Posts tagged ‘homemade’
Summer happened overnight in Boston, it seems. It has been warmer here than it has been in Southwest FL for the past few days! Now that is hot. When my thermostat reads 88F INSIDE the house, there is absolutely no way you can convince me to turn the stove on for longer than absolutely necessary, let alone even think about using the oven. I have survived 4 Boston summers with no A/C, but if it stays this hot for much longer I might break!
To beat the heat, I end up eating a lot of salads in the summer. While I love my leafy greens, salads don’t have to be so monotonous. Here are some of the things I have been making lately:
A lovely, multi-colored, Mexican-inspired salad that is sure to brighten up any meal. I mixed mine all together right away and have enjoyed it for lunch for the past few days. You can eat it plain, serve it as a side for taco night, or even fill a tortilla with it! For those of you afraid of the long ingredient list, most of the work is just simple veggie chopping! Jicama is the most unfamiliar ingredient, but is a wonderful, naturally sweet, tropical starch-y vegetable that adds great crunch and flavor. I can see this recipe easily becoming a summertime lunch staple! I think it would be fun to turn it into a layered jar salad the next time I make it!
Who said fruit salads are just for dessert? This Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad also makes for another great lunch salad! The lemon-basil dressing is refreshing, and the blueberries and mangoes are unexpected but delicious. This is a must-make for any fruit lover!
The last summer salad I made to go along with these delicious Chipotle Shrimp Burritos with Avocado Crema. I would highly recommend these burritos – simple, spicy, and flavorful. I cheated on the avocado crema and simply mixed a store-bought packet of guacamole with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, some extra cilantro and lime. To balance out the spicy shrimp, I kept the salad on the lighter side. This literally came together with the odds and ends left in my fridge, freezer and pantry from the week! The palmitos are acidic, soft, and refreshing. The edamame provides protein and substance, and the corn has a great natural sweetness. The dressing is heavy on lime, giving it a nice, fresh summer flavor. It reminds me of a grown-up version of succotash with a little South American flavor. It could easily be made into a main meal by adding some avocado and increasing the portion size!
Question: How do you stay cool on hot summer days? My favorite response from a friend: “I eat popsicles in my underwear.”
serves 3-4 as a side dish
1 can hearts of palm (palmitos), drained and sliced
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, cooked according to package instructions
2 ears corn, steamed (about 1 1/2 cups if using frozen)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
3 scallions, greens and whites, sliced
3 limes, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt and garlic powder (or to taste)
Cook the edamame according to package instructions. Allow to cool. Steam the corn for 3-4 minutes. Once cool, cut the kernels from the cob. Mix the corn, edamame, and sliced palmitos together in a bowl. Add the sliced scallions and minced cilantro. Whisk together dressing of lime juice, olive oil, and rice wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and garlic powder, then stir to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
All great meals start with great inspiration, no? This story begins back in March, when I was on Spring Break in Florida visiting my family. You all may remember my uncle, the creative force behind this incredible Lobster Cream Sauce and his famous jambalaya. We were sitting at dinner one night when he began describing an idea he had seen for a homemade smoker, knowing full well that he would never undertake the making of such a contraption. He described terra-cotta pots and a re-rigged hot plate, and immediately my boyfriend’s attention was captured. It took a few months of research and equipment procurement, but we finally set out to build our smoker on one of the first sunny Boston Saturdays.
Now, I cannot give you the steps to building this big guy, as my boyfriend was the true mastermind. I know generally that it took two unglazed terra-cotta pots so big that you could probably fit me inside one of them, one for the base and one for the lid. We also used a small round grill with charcoal as a heat source instead of messing with the electric source of a hot plate. On top of the charcoal went a tin pan of wood chips soaked in water. We stacked the whole thing on some found bricks in my parking lot to allow for some air circulation. There you have it, the bare bones recollection of our construction project.
What I can more fully detail, however, is the spice rub and the sides. While there are many great pre-mixed beef rubs on the market, we decided to make our own. I mean, if we made our own smoker, might as well make it homemade all the way, right? Pre-made mixes also usually contain a lot of salt, so making your own allows you to control the sodium levels as well as the flavor. We followed this Big Bad Beef Rub recipe, adding a little extra cayenne because we both like the kick. We rubbed that all over our 6 lb brisket and let it sit for about a half hour. Once we got the smoker to the right temperature, we put the meat on, closed the lid and prayed. (We were hungry and a little nervous that our experiment would fail!) We waited, checked the smoker, added some water to the wood chips, and waited some more. The total cooking process took 10 hours, so we did a lot of waiting! To pass the time, we cooked up some delicious southern sides: Ina Garten’s jalapeno cheddar corn bread and my favorite Beer Braised Collard Greens.
We finally sat down to eat around 9pm. The results were well worth the wait! The beef was tender, the smokey flavor permeated each piece, and there was so much flavor and juiciness that nothing else was needed to enjoy the brisket. The cornbread was also great, with a more savory flavor profile than traditional cornbread. The collard greens were great as always!
Of course, we had days of leftovers. To keep meals interesting, we reheated some of the smoked brisket in some BBQ sauce and filled some Portugese rolls with it to make BBQ Beef Paninis. With some asparagus “fries” these were a delicious way to repurpose the leftovers!
The homemade smoker experiment was well worth the effort. It costs way less than buying a smoker ($200 vs. $700+) and is a lot of fun to experiment with the construction process. In the end, meat cooked low and slow is the way to go! Our future experiments include smoked pork ribs and smoked salmon. We look forward to continuing this new adventure!
Question: What else should we try on our new smoker?
Man oh man is this stuff tasty. I have had a craving for some good, healthy granola ever since returning from Florida. I have had some early mornings lately and my breakfasts have been, well… sad. An afterthought. Something to hold me over until lunch. After a day off, I decided that I couldn’t continue to neglect my favorite meal for much longer! Since oatmeal takes too much time in the morning and hot breakfasts on increasingly warmer mornings are sounding less appealing, the thoughts of granola came to my mind.
Now I may have mentioned this in other posts before, but homemade granola simply cannot be beaten… once you get it right. It is harder than you’d think to get the wet to dry ratio to give you just enough crumbles and clusters! Too far one way and the granola is dry and lifeless, and too far the other and the result is tacky and hard to store! Once that problem is solved, the combinations of granola goodness become endless. Even better, you can control the amount of sugar you add so you can avoid the cloying sweetness that plaques many store-bought varieties. This batch of granola essentially served as a spring cleaning for my pantry, using up bits of bulk good items bought for other purposes and since forgotten. I will post how I made it below, and then write out what I think is a pretty good bare-bones builder for a make-your own granola!
Question: What are your favorite fruit & nut combos for granola?
Spring Cleaning Granola
based on a friend’s favorite granola recipe
(note: makes a very large batch, recipe can easily be halved)
6 cups oats
1/2 cup lightly salted sunflower seeds (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt to the wet ingredients)
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 cups chopped peanuts
3/4 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup reserved
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried fruit (I used a combo of dried blueberries and chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Bare-Bones Granola Builder
3 cups oats
1/2 cup seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia)
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia, walnut)
1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, olive, grapeseed, coconut)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar)
2 tbsp brown sugar
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves)
Pinch of salt (if nuts not salted)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond or anise, if you want to try something fancy!)
1/2-1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries)
Mix together all wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Next, mix the wet into the dry ingredients until small clumps form. Spread evenly on a lightly-greased rimmed baking sheet. Place in a 325F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola, and bake for 15 more minutes. Add the remaining maple syrup over the granola, stir, and bake for 5 final minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray. Once room temperature, stir in desired dried fruit.
Nothing screams springtime like fresh ingredients and brightly colored veggies. As soon as the first warm day hits, I am craving salads, slaws, and anything on a grill. These fish tacos fit the bill perfectly! My boyfriend and I recently returned from an amazing Florida vacation, where we visited my grandparents and extended family, explored Ybor City in Tampa, and replenished our Vitamin D levels on the beach.
All of the sun kicked my veggie cravings into overdrive, and so I jumped at the opportunity to make a fun lunch for my grandparents!
Fish tacos seem to have become rather trendy these days, and come in several varieties. My requirements for a good fish taco are as follows: good grilled fish, not the fried stuff. Traditional corn tortillas, not flour. Avocado, in some form. Lots of cilantro. And a good, tangy, fresh cole slaw. Hold the mayo.
Simple, right? Still, many places don’t hold a candle to this homemade version. This recipe was inspired from bits and pieces of many that I have read, taking my favorite parts from all. Feel free to do the same with mine, or try out my version to let me know what you think!
16 corn tortillas
1 lb white fish fillets (use what is local to your region – I have used Cod in NE and tilapia in FL both with great results)
spices: paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 small head purple cabbage, finely sliced (you can also use green, but the color makes these fun)
1 bunch scallion, whites discarded
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lime juice (I used from a bottle, but fresh is always fun!)
3 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
1 jalapeno, finely minced (use 2 if you like more heat)
for avocado cream:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Assemble slaw first. Slice cabbage and scallions finely, then mince garlic and jalapenos. Combine with lime juice and minced cilantro. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Combine and refrigerate while preparing other components to allow flavors to combine.
Next, combine avocado, greek yogurt, and remaining cilantro in a food processor. Combine until very smooth. Cover in a small bowl and refrigerate.
Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in oven to warm while cooking fish. Alternatively, place tortillas individually on a warm griddle after cooking fish for a crispier taco.
To prepare fish, begin by washing filets and patting dry. Season both sides with aforementioned spices according to taste. (More cayenne for the spice lovers, more paprika and chili powder for a deeper and sweeter flavor.) Salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
To assemble tacos, take warmed corn tortilla and spoon avocado cream across the bottom. Top with slaw and a small piece of fish. Fold in half and enjoy immediately!
My original plans for the weekend before last were to drive to NJ to see a certain little someone turn a year old. Mother nature had different plans though!
Guess 24.9 inches of snow in 24 hours is pretty impressive… but still doesn’t help my restlessness from being snowed in! I decided to use my housebound time fruitfully: I finished my FASFA, did some paperwork for school, cleaned, and cooked… a lot. And I proved to myself that there is still a chemist left in me! I successfully made homemade bagels on my first attempt! I dutifully followed the recipe as closely as possible, but had to do a lot of converting since I don’t have a functional kitchen scale. (Anyone know where to buy weird batteries?) I found this really helpful chart that made the recipe possible. I was a little worried when the dough was really dry and tough initially, but the final result was impressive! A good-sized, fluffy bagel with a crunch to the outside and a soft fluffy interior! If I can bake bagels, I am convinced that anyone can! I had fun with the toppings – sesame seeds on 6, and chia seeds on the other 4. I can’t choose a favorite, both are so good! Nothing better after a morning of shoveling than a hot, fresh bagel sandwich waiting for you.
If you have a kitchen scale, follow the original amounts. It will most likely have even better results, and more evenly sized bagels. If you don’t, I included my conversions below to save you some work!
Question: How did you spend your snowed-in time?
Honey Wheat Bagels
original recipe from here, makes 10 bagels
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups + 1 tbsp bread flour
1 3/4 cups water (80F)
2 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant dry yeast
Please see original recipe for instructions. A few notes: the recipe is a little too big for most food processors. You can mix and knead by hand! I also had to add a few drops of water to get all of the dough to combine.
Ginger might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of fall, but in reality is one of the unsung heroes of this culinary season. That might sound a bit extreme, but bear with me. What makes the pumpkin in pie sing? Ginger. A really great apple or pear crisp? Ginger. Breads, cookies, pies, and fruit crisps all rely on cozy spices to make them truly come to life. Ginger happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but can be a bit aggressive and divisive. If you love strong ginger flavors, then this post is for you.
It all started out with the goal of making homemade candied ginger. I love the store-bought version, but it is expensive and very sugary. I set out to make my own and, thanks to Pinterest, found this great recipe and tutorial. The cashier at my grocery store looked at me funny when I walked away with a rather large ginger
knob tree, but I was determined to accomplish my goal! The result – decent. Honestly, not as great as the store-bought version, but also could be cook’s error. My syrup over-boiled, dried out, and likely didn’t cook for quite long enough. The candied ginger is tasty, but not a solely edible treat like its store-bought counterpart. The resulting ginger syrup, however, is delectable. I cannot get enough!
Here are some ideas of what I have been doing with my ginger creations!
Honey Ginger Butter: Mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 stick softened butter. Whip with an immersion blender, and then refrigerate in a small container until solid. Goes great with pancakes, waffles or this amazing Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread!
Coconut Ginger Granola: Maybe the best granola I have ever made… seriously. I made a few changes, like using butter instead of coconut oil and adding a dash of ginger syrup and it is DELICIOUS! You should definitely try this.
In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some ginger recipes I tried out last year…
…and some I have my eye on!
Question: Are you a ginger fan?
The one thing I miss most about home, besides my family and friends, of course, is the grill. I do not own a grill in Boston, and love grilled foods during the summer months. There is something about the open flame and cooking outside that makes everything taste better, from mushroom burgers to vegetables to pizza! I made sure to request all of my favorite grilled foods while I was relaxing at home for the week, and my mom and I had a blast grilling together!
My mom has been making grilled pizza for years and it has always been one of my favorite meals. You take homemade pizza dough, cook it directly on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and then top it with your favorite pizza add-ons. (I love making non-traditional pizzas loaded with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and as many veggies as I can think of.) Cooking the dough directly on the grill gives it a great crispiness that mimics brick oven pizzas, but in a unique and homemade way. It can be a challenge to get the crust right, and takes constant attention as to not let it burn. (See the bottom of the post for step-by-step pictures). If this is not your thing, you can always use a pre-cooked crust from the grocery store and then warm it up on the grill after topping it. Give this pizza a try this summer, it is worth the extra step!
1 batch pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp Balsamic vinaigrette
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch asparagus spears
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
If making dough from scratch, prepare dough. While it is rising, toss the cherry tomatoes with the garlic and 2 tbsp of Balsamic dressing. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Roast the vegetables in a grill basket for 5-7 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes are wrinkled and ready to burst. Remove from the heat and separate. Cut the asparagus spears into bite sized pieces. In a medium saucepan over the stove, heat olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft. Add 1 tbsp Balsamic dressing and allow the onions to continue to cook until they are dark brown and slightly caramelized. When ready to create the pizza, form dough into a roughly round pizza shape. Rub both sides with olive oil. Preheat the grill and clean the rack. Place the dough directly on the grill rack. Turn down the flame, close the lid, and allow the dough to cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the dough, and cook for 3 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the dough at this point – you want it to rise and cook, but not burn. When the dough is cooked, transfer to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Spread with the roasted cherry tomatoes, squishing them slightly to release the juices to form a crust. Layer on the caramelized onions and asparagus pieces. Dot with goat cheese crumbles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Close grill and allow to heat through for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve.
Black bean burgers have always been one of my favorite vegetarian meal options. They are filling, flavorful, and don’t look like “weird vegetarian food.” You can fit in at a backyard BBQ, or have a tasty and quick weeknight meal. Unfortunately, most frozen veggie burgers are not vegan (or at least my favorite brand is not!) This gave me a good excuse to create my own! I love the hint of chipotle spice that kicks up my favorite brand of burger, so wanted to find a recipe that could recreate that. I found this recipe at the Daily Garnish, and tweaked it a bit to use what I had on hand. The best addition: a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, which added the spiciness I was craving, and also worked to help bind the burgers a bit! Still, these were pretty delicate and would not be the best to put on a grill, but they are great heated on a pan or a griddle! I enjoyed mine with some avocado and salsa – craving fulfilled!
I was shocked to find out that not everyone likes black bean burgers as much as I do… My friend, who is also participating in the vegan challenge this month, was complaining to me about a black bean burger he had at a vegan restaurant. I was quite surprised, since this place usually has pretty good food. After a little bit of questioning, we figured it out – he ordered a bean burger to satisfy his beef craving. Well, the two are nothing alike (flavor, texture, juiciness… nothing!) He finally admitted that the flavors of the burger were good, and he could get over the “mushy texture” if he were looking to enjoy this burger in its own right and not as a replacement for his favorite food. I guess that is an important thing to realize for new meatless eaters – find new foods that you enjoy, and don’t look for them to be exact replacements or replicas of meat dishes.
Other things that you need to enjoy in their own right: green bean fries. They are crunchy, salty, and reminiscent of a potato fry, but definitely have a green bean-y taste. I absolutely loved them, and will definitely make them again!
Question: Do you try to find healthy foods to replace old favorites, or do you find new things to love that suit your lifestyle?
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
adapted from the Daily Garnish, serves 6-7
3 cups black beans (rinsed if canned)
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup dry rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely ground
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
In a food processor, coarsely grind almonds. Add oats and pulse. Remove from food processor and mix with carrots. Process the beans and oil together until a paste just begins to form. Combine the two mixtures with the spices and the chili sauce. Mix until evenly combined. Form 6-7 patties by hand. Pre-bake in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, and then crisp the outside on a hot pan or griddle. Serve with avocado and salsa.
It is hard to start a post that I am so excited about, and has been this long in the making! My roommate and I eat impossibly large volumes of oatmeal, and never get bored with it. This shocked and surprised our friend, who challenged me to make a different flavor of oatmeal every day for a month. A chance to try to pull an oatmeal hater onto my beloved breakfast bandwagon was something I could not refuse. My roommate and I immediately brainstormed some of our favorite classic combos, as well as threw out some ideas that were a little more out of the
box bowl. The project took longer than a month, since some of the flavors took more than one shot to perfect, and since even I can’t eat oatmeal 7 days a week. (Shocked gasps are leaving your mouth, I just know it). But without further to do… 30 Days of Oatmeal!
The picture links to a page that contains separate links to all of the oatmeal flavors. Some were inspired by the little instant oatmeal packets, such as Honey Walnut and Maple Pecan. Others are just classics that I turn to when I don’t want to think in the morning, like Apple Cinnamon and Peanut Butter Banana. Some are fun twists on desserts, like apple or pumpkin pie, and a few even hide some veggies! (Hint: Carrot Cake and Red Velvet Cake.) One, Raspberry Coconut, was inspired by a friend’s Facebook comment,. There are some holiday themed flavors, and some that are mild and simple for days that you don’t feel like a bold breakfast bowl. Basically, there is something for everyone! My mom, dad, sister, and roommate have taste tested and approved many, and I have loved them all.
I should get paid by an oatmeal company as their spokesperson, for I simply cannot rave enough about my favorite breakfast. It is cheap, it is healthy, and it can be so good – what’s not to love? Plus, oats are filled with fiber, which helps get rid of bad cholesterol (LDL) and boosts good cholesterol (HDL). Oats do not have to be bland or boring, as demonstrated above. They also don’t have to be packed with sugar to taste good. Most of my bowls were naturally sweetened with bananas or apple sauce, and flavored with spices and extracts. I like to cook my oats in a mixture of milk (I usually have unsweetened almond on hand) and water to add creaminess. This also adds a bit more protein to your breakfast to help it stick to your ribs longer. I have been known to have audible hunger growls on the bus on the way to school if I eat protein-poor cold cereal! I also like to cook a smaller portion of oats (1/3 cup) in a normal amount of liquid (1 cup) for a bit longer, which makes them softer and fluffier, and also gives some wiggle room for all of the add-ins to incorporate well.
Try one of the 30 flavors I posted, or make your own! Start with your oatmeal base, mix in some flavor from vanilla, cinnamon, or nut butters, add some fruit or jam for sweetness, and get creative! The options are almost endless, especially when you consider that oats are great soaked in milk overnight on warm days, or oven baked for really cold ones! Not enough ideas here for you? Check out the real Queen of Oatmeal at KERF, or CCK’s baked vegan oatmeal flavors! Jump on the oatmeal bandwagon, my friends – you won’t regret it.
My mom made it very clear to my sister and I that she did not want us to get her a Christmas present this year. Since both of us are still poor students and on the family “pay roll,” she didn’t want us spending money on her and my dad. “My gift is having both of you home,” she said over and over again. Cute, Mom, but we weren’t buying it. We couldn’t do nothing, considering everything you do for us! We decided to give them the gift of food: a gourmet dinner at home, cooked by us. We wanted them to have something to unwrap, so we got creative and stenciled some placemats and wine glasses as well. We set the table with our gifts and got to cooking!
Appetizer: Petite Beef Wellington and a Cucumber Gin and Tonic
My Food Network addiction finally paid off! I saw this recipe last year, and the idea stuck with me when my sister and I were brainstorming an appetizer that would thrill my dad. He is a meat lover, and so we knew our Christmas present had to present at least a few morsels of beef. With sauteed mushrooms and shallots wrapped with a bite of beef in puff pastry, this appetizer was a hit! The recipe is simple, with just 5 ingredients, and can be found here. Since this appetizer was Dad-inspired, we knew a gin and tonic was in order! To take it to another level, we mashed some cucumbers into the gin and let them sit for a half hour. We strained them from the gin, and then mixed a standard gin and tonic. The cucumbers really shone through, and added a nice twist to my dad’s classic favorite.
Salad: Warm Beets and Goat Cheese over Baby Spinach
Nothing is better than warm beets with baby spinach. We chopped the beets and roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper for about an hour. We spooned them over a bowl of baby spinach leaves with crumbled goat cheese, olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, and cracked black pepper. The warm beets made the goat cheese melt in your mouth, and the spinach was tender and amazing. I would eat this salad every day if I could!
Entrée: Lobster Ravioli with Vodka Cream Sauce
We flew by the seat of our pants for this part of the meal! We cooked two lobster tails, chopped them, added them to melted butter and some reduced white wine, stirred in some sauteed shallots and grated Parmesan cheese, and allowed it to simmer for a minute or two. The filling was not quite thick enough for ravioli, so we made a roux of flour with a bit of milk, and that thickened the filling perfectly. We spooned that onto sheets of fresh pasta dough, and cut out the ravioli. My sister made a vodka cream sauce that complemented it perfectly. She doesn’t follow a recipe for this sauce, telling me that she “cooks by color.” The base of the sauce was sauteed onion and garlic with a bit of vodka. After the alcohol cooked off, she added some tomato puree and paste, seasoned it, and added light cream until it was the perfect reddish-pink. We spooned the sauce over three cooked ravioli and served it with a touch more of shredded cheese. Another hit! My sister and I are perfectionists, and so we were disappointed that the lobster was a little chewy and overcooked. However, the flavor of the filling for the ravioli was amazing, and the sauce my sister created was a highlight. My parents loved it!
Dessert: Rum Poached Pears with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
As good as the rest of the meal was, this was the true highlight! We found a great recipe at Baking Bites, and followed it exactly (with just a 1/2 cup less sugar). The pears were so sweet and took up the rum and vanilla flavors, and practically fell apart in your mouth . We reduced the rest of the liquid to make a caramel sauce, and then served the melt-in-your-mouth pears with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream. We wanted to serve them with egg nog ice cream, but couldn’t find any at the grocery store! (We know this exists out there somewhere, my sister has definitely seen that flavor before!) Our game plan was to use creme brulee ice cream instead, but a brain fart during my grocery run led to my picking up dulce de leche. Still a great combo with the pears, though! Next Christmas, maybe someone will ask for an ice cream maker so we can make our own eggnog ice cream! ;)
The meal was a success, and it has been another great Christmas with my family. I am so thankful for this past year, with all of its highs and lows, new experiences, and great memories. Now that our Christmas celebrations are over, we can look forward to the next year!