I wholeheartedly believe in retail therapy. But the bad part about retail therapy during the holidays is all of the sales – it makes it even more challenging to exert any sort of self-control. Then add the current retail obsession with all-things-glitter for holiday parties. It’s turned into a “one for you, two for me” kind of month.

My most recent purchases – as in the last two weeks – include six pairs of glitter encrusted earrings, three different glitter-colored nail polishes, glitter embellished high heels, eye shimmer (what am I, 13?) and a sans-glitter cookbook. I suppose it could be worse?

Essie Winter Leading Lady

Photo by Beautezine.

I’ve spent a lot of late nights recently painting my nails from day-to-day. First up was Essie’s Leading Lady. A deep crimson red with glitter. Definitely will be wearing this again on Christmas Eve.

Disco Dolls

My go-to work color has been Nicole by OPI Disco Dolls. Now I know this is part of the Kardashian Kolor nail polish line (ugh, they spell color with a K!), but who’s judging? Gold glitter matches my favorite gold glitter ballet flats.

Essie Mochacino

Essie’s Mochacino will be my January color. It’s a bright gray with a light glitter shimmer and reminds me of winter snow days.

Nine West Flax Pewter

I am still eagerly awaiting the arrival of these Nine West Flax Pewter Glitter classic pointy toe heels. Not that I have plans to go anywhere at the moment where I will be wearing these, but I just. Needed. Them. Even if I wear them for myself on New Year’s Eve in my apartment for my champagne and movie-watching marathon.

I’ll be taking a break from posting for the next week or so while I drive the few miles home to Baltimore for Christmas, and spend personal time back in D.C. finding closure to 2012 before everyone returns to the city from their travels. All of the emotions from the last several weeks and questions that will hopefully get answered in the next ten days need to come to a head so I can decide where 2013 is going to take me. In the meantime, enjoy sipping on a few of these sparkling champagne cocktails, all on my to-try list this week – Cranberry Clementine Prosecco, Pear Rum Blush and Pomegranate-Champagne Punch.

Champagne Risotto

As promised, I’m back today with the oh so creamy and rich recipe for champagne risotto. I’d also never cooked risotto until taking the French cooking class (although this is purely an Italian recipe at heart). I was always nervous since I heard it was one of those dishes you can’t take your eye off of and constantly have to stir. However, once you get the timing down, it’s actually not as stressful to make as a lot of people make it out to be.

I originally found this recipe in Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book as a side dish to a lemon cream chicken. For the purpose of making it as a side dish to the skirt steak, I chose to eliminate the pancetta and saute only the asparagus. However, I highly suggest re-adding the pancetta if cooking alongside chicken or serving as a main dish on its own. Who doesn’t like a subtle smokey bacon flavor?!

As a side note, the following recipe serves generous portions for two. I suggest doubling the recipe to serve four to six people, and you’ll have some leftovers!

Champagne Risotto (with Asparagus and Pancetta)

Adapted from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

3 cups chicken broth3 tablespoons EVOO
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1 split champagne or sparkling wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/8 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
3-4 springs thyme, leaves stripped and chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth over low heat. In a medium to large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the champagne and boil to evaporate slightly, about 2 minutes.

Stir a couple of ladlefuls of warm chicken broth into the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates. Add more broth, a few ladlefuls at a time, reserving 1/2 cup. Cook until creamy, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

In the non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and shallot and cook, stirring, for 3 more minutes.

To serve, stir the cheese and thyme into the risotto and spoon generous portions onto plates. Pour the lemon juice over the asparagus and toss; spoon around or stir into risotto.