For our December meal, I decided to try out a few items of traditional Christmas fare: ham, sweet potato casserole, and German red cabbage. And for dessert, I made chess cake. I wish it were the stuff of traditions for our little families, but we weren’t all that dazzled. It was a fine meal, just not our idea of Christmas indulgence. For a regular meal, however, it was rather good. And making ham in the slow cooker? Who knew ham could be so easy and tasty?
Recipes for Us
It’s already been over two weeks since Lesley and I had our monthly dinner. Clearly it’s been a busy fall. October’s dinner was almost foiled due to our schedules and the annual change-of-season sicknesses that plague schools and daycares. Poor Lesley had to make the meal twice. This month, it looked as though the same thing was going to happen again. Maddie had a bout of sickness that sent me home from work at noon. It appeared as though she was having an allergic reaction to something, but after some conversations and photos to my aunt, it was decided that she had some sort of virus that wasn’t causing her to be sick but was causing a reaction on her skin. Appetizing, right? Lesley was also having some challenges that day and was caring for the older child of a neighbor who needed to take their youngest for an unexpected CAT scan. Scary. Determined, we kept the dinner as scheduled, and I packed up the things I would need to head over to Lesley’s house. (more…)
We’ve had a pretty rough fall already. The girls have been taking turns being sick, and Ali and I can’t coordinate our schedules to do something as simple as take a trip to the pumpkin patch. This bad luck carried over to our monthly dinner date as well. I ended up making this recipe twice because the first dinner was sabotaged by sickness. But, what this tells you is that it was worth eating twice in the span of a month!
I found this recipe for butter chicken at TasteBook.com and it looked like a winner to me. It is quite flavorful and difficult to resist seconds, but it just doesn’t taste like butter chicken — hence the “Not-So Butter Chicken” title.
Last year, I attended a work training where I met a good-looking man who told me about a cookbook comprised of only dishes that were made of chocolate. Sounds like the stuff of every little girl’s dreams, right? Okay, maybe just mine. The thought of making chocolate part of my main meal and having it be acceptable has stayed with me since. This month, I decided to make the dream a reality with the Mexican dish Mole.
Mole is intimidating. It calls for several ingredients, not all of which you are likely to have or likely to find easily. I must confess, I cheated a bit. My biggest concern was the ancho chiles. A lot of recipes called for other kinds as well, but I couldn’t even bring myself to consider them. I knew I would have to make another trip on the weekend to a different grocery store. It was something I was mentally prepared to do until I saw it. Right there on an end cap in Kroger. Ancho chili powder. I was saved! No other grocery store, no drying of the chili or picking out seeds. Just a touch of guilt. I could live with that. I should also mention that I chose a recipe that already made the recipe simpler. But, I digress.
A touch of mom brain also plagued me on this shopping trip, and I forgot a couple of ingredients. Sigh. I made do without them, and I must say it turned out pretty good. Actually really good. I learned not to judge Mole on the first bite. With all the flavors, the taste can only be described as complex. Give it two or three bites before you really decide.
Skip to the Blackberry Margaritas
Ingredients for the Mole:
6 tbsp Ancho Chile Pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 small onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 oz Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate , melted
1 cup water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground anise
Ingredients for the Enchiladas:
- My suggestion is to make the Mole first. It’s the most time consuming of the two. Begin by peeling the tomatoes and chopping both those and the onions.
- Saute onions in vegetable oil until soft. Add the garlic when onions are almost ready. When the onions are nice and soft, add the spices (not the sesame seeds). Be sure to stir the mixture consistently to avoid burning it.
- Put tomatoes, onions, sesame seeds, raisins, almonds, and chocolate in blender. Blend.
- Add spice mixture to the blender. Blend thoroughly.
- Done! See, gathering the ingredients really is the hardest part. Now, on to the enchiladas.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl (minus the cheese and tortilla) and thoroughly mix together. Not knowing how mole would heat in the oven, I mixed mine in a pan and heated the ingredients to be sure the insides on the enchiladas would be hot.
- Spoon mixture and queso fresco into tortillas to create the enchilada. Place them in a long baking dish. I used small tortillas and a 9×9 baking dish.
- Top with mole sauce and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on the mole. It will burn, which makes it even worse looking than it already does. Trust me, it tastes great!
1 cup of sugar
8 oz Triple Sec
8 oz silver Tequila
7 cups of water
- Muddle blackberries in the bottom of a pitcher. Add sugar and 1 cup of water. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the juice from the limes. I have a handheld citrus juicer, which is fantastic. It gets all the juice with half the effort!
- Add the triple sec and tequila.
- Start with half of the remaining amount of water. Add 1 cup at a time until you reach the taste you are looking for.
This dinner was a hit, and I will certainly keep the recipes handy. It was easy enough that I would actually consider making on a weeknight! Of course, I will not serve the two dishes together again. Some dishes just don’t mesh well. In this case, the ravioli had a fall feel to it—comforting, a bit on the heavier side. The salad felt like spring—light and crunchy, minty fresh. Opposites do attract, but I think these two are better off staying single. Of course, that didn’t stop us from gobbling both up!
1 pound zucchini, thinly sliced
1 9-ounce package four-cheese ravioli
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh mint
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add zucchini and cook until tender, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take out the zucchini and set aside.
- Cook ravioli according to package instructions and drain.
- In the skillet, heat butter and salt over medium heat, until butter is browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add almonds; cook and stir until toasted, about 2 minutes.
- Add zucchini and toss to coat.
- Add ravioli, balsamic vinegar, and mint; stir gently to coat.
Recipe from Better Homes and Garden.
Zucchini Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, plus leaves for garnish
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Wedge of Romano, for shaving
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- Fresh mint leaves, torn
- Heat canola oil in medium skillet on medium heat. Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until slightly wilted, then set aside.
- Whisk together the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey to taste, salt and pepper to taste, and parsley in a small bowl. Slowly, whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the zucchini and let it marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature. Top with shaved cheese, pine nuts, parsley and mint leaves.Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay at Food Network.