Juan came to spend Christmas with me and brought along a nasty cold from Boston. With my powers of gentleness and patience, I nursed him back to health. But, of course, he had to give it to me too, because that’s just what boyfriends do. So while he started to recover, I found myself incapacitated by a drippy nose and muted taste buds. We spent most of our holiday curled up in my living room couch under a comforter with a box of tissues and a bottle of Robitussin to share between the two of us. But even in our misery, our appetites for good home-cooking were not thwarted. With my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, we made gnocchi in tomato broth, leek fritters, and roasted tomatoes and onions over garlic toast. Easy recipes that make great food without too many fancy ingredients and too much prep work!

The rest of the time, we spent marathoning Alien movies. Alien. Aliens. Predators. Aliens vs Predators. Prometheus. Nothing brings out the holiday cheer like creepy chest-bursting humanoid bugs. I like cheering for tough monster-kicking heroines while jerky male characters get eviscerated. One note on Prometheus, if you haven’t seen it, you might not want to bother. It has all of the action but lacks the good plot lines that made Alien and Aliens so good. It touts itself as a prequel to Aliens but answers almost none of the questions about how Aliens came about, leaving you with just plain confusion at the end. The only thing that made this movie worse was the terrible acting. The main female lead was especially annoying and pales far in comparison to Ellen Ripley. Also, what’s up with Charlize Theron here? She’s awful! Spitting out cheesy lines for a role that I’m still not sure was even necessary for this stupid film. They could write her out and use the 10 minutes it would’ve saved to answer HOW ALIENS CAME ABOUT.

Finally, this holiday, Juan got me hooked onto the animated series, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I can’t believe I was such a snob about cartoons and comics before, because this show is awesome! It’s so much better than the 2012 Avengers movie, which I thought was way too cheesy and predictable. But that’s because cheesy hero lines aren’t cheesy when they’re coming from animated characters! The writing is also pretty impressive. In the span of two short seasons, they’ve managed to introduce, interlink, AND finish several story arcs. All my questions were answered by the time I breezed to the end of the series. My only disappointment is that they’ve canceled this show only after two seasons. Nay, say it ain’t so! What can I do, except to now turn to The Ultimate Spider-Man series, which is also proving to be quite good.

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Crepe Cake from The Primlani Kitchen

By the time Juan and I finished with this recipe, we have become experts on crepe making. Our first couple of ones were soggy, broken messes until we realized that the reason we couldn’t flip them over was because we were undercooking! It was smooth sailing from there on. I kind of wish that I had used the crepe cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s cookbook instead of this one. This was kind of plain even when I substituted the milk with Trader Joe’s vanilla flavored coconut milk (which turned out great if you just dial the sugar and vanilla down when making the pastry cream). This cake could’ve shined more if I had used some fruit. Next time, I may use berries or banana slices to decorate the top. Or even mash up the berries into the pastry cream to spread between the layers.