Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Festive Food

Because L.A. is so different from my old, cold Christmas home, I've been having some difficulty getting ready for the holidays. So, to help me, I've started making festive food choices. Beginning with my holiday cookie spree and edging into our lunches, Christmas has started to seriously invade the kitchen here.
Let's start with a small example: Saturday night hit and cookie craving set in bigtime. I needed my fix, so I made another batch of Chocolate Rocky Road cookies. These ones didn't turn out quite so beautifully as the last ones, but were delightful, especially when photographed on holiday wrapping paper!

A little bit of red and green has snuck into our lunch boxes in the form of lasagna and green grapes. Let me tell you a bit about the lasagna. First, I started by making the sauce. You can find the recipe at the bottom of the post, but mostly it's a sham-recipe -- I just throw in whatever I have around. While the sauce is bubbling away, I work on the ricotta (following the directions on the lasagna noodles box... too easy!). While both the sauce and ricotta are getting delicious, I'm also, sometimes, heating up hot Italian sausage to mix into the sauce. Then, it's just a matter of throwing all those ingredients into the baking dish and making delicious, holiday lunches with the resulting leftovers. The other defining holiday aspect of these lunches are my Christmas cookies. A recent post dealt with the cookies, so I won't go into too much detail, but... they are pretty festive, aren't they?

How about the naturally red and green produce from our local farmers' market? Swiss red chard is big in my book, I've even blogged about it before. I love how it looks, smells... I even love how it feels. I took some of that fabulous vegetable and cooked it up into a sort of Mediterranean stir fry: Swiss red chard, zucchini, mushrooms, and, of course, garlic and olive oil combined to make MMM the best stir fry I could whip up. And plenty of leftovers for the next week. It's even in the red and green bento pictured in this post.

Chard was not the only festive farmers' find this week. I got tons of great red and green produce there. Take a look at our veggie basket, brimful of bright red heirloom tomatoes, pretty purple onions, and, best of all, a subtly colored and heavenly smelling bunch of thyme. I can't wait to use it in the Parmesan-Thyme Savory cookie recipe I have stored up in my recipe file. This image of our produce basket even has my "rolling pin" off to the side. You can read about my wine bottle rolling pin reuse project over at my eco blog, Light Up My Room.

Homemade Sauce Recipe

  • 1 huge can (smaller than a basketball, bigger than a softball) of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste (for thickening. give or take for taste and preferred thickness)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried, basil leaves (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh, or 1 tsp. dried, Italian herbs (I use a dried blend, but you can use parsley, sage, oregano.. whatever)
  • 1-6 cloves garlic, minced (have I mentioned we LOVE garlic?)
  • Olive oil for the pan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a tall-sided pot and add garlic. Don't let the garlic brown, just get your kitchen smelling delicious.
2. Add the stewed tomatoes, crushing each one with your hands (OVER the pot! or else you'll make a huge mess!). Crush or cut to your preferred texture; I like chunky sauce. TheBoy calls it "stylish"
3. Add spices and stir well.
4. Let it cook until the tomatoes have started falling apart and the taste is to your standards. It's really up to you how this sauce turns out. If you decide to add meat, especially sausage, make sure you either buy loose ground meat or crumble it up before browning, because it's a hassle if you try to crumble after cooking.

1 comment:

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