Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wow, what a week it's been: Jet has been super sick, I was sick as well, throw in a couple of doctor visits, and some last minute Christmas preparations, and you've got yourself a bit of a crazy and hectic time but it all culminated into a wonderful Christmas day today as we celebrated it with Matt's family. We are so thankful for all the joy and blessings this holiday brings and we praise the Lord for the gift of His life that grants us ours.

Christmas brunch

Peameal bacon was something I never heard of before coming to Canada but it's very good and much leaner than its regular bacon counterpart. That egg frittata was also very tasty and low on calories, let me know if you want the recipe.

You can never go wrong with fresh fruit

Homemade cinnamon rolls - so good!

The fam (Mark and Tara came over later)


Monkey's 1st Christmas - and he's pretty happy about it too

And yes, that is Matt playing Speed Scrabble with us which is a gift in itself:) (p.s. Matt typically hates playing games so this was big)

The tree. Every year my mother-in-law buys Christmas ornaments for each person signifying a special event in that person's life that year. These are all the ornaments from all the years past. I love this tradition!

Jet's 1st Christmas present! From his Mommy and Daddy.

Since he loves banging on mine and Matt's laptop all the time, we decided to rescue our technical devices and get Jet his very own. He liked it - for about 30 seconds, then he just wanted to play with the wrapping paper and boxes.

Mark and Tara drowning in all the presents. Our parents spoil us to the max at Christmas, it's quite ridiculous how much they give us, we really feel so overwhelmed with all their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Daniel is stoked

There was hardly any room to walk there were so many presents everywhere

You can definitely see some British influence here in Canada and one of the ways is in the tradition of Christmas Crackers. These are typically filled with some small trinkets, candies, and a paper crown. I wanted to try making some homemade ones this year filled with fun little items suited to each person, I had a blast putting them all together and am liking this idea as a possible yearly Christmas tradition.

Everyone wearing their crowns, ready to feast like kings and queens!

King Jet

Capping off Christmas dinner with some creme brulee and star sugar cookies - not too shabby

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Mama Sylvester!

And rounding out all the birthdays for the year in the family is Mama Sylvester's! Today is the birthday of one very special lady, my mother-in-law. Alison is intelligent, over-the-top generous, artistic, talented in so many ways, and always has a listening ear. I am so thankful to have her as my second Mom and I admire and love her so much. Have a happy, happy birthday Mom!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Today is Daniel's, my brother-in-law's, birthday! Daniel is the baby of the family and is currently a student at Master's College. Funny, sweet, and easy to get along with, Daniel is the kind of guy that everyone wants to be friends with and we have been so encouraged to see him grow in his love and knowledge of the Lord over these past few years and it's been such a joy watching him become a faithful man of God. We miss you D and can't wait for you to come home to spread all your Christmas cheer! We love you, have a very, very happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy Sylvester!

It has been quite the season for birthdays in the Sylvester family and today is no exception. Happy Birthday Dad!!! Today is my father-in-law's birthday and what a father-in-law he is! I am so thankful that I have such a great one, Papa S. loves the Lord, is quite the jokester, and has a generous heart. He is also a doting grandfather who takes the time to play with Jet, hold and tickle him, and even give him piano lessons! We love you Dad and are so thankful for everything you are always doing for us - have a happy, happy birthday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Adam!

Today is Adam's, my brother-in-law's, birthday. Adam is the second born of the four boys and he is known for being the hip and stylin' one of the bunch:) Adam is a hard-worker and is making his way up the ladder in the music industry and we can always count on him to keep us up to date on all the latest, coolest music. Adam is hilarious and is a kind, tender-hearted soul; we love you Adam and are so thankful for you. Have a happy, happy birthday dear brother!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Tara!

Today is my sister-in-law's birthday! I absolutely love this girl; Tara is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, she has such a servant's heart, she loves board games (especially Scrabble - woo hoo!), she loves to bake and especially loves cupcakes, and she is a good sharer and listener. She is a blessing of a wife to Markie, and most importantly, she loves the Lord and desires to be pleasing to Him. Tara, I am so thankful to have the privilege of calling you "Sis" and can't wait till you and Mark are back here so that we can partake in endless adventures together! Matt, Jet, and I love you and hope you have a great day celebrating your birthday!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Surprise Bday Dinner

This weekend, my brother-in-law Mark, and his wife, Tara, flew back to Toronto all the way from sunny So Cal for a brief weekend visit. Once Mark graduates this Spring, he and Tara will be moving back here for Mark to be the worship pastor at Harvest Durham which we are so excited about. And since Tara's birthday is next week, we decided to surprise her with an early celebration by making an Italian dinner (to honor her heritage) and to make her desserts out of one of her favorite items: lemon. We love you Mark and Tara and can't wait to see you back here with Daniel next month!

Jet getting his par-tay on

With the birthday girl, Aunt T!


Spaghetti and turkey meatballs

Goat cheese-pesto tart

Tara loves all things lemon and I love lemon curd - nothing else beats it when it's homemade. The taste is so wonderfully lemony and fresh and lemon curd is a great base for a lot of different kinds of desserts. Here is my three way take on it: the first was incorporating it into this lemon cupcake.

Second was making these lemon curd butter cookie sandwiches

And last but not least, mini lemon meringue tarts - so good!

And for your enjoyment, here are some of the latest pics of the Monkey:

He's starting to look like such a boy and not a baby anymore!

Check out those pearly whites!

This has been a very common sight lately, he somehow manages to kick himself out of his pajamas.

I look over one day to see the Monkey just like this, hanging upside down, as happy as can be. *sigh* - always making us smile!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Today was Jet's first Halloween and although he's had a bit of a bug, we couldn't pass up putting him in his costume. Jet was born this year, the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese calendar so this was quite the fitting outfit for him. He didn't exactly love wearing it so we had to move fast but is he not the cutest little feline you ever did see?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chocolate Mocha Souffles

Souffle. This word literally means "breath" and that is a very fitting word for this dessert. Light and airy, beautiful and elegant, this recipe is so easy to make and the "Wow!" factor is huge. I love that these souffles were meant to be made ahead of time, you can refrigerate it up to 24 hours for immediate baking or they can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. This means that all you have to do is pop them in the oven whenever you're close to serving dessert, and voila!, you've got yourself a gorgeous dessert that makes it look as though you've slaved all day.

- 3 ozs. (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, more for the ramekins
- Sugar for dusting
- 3 tablespoons dark rum, brandy, Grand Marnier, or water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
- 6 ozs. dark chocolate (at least 70%)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
- 3 ozs. (3/4 cup) powdered sugar

- whipping cream for garnish

*Serves 6.

Lightly butter six 6oz. ramekins and dust with sugar, tapping out excess.

Stir together the liquor or water and instant coffee. Set aside and stir occasionally until the coffee is dissolved. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie (in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water). Remove from heat and whisk. Stir in coffee mixture and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, one at a time. *Note: the mixture at one point might begin to coagulate, don't panic, just keep whisking throwing some elbow grease into it and soon enough, the mixture should become smooth and glossy. Add about 1/3 of the powdered sugar and whisk. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in a mixer with a whisk attachment (or hand-held) on medium-high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the rest of the powdered sugar and whisk until firm peaks form. Spoon about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold in until just blended. Pour batter into prepared ramekins. If you want to bake the souffles within 24 hours then refrigerate them. Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes to let firm up then cover with plastic wrap. If you'll be saving them for a later time then put the souffles in the freezer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then wrap each ramekin in plastic and freeze for up to 2 weeks. If you're going to bake them right away, then let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes first.

To bake from fridge: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until they're puffed and risen about 1 inch above the ramekin, about 15 minutes. To bake from freezer: place frozen souffles on a baking sheet and bake for about 18 minutes. Serve immediately, with plenty of fresh whipped cream.

This is a must have in the kitchen. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer!

This is what a stiff peak should look like for the egg whites

Use a gentle hand when folding in the egg whites. Folding means a scooping under and lifting up when mixing, this ensures keeping the mixture aerated, which is key to having your souffles rise.

People always eat first with their eyes, so have fun in playing with the presentation