It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We got into the full holiday spirit and put up a Christmas tree this weekend. I love having a fresh one — it smells divine.

In case you were wondering, yes, a two-door Yaris can hold an entire tree plus two people. Oh yes it can.

Anyway, we don’t have a ton of our own Christmas ornaments yet, but we do have a few really fun ones. I have to have some odes to “A Christmas Story,” including the double dog dare ornament,

and a tiny leg lamp. It comes in a little crate that plays lines from the movie. The dogs love it.

I’ve had Kermie and Piggy for a while now, but they’re extra special now that there’s a new Muppets movie.

Then there’s the Grinch

and adorable Cindy Lou Who.

I switched out my pinecone centerpiece for my favorite sparkly ornaments. They’re too pretty to go on the tree!

December also means it’s time to break out the monkey pants.

Other things making me smile this week:

Leftover pizza from Tony’s.

Whole wheat fig bars from the Berkeley Bowl. These are so much better than Fig Newtons it’s ridiculous.

The cutest owl Kleenex box. Owls refuse to go out of fashion!

And these vintage looking wire baskets I got at Marshall’s for $5.99 each. They will be perfect for craft fair displays.

Speaking of, I will be participating in a holiday trunk show this weekend hosted by the Pumpkin House studio in Oakland. It’s 1-4 p.m. Saturday at 5725 James Ave. in Rockridge. There will be treats!

Chicken Paprikash

Apart from “When Harry Met Sally” references, I didn’t actually know what Chicken Paprikash was. Not surprisingly it’s chicken with lots of paprika — and it’s delicious!

When I was looking for recipes that included chicken and tomatoes (and eventually settled on the tikka masala), I also found some paprikash recipes that piqued my interest. So I tried it this week.

It’s a really hearty, comforting dish that’s perfect to make in the winter. The recipe I found called for dumplings, but I decided I preferred egg noodles. I also wanted to use chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken, but you could really go either way.

Chicken Paprikash
adapted from Saveur

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large (or 4 small) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
4 small sweet peppers
4 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups egg noodles

Heat a big pot of water to boil the egg noodles. Just follow the package directions for cooking time.

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the 1/2 cup of flour. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook until brown on both sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Now add the paprika, tomatoes, onions, and peppers to the pan, scraping up all the brown bits, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Cut the chicken into 2-inch chunks, and add it back to the pan with the chicken broth. Once that’s all mixed together and bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream and 2 tablespoons of flour. Whisk in 3/4 cup of broth from the pot. Add that mixture back into the pan and stir to combine. Turn off the heat. Serve over egg noodles.

Repeat! Waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash! But I would be pleased to partake of your pecan piiiiiiieee.