Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cranberry Sangria

This year I thought I was really on top of things, and then it happened.

Christmas totally snuck up on me!

I don't know if it was because Thanksgiving was so late, but I feel like it is way too soon for the holiday to be upon us.  How is it only 3 days away?

I'm thinking this whole working thing is really starting to get in the way of my personal life.  Too bad I only have, oh, about 40 more years to go.

Speaking of work, last weekend I hosted a brunch with my girlfriends from my first job out of college.  Hard to believe that was almost 9 years ago already!  We try to get together at least once a year around the holidays, and if possible once in the summer.

The weather was, shall we say festive... a pretty dusting of snow, that held off enough to allow for their safe travel from New York and North Jersey.  We enjoyed a nice spread of coffee cake, pumpkin muffins, quiche, maple-coated bacon, and chopped greek salad.  Not to mention cranberry sangria.

I'm not a big drinker but I am usually a sucker for  a good margarita, and a good glass of sangria.  I like that this one had cranberry for the holiday.  Not too sweet or heavy, but it will still put a little jingle in your bells.

I totally could have used a glass (or three) of this a few weeks ago, when I was trying to get a photo of Mini for our family Christmas card.

This child does not sit still - not for one second.  True definition of "Ants in the Pants."

I need one of those high-speed cameras just to have a prayer of getting a shot that is not a complete blur.

Somehow I managed to capture a few gems - but it certainly wasn't easy!

In any event, amidst all the craziness that often accompanies this season, I hope you can take some time to relax (preferably, with a glass of cranberry sangria.)  Whatever you do - please, please, please just enjoy your holidays!!

Cranberry Sangria

  • 1 bottle (750mL) dry red wine
  • 1 C. cranberry juice
  • 1 C. orange juice
  • 1/4 C. brandy
  • 1/3 C. Triple Sec
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 C. fresh cranberries, some crushed

Combine all liquid ingredients in a large glass pitcher.  Add fruit.  Chill 2-8 hours before serving.

Recipe Adapted from the Editors of Publications International, Ltd..  "Cranberry SangrĂ­a"  31 August 2006.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Lamingtons (Chocolate Coconut-Covered Cakes)

Have you ever made Lamingtons before?

Have you ever even heard of Lamingtons before?

Me either.  But over the summer, my dad saw some show on television about a bakery in NYC that makes these.  He was going on and on about how amazing they looked, except he couldn't remember what they were called.

After some digging online, I discovered these magical chocolate & coconut-covered square cakes were called Lamingtons and originated in Australia.

Well, my dad was supposed to come over last weekend to celebrate his birthday, so I decided I would surprise him and make these for dessert.  I found what looked like an easy recipe on one of my go-to sites,, so I figured I'd be on my way to deliciousness in no time.

Or... not.

The cake part came out fine, but when it came to coating them in chocolate icing and rolling them in coconut, I was a complete disaster.  It took me way longer than it probably should have, and I made an absolute mess.  All the while, the blog's photo of Stephanie Jaworksi's beautifully covered cakes were taunting me, saying "This is totally possible - you just SUCK."

Well I think I managed to get about 6 of the 16 squares thoroughly covered (in addition to my dining room table and floor) before I threw in the towel.  For the remaining squares, I just ladled some chocolate icing over the tops, sprinkled them with coconut, and called it a day.

Our scheduled dinner ended up being cancelled anyway, because my dad got super sick (no, it was not the Sickness of Death from my last post, but it did leave him bed-ridden for 2 days!)  I still gave the Lamingtons to him, because I am never. making. these. again.

Not that it should stop YOU from trying, however - you can get the recipe here.  (Apologies, normally I would not do that to you, but for once I followed the recipe to the letter.  So per the rules of blogging etiquette, I cannot re-post it here on V&B!)

I will tell you that I had a bite of one, and saved a couple squares for Mr. Vittles, and we both agreed they tasted pretty amazing.

That is, as long as someone else makes them!

Lamingtons Recipe can be found at


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