Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Okay, I have a lot to blog about and a ton of photos. Let's start with Wednesday night. I had red cabbage to use so I searched for recipes and decided to saute the red cabbage with green onions and chicken. Then I made some spaghetti and made a peanut sauce and mixed it all together. Here's the recipe:

Thai Chicken Noodles with Red Cabbage, Green Onions and Peanut Sauce
For peanut dressing:
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon of Thai Chili Paste
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

For noodles
3/4 lb dried soba nooodles (or spaghetti, like I used_
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 head of red cabbage, sliced thin and cleaned thouroughly
Half a seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken sliced thin
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Puree peanut sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then
transfer to a large bowl. Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Cook the red cabbage and chicken until chicken is cooked through and cabbage and soft (about 15-20 minutes). Drain pasta in a colander, then rinse well under cold water. Add pasta into the large saute pan and mix through with the Peanut Sauce. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions, serve immediately.
Thursday night, we had my companies holiday party. There was great food and it was a really good time. I decided to make a collage to highlight the night.
The big picture is Carissa and myself and the upper right is the Broadcast department kids.

Friday night, I went out with my friends from home and ended up staying in the city at Courtney's apartment. We got home Saturday early and Dave and I did a lot of sleeping, hanging out, wrapping presents and cooking. Check out our pretty tree with all the presents!
Wally was one of Dave's hanukkah presents that I gave him. I love ornaments!

We had parties to go to Saturday night but one got canceled so we decided to stay in for the night. I had watched Barefoot Contessa earlier in the day and was really inspired, so I made Seafood Gratin for the main course, and Kale and White Bean Soup for the first course.

Kale and White Bean Soup (inspired by this months Real Simple)

1 15 oz can of cannellini beans
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
2 qt water
1 (3- by 2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb kale (preferably lacinato), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
Cook onions in oil in an 8-quart pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beans, broth, 1 quart water, cheese rind, salt, pepper and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender, about 50 minutes. Stir in kale, quart water and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Seafood Gratin (inspired by Ina Garten)

  • 1 cup seafood stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons good white wine
  • 8 ounces raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half crosswise
  • 8 ounces raw halibut, cut into1-inch chunks
  • small cans of cooked crab meat and salmon (this is supposed to be lobster meat, but I was too cheap)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned carrots (3 carrots)
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the stock, cream, 1/2 cup of the wine in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the shrimp. After 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the halibut to the stock for 3 minutes, until just cooked through, and remove to the same bowl. Add the cooked crab meat and canned salmon Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Mash 1 tablespoon of the butter together with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan. Add the leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside.. Combine the panko, Parmesan and garlic. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they're moistened.Place the seafood at the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Strew the vegetables on top and pour the sauce equally over the seafood and vegetables and spoon the crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.
OMG, this was sooo delicious! Definitely recommend making this for a special occasion. Like you know, doing nothing on a Saturday night.

Later in the evening, my brother and Natalia came over before the storm hit. It actually didn't start snowing until after we went to bed, but when we woke up, it was a Winter Wonderland. Our Sunday consisted of eating, playing in snow, cooking, baking, eating and Hanukkah! Oh yeah, and eating. Did I mention that?
Mike, Natalia and I built this beautiful snow man and played in the snow. Good times! Dave was being lame and didn't want to go outside twice (he wanted to wait until the snow stopped so he could snow blow). I guess I understand since I didn't help at all with clearing the snow but I did have fun playing in it!

When we came inside, Natalia and I baked. We made Eggnog, Cranberry Muffins and Pumpkin Mousse. I burnt the hell out of the muffins (I blew it) but the recipe is from Annie-Eats (shocking right?).
The pumpkin mousse was in the same episode of Barefoot Contessa as the Seafood Gratin. Check it out!

  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 packages (4 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 ripe banana, finely mashed
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool. Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour the mousse into a 7 by 4-inch souffle dish. Pipe or spoon the remaining whipped cream decoratively on the mousse and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.
And since I totally blew my muffins, I decided to make an Eggnog Cranberry Cake. I was supposed to make it in a bundt pan, but didn't have one, so I used a loaf pan. I found the recipe here. I basically googled cranberry eggnog cake, and her recipe had the least amount of butter so I decided to go for it. It was delicious but looked frightening. The cake started to fold in the middle, but I flipped it when I took it out of the loaf pan and then glazed it. Hey, at least it tasted good. (Maybe baking isn't really my thing...)
Alright now on to the highlight of Sunday, Hanukkah Dinner at my moms!

My mom made Brisket, Sweet Potato and Potato Latkes, Spinach Salad and a Chicken Roaster. My plate:
Then it was on to gifts. Here are the highlights. Mom got clothes, a food processor and an Immersion Blender. Mike got workout clothes, Domo, and a GPS. Dave got workout clothes, a Celtics sweatshirt and Celtics mug. Natalia got a year subscription to US Weekly, clothes and a fleece jacket.

And I got an Under Armour Backpack, running gloves, running ear warmers and socks, my perfume (yes it is britney, got a problem with that?) and this amazing computer I am typing on right now! Mike got a new computer for work and gave his beautiful wife his old laptop which was only 6 months old. So I got Natalia's! Thanks guys! It's so much faster than my 6 year old MacBook!
Alright, what a weekend! Goodnight!

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