Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas cooking

I think everyone does some kind of baking/cooking during the holiday season. I do a lot. This year I had in my mind to give out some of the things I had canned in the summer as gifts. For the teachers I decided to give cranberry themed baskets. They had a jar of cranberry apple relish and a small jar of cranberry mustard, a bag of cranberry chocolate chippers and a bag of Italian cookies (not cranberry but they were shaped like "s" and very cute. Two of them got cranberry hand soap and two of them got cranberry scented oil and a burner. I was very happy with how the baskets came out, I thought they were very pretty. I hope the teachers likes them too.

For our family I also gave baskets of jarred foods and cookies. I gave out 6 baskets containing lemon mint vinegar, blueberry basil vinegar, blueberry lime jam, kiwi strawberry jam, bread and butter pickles, dill pickles and cranberry mustard and cookies. I also did 4 bags with pickles, mustard and the blueberry lime jam and cookies.

I made probably 35 bags of cookies (I lost count) for the girl scout leaders, the mail woman, the special teachers, principal, etc. For cookies this year we made- mocha toffee truffles, Italian cookies, peanut and cashew brittle, peanut butter blossoms, cherry chocolate kisses, cranberry chocolate chippers, Reece's peanut butter cup cookies and peppermint crunch mix.

We also have a big party on the 23rd (Christmas eve eve) for which I usually go overboard with food- and this year was no exception. I do think this year I had the most left over food ever though, but with probably the most people 60-70. I had to over cook as there were a couple of guys that have been giving me a hard time since last year that I didn't have enough food. We had buffalo chicken wings, sesame chicken wings, the mini hot dogs in crescent rolls, chestnuts wrapped in bacon(this was a new one for me this year- I thought sounded gross but was told it was very good-they were right), scallops wrapped in bacon, a pesto and cream cheese layered spread, chipolte meatballs, honey mustard meatballs, shrimp cocktail, pot stickers, spinach prosciutto palimers, curried chicken salad, spinach triangles, and cheesy bread sticks. I also had many people bring food too which was quite helpful- thanks to all who brought food to be eaten at the party or treats for us to have later!!

We have a stocked bar but the drink of the day is the cranberry marinated vodka that I have been making for the last couple years. This year I mad a double batch and we still finished it all. It is certainly delicious!!
Cranberry Marinated Vodka
5 cups cranberries
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups vodka
Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cool completely. Mix in vodka. Cover cranberry mixture and let stand two days at room temperature. Strain thru sieve into clean container. Cover and refrigerate. Serve over crushed ice.
I hate to let anything so to waste, so last year I found a recipe for truffles using the cranberry pieces I had strained out. This year I couldn't find that same recipe so I got a new one off the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association website. I got as far as making the truffle mixture and then ran out of time. It is still in a bowl in my refrigerator.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

kale soup

last tuesday i cam home to find my back steps covered by kale. we have a neighbor that randomly leaves things in our yard, so i assumed it was from him. he did go & tell adam about it, i guess he grew it & had too much. only in little compton.....
after an hour's worth of cutting- i put it into the fridge until i got all the rest of the supplies.

it was pretty coincidental because adam had been asking for Kale soup a couple weeks ago and if i had his grandmother's recipe- which i didn't. i did get it from his mother (or at least the general idea of it which is the best a portuguese cook can do as i don't think they ever measure) and i made it today.
it was a success- looked, smelled & then finally (and most importantly) tasted like nana's- yea!

Nana's Kale Soup- huge pot recipe

  • 4 beef shanks
  • 7 onions chopped
  • lots of garlic (don't be afraid of it my m-i-l told me)
  • big splash of vinegar (helps to get the bone marrow out- and it worked they were hollow when i took them out!)

cover with water and let boil for a couple hours. at this point most of the meat had fallen apart on it own, i broke up the big pieces and took out the bones & big pieces of fat. add:

  • chopped carrots- lots
  • chopped potatoes (i used young's new ri brand)
  • 4 cans kidney beans with liquid
  • more water to cover
  • beef base to taste

boil for about 20 min. add kale (chopped into bite size pieces) and cook until done.

makes: dinner for 6, huge bowl full, and about 15 quarts to share/freeze for later