baked ham with honey orange glaze and lemon parsley asparagus

Hi everyone. I hope you are all enjoying the last day of the year doing something you love! Unlike me, who has to work :/ blerg. Oh well, c'est la vie! :D

Here, at last, is my Christmas ham! Just in time for you to make on New Year's Day, if you're into that sort of thing.

Last year on New Year's day I was most likely nursing a hangover. This year I will not be doing that, but I may be tending to the hangovers of others! And not cooking up a fancy meal. There's always next year :)

At any rate! Here is the ham recipe and, BONUS, a roasted asparagus recipe, to boot!
The ham (isn't it cute? we called it our "hamlet" ...I guess that's also kind of sad):

First you need a ham. Even ham steaks would do. The tricky part here is measure for the size ham you have. Basically, you want enough to thickly coat your ham, twice, plus some (just in case).

My ham was 2.67 lbs, and pre-cooked, so I just had to heat it through. Follow the safe cooking directions on your ham's packaging.

The glaze:

2 oranges, one zest grated and juiced, one sliced
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp  and 1 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp boiling water
A handful of whole cloves (optional)

See your ham packaging for cooking instructions. Just for reference, mine said to bake for 20-30 minutes per pound, at 350.

Preheat your oven.

Boil your water and measure out two tablespoon, whisk your cornstarch into this, then add your honey, orange juice and zest. Whisk until well combined.

This is optional, but what I did was to poke whole cloves into the the ham in rows, about an inch apart.

I poured half of my glaze over the ham to start, then followed the package instructions, baking for 1 hour and 10 minutes, covered in foil. Then I took it out, poured the rest of the glaze over and baked uncovered for 30 minutes. Then when it was done, I let it rest a bit, and then placed it on the tray on top of some orange slices and drizzled the glaze from the roasting pan over the top.

Now for the ASPARAGUS!

For this you will need:

1 bunch of asparagus
Juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp melted butter (or Earth Balance)
2 Tbsp honey
black pepper
flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat your oven to 325 (I used a toaster oven, since my regular oven was full)

Mix together your lemon juice, melted butter and honey.

Place asparagus on a baking sheet, taking care not to overlap any of the spears. Drizzle the mixture over and pepper to taste. Sprinkle parsley over the top. You don't need much, just, like, enough. I don't know. Whatever you think is best. Save some fresh for garnishing.

I guess I had mine in the toaster oven for about 25 minutes. Most recipes I've read for roasted asparagus say 400 degrees for 25 minutes. That probably yields a crispier asparagus than what I ended up with.

But it was still delicious!

I hope you all have a magnificent New Year's Eve and subsequent New Year's Day.


healthful scalloped sweet potatoes

As I may have mentioned before, for about eight months earlier this year I was vegan. I got to explore plenty of interesting vegan recipes and alternatives. One of which, these great scalloped potatoes.

Since not being vegan anymore, I've noticed that dairy, in particular, just does not sit well with me (it probably never did, but I had nothing to compare it to). Especially creams and soft cheeses :( For this reason, while I've been recovering I decided to go dairy-free wherever possible, including important dinners.

Interestingly enough, the only thing about our Christmas breakfast and dinner that wasn't vegan was the ham itself.

Our creamy scalloped sweet potatoes were vegan, though!

Here's how I made them:

3 sweet potatoes, sliced thin (or use regular potatoes)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted
6 Tbsp flour
~2 cups almond milk (or any kind of milk)
salt & pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350.

Whisk your salt and pepper into the flour.

Mix together your onions and potatoes and create a layer on the bottom of a buttered 9x9" baking pan.

Pour 1/3 of your melted butter over the potatoes and onions and dust with 1/3 of the flour.

Do this two more times, so you have three layers.

Pour your milk over, until it reaches the top of the pan. I didn't measure my milk for this, I just poured.

Dust paprika over the top of the potatoes.

Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until potatoes are soft enough to break apart easily with a fork, or (like I did) bake for 1 hour covered with foil, and finish later, or the next day, baking for 1 1/2 hours, uncovered.

Either way you choose, I recommend placing a baking sheet under your pan. This may seem like a no-brainer but I didn't do this at first and then I had to clean the oven, so . . . yeah.

The photo above shows my potatoes only halfway through the cooking process, which is why the milk/butter/flour mixture looks a little separated and runny. It hadn't quite cooked down yet. But I promise this is a great alternative to the regular, and much more healthful!


pumpkin waffles

Of course Christmas breakfast has to be special, even if it's just for two. I thought about making a quiche to go along with these waffles, but doing all the cooking myself was a lot of work and I didn't think we really needed quiche and waffles. I'm glad I didn't make the quiche. I barely have room for our leftovers as it is!
These pumpkin waffles, however, were amazing! Here's how they happened:

1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 cup all-purpose wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 table spoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash of salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup almond milk*
1 cup water*
1/4 cup cream cheese*
4 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan margarine, melted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Heat your waffle iron according to manufacturer directions and coat with vegetable oil.

In a bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Separate your egg whites from your yolks and place in separate bowls.

To your yolks, add the milk, water, cream cheese and margarine and whisk until well combined.

Whip your egg whites with an electric hand mixer, working your way up through the speeds until you are on high. Your egg whites are ready when they will hold a peak.

Add wet ingredients over the flour mixture and mix until combined. Fold in egg whites. If you find that the mixture seems to be too thick (it'll be somewhat thicker than other waffle batters I've used), add a little milk.

Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto waffle iron and smooth somewhat into shape, adding more batter if needed.

*You can also use 1 1/2 cups of any kind of milk, to sub here. I used what I did because I did not have enough almond milk :)

Serve warm with lots of syrup and butter!


a new ruche outfit i will soon own!

I am so, so excited because my incredibly thoughtful sister, Miranda, gave me a very generous gift certificate to Ruche for Christmas!

Last week I had to have surgery (ugh!) and was confined to my bed for a few days. She sent it a little early so that I could have something to do while I rested. Isn't that sweet? :) I was so surprised and so thrilled!

As you already know, I love just about everything on Ruche so it was hard to pick what I wanted to buy and I'm aways very indecisive when it comes to spending gift certificates. I picked out a few items while stuck in bed, but I decided to wait and think on it.

blouse, skirt, socks, shoes
I'm so glad I did because they are having a 15% off promotion today and tomorrow, so I thought it might be a great time to pounce. Also, those adorable shoes just arrived today! I scooped up these four items and I can't wait until they arrive!

I thought this might be the perfect Valentine's Day date outfit. Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday. I will probably say that about every holiday, but V-Day is definitely top 3!

Thanks Miranda! <3


creamy beef and black bean burrito filling

So I know this isn't a very holiday-esque dish, but I made this for dinner on Christmas Eve. It was just going to be Tom and I, and since the special Christmassy food was coming the next day, I wanted to make something different.

For this I used:

1 tomato, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 can black beans
< 1 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon beef base
3 Tbsp cream cheese
taco seasoning & cayenne pepper, to taste

Heat a little bit of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Add all of your veggies and cover, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have begun to soften and have released their juices.

Stir in your beef base (I used just under a tablespoon).

Stir in your cream cheese until well combined. Season as you wish, with taco seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper or chili powder.

Serve hot wrapped in a tortilla and/or over rice!

We had ours without rice, in tortillas. They were a satisfying break from the usual holiday fare.

Of course, not to let you down, I will be posting what holiday fare I did make shortly! :)

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

peppermint bark snickerdoodles

 Last month some of the gals at work did a very thoughtful and generous thing for me. I've had some stuff going on this fall and they were a big help. I wanted to thank them a long time ago, but I just hadn't had the time. This last weekend I found myself with a bit of free time so I decided to make some peppermint bark snickerdoodles.
They were delicious, if I do say so myself. But unfortunately I only ended up with half a batch because the other half got burnt.

This is the recipe that I adapted mine from, but I had to make some changes because I didn't have cream of tartar. It's a great recipe, but it also resulted in my horribly burnt cookies. The bottoms were black and they turned into rocks. Here's my version:

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp peppermint flavor

Preheat oven to 375. Line your cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set this aside. In a larger bowl, mix together sugar and butter until well combined, using an electric hand mixer. Add eggs, vanilla and peppermint until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients. You can use your handmixer at first, but I found that after a fashion, using my hands worked better. Kneed your dough until all ingredients are well combined.

Roll pieces of dough into 1/2" - 1" balls and place evenly and well spaced on parchment paper. Flatten into 1/4" thick patties using a small jar or glass.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, move to cooling rack.

For the icing:

Using an electric hand mixer beat together 1 egg white and 1 cup confectioner's sugar, at first on low until combined, then for a few minutes on high. If you like, add in 1/8 tsp peppermint flavor or vanilla extract. (Note: the latter may result in a more yellow icing.)

Once cookies have cooled completely, dip them flat into the icing, then flat into crushed peppermint candies. I used candy canes, which I crushed up. My guess is, for a full batch, you would need about 4 regular sized candy canes, or maybe half a small bag of peppermint candies.

The end!


peppermint hot cocoa

I love peppermint this time of year. Peppermint everything. Peppermint lip balm. Peppermint bark. Peppermint soap. Peppermint hot cocoa. . . .

So this weekend I decided to make some! Cocoa, that is. If you're really not so good in the kitchen, you could definitely make this with some Swiss Miss and peppermint flavor, but if you like to get crafty, you can make it like I did.
For this I used:

2-3 cups almond milk (or any kind of milk)
2 Tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder (you can use any kind, but I swear, Dutch makes the difference)
1 1/2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips
1/8 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/8 tsp peppermint flavor (more, to taste, but this is the absolute min you can put in and still taste it)
1 Tbsp sugar (optional, I didn't use sugar in mine)

Heat your milk in a sauce pan slowly over medium low heat (be especially slow and careful if using dairy!).

When milk is hot, stir in chocolate chips until fully melted and combined.

Whisk in cocoa powder and salt, vanilla, and sugar, if using.

Whisk in peppermint flavor.

This makes for a very rich cocoa! The measurements, as I'm sure you've come to realize is my M.O., are approximate. If you want to omit the chocolate chips, go ahead! If you do, you should definitely use sugar and maybe a little more cocoa powder.

I also wanted to mention that I will be on another hiatus for the rest of this week. Lots of Christmas prep and some personal things coming up so I decided it might be best to take a little vacation from the blog. I will be back next week, I believe!

In the meantime, enjoy your own holiday prep, if you're prepping, and if not, just enjoy your week, all the same :)


the burlap wreath giveaway winner!

Oh my gosh, you guys! I am so pleased with all of the entries for this giveaway! My page views jumped like you wouldn't believe. It's such a great feeling to see that something you're working hard at is actually getting attention! I was so excited to choose a winner!

Here I go!
Drum role please . . . !

And the winner is . . . :

Catharine! Congratulations! I will be contacting you shortly about getting your new wreath to you!

As for the rest of you, thank you SO much for entering! reading! sharing! and just being you :)

Please keep following l'élan jolie and stay tuned for future giveaways! I'm trying to think up something great for January . . . :)


christmas cards & lights

Just about every year since I graduated from college, I've made and sent out Christmas cards. For some reason, I think of sending Christmas cards as a very adult thing to do. It makes me feel like a grown-up. Making them is just a lot of fun, and I think it adds a little something extra.

This year, I had intended to start really early on cards and mail them out the week after Thanksgiving. Procrastinator that I am, that didn't happen . . . so now I find myself scrambling to get about 30 cards finished and in the mail by next Monday!
I had started off with a completely different idea but I didn't even attempt it. I just couldn't figure out in my mind how it would come out the way I wanted, so I changed my idea (sometimes I'm easily frustrated and find it better just to simplify). I really like the way these cards are turning out! I plan to do a few other words, too (like "joy" and . . . well, actually I haven't thought of any others yet!).

All I did for these cards was write the word "peace" on a piece of paper, lay it over the card, punched holes with a darning needle along the lines of the word, and then I used a thinner needle and embroidery floss to embroider the word. A little time consuming but pretty simple!
I also strung up my Christmas lights last night! I opted out of a Christmas tree this year because of my living situation, but I still had to do something festive since I'll be spending Christmas day here in the city. I hung them by pushing a tack through one loop of a binder clip and fastening it to the edge of a shelf that runs along one wall in my room. The shelf is just white washed slab of wood, so I don't really care about marring it--plus is already has marks and what not. Then I could just push the other loop to open the clip and clip in my string lights. Super easy! And I can reuse the binder clips later to hang art, or something!

I personally thought it was pretty ingenious, but I might be a little biased ;)

Anyone else sending out last-minute cards this year?

Peace,  (ha! geddit? like my cards. . . )

PS Today is the LAST day to enter the burlap wreath giveaway!! any entries after midnight today will be disqualified.

ruche love & december outfits

I've said it before (maybe) and I'll say it again: I am not a wealthy girl. But hey, I live in New York City, so I'm doing okay. I just have to find alternative (and free) ways to get my kicks. Sometimes I get mine window shopping.

I window shop on Ruche quite frequently. I already think about one day having cause to purchase one of their really lovely and affordable wedding gowns. That's a long way off, though, of course :) but a girl came dream...

Their day-to-day stuff is equally as magnificent though, which is why I love them so much! Here are two outfits I picked out with items I found exclusively at Ruche! And here they are:
Clockwise, from top right: necklace, purse, skirt, shoes, top

I am dying to add that plaid skirt to my wardrobe. I recently became aware of how excellent midi skirts are. Mini skirts are great. Maxi skirts are lovely. But midi skirts are the tops.

Clockwise from top right: clutch, earrings, dress, shoes, shawl

And, I never thought I'd have a place in my heart for faux fur, but I also just really, really adore the Paddington shawl. It just looks so classy and soft and comfy and warm and . . . well, you get the idea.

I can imagine wearing the second outfit to a really fancy dinner or a really fancy show, after having worn the first outfit during the day, visiting bookstores and holiday markets and drinking coffee and eating scones.

Mmm... scones.

What's your favorite shop at which to gaze longingly through the window (or computer screen)?


penguins on ice ornament

This ornament was a lot of fun to make because I was using materials I've never used before. I bought a set of four empty glass ornaments, little rocks, fake moss and polymer clay at Michael's. 
I made the penguins with the clay and baked them in my toaster oven. I colored them with Sharpies. Of course you could also use colored clay or paint. 

For the ice I used an acrylic water kit, which I bought from Amazon. It was really, really simple to use and a great alternative to more common resin kits, if you have not used them before. One thing I wish I had had, though, was a funnel to funnel the mixture into the ornament. If you try out this project, make sure you pick up a cheap funnel, one you won't use again, as the acrylic will likely ruin it.

Arrange the rocks and moss how you want them in the bottom of the glass ornament (careful! I broke my first one but dropping the rocks in a little too roughly, they're very fragile). Then mix your acrylic water according to the manufacturer directions and pour over your rocks and moss. Let sit, perfectly still, for at least 24 hours.

The hole to my ornaments was very narrow so I had to make sure my penguins would fit. I put them in by taping a piece of duct tape, sticky side out, to a pen. I dabbed a bit of hot glue on the bottom of the penguin, stuck its head to the tape, lowered it in, held it in place while the hot glue dried and then carefully pulled the pen off. It sounds silly and complicated but I swear it worked and I don't know how else I'd have done it. Tweezers might work but mine were not long enough.

I think that about covers it! You could do this with just about anything, I guess. Go crazy! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments!


burlap wreath tutorial & GIVEAWAY!!!

**This giveaway has ended**

I'm so excited for this, the first l'élan jolie giveaway! First however, we should get to the tutorial :)
Here are the materials you're going to need: burlap, a wire wreath, silk flowers and greenery (optional, as
you can see, I didn't end up using the ivy), a glue gun, embroidery floss and (though pictured is a bobby pin) a darning needle.
1. & 2. You can buy burlap in several different ways. I got mine from Michael's. They had wide rolls and thinner rolls. The first time I made this wreath, I got three of the thinner rolls at $8 a piece. This time I got two of the wider rolls at $14.00 a piece, thinking they would get me through two wreaths, but they absolutely didn't and I wouldn't get it again. I recommend the $8 one, definitely. It's easier to use, and not so messy. If you do get the wider one, however, you have to cut it into 4"-5" strips. 
3. Start by pulling a section of the burlap strip through from the bottom of the wreath frame, near one of the joints, starting on the inner ring. Do not pull the end all the way through, just make a loop.
4. & 5. & 6. Continue onto the next ring, and the next, twisting as you go, to secure. 
7. Make sure that your loops are relatively even and look full.
8. As you finish your first three loops, make the fourth in the center ring, then the innermost ring, then the center ring, then the outermost ring, working your way along the frame, pushing the loops together as you go. If you find one area is looking neglected, put a loop there. After you get going, there are no real rules about where to place your loops. 
Here is what your wreath should be looking like once it gets going. It can get frustrating at first, but if you find you don't like the way it's turning out, take a break, take it apart and try again. 
Here's what the back will look like. What I haven't pictured here is how to secure the burlap to the frame once you're finished filling it in. I couldn't find my darning needle (I've only got the one, for some reason), which is why there's a picture of a bobby pin instead of a needle. But it's pretty simple. Zig-zag along the back the  of the frame with your darning needle, pulling your thread or your floss through the material and securing it to the frame as you go. There's no right or wrong way to do this, as long as it's secure, because no one is going to see it, anyway.
Once you've finished securing your burlap, position your flowers how you'd like them to be. The first time I made this wreath, I was nervous about gluing them down, so I left the flowers set on the top for a few days to see if I really liked it before finally gluing them. 

Hot glue your flowers to the wreath and voila! You're done :)

To win this wreath, post a note in the comments*! Be sure you include your name! I will be announcing the winner on Friday, December 13.

If you do not include a way for me to reach you in your comment, your entry will be disqualified!

Good luck!!


*Multiple comments will not result in multiple entries. Alternatively, please visit me on Facebook and share my post! 

my dream bathroom

I didn't even realize until researching this post that I really love the use of turquoise in a bathroom. I also love perfectly clean white, and bright yellow. 

I'm a tub lounger so the bathroom needs to be a happy place where I can soak and light candles and read novels in a pleasant, relaxing environment. Preferably in a claw-footed tub.
All photos from Design Sponge, except the turquoise bathroom on the bottom, which is from here.
Actually, the claw-footed tub is an absolute must. 

I picked out a few items that would look nice as turquoise accents in a white or yellow bathroom. I love, in particular, the chandelier. Who doesn't want to sit in a hot tub beneath a fancy, yet rustic, chandelier? 
Soap dish, chandelier, toothbrush holder
I believe bathroom should be a clean, sacred place. Free from stress and worry and dirt. One day, I'll have a bathroom big enough to turn around in and the people I live with will dry themselves off before they step out of the tub.

Until then, as always, I fantasize.


balsamic roasted veggies

I've been lucky so far since I  moved to New York that I haven't had to spend any important holidays alone. Last year, I spent Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, and I got to fly home for Christmas. I even had Valentine's day covered!

This year I was able to go all the way home for Thanksgiving, which was really exciting for me because it's my favorite holiday!

The only downer was that I wasn't able to help cook, as it ended up being an eleven-hour journey this time so I got home just in time to eat. 

Next year I'm hoping to be able to coordinate more time off so I can be integral in the cooking process. I'm starting to think early about what I might like to make. My family agrees that we need some more color on our table, so I was thinking balsamic roasted brussels sprouts, maybe?

For this experimental recipe I used a bunch of different veggies. Here's how I did it (as always, measurements are approximate):

2 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
4 garlic cloves
1 yellow onion (I cut my onion in half, sliced up each half and pulled it apart. I don't know what thats called)
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375.

Place all your cut veggies in a large mixing bowl, pour over the vinegar and oil, use a spoon (or, as I did, your hands), to turn the veggies until evenly coated. Turn your coated veggies out into a roasting pan.

Roast for 20 minutes, then stir up your veggies, turning them over, and roast another 15 minutes, or until all veggies are beginning to brown. I think I got impatient here and turned my oven up to 425 for the second leg. It worked out fine but I can't recommend that method. It feels wrong.

These were really delicious (and healthy!). I'm not sure if I loved the brussels sprouts quite enough to incorporate into our most important dinner of the year, but they're definitely a great side for standard meals. I've seen some recipes that include herbs and Dijon mustard in their balsamic roasted veggies, maybe I'll have to explore that more in the future. I'll let you know how that turns out!


simple crafts: diy lampshade

 When I first moved to my current apartment, I didn't even have a lamp. Then it was summer and the days were still getting longer, so I still had an hour or so of daylight after I got home from work. But it was kind of downer not being able to do anything that required light after 8pm. I was given this lamp, but the shade had broken a long time ago so for a while it was basically just a light bulb on a stick. Pretty harsh.
Somewhere along the lines, I got the idea for this ridiculously simple lampshade! I made it out of watercolor paper and brads. I bought these colorful brads for another project and already had the paper on hand, so this lampshade was free and I put it together in about five minutes.
 I used two pieces of paper for mine, but it'll depend on what size shade you need. I cut the paper out of the spiral bound pad and left the rough edge. I like the way it looks when the lamp is lit. Then I simply cut the paper so that it would overlap evenly by about an inch on the front and back of the shade. The width of my paper was already the right size for my shade (it's wrapped lengthwise). I pre-punched the holes with a darning needle, to make pushing the brads through the thick paper easier. I didn't measure, I just tried to space the holes evenly. I pinned the paper together in place with the brads. Any brads will do. If you're really handy, you could even stitch on buttons!

This idea is so simple and easy to put together, I can't believe it didn't come to me sooner. I love this shade and it's been working out great!

Peace & love,