Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Preparations

 Our tree

In the spirit of all the blogs I've been reading about decorating for the holidays, I thought I'd take a few photos of our holiday preparations to share with whoever's reading this blog.....just me? maybe....

here's me, decorating our tree

I snipped a few small branches, these are on the windowsill above my sink

I made this creation for my dining room table centerpiece. (sorry for the poor photo) It's branches some leftover, some got when we got our tree :) in a huge vase with some plastic ornaments in the bottom (with rocks for weight), lights, bows, and some wooden bead garland

More leftover branches in a simple vase in our room

I love garland.  There's some on most windows, and archways

Even a small piece leftover from a gift I got gets used on my kitchen window.  
An ornament hanging from the center is nice too.
I never throw out garland, it can always be used for something.

Two matching pieces on our dining room windows, 
they're so beautifully tall.
A painted wooden bead garland from my childhood 
adorns the painting by my great grandmother 

 Garland on the studio windows-with mandolin ornaments on the corners!
I did this one a little differently and looped it around and around the curtain rod

 Poinsettia garland on a framed poster

Garland on the family room window with some lights on it, 
and music note ornaments hanging from the swags.

Ornaments aren't just for trees anymore! 
I use them everywhere, so nice to hang from garland, 
fill a vase with, or scatter around:

The Santa and the Tricycle are both ornaments...

This long ribbon (with Santa print) was also used to wrap a gift I was given.  
It's beautiful over this double doorway, with a bow in the center
The door on the left has small plaques that read:

"Joy" and "Believe"

Don't neglect the bathroom-
Bows on the sconces.  
I also have a fun toilet seat cover and holiday towels.

 I tried out the cookie press I was given for my birthday.
These are molasses spritz cookies,
in the shape of camels.

In the spirit of Hanukkah, I made Latkes for supper last night.
With either applesauce or sour cream, DELICIOUS!
We intend on honoring Hanukkah each year this way.
I used the recipe in the Joy of Cooking.

How are you preparing for the holidays?  We're hosting my department party this week, so I have a few more decorations than in past years, but it wasn't that much extra effort, so I intend on continuing this tradition each year.  Next, I'll try to take and post photos of the Christmas lights I'm using....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pantry Cooking...

I was starving tonight...and didn't have a thing planned for supper.  I haven't grocery shopped since before Thanksgiving, and we are out of supper-able leftovers.  So, I turned to my well stocked pantry, intending on making tomato soup with pastina and white beans (a variation on a soup they make at work)...only to find that we are out of white beans (cannellini beans). 

Change of plans:

How about Mexican-style tomato soup with corn and black beans?

Cook up some pastina (I used star-shaped...maybe 1/2 cup?  It was the end of the box...) in a pot of water.  Pastina is tiny balls of pasta that are great in soups...or for when I'm sick.  Cook until tender and drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.  Sweat half an onion and a clove of garlic, both minced, until tender and translucent.  Add 1 can of drained (not rinsed) black beans, add a pinch of salt, and cook for a minute.  Add one can of creamed corn, and one 28 oz can of tomato puree.  To the 2 cups reserved cooking water, add whatever bouillon you have on hand, I used a scant teaspoon of vegetable bouillon paste.  Add to soup.  Simmer until all components are warmed through.  Stir in cooked pastina, hot sauce to taste, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and a pinch (maybe a tablespoon?) of dried parsley flakes.  Bring to boil, thicken to desired consistency.  It's delicious with or without crushed tortilla chips on top!

What do you make when you rely on your pantry for a quick supper??

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Leftover Potato Gnocchi

What to do with all the leftover mashed potatoes that *magically* ended up in my fridge?

After I saw this over at Angry Chicken, I knew. I love gnocchi. Rather, I adore gnocchi. I've made it before once or twice with my Grandma. I can do this? Then, I got home from work, and saw this on Angry Chicken, and I was convinced...and starving.

Recipe? Who needs a stinkin' recipe? I am domestic goddess, and part Italian to boot, I can do this by feel. Right. It feels very sticky.

Well, I took the mashed 'taters and mashed them a bit more with a fork, because there were a few lumps (I wasn't in charge of the original mashing, or there wouldn't have been any...)

Then I added salt, an egg, and some flour to the mound I had on the cutting board. Then I began to smush them together, and bits went everywhere. Then I got out a large shallow bowl. This was better. Added flour until I thought I had a good consistency and divided the dough. Too sticky. Add more flour. Make ropes, cut into bits, form gnocchi on fork. Gnocchi too large. Re-knead potato dough. Re-form gnocchi. Repeat 10,000 times.

While I'm doing this, I made a sauce: leftover plain creamer thickened with a roux and mixed with leftover tomato pasta sauce.

Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water, a few at a time, until they float.

Skim out, and add to bowl with sauce. Parmesan cheese on top, and:

They were good! Some were better textured in others because I added flour to each eighth of the dough separately because it was easier to work with that way. All in all, a delicious, successful leftover meal!