our winner of the evening was this...

Bûche de Noël  
 It was beyond amazing, and I'm not even talking about how perfect it looked, from the log-swirled ganache to the meringue mushrooms.  It had an orange marscapone filling inside the most perfect chocolate sponge.  It completely deserved to win on every level.  I got the recipe; I'm trying to decide whether to attempt it myself for Christmas this year.  I certainly wouldn't mind eating it again!

At our holiday party, we also do a gift exchange.  Last year it was kitchen gadgets.  This year it was cool ingredients.  And, you guessed it, what you get is what you have to use for January - that's the theme.  Everything was fabulous, but I think some will be easier to use than others.  We did the exchange white-elephant-style, so there was stealing.  I think the most stolen item was vanilla bean paste, followed closely by coconut sugar.  I ended up with those chocolate bars down front, no complaining from me!  But the most coveted item was definitely toasted hazelnut flour, and it was also the last gift opened, so no one could steal it.  Talk about lucky!

And before everyone left, I handed out their favors - our 2012 Dessert Club ornament.  This is our third Christmas of Dessert Club, and I love hanging our three DC ornaments on our tree.  Look at all that whipped cream!  Merry Christmas!

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