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Whew!

Man... I did a lot of prep/cooking this evening:

Pepperoni rolls are done, and one is half eaten.  Pepperoni rolls... oh, pepperoni rolls.  I haven't made them in years, and I'd nearly forgotten just how good they are.  My Nana used to make them all the time.  It's a similar concept to stromboli, only - somehow they are SO much better.  You just take basic bread dough and roll it out into a long oval.  Then you spread it with a simple marinara sauce (Nana always made the sauce for these with no garlic and extra sweet onions - I do the same), add a bit of mozzarella cheese (or really, any cheese you have around is fine, just don't use too much or it all oozes out), and cover it all with pepperoni.  The big, sandwich-sized pepperoni works best, but typical pizza pepperoni is fine as well.  Fold the ends in, fold the bottom up and the top over, and flip onto a greased baking sheet.  Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the crust sounds hollow when tapped.  YUM!!  Taking them (or well, one, as I suspect the second will be gone by mid-day tomorrow) over to Mom and Dad's tomorrow evening.  Dad has been begging for one for a loooong time.  Can't wait to watch him eat it.  I let Lee try it tonight (which explains why one is half-eaten).  He cut into it, looked at it and said, "This looks like a rip-off," referring to the fact that it doesn't have a ton of filling in it.  Then he tasted it.  "Oh my GOD this is GOOD!"  Yep - told ya!

Cheesecake is in the oven now.  That's for dessert Christmas day.  I used to make a dozen or so every Christmas and give them as gifts, but I haven't done that in a few years.  Still, can't let a Christmas go by without making at least one.

Eggnog is "cooking" on the kitchen table (you leave it sit out at room temp for about an hour and let the alcohol cook the raw egg yolks).  Just have to add the cream and some seasonings and that's done.  Sadly, I won't get to drink any this year.  Something about the combo of alcohol and raw eggs just doesn't seem like the smartest beverage for a pregnant lady.

Dough for the zeppole is in the 'fridge and ready to go for morning.  Zeppole (pronounced SEE-pah-lo by my Nana, although I'm pretty sure every region of Italy has their own pronunciation) is my favorite breakfast of all-time.  Nana always made them the morning after she made bread - she'd just set some dough aside and refrigerate it overnight.  Zeppole are best when the dough is at least a day old.  You cut the dough into triangles or strips and then fry it.  Then you dip the warm, crunchy, chewy bites of heaven into sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mix, or spread them with butter and jelly.  Sometimes Nana would stuff a piece of pepperoni inside before frying them and we'd dip them in sauce for lunch.  Oh. So. Good.  Tomorrow will be my kids' first foray into the sheer delight that is zeppole.  I can't wait!  Seriously - I can smell them already.

Dough for my Baba's Italian nut roll is also in the 'fridge, ready to be filled and baked tomorrow.  Funny thing about that nut roll.  When I looked for the recipe on Friday, I couldn't find it.  I remember all the fillings - sugar, cinnamon, pecans, white raisins, dark raisins, honey, and freshly squeezed orange juice, in that order - but no idea how to make the dough.  I could recall most of the ingredients (lots of flour, milk, butter, yeast, sugar?), but had no measurements.  Unfortunately, Baba's recipe box resides at my Uncle Mikey's house in PA, and he's not the easiest person to reach.  So I started Googling.  Surely someone else makes this thing, right?  No luck.  Then I remembered that my Aunt Millie (Nana's baby sister) always used to tease and say, "You know that's not really Italian?  His Hungarian neighbor gave the recipe to him years ago... he just started calling it Italian nut roll after he'd made it for a few years and tweaked it a bit."  I did a search for "Hungarian nut roll."  Sure enough, there it was!  The filling was very, very different, but I knew as soon as I looked at it that the recipe for the dough was exactly the same.  Thank goodness!  Making the nut roll with my Baba is one of my fondest Christmas memories, and I would have been very disappointed if I'd not been able to make it this year.  I'm going to let the kids help me with the assembly and baking tomorrow.  Should be an adventure!

I think that's it.  Tomorrow I need to get as much prepared for Christmas dinner as I can before we head over to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Eve.  I'm making lasagna and a big pot of meatballs and sausage.  Dessert (cheesecake) will already be done.  Serve that up with a big salad and some freshly-baked bread and I should be good to go.  Oh crap - I might be out of yeast.  Well, what would Christmas be without at least one last-minute trip to the grocery store?

Ok - finish eggnog, take cheesecake out of oven, and get to bed by 11:30 to start all over again tomorrow.  Whee!