When I was a kid, we had the best holiday seasons ever. We celebrated all 8 nights of Hanukkah with all prayers and the lighting of candles; that to be followed by a trip to our grandparents small yet warm and familiar home in McKees Rocks, PA. I loved my grandparents Christmas. They hosted each year until they recently started getting older. Perhaps that is where I get some of my hosting "roots." I actually hope to think that I am a lot like my grandmother Jumba (mom's mom) because she loved to cook and also loved to wear skirts and necklaces for each outfit. We seem alike to me!
My point is, that no matter how strange your family is (or in my case, that you celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas), there are certain time honored traditions that should exist year after year. I'm excited to start my own family one day. My kids will know all these traditions. I'm a competitive perfectionist, I'll probably quiz them on flash cards. Well, I'm not that bad, but I wouldn't put it past me, haha.
Cindy, Gary, Jon, Michelle
Halibut with a Caper Shallot Red Wine Sauce with Butternut Risotto Style Quinoa
Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
Sarcastic inside family jokes
3 Types of Tea with the unwrapped gift my mom provided for me--a "Perfect Tea" Tea Maker
3 shallots, sliced into rings
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6-ounce pieces halibut (I had the man at the store skin it for me)
Fish: Season the fish with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until opaque, about 4 minutes per side. Divide among plates then drizzle with the sauce.
Sauce: In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, simmer the shallots in ½ cup of the oil until they are light golden brown. It should take about 10 minutes or if you like them more crispy, then 11 or 12 minutes.Transfer the shallots to a bowl and stir in the capers, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. I added more olive oil to this mix as well. Then I drizzled it over the fish on the plate. My brother liked it, and that made me REALLY happy.
As for the Quinoa, I just pretty much made up the recipe as I went. I used about 1 cup of quinoa (which goes pretty far), and about 3 cups of chicken broth (low sodium). While I cooked the quinoa, I put about 1/2 the can of butternut squash puree in the pan with a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and shallots that were in the pan browning a few minutes prior. I let that mixture warm up, added about 1/4 cup of almond milk, stirred for a few more minutes, and then added all this to the quinoa. I stirred in more almond milk while the quinoa was over the stove, and added in more seasonings like salt pepper and sugar.
1/2 pound wide kosher for Passover egg noodles (I used Organic Brown Rice Pasta Gluten Free Noodles from Whole Foods. The brand was "Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta").
1/2 stick butter, melted (I used the "Light Butter" from Trader Joe's)
1 pound cottage cheese (I used fat free cottage cheese)
2 cups sour cream (I used low fat organic sour cream)
1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs (I used 4 eggs then 5 tablespoons of egg whites)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (I used organic raisins from Whole Foods because they were pretty ripe and tasty!)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Boil the noodles in salted water for about 4 minutes. Strain noodles from water. In a large mixing bowl, combine noodles with remaining ingredients and pour into a greased baking dish. I used an old school square pan about 8 by 8. It just depends on how thick you'd like your kugel to be. The original recipe said to use a 9 by 13 pan, but I wanted ours to be a little thicker. I refuse to make a "that's what she said" joke. So I won't. Bake for about 40 minutes. That's how long it took for the top to get a tad crispy and brown. My dad loved this so much that he took a bag home and had 3 servings of it at the table. I died. I was so happy.
Healthy CRANBERRY OATMEAL BARS
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup Whole Wheat flour)
1 cup quick-cooking oats (I used more than this, I sprinkled some on top over the entire thing before I baked it for more texture)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light Splenda Brown Sugar that was lower in calories)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted (I used the Light Butter from Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
1 small container of Greek Yogurt, Plain Flavor
1 small cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Whole Foods Zero Calorie Natural Sugar to make it lower in sugar)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour (a handful of flour, I used Whole Wheat flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white, lightly beaten (about 3 tablespoons of Egg Beaters or anything that comes in a carton if that's what you use)
Preheat oven to 325°.
Crust: Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. FYI, if you have a wedding ring or engagement ring on, take it off, and knead this with your hands instead. Mixing it will only cause all the batter to stick onto whatever tool you are using (especially a whisk like I started with). Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). It should be crumbly, if it's not, feel free to use more flour at any point in time. I added about an extra handful or so, to make sure the batter wasn't' overly wet. I thought the flour would hold it together better, which it certainly did.
Reserve about 3/4 cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Use whatever size pan you'd like, really. I ended up using a 9 by 13 pan and making more of the crust and the filling as I went, so these came out nice and thick.
Filling: Combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling. I, then, sprinkled extra oats and brown sugar over the top. You really can't go wrong with those two ingredients!
Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Cooking Light had permutations on this recipe as well. They are below. I think I'm going to try them both!
1. Cherry-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries and lemon rind for the orange rind in filling.
2. Maple-Date-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute chopped pitted dates for the dried cranberries. Omit granulated sugar from filling, and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.SALAD
This was really simple. I made it up as I went along.
6 mini frisee bunches from Whole Foods
3/4 grapefruit, sliced and cut into chunks with seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon fennel (dark green parts only)
a few slices of prosciutto, sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice that is left over from slicing the grapefruit
1 tablespoon orange juice
salt and pepper
Combine everything together and toss it up and serve. Nothing much to it!
1 tablespoon olive oil