armadillas


Mistletoe

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It’s Christmas Eve! I can hardly believe it. I don’t know what it is about this year, but it does n’t really feel all that much like Christmas to me. Perhaps it’s the crazy Virginia weather we have. 70 degrees one day, 35 the next. It’ll throw a person for a loop! Oh, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a little snow? For the most part, it snows once or twice a year around these parts. Sure, it melts almost as soon as it comes, but even one day of a winter wonderland is a magical, wondrous thing. Last year the magic didn’t come. I think we had an hour tops of flurries and not a spec of it showed up on the ground. I suppose I better stick some mittens under my pillow to invoke some winter chill. I remember doing that as a little girl. I don’t recall who taught this ritual to me, but every year I would pull out my mittens or even some gloves if mittens couldn’t be found and I would whisper some Christmas prayer in hopes to wake up the next morning to a frosted window. Believe it or not, it worked…though that’s likely due to the fact I usually did it on nights that were already calling for snow. Magic or no, it’s a tradition I always enjoyed. Like the elves knocking on our door every Christmas Eve and leaving pajamas. I still can’t figure out how those “elves” managed to ring the door bell every year without getting caught. Oh, the joys of Christmas.

But this year I don’t quite have the Spirit that I usually do. I just chuck it up to all the recent changes in my life. There’s just too much stimulation to sit down and really enjoy the nog, which goes completely against my last post about Indian Time. Plus, all my friends are spread out across the continents this year and things are just not the same. But that’s okay. I’ll still relish a feast of beasts tonight along with a little Christmas mass. And let’s not forget the presents either! We finally finished up the last of our presents last night and I’m rather satisfied with everything. Now I just need to get some boxes to start shipping a few things out to those too far away to visit (sorry guys…you won’t be getting anything until after the holidays).

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Christmas aside, I did promise to finish up my Thanksgiving posts and true to nature I’m cutting it right down to the wire. But my first recipe is for a lovely blackberry-cranberry sauce that would be just perfect for Christmas dinner. See, I’m not late. I’m just making the recipe better accessible for holiday chefs.

Now I’ll admit that this recipe is not completely my own. It’s a hodge podge of at least three different ones I found while browsing the web. Here are the links in case you’re interested to draw some inspiration of your own:

Spinach Tiger’s Cranberry Blackberry Sauce and Syrup

Joy of Baking Cran Raspberry Sauce

Fake Food Free Blackberry Cranberry Sauce with Cinnamon

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 package fresh blackberries (I used the large pack)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon

I promise is super easy, much easier than the last recipe I posted. The first thing you want to do is rinse off your cranberries and blackberries, then dump them into a decent size pot/sauce pan. We’re making sauce after all!

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Add a 1/2 cup of sugar…

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And a 1/2 cup of lemon juice (or however much your taste buds desire!). If you’re feeling real adventurous, throw in some zest too. I prefer lemon juice, but you could totally substitute orange juice. Be creative

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Now for the cinnamon and honey. This step is completely optional and completely to taste. I really enjoy both cinnamon and honey, so I was a little generous with my shakes and tablespoons

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Stir stir stir and set your heat to medium high

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Watch it bet bubbly!

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Did you know sitting a wooden spoon over your pot helps prevent it from boiling over? I wish I had known this years ago. It would’ve saved me a lot of clean up and certainly is a lifesaver nowadays. Stir occasionally as your sauce boils, about 10 minutes or so. You’ll hear the cranberries popping away.

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After 10 minutes of boiling and your berries are all popped, turn the heat down low to simmer. This is where you should taste taste taste to see if your sauce is too bitter, too sweet, not cinnamony enough. Adjust accordingly. This is YOUR sauce! Also, as your sauce simmers, it will thicken

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Of course, you can remove your sauce from the heat if you want to skip the simmering bit. Either way, it will thicken. I just like to simmer for another 10 minutes because it makes me feel important and sophisticated. When you have enough sophistication in your life, turn off the heat. Once the sauce is cool, you can put it in a pretty mason jar!

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Yum yum, if this doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit (whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas), I don’t know what will

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Be warned! This sauce may be a little too tart for your friends who insist on buying the sugary sweet store bought stuff in a can. That just means there’s more for you! But seriously, if you aren’t big on tartness just bump up the amount of sugar in the beginning. But I embrace the tartness! Ah, isn’t is just beautiful?

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Happy (late) Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Now, where can I find some mistletoe…

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Bees knees

Like I said, the Alfredo deserved a post unto itself. It was creamy like I wanted. The peas added great color. And of course, the bacon provided a nice crunch and amazing flavor. Here’s to bacon!

But seriously, this was so easy to make and yet seemed like such a fancy meal. Perfect for someone’s special birthday dinner. Of course, it would have been even better if there had been shredded cheese on hand, but the stuff in that bottle/can thingy worked just fine…though, I am out of Parmesan now. Boo! Time to go to the market again

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used penne)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups Parmesan, preferably grated
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • Pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil

Cook up the bacon (chopped up)! Which in my opinion is the best part of the dish. I admit I have a problem…

Melt the butter in a large pot. Make sure it’s big enough to hold all your pasta later. In the meantime, boil your pasta in separate pot

Once your butter has melted down, add the cream. Oh, and keep in mind that we don’t want burnt up cream so keep your heat on medium to medium-low. Whatever you’re comfortable with

After only a couple minutes, it’s okay to add the cheese. Stir stir stir! Terrible picture if I do say so myself

Your cheese is getting all melty and your sauce is thickening up. Squeeze in the lemon juice! Mmmm

I’m not adding salt to mine, but I’m pretty generous with the pepper

Toss in the peas please. I bet broccoli would be great in this. Ooh, or some chopped up red peppers. Ideas…

It doesn’t take too long for your peas to warm up, just a few minutes. By now, your pasta should be done. Drain and dump in right into your Alfredo pot

Now for my favorite part. Add the bacon. How exciting!

Because the basil in your box garden is going crazy, sprinkle some on top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Ah, now that’s some good pasta. All is right in the world for a glorious moment with my fork in my mouth.

Tijuana