Let's begin with Thanksgiving. I had great intentions of making something from my Giada book, but that didn't happen. Instead, my dad and I made the turkey and a macaroni and cheese that truly puts the cheese in the dish's name. Basically, you make a roux, add milk and cream and a variety of cheeses (we used cheddar, swiss, extra sharp white cheddar, and the key choice: pepper jack), add to al dente macaroni and bake with some cheese and breadcrumbs on top. The turkey was another accomplishment. After slathering Tom with some butter, we sprinkled it with salt and pepper and baked covered in tin foil for a couple of hours, and then uncovered for another hour or so. I used to think cooking turkey was such an ordeal...no more. Granted, I didn't do any of that rather disgusting prep work, but still, not that difficult. Here's some proof:
Alrighty, on to the next week. Since I didn't cook Giada that weekend or the next week, I had some major catching up to do. Solution: my supper club with friends from work.
I had volunteered to host our December gathering (I am slightly obsessed with Christmas decorations and I love to host during this time of year), and it was the perfect opportunity to do a whole host of Giada recipes. We began with Crostini with Gorgonzola and Honey. A delish appetizer, surprising mix of flavors that complement each other well. Very easy (forgot to take a picture!). The rest of the meal consisted of Tomato Soup with Pancetta,
Chicken Florentine, and Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesean.
It was all very good, but I do think that since I served for 6 and hence changed some of the ingredient amounts, the cream sauce for the chicken was not the desired, thicker consistency. Oh well. It tasted wonderful mixed in with the potatoes, so no harm, no foul. The soup was a total hit, so much so that I will definitely be making it at least one more time this winter soup season. The finale of the dinner was a red velvet cake. The only link I can give you for that is your local grocery store for some Duncan Hines mix and cream cheese frosting. I made three layers (used the extra mix for cupcakes), and that required two boxes, three containers of frosting and some chopped pecans to mix into the icing. While I can't boast about my dry ingredient measuring skills, I will brag a bit on the cake's aesthetic appeal, so enjoy the picture.
So that takes us through the first week of December. What else have I done, you might ask? Well, truly, not much. I made chili and Hot Russian Tea for my college girls, two dishes I don't even need the recipe for. Let me give you the rundown for each:
- 1 pound of ground chuck
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced (don't be shy, garlic lovers...throw another clove in!)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 can diced green chiles
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
- Chili Powder (at least a tablespoon, use more to taste)
- Cumin (at least a tablespoon, use more to taste)
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- A pinch of chipotle pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot Russian Tea (it's a family tradition!)
- 1 can cinnamon sticks and 1 can of whole cloves, steeped in another 4 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes
- 4 family size tea bags (or 12 regular size bags), steeped in 4 cups boiling water for 10 minutes (you can use decaf)
- 12 oz of pineapple juice (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 can of orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar (you might want to add more if you like it sweeter)
The last thing I made was this past week for my small group, Giada's Chicken Tetrazzini (which is her highest rated recipe on Food Network's site). It was wonderful. Messy, but worth the end result. Everyone enjoyed it, including my friends at work the next day. It makes a ton!
If you're looking for a last minutes gift for an established or novice cook, I recommend a book of Giada's recipes. Absolutely everything I have made with her name on it has been nothing short of wonderful. She's got a few out there, and I feel confident that others will have the same luck I've had.
Well, folks, that's it. You might be wondering, hang on, she hasn't picked a book for December, so clearly she's without a plan, and ultimately, she's failing her commitment to cook something new each week. And yes, you're right to a point. But the last point is just reality of life. Since I'm not going to be home in my kitchen most of this break, I am going to let December slide. I will be back with a passion in January, so look forward to all the recipes that 2010 holds. My next book will be Paula Deen Celebrates!, a gift from my lovely friend Thelen. I'm only guessing, but I'm sure many recipes will call for butter.
I do wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, but allow me to express my utmost wish for you this time of year: This season is not about gifts, parties, or even food (gasp, Julia!). It's about God's relentless pursuit to reconcile us to Him: a pursuit that led to the Word taking flesh and dwelling among us, a pursuit that miraculously healed bodies and souls, a pursuit that brought saving light into despairing darkness, a pursuit that walked obediently and humbly to a cross where LOVE was proclaimed and declared triumphant. This season is about Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I am convinced of nothing else: He loves us, and we have the privilege of knowing Him. My prayer is that you would believe and trust that wondrous love this Christmas and always. Luke 2:1-20