Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is over I can start getting into the winter holiday spirit. And we go full swing tilt once that happens.

H had told us that her photographer was doing pictures with Santa at a local car dealership, so Saturday we headed down for another photo opportunity. I don't have the photos back yet, but I'm not expecting much. Thatbaby's first pictures with Santa went really well. He was all smiles and coos. But this time, there was a lot more tears, crying, and general unhappiness. And of course, the Santa seemed a little sketchy. If I could figure out a way to upload the video without sound you would seem him almost drop Thatbaby ass over teakettle.

After the Santa experience we brought Thatbaby over to Balboa Park which is all dressed up for Christmas also. Lights and giant trees. Every year the Old Globe Theater puts on The Grinch that Stole Christmas and so the Whoville Tree is also present. With a host of Whos dancing around the base.

We then went to pick up our very own tree. For some reason, our usual tree lot wasn't there this year, so we went driving around to find a new lot. Which is when Thatbaby decided he didn't like his carseat anymore, and he wanted to go home, and he didn't like these stupid tree lots anyway. Which made the experience a lot less enjoyable.

Undeterred, we picked out the perfect tree and decorated it after Thatbaby went to bed for the night.

He was pretty excited about it when he woke up. He loves looking at it, even when it's not lit. I love going through our ornaments when we put them up - so many have special meaning. Like the ones that hung on Thatdad's tree, or the ones marking trips we've been on, or the ones marking special events in our lives. Like the birth of our son:

This year we also added a couple from our trips this year. Like when we went to Tahoe for Fourth of July.

Or our anniversary babymoon at Cannon Beach.

And since we're in the holiday spirit, I'll take a break from the entrees and veggies and share with you the recipe for the Mexican Chocolate mini-pies I sent in with Thatboy for his birthday.

I found the original recipe in Food Network Magazine, for a full sized pie, but full sized pies are difficult to eat at work. Besides, everyone loves treats they can hold in their hand and eat without a fork or spoon. So I adapted the recipe to make individualized pies. I also switched the crust to an oreo cookie crust which I like so much better than a chocolate wafer crust. With potlucks and holiday parties abounding, these are a sure fire crowd pleaser. They disappeared from Thatboy's office in a matter of minutes.

Mini-Mexican Chocolate Pies (Adapted from The Food Network Magazine)
30 oreo cookies
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp roasted cinnamon
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 pinch cayenne
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp cold coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Crush the oreo cookies in a food processor.
  2. Add melted butter and pulse until moist. Divide between 12 muffin tins and press into the bottom and side of each cup. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool while preparing the filling.
  3. Heat the milk in a large saucepan until hot but not boiling.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, almond extract, cornstarch, and salt.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks, coffee, and vanilla into the sugar mixture.
  6. Temper the egg mixture by whisking in half of the hot milk into the eggs until smooth. Then whisk the egg mixture into the rest of the hot milk.
  7. Cook, whisking, 3-5 minutes until it boils and thickens. Remove from the heat, whisk in the chocolate until it is all melted. Let cool slightly. Stir during cooling so a skin doesn't form.
  8. Pour the filling into the muffin-tins and refrigerate until the pudding sets.


  1. The santa almost DROPPED Thatbaby? Talk about traumatizing. If he stops believing in santa at an early age...we'll all know why.

  2. This will definitely be a special Christmas!!!

  3. Your ornaments are so cute. I wish we could find all of ours!

  4. Let the holidays begin...I am sill behind. I need two months after Thanksgiving to get it together (laugh).

    Welcome to the world of santa"s and babies. I don't have a single photo of santa and my son...My son decided those red suits and beards scared the bejeebies out of him, that was all we wrote (laugh).

    Tree looks lovely. You know its the special ornaments that make the tree, and That Baby is going to provide you with some really special ornaments.

  5. I love the memories behind each ornament. Sounds like your Santa photo went off much better then mine. I have a daughter with marinara sauce on her face and a balloon animal in hand. I was going to do a retake but, I just laughed and said this is where I am in life. Enjoy the holidays with thatbaby.

  6. Ellie hasn't visited Santa yet, but I hope we can find a not-sketch one!

    These are going on the "to make ASAP" list!

  7. Love the creativity with the pies. Miniature anything is a lot more fun and they look yummy! I think you should be writing a letter to Mrs. Claus to give Santa better holding instructions! YIKES!
    I cannot imagine putting up a fresh tree with a baby in the house. Kudos to you - when you finally get to it... ;). Baby is always the boss!

  8. This will be a really special Christmas for you. The tree is beautiful and your mini pies are a must try. Have a great evening. Blessings...Mary

  9. With 2 20-something children, we still enjoy getting the tree up and going through the ornaments that marked births and family vacations. "Did you find the one from Santa Fe?" Wishing we had those spiced chocolate pies during tree decorating day. So Santa and Thatbaby may have gotten off to a rocky start - but if there's a Grinch play at the Old Globe in his future - Thatbaby and Christmas will become very good friends.

  10. Oh man. Santa, tsk tsk. I've never gotten the tradition of sitting on Santa's lap before. It seems rather creepy to me, heh.

    This post just brightened up my moods. Christmas spirit never feels. Thank you, Kate. :-)

  11. I love that Whoville tree! I have been in the Christmas spirit this year since about mid-October for some reason. It's the first year I couldn't wait for Thanksgiving to be over to start listening to Christmas music...