Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Merry Christmas! I was feeling much better on Christmas Day and I proceeded with my plans for dinner and an enjoyable evening. I was able to give my daughters each a homemade gift along with the usual presents. Michelle a boa like scarf that I knitted and Corey a pair of crochet wrist warmers. Hope they like them.
Everyone pitched in to cook this year so we had a very full menu. I made Party Roasted Shrimp, Toscano Soup (my version of the one from Olive Garden) for my soup and salad bar on the kitchen counter and Brian made his famous Cranberry Roast Pork. Michelle made Shepherd's Pie and a Crab Dip, Corey made her famous Chicken Divan. So we were pretty much covered with at least one dish someone could enjoy if they didn't like any of the others. We had a fun family gathering but it ended all too fast. Now to spend the rest of the weekend having some downtime with my hubby and puppies before getting on with another week.

Toscano Soup

This is a mild spicy soup that is perfect on a cold day. This is my take on the soup served at Olive Garden which I love. Instead of kale I use escarole or spinach as a preference for my family.
It’s so easy to make and makes a very large pot to feed a crowd. Cut the recipe in half if not so much soup is desired.

3 large 32 oz cartons of chicken broth
3 pounds Italian sausage browned and broken up
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes diced into cubes, not too large or too small.
2 bunches fresh escarole or spinach (about 8 cups), sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh garlic

Fry sausage in pan, set aside.
In a large pot, bring broth, cream, salt, pepper flakes and garlic to a boil.
Add sliced escarole and potatoes and add to the broth.
Simmer for hour. Adjust any seasoning if needed.

Cranberry Roast Pork

This dish is often called Cranberry Piggy at our house. We usually double the sauce ingredients because we like extra sauce for the table.

4 lbs pork roast
salt & pepper to taste
1 can (16 oz.) whole sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup peeled and chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and ginger

Rub the roast with salt and pepper, and place on a rack in a baking pan. Roast at 325 deg. for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until an inserted meat thermometer registers 175 deg.
In the mean time, combine all the remaining ingredients in a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Halfway through the roasting process, begin basting the roast every 15 minutes with the cranberry mixture. The remaining sauce can be served on the side with the thinly sliced pork. Serve along with Wild Rice with mushrooms and onions for a wonderful meal.

Christmas Eve 2009 – Looking back over the year…

It takes lots of planning, cooking and cleaning until you get to the holiday season. First Samhain, then Thanksgiving and following quickly by Yule, Christmas and the New Year. Looking back over this past year it was filled with quite a few events. Our daughter Michelle was married in a destination wedding in Jamaica and Brian and I followed that with a fun vacation at Disney World. The only down side to that was it was brutally hot. By midsummer I changed positions at work doing something a bit more gratifying, only to have my husband lose his job a few weeks later.
But we pursued on in our usual manner celebrating the fall holidays and before you knew it was the Christmas season.
The best news is Brian was called back by his old company for an open tech position for a school district. After two interviews on Tuesday the 22nd he was awarded the job and will start on Jan 4th, 2010, a terrific present. We celebrated Wednesday with Asti and sushi.
This year Christmas Eve would be different for us, we would just be spending it with just the two of us, something we have never done before. With this ever changing world of jobs and extended family obligations the kids wouldn’t be home. We both have siblings we aren’t very close with and both our parents have passed on. So it’s just us and our kids and their significant others and they would be here for Christmas Day. Guess this is what happens as we grow older and our family changes. We planned a quiet fun evening but it had one down side. I wasn’t feeling too well, woke up with a sick sour stomach. Was it the sushi from the night before? We got it from our favorite place, never had bad sushi from there before. Mmmmm… guess I’ll never know.
So I pushed through the day stomach gurgling and all that went with it and luckily had planned an easy fix dinner.
Jumbo Baked Diver Scallops
Chicken Marsala
Rice Pilaf

I prepared dinner and we had recorded A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart the night before so we would be watching that. Brian set up our snack trays and we had dinner in the living room and watched the movie. I ate very little and kept dosing off because of the uncomfortable feeling in my digestive tract. Yech!
A short while after the movie we headed to bed rather early, I used a bit of Reiki on myself and fell asleep. Next thing I knew it was Christmas morning and I was feeling a lot better, “the spirits had done it all in one night”!

Jumbo Baked Diver Scallops
Lightly breaded jumbo diver sea-scallops, baked in a terrific lemon garlic butter sauce.
Delicious served with a crisp green salad and pasta or French bread, -or- may be served as an appetizer.

35 min 15 min prep

• 2 lbs jumbo deep sea scallops (diver's scallops)
• 1/2 cup fresh butter
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
• 3/4 cup fine plain breadcrumbs
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• Zest of one lemon
• 1 fresh lemon, quartered
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the butter and garlic (and the white wine, if using) into an oven proof baking dish (I use a pyrex pie plate).
3. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until butter is melted (or, you may place the dish of butter into the hot oven for a few minutes, until butter melts).
4. Rinse scallops well under cold water. Arrange rinsed scallops (no need to dry them) in the dish of melted butter. Turn them so the butter coats both sides.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over scallops.
6. Squeeze the juice of one lemon quarter evenly over the scallops.
7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes.
8. To Serve:.
9. Serve with additional fresh lemon wedges at the table.
10. A delicious meal served with a crisp green salad and pasta or French bread, plus a glass of white wine! Or, may be served as an appetizer.

Easiest Chicken Marsala (Make the Night Before)

1¼ hours 30 min prep

• 8 chicken breasts, pounded thin
• Italian breadcrumbs
• 1 lb mushroom, sliced
• 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
• 14 ounces marsala wine (use broth can)
• 1 egg

1. Scramble egg in small bowl.
2. Dip chicken breasts into egg and dredge into bread crumbs on both sides.
3. Sauté breasts in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan; set aside.
4. Sauté mushrooms and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
5. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.
6. Lay chicken breasts side by side in baking dish.
7. Pour mushrooms and wine sauce over chicken.
8. Marinate overnight in fridge.
9. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes uncovered until hot.
10. Serve with rice or noodles.
11. **The sauce absorbs into the chicken so you want alot of sauce to begin with.
12. Also realize the alcohol burns off during the cooking.
If you choose to have less sauce, broth and wine should be of equal proportions