Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Vacation on a cruise ship!

So you may be wondering where we spent our Christmas.

Well, to give you some hints, we did a lot of this:

watching beautiful sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico

hanging out at the beach and working on our tans!

We got a wonderful Christmas gift to go on a cruise to Mexico.  The cruise left from Tampa, Florida and we stopped in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.  It was the perfect amount of sun, naps and relaxation.

While we were in Cozumel, we grabbed a bite to eat at Toro’s Place for some Mexican.  Both of us enjoy eating outdoors, so this place was perfect.  As can be expected, we munched on:

…some chips and salsa!  Washington does not have the best Mexican restaurants, so if we can find something while we travel- we definitely take advantage of it.  This was well worth it, the salsa was a bit spicy and the fish tacos mouthwatering.

Of course, Mexican food always tastes better with a beer and a lime!


It was a great trip where we got to relax outdoors, catch up on some reading and sleep in.  Sometimes it’s nice to get away and enjoy some free time.  Best of all, we got to spend this time with our family!

Have you guys gone on a cruise?  If so, where to?  Where are you planning your next vacation?

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Christmas Cookies: Ginger Bites

I hope you’re all enjoying spending time with family and friends on this lovely Christmas Day!  If you have some extra time, and would like some more cookies (yes please!), here’s another recipe for a delicious and easy to make cookie.

On Friday night someone suggested that this would be good with a gingerbread latte.  So maybe stop by a Starbucks, and then enjoy it with these delicious treats.

Ginger Bites
Adapted from: Sparkling Ink

7/8 tbsp of butter, softened
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp honey
1 cup of four
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ginger zest
Preheat the oven 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar until it’s fluffy.  Then add the vanilla and honey, while you’re still mixing.  While you continue to mix the dough, add flour and baking soda a little at a time.

Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and mold each piece into a bar.  Place all three on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press the back of a fork into the cookie dough to make the cross hatches.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.  Allow the cookie bars to cool, and then cut them into cookie pieces.

How to Roast Chestnuts for Christmas

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
……
And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you!
–Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
(first recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio)

I actually only know the first and last verse of this song!

But this definitely puts me in the Holiday spirit!  I hope all of you are spending a wonderful weekend with your family and friends this Christmas- beginning with Christmas Eve!

So chestnuts- I promised to give you some tips on how to roast them.  (Check out the Fifth Floor Kitchen Facebook page to get article links, updates, etc.)

How to Roast Chestnuts

1/2 – 1 lb fresh chestnuts*

Preheat the oven to 475°F.  Spread out the chestnuts in a baking dish (this way they don’t slip out).  Find a flat side of each chestnut, and with a sharp paring knife cut a large “X”.  You want it to cut through the chestnut skin.

I really like how they all look!

Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  The edges will start to peel.

The skin is a little furry.

Let them cool a bit (to not burn your fingers).  Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the chestnuts.  Don’t let them cool completely, they will be very difficult to peel.

Enjoy this delicious little treat!

*The amount of the chestnuts does not matter.  I tend to buy 2 bags at the store (I know Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carries them).

Christmas Cookies: Pecan Snowballs

As I promised…Christmas cookies!!!

Sam and I are excited to spend our Christmas on a little vacation- we’ll show you some photos after we come back- not make you too jealous!  But we spent tonight (Friday) with some of Sam’s family.

It’s always enjoyable to spend time with friends and family, especially at this time of the year.  We are very grateful to be surrounded by many wonderful people on both sides of our families, and enjoy seeing each and every one of them.

Last night we tried to make some cookies for tonight, unfortunately they didn’t turn out well (but we’ll be trying them again soon, I’m not discouraged!).  Since we ran out of eggs and I still wanted to make some holiday cookies, I was trying to find some recipes that did not require eggs.  We ended up trying out two of them, I think both were a hit tonight.

Below is the first one- a little snowball.  This is a great quick recipe which can be eaten at any time of the year, not just during the Christmas.  But they definitely look very festive on beautiful red plates!

Pecan Snowballs
Adapted from: The Kitchn

1 cup of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans (can be chopped in a food processor)
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes) with a stand/electric mixer.  Then add the vanilla and water, keep mixing the mixture.

In a small bowl, blend together flour, pecans and salt.  While the butter/sugar mixture is being blended, slowly add the flour/pecan mixture.  Once the dough is well incorporated, roll pieces of dough into marble-sized balls.

Place each of the balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 20 minutes, or once the bottoms of each ball are slightly brown.  When the cookies are baked, allow them to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

In a shallow dish distribute powdered sugar at the bottom.  Take each ball and roll it around the powdered sugar, it should be sticking to the pecan ball.  Take a bite and enjoy with some hot chocolate or egg nog!

I’m back!

I apologize for the lack of posts for the last month or so…but it’s been a bit busy!  December has been a whirlwind of activity:

1. I traveled to Poland for a work trip, and ate a lot (a lot!) of tasty food.  Below are some stands from the Christmas Market in Warsaw.  Wonderful smells included pastries, sausages, cheeses and warm wine.

2. We visited Chicago for Christmas and ate some yummy food there.  This included some Italian Beef at Portillo’s, Hot Dogs at Superdawg, and Christmas dinner at my parents!

3. Lastly, in between combining our two kitchens, we celebrated New Year’s with a tasty dinner at Acadiana Restaurant in Washington D.C.  My favorite part was the dessert- beignets!  Now I want to go visit New Orleans and try the real thing.

That was a quick recap of the last month, but I’ll be posting up some of the recipes which we had tried out between then and now.

Happy New Year’s!  May 2011 bring even more culinary adventures to each and every one of you.  Yum!  =)