Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas with the family

I am a bit late posting this, but it has been a busy couple of weeks. I spent a few days with my southern family in Atlanta. Warmer weather and great company. One of the many highlights was a visit to TG's kindergarten class. Grandma Marilyn read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' to the kids. Great fun. Lots of big eyes. The holiday service at Parkway Baptist Church was lovely, especially watching TG in the children's choir. She takes after her Grandma in her love of singing. Lunch with Don and Carole Guffey after service was fun with lots of catching up.

Visited my northern family in Middleton for a couple of days as well. As always the holiday service was very special. Lots of traditional holiday music. A very nice church is St. Luke's. Since we are all foodies, our meals were excellent. Christmas Eve after church, we feasted on Chris's clam chowder and Mary's cheese biscuits. A good way to end the day. Christmas dinner (as always) was a foodie paradise. We were joined by Mary's parents, Larry and Loretta. Here's what was on Chris and Mary's Table:

Macadamia Nut-Crusted Goat Cheese and Crackers
Pepperoni and Asiago Pinwheels
Italian Beef Rib Roast, with Parsnips and Roasted Potatoes
Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin
Carrots with Lime and Toasted Pecans
Rice Pudding with Raisins and Caramel Sauce

We certainly got our 5 vegetables in today. Not often that happens. A movie for the late afternoon and good conversation. I look forward to my New Years table. You will notice a 'lightening' of meals on my table in the coming year. I look forward to 2011 being a Happy Healthy New Year for us all.

Hope you like my new graphic. I plan to have it change with the seasons. Thank you Chris. I love it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Weather Outside is REALLY Frightful....

It's been a snowy, windy couple of days. Not a lot of snow but enough ice to make walking and driving a challenge. Definitely not a time to be outside for any length of time. It was a perfect weekend for holiday baking. My table this week is primarily covered with cookies. I do, however, have an interesting supper. Here is what is on the table:

Grilled Beer Brats over Braised Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

Brownie Bourbon Balls
Grandma Miller's Sugar Cookies
Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
Peppermint Bars

Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad

I love Brussels Sprouts. I know I'm in the minority, but it all depends on how they are prepared. I grilled two beer brats and then sauteed deconstructed sprouts (outer leaves removed and tossed with the core cut in half)and sliced shallots in the drippings. A bit of beef broth is added and covered until the sprouts are cooked. The brats are sliced and tossed with the vegetables. A warm filling comfort meal.

The cookies are some I have always made and others I have not. Th brownie bourbon balls were new. A pan of brownies is baked and cooled. They are then broken up and
processed with a few tablespoons of bourbon. When it comes together I used a small ice cream scoop and made balls. They are rolled is chopped toasted pecans and set out to firm up. They smell fabulous, hope they taste the same.

It would not be the holiday's if there were no sugar cookies. It's a simple butter cookie recipe dropped by small balls and baked. While still warm they are sprinkled with red and green sugars. Festive and great with a cup of tea or hot cider.

I have made red velvet cookies before and they are always well received. This time instead of spreading the cream cheese frosting on top, I spread on the bottom of one and covered it with another cookies to make a sandwich. I sampled one and am pleased with the change.

The peppermint bars are 'semi-homemade' A roll of sugar cookie dough is pressed into the bottom of a pan and partially baked. Then mini marshmallows are spread over the top and white chocolate chips are added. The dough is returned to the oven for a few minutes until the marshmallows are puffed. When it comes out of the oven, crushed peppermint candies are sprinkled over the top and the pan is cooled. Bars are cut into squares. These are excellent and quite sweet. Small bars are best.

I am particularly excited with the pasta salad. It is our library potluck tomorrow and instead of a sweet, I decided on the salad. Have not made it before, but I think it will be enjoyed by all. It's pretty much vegetarian. Chopped artichokes, roasted red pepper, red onion and chopped baby spinach. Cheese filled spinach tortellini are cooked and cooled and added to the vegetables. A dressing of lemon, garlic, lemon zest red wine vinegar and EVOO is tossed with the pasta mixture. I had a small bowl and am happy with it. Will make it again when I need to bring for a crowd.

I will be away visiting family in Atlanta next week so I will be back Christmas weekend. I have my own graphic artist so look for some additions to my blog. Have a happy and safe holiday. Bon Appetite!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The First Snowfall of the Winter...

The first snowfall is always something to behold. The trees on the property and around the lake take on a frosted appearance. It continued to snow on my drive to campus for the Empty Bowls event. Always a good time to celebrate birthdays. Campus, being in a forest preserve, looks almost like a black and white photo. It never ceases to take my breath away. Arriving back at home it was time to start my meal for the table. Cold and snow bring out the crock pot for some comfort food. This week the table holds:

Wine Braised Brisket with Carrots and Onions
Baby Greens with Pistachio Vinaigrette, Beets and Feta Cheese
Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

The brisket is browned well on all sides and set aside so that onions and garlic can be caramelized. The meat is put back in the pot with red wine, beef broth, rosemary, quartered carrots, tomato paste and seasonings. It cooks about 3 hours until meat is easily shredded.

The fingerling potatoes were tossed with EVOO and Italian seasonings. Because they are small roasting time is about 30 minutes.

The salad is very colorful and an interesting mix of flavors. The vinaigrette is EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard and seasonings. Chopped pistachios are added and tossed with the cooked sliced beets to marinate. At serving time, Feta cheese is added to the beets and tossed with baby greens. Chopped pistachios are used for garnish. The sweetness of the beets pairs well the Feta. A fine compliment for the richness of the brisket.

A small bowl of red grapes with a cup of tea finished off the table.

Next week begins preparations for Christmas. So I expect some baking will take center stage. That will leave, on the table, a meal of something quick and easy. Perhaps a pot of chili and cornbread.

Have a great week. Keep warm!