romantic night

New Year’s Eve Dinner

I like to go out for New Year’s Eve. I love the energy, the people watching, the ridiculously tiny dresses that women wear when they are absolutely freezing (um, common sense?). I used to go out dancing on NYE with friends. Michael isn’t much for dancing or clubs so when we got together our tradition became going out to a nice restaurant. Last year we went to Meriweather’s on NYE and had a lovely dinner.This year we did something a little different. We stayed home and cooked a nice dinner together and then played a REAL game of Scrabble.

Ham. I attempted baking a humongous ham for the first time in my life and it was AMAZING. It was a scary endeavor, especially on a holiday where the potential of ruin was high…but as Michael said, “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care if we eat Taco Bell tonight. We’re together and that’s all that matters.” Awww.

The recipe I found for the ham was pretty easy, considering I was holding a huge hunk of meat in my hands weighing more than 7 pounds… I scored the ham, slathered it with Dijon mustard, stuck the pineapple slices and cloves into it and popped it into the oven for 3 hours.

Baked Ham

Prep Time: 33 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes

Serving Size: 3 ounces

Calories per serving: 3 WW points

From Weight Watchers

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 (20 ounce) can sliced unsweetened pineapple slices (juice drained to save 2 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 small, bone-in ready-to-eat ham, trimmed (about 6 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 30 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil.
  2. To prepare the glaze, combine brown sugar, allspice, pineapple juice in a small bowl. Mix.
  3. Score the ham with a small knife. Spread mustard over the ham. Attach the pineapple rings to the surface in an attractive pattern, securing them with toothpicks (use whole cloves to cover the holes). Brush with half the glaze.
  4. Bake, basting with the remaining glaze every 15 minutes until ham is nicely browned and the thermometer reads 140F. Cover with foil and let stand before slicing.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=27386

I think the calories are off on the recipe, so don’t go off what it says. If you know WW recipes, try and figure out the actual points for it. Either way, I wasn’t too concerned about the points or calories that night. I didn’t have Allspice but I looked it up and you can do a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon instead, so that’s what I did.

The ham may look horrifying but it was amazing. It was outstanding. The glaze was fantastic. The flavors were strong and bold, sweet and orgasmic. Michael said “This is the best ham I’ve ever had in my entire life.” Which made me proud. While neither of us have ever made ham before, his mom has done ham in the past. I think that’s a pretty good compliment–better than mom’s! 🙂

Michael had been craving his Mac n’ Cheese for a week too, so he decided to make mac n’ cheese to go with the ham. The flavors were great! Mac n’ cheese and ham and brussel sprouts? Yes please! The ham was so tender and flavorful, I cannot stop raving about it.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions

Yield: 10

Serving Size: 3/4 cup

Calories per serving: 81

From Eatingwell.com

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 sprigs thyme or savory, plus 2 teaspoons leaves, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. If sprouts are very small, cut in half; otherwise cut into quarters. Cook the sprouts until barely tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until brown but not crisp, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the pan.
  3. Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, reducing the heat if necessary, about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme (or savory) sprigs, salt and pepper.
  4. Increase heat to medium-high, add the Brussels sprouts, and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until tender and warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs. Add the bacon, thyme (or savory) leaves and lemon juice, if using, and toss.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=27386

I have to say that our New Year’s Eve Dinner was probably the best meal I’ve ever cooked. After eating some amazing Brussel Sprouts in the last month, I knew that there would be some of those tasty green balls on our NYE plate.

The recipe was simple and delicious. I chopped all the onions and added some shallots to it, chopped up chunks of uncooked bacon. Michael cooked the stuff in the skillet in the bacon fat. Bacon fat. Mmmm.

While we were eating dinner I mentioned that I just realized we were eating ham AND bacon and Michael said “That’s why I love you.” Either way, double pork or not, everything went together really well. It was a nice stay-at-home-holiday.

Wine was Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio–one of my new favorite California wines. While we were cooking we enjoyed the Trader Joe’s Coastal Syrah–love!

By the way, the Trader Joe’s wine was super cheap and probably one of the better wines I’ve had in a really long time. It was totally worth a try. I think my readers should give it a try! Go to your nearby TJ and spend $5. After dinner we set up Scrabble and played a game–for real. Not Words with Friends.


Michael gets super serious about Scrabble (well most games, really). I just play for fun. Since Michael was taking so long to make his moves, I played with Fat Kitty and my camera until it was my turn.

Waiting…waiting…and still waiting…And then I had some macadamia nut Hershey’s kisses for dessert.


We definitely rang in the New Year on a positive note. Give these recipes a try–they were wonderful. Cheers!

QUESTION: Have you ever baked a ham on your own before? What did you do for New Year’s Eve? 

Fantastic Friday Date Night

Since I swam on Thursday night I had my Friday night free to do whatever I wanted…for the first time in a long time! Michael picked me up from work at 5 and we headed to NW Portland to hang out. The first stop was Happy Hour at Meriwether’s Restaurant.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Meriwether’s and it’s one of my friend’s favorite restaurants (she said the martinis are really strong too). They have a gorgeous outdoor patio, too. Unfortunately Happy Hour doesn’t apply to outside seating. Boo! So Michael and I snagged a table right by the door so we could at least see the patio. 😉

Meriwether’s boasts nothing but fresh ingredients and even has their own farm. I was excited to try the food. I ordered a glass of white wine and Michael got a beer.

For some reason, a crisp white wine really says “Summer” to me.

We chatted and caught up on each other’s day. It was a really nice time. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE my Friday night swimming. It’s quiet, it’s never crowded at the pool, it’s relaxing, and I can unwind from the workweek before I start my weekend. But once in awhile it’s nice to break out of the routine and do something different. And it was a nice way to start my weekend “early.” So as  you can imagine, I was in a pretty good mood last night. I felt almost giddy!

Michael was drinking a Total Domination IPA. It was pretty good! Enough of that…time for the FOOD. It was pretty damn good too!

We got the “5 for $12” happy hour special: Hummus with freshly made pita bread, tuna empanadas, fava bean and ricotta toast topped with heirloom tomatoes, risotto fritters, and the Skyline Farms crudite. We also got the order of freshly baked foccacia bread and olive oil.

The hummus was fantastic! It’s probably the second best hummus in Portland–the first would be at the Lebanese restaurant called Hoda.The toast with heirloom tomatoes was really good too. I think heirloom tomatoes are my new favorite thing this summer.

Beside the hummus, I think the best thing we ate were the risotto balls. I am still craving them today. The empanadas were just okay in my opinion. There wasn’t a lot of substance inside of them and I was a bit disappointed.

After eating, we left and went to what turned out to be a Triathlon store across the street! It was really cool to see all the gear for triathlons. I don’t think there was a bike under $3,000 in that store.

Next, we walked around NW 23rd Avenue. It’s a very yuppie/trendy/hipster Portland part of town with high-end boutiques and funky stores. We went to my favorite bookstore there: New Renaissance and got some gifts for an upcoming baby shower for our friends. New Renaissance is a hippie store with everything I would buy if I won the lottery.

I collect Buddhas and other statues and such. I wanted to buy everything in the store so Michael had to physically direct me to leave the store. 🙂 After walking around for awhile, we decided to go to Papa Haydn’s for some dessert. It’s the best dessert place in Portland.

There are so many desserts to choose from it’s hard to make a decision.


I ordered my second glass of wine. 🙂

Since Michael and I were splitting the dessert, that  narrowed down the options quite a bit. He’s very picky about his desserts. He hates mint (bummer). He hates peanut butter in dessert (sigh). He’s not a fan of fruit. We compromised and agreed to split the Chocolate Truffle Cake. It’s a super fudgy chocolate cake layered with dark chocolate and white chocolate genache, covered with a white chocolate frosting and topped with whipped cream.

It was divine! And thank god we split it! There’s no way I could have eaten something so rich by myself.

I noticed that we were the only couple in the entire restaurant splitting dessert. Everyone else that had ordered dessert was eating their own serving. I was quite surprised by that. Not only is one serving of their desserts probably at least 1,000+ calories…I don’t understand how people can eat such a huge, decadent thing after eating dinner! On the walk back to the car, I saw this graffiti:

It made me chuckle. I had a fantastic night. We had a really great time together. For the first time in a long time, we didn’t have a packed schedule with tons to do, or things to train for. I could just enjoy a Friday night and enjoy some down time. It was great. 🙂

QUESTION: What is your favorite dessert to order?