Archive for December, 2009

Seasonal Serendipity

   What was it I said here just last week?  Something about wishing everybody a “white – but not frigid – Christmas,” I believe.  And what is that old warning about being careful not to toss wishes about too casually?  I’ll refer you to the photo above to illustrate why I’ve been rethinking those sentiments – a view of my neighbor’s front yard four days after the 38° meltdown on the 25th. 

It’s since gotten very cold again, so we are skating our way through dog walks and unsuccessfully searching for some itty bitty boots for those itty bitty Chihuahua-size  paws.  (Last year we tried cutting the fingers out of rubber dishwashing gloves, but the resulting doggie overshoes were soon found everywhere but on doggie’s feet, and then all over the front lawn after last year’s spring thaw.) 

Of course being captive to the indoors due to the harshness of the outdoors leads to some quality kitchen time, and that can bring about happy discoveries in using up holiday leftovers.  Today, a selection of possibilities for you to try in the warmth of your own kitchen, starting with Mango Punch and Stuffed Celery, and followed by Shrimp Creole Soup, Sweet Potato Bread, and Marinated Cauliflower Salad.  This time of year you’re probably ready to turn down even one more homemade goodie, so how about a Bowl of  Sliced Kiwi Tossed with Dried Cranberries for a light, sweet end note.  (more…)

December 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Stuffing Appetizers and Appetizing Stuffing

   If the first week of December was, as declared here, “officially cold,” then the second week has to qualify as “officially too cold.”  The bad news is that wind chill temps as low as -20° make for miserable snow shoveling; the good news is that prospects are fine for a white Christmas. 

With such visions of future holidays dancing in my head, I am reminded of this Thanksgiving past and being served the best stuffing I have ever eaten at the table of a gracious friend and neighbor, who found her recipe in the November 2009 issue of Southern Living magazine.  My version omits the butter and sugar, and increases the ratio of vegetables to bread, but the result was good enough that I could have eaten it for breakfast and lunch the next day.  

Inspired by success, I retrieved some leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Breast from the freezer, reheated it in a bath of chicken broth, and built around it a menu of  Stuffed Mushrooms, Sweet Potato, Squash, and Corn Bread Stuffing, Field Greens with Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Grilled Bananas.  The stuffing recipe makes a generous amount, enough for those reruns you’ll be craving for the next few days.  (more…)

December 21, 2009 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

Cold Comforts

 Well, it is officially – and finally – cold in the Twin Cities:  Even with her little coat on, my little papillon-chihuaha walking buddy does a super model-like pivot when her foot hits the front step in the morning, zipping right back into the warmth of the living room.  I sympathize.  It is a bit of a challenge adjusting to a wind-chill factor of 14° when it was around 48° just last week.  

Now, I would assume that summer would win easily in a poll on favorite seasons because in Minnesota we tend to treasure every shirtsleeve day we can get, but I understand that nationally, respondents actually chose fall.  My thinking is that, for many, crisp autumn weather brings with it a yearning (and an excuse) for long-simmering stewpots filled with tummy-warming concoctions into which warm bread can be dipped, to sop up every last bit of goodness – a pretty sound reason for welcoming October.  Logic then leads us to conclude that the bite of winter would only intensify that natural inclination, right?  I like that theory, and so did my dinner guests when we took this rationale to the table with us, diving into Cider Pork, Cheddar Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, Tossed Romaine Hearts with Light Ranch Dressing, Tomato Parmesan Foccacia from my wonderful neighborhood artisan bakery outlet, and – for the especially convinced – Death by Chocolate Parfaits.  I would say that this meal gives new meaning to the phrase “bite of winter.”  (more…)

December 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm Leave a comment

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