Merry Monday

Christmas ends so quickly!

So does the dessert.

I took a nice, long blog break last week to enjoy the time with my family.  It was great to take some rest… but I was excited to come back and share, and to read everyone else’s recaps!  Is anyone else still full? 😉

Our Christmas Eve was a little different this year – we went out to dinner!  That was fun, but the best part was our tradition of sharing dessert and drinks at home with some family friends.  I make something different every year.  This year was chocolate-hazelnut martinis and an amazing Sweet & Salty Chocolate Guinness Pie topped with marshmallow meringue.

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Guinness Pie

I followed this recipe, with a few adjustments.  I halved everything to make just 1 pie.  Instead of graham crackers I mixed pretzels with ginger snaps in the crust.  I also made a simpler meringue.  Rather than doing it over heat, beat the egg whites into a fluff and slowly added sugar to keep it light. Then, I melted the marshmallows in the microwave before adding them in.  I skipped the Guinness reduction and in favor of bourbon extract.

That meringue was insanely good… I must say this is one of the best desserts to date!


Christmas morning was a sure sign we are all grown up – after a late night, we slept until 9am and no one touched a present until almost 10:30!  This is unheard of in my family.

It gave me time to take some pictures of my favorite ornaments.  The one on the bottom right was my great grandmother’s!

Christmas ornaments

French press coffee in hand and fire built, we dug into the bounty.  Even Honey (the dog) waited patiently for her turn to explore her stocking.

Mom out did herself, as always.  We are lucky girls!  I got a ton of clothes, a pizza stone, new towels (my only request – another sure sign of being an adult!), some cool glass bottles, make-up, chocolates… and bacon duct tape.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if it was scratch ‘n sniff tape?!


Brunch is the big-deal meal in my family.  So is taking pictures of everything we eat.

Mom staged a shot of the sparkling wine and ambrosia:

One of our most-loved traditions is the champagne brunch.  I brought a bottle of sparkling from my Napa trip – a Schramsberg Brut Rosé.

It went well with our smorgasbord.  We had ambrosia, Italian sausage and cabbage saute, local bacon, toast, scrambled eggs, mâché (greens), and mushrooms (so good sautéed in bacon remnants and fresh rosemary).

Christmas champagne brunch

Then we lounged.  We Skyped my other sister in Portland.  I napped.  I never nap… bacon and sparkling are to blame!  😉

But we aren’t total lushes couch potatoes.  A few hours later we took Honey for a 3 mile walk by the river.  It’s pretty close to where my dad is buried, so we made a pit stop to say hi.  Honey jumped right up on the bench there to say hi.  It was really sweet.  And really cold… we hauled it back home for hot tea and to begin dinner.


Dinner was another tradition – my friend Ben and his partner came over.  Ben makes the best chocolate-coated toffee I have ever had, and every year he comes over for a meal and to deliver a bag of crack toffee.  We snacked on a cheese plate, enjoyed some wine, and prepared dinner.

Mom helped me to roast my first whole chicken.  It turned out really well!  We ate that with a spaghetti squash and bacon creation and a salad.  And more wine.  (Read: we slept in again.)

Christmas Dinner

This marvelous Christmas deserves a link up over at Katie’s MIMM!


I’m prepping for a NYE pairing dinner I’m co-hosting… and then I must admit I’m excited to get back on the clean eating train.

What is the big holiday meal in your family?

What was the best gift Santa brought you this year?


  1. says

    Looks like you had a fabulous time Laura and glad that you got a break. Those desserts look amazing! My whole family was in town for Christmas and it was really great to have one of my mom’s home cooked meals on Christmas. It’s been a while and I’ve missed her cooking!! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  2. says

    Your mom sounds like my sister – my sister NEVER DISAPPOINTED – she is Santa, FOR SURE!! Our tree was looking a bit anorexic until she came and unloaded her SLEIGH full of gifts – Oh excuse me, TWO SLEIGHS! Her and Mr. Claus (her husband, lol) brought 2 cars! And these cars are F-150s! BAHHH HA HA HA!!! I told you, they don’t MESSSSS AROUND! (Oh and I hear you about getting older – we didn’t celebrate XMAS until the 28th!!!!!! Talk about patience, holy hot damn).

    And what brunch is to your family, dinner is to mine! I love it.

    I am not full though. I am never full. I am a human garbage disposal.

    PUMPED to see your NYE recap!

  3. says

    I can already envision the taste elevation of your caulicrust pizzas made on a pizza stone. Boom.

    Stoked to see you take a refreshing blogging break and enjoy some time with the family :) Here my mum makes this trifle which is so awesome…and so effing ugly. :)

    • Laura says

      I always made them on my old stone… but it had an unfortunate accident involving heat and cold water. Oops…

  4. says

    Wooooow that cake!! It looks amd sounds beyond delicious!!
    Sounds like such a beautiful and fun christmas you had. Honey is adorable!!! If I weren’t such a chaotic, I would want a dog. Maybe kids aren’t a good idea for me either, lol.
    Mom made an incredible salmon this year. But I love the white chocolate from the tree the most :-)

  5. says

    THIS just makes me happy. Food, family, a good holiday break, Guinness pie. haha. And i love that honey knew where to stop. So sweet and memorable moment. oh there i go again.. corny

  6. says

    Oh my, that pie, Sweet & Salty Chocolate Guinness Pie (plus your modifications) – sounds divine! My family and I were talking about how it seems like more people are going out to dinner nowadays than in the past. As long as you’re surrounded by those who matter the most, I don’t think it makes a difference where you are. Happy holidays, XO

    • Laura says

      Thank you! Going out and then coming back for dessert was a good compromise… but I kind of hope we stay in next year. :)

      Happy New Year!

  7. says

    Love that your fam gets in on the picture-taking! I think I’ve finally converted my family but now they’re constantly taking pictures of what they eat and texting them to me so maybe that was a bad idea! Glad you had a wonderful Christmas!

  8. says

    So, I might invite myself to your next family brunch. That just sounds perfect! And I’ve had my eye on that pie, so good to know that it turned out well for you with modifications.

    I think I was up around 8 on Christmas, but Eric didn’t get up until 11. I applaud myself for my patience and not dragging his ass out of bed earlier 😉

  9. says

    I actually really enjoy my kids getting older and the holiday. The boys don’t get overly anxious about the gifts. It’s just a great family day. My in-laws do lunch Christmas day, but I have to say, I prefer the brunch and dinner meal plan for that day. It just seems more relaxed and lasts longer. We were done with everything right after lunch…

    I’m so glad you had a great holiday with your family!

  10. says

    I cannot even talk about how amazing that pie sounds. I once had a dark chocolate stout pie that I have dreams about to this day. How clever of you to mix pretzels and gingersnaps! I am so lazy but I would truly like to make this pie, it sounds like my personal perfection!

    • Laura says

      I have to admit it took me a minute to motivate to try this one… but it’s well-worth it! It took less time that it seemed like it would.

  11. says

    I’m VERY impressed with your baking skills…That is some creativity and it looks DELICIOUS! I could do some serious damage to that cake. :) SO glad that you had a wonderful Christmas, some down time, and lots of napping. Naps are sometimes the best, when you are at home. Nothing wrong with them at all…

  12. says

    That’s so cool that your fam is as in to taking pictures of their food as you are :) My family yells at me.

    Our big meal is Christmas dinner although I do try to push healthy brunching items on them as well.

    And my favorite gift was a Vitamix. Been dying to get one for years!

    • Laura says

      You are going to LOVE your Vitamix!!! Mine has been worth every penny. I love being able to blend anything into a smoothie, and that it makes a great soup!

  13. says

    My holiday festivities are still going on, so I’m still enjoying ALL THE FOODS. Mostly baked goods :). Yay for napping. I never nap, either. Sometimes you just need one, ya know?!

    Also. Honey. So cute. Oh my gosh!!

  14. says

    I just have to say…well, hi, first of all…HIIIIIIIIIIIIII!! 😀 Ok, that’s better! What I was going to say is I have never been a fan of meringue (probably one of the only problems I have texture wise), but you definitely have piqued my curiosity with the addition of the marshmallow…and well, anything with pretzels and chocolate is good in my book!

    And now all I have to say isssssssss BROCCOLI BOMMMMMMMMMMMMB!!! *makes shooting noises with invisible gun* 😉

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