Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Christmas Time. . .

Our Christmas Time was a very relaxed and enjoyable one.
However, it was bittersweet.
This was the first Christmas that Andy and I have had, since we have been married, that we were away from all of our family in Utah. After a horrible traveling experience last Christmas, we decided it was time to start doing our own Christmas Time Traditions together as a family. We did miss sharing the time with extended family, but also really enjoyed the calmness of doing our own thing.

We started off the Christmas Vacation with going to Isaac's Kindergarten Christmas Program.
It was very cute, as you could probably imagine.
Isaac had been practicing his songs at home for a long time, and he took his performance pretty seriously.
(not the greatest picture-I seriously need a new camera)

Christmas Eve we ventured out and took the boys Bowling!
We all had a BLAST:-)

Isaac and Seth actually did really good, and it was so fun to watch and cheer each other on.
There was one time Seth put the bowling ball down and then kicked it. . . so funny. . .whatever gets the ball down to the pins I guess.

I think we have started an Olsen Family Tradition,
Bowling an Christmas Eve.
I don't mean to brag or anything but I am happy to say that I won the game with a score of 84. That's right we all bowled horribly that night, but it really didn't matter we all just had fun.

When we got home I had this cooking in the oven waiting for us:
It was delishous!

Hearty Beef Stew

Hearty Beef Stew
from America's Test Kitchen

3 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in. cubes
salt and ground pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped coarse (about 2 c.)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c. full-bodied dry red wine (I prefer a California Zin. with this recipe)
2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. cubes
4 large carrots (about 1 lb.), peeled and sliced 1/4 in. thick
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. minced parsley

-Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
-Dry beef throughly and season generaously with salt andpepper.
-Heat 1 Tbsp oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat.
-Add half the meat so that pieces are not touching and cook not moving until brown (about 2-3 min)
-Use tongs and rotate pieces until all sides are browned (about 5 additional min.)
-Trasfer beef to medium bowl and add another 1 Tbsp oil to pan, repeating previous steps with other half of beef.
-Reduce heat to medium and add additional 1 Tbsp oil to now empty pan and swirl to coat bottom.
-Add onions and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, scraping bottom of pan for brown bits until softened (about 5 mins).
-Add garlic and continue to cook for 30 sec.
-stir in the flour and cook until lightly colored (1-2 min.)
-Add wine, scraping the bottom and stiring until thick and flour is dissolved.
-Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring constantly scraping up the remaining browned bits on bottom of pan.
-Add bay leaves and thyme and return to simmer.
-Add beef, return to simmer, and place the pot in the oven.
-Cook for 1 hour.
-Add potatoes and carrots cover and return to the oven to cook for additional hour.
-Remove the pot from oven (here you can cover and refridgerate for up to 3 days.)
-Add the peas, cover and allow to stand for 5 min.
-Stir in the parsley, discard bay leaves, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

We then had these yummy cookies for desert.

The Most Fabulous Sugar Cookie's EVER:

Fabulous Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest
5 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Powdered sugar, for rolling

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes.
-Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.
-Add vanilla, almond, and lemon zest.
-Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt a little at a time.
-Do not over mix, this process should take about one minute.
-Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll out and cut right away.
-Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes.
-Wait until cookies are cooled before icing.

Here is Isaac Super Excited about Santa and his Reindeer's goody plate.

Here is Seth caught 'red-handed' with one of Santa's cookies from the goody plate. So funny, he has such a sweet tooth!
As you can imagine Isaac was not too happy about this.

Here are the boys Christmas morning, messy hair and all!
Isaac was sooo very excited to go and see what Santa had brought. Seth on the other hand was scared out of his mind, on the vurg of tears. He was woke up by a very excited brother, dad, and mom-and had no idea what was going on. He soon found out what was going on. . .

. . .and loved every minute of his Christmas Morning Present opening time!

Christmas Afternoon we all went and saw
The Tale of Despereaux.
It was a very cute well made movie.
I highly recommend it :-)

We hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas!



I am Laura said...

sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas at home. It is hard to be away from family for me too. I love that you went bowling. that is a fun tradition. Was it crowded? I now can't wait to see Tale of Desperaux.

jill s said...

that's so awesome that you went bowling! that will be such a fun tradition!

it was great to see you guys last night!!

i'm glad you had a good Christmas despite not being with family.

i have to say i was SO relieved to not be traveling again for Christmas either!

ali said...

how fun!

We missed you, but I totally don't blame you, traveling for christmas is too crazy.

Ciara said...

What a fun Christmas! I still can't believe that you have a Kindergartner! They grow up fast, don't they!

ladybug143 said...

What a fun time! Bowling is such a great idea. I might have to suggest that one for next year. I am excited to try that stew recipe!

Margo said...

I love your blog. You always have such great recipes and awesome craft ideas. Hey, i am so sorry that we did not get to stop buy on our trip up to Michigan. I could not believe the snow. I was surprised that we even made it and then made it back home. We will for sure coming back up this summer and we will stop buy. It was so great to at least talk. love ya lots, I hope you guys can survive with all the snow and ice. -margo