December 29, 2007

Sir Mix-A-Lot

Santa knows who has been naughty or nice and according to Santa, I'm nearing sainthood because he brought me one of the greatest gifts of all time (besides diamonds)...yep....a 6 Qt Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet my new crush, Sir Mix A Lot....

No, no, no......not THAT Sir Mix A Lot.....the Original Sir Mix A Lot...

Ahhhh......what more can a girl ask for???? ...........Except for maybe a giant bag of slightly overripe bananas. Oh my goodness, at $.59 for the whole bag of bananas, it was like Christmas all over again!!!

Armed with the bananas, I put Sir Mix A Lot to the test. 15 bananas and about 10 minutes later, we were in business:

Homemade Banana Bread, the perfect snack.

Ingredients for 1 loaf:
1 1/2 cup All purpose flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Salt
1 Egg
4 Ripe bananas
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Oil

Put the peeled bananas in the mixer bowl and mix on low speed until slightly smooth. Add sugar, eggs and oil and mix for about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients slowly so as to avoid a flour explosion and mix until just combined. Bake in a buttered loaf pan at 350 for about 45-50 minutes or a until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Polish Cooking 102: Polish Christmas Eve

My grandma Em was Polish and taught us how to celebrate Christmas Polish style. The true Polish Christmas Eve Dinner is a 12-course meatless dinner, but with my sister, Kristen, mixing the Egg Nog, our dinner ended up being only 7 courses including one course of Advil, but what the hell…we had a good time! I hope your holiday was special too.

Course 1: Kristen’s Christmas Eve Egg Nog

1 quart Egg Nog
½ cup Captain Morgan’s Rum
½ cup Southern Comfort
1 cup skim milk
1 pinch nutmeg

Course 2: Polish Mushroom Soup

This is a staple at my family’s Christmas Eve Dinner. In the past, we’ve used mushrooms that our relatives in Poland sent to us but we lost our hook-up when Aunt Sophie moved to Boston so we’re stuck with the ‘shrooms they had at Harris Teeter. I won’t complain though since my soup turned out way better then Grandmas ever did (sorry, Em!!)

½ cup onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas, Portabellas and white button mushrooms)
6 cups water
5 teaspoons beef flavored bouillon
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Cook onions in butter in a large stockpot until slightly brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Add flour and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Shortly before serving, remove about 3 cups of the soup and put in the blender with yogurt. Blend until smooth. Add back to soup, mix, heat to desired temperature and then serve soup with a dollop of sour cream and sliced green onions.

Course 3: Kristen’s Christmas Eve Egg Nog

Course 4: Pierogies

Course 5: Kristen’s Christmas Eve Egg Nog

Course 6: Prosciutto -Wrapped Scallops

½ cup sun dried tomato pesto
24 medium scallops
12 slices prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss the scallops in the pesto and let marinate for about 5minutes. Meanwhile, cut each piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each scallop in a slice of prosciutto (and secure with a toothpick if necessary) and place in a buttered baking dish. Bake until scallop is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Course 7: Advil to ease the wrath of the SoCo.

December 11, 2007

Cookie Mania

Christmas time at my house means cookies--LOTS and LOTS of cookies! For the past several years, my sister, D, and I have hosted a Christmas Cookie Decorating Party to get into the Holiday Spirit.

Our Cookie Party is different than the traditional "Cookie Exchanges" that are popular today. Our Cookie Party is where we bake a million (OK--about a thousand, but it feels like a million!) sugar and gingerbread cookies and invite the women in our family to come over for an afternoon of sugar and spice and everything nice. We provide the cookies, sprinkles and icing and let the ladies go to town. It's a great time for the ladies and the boys sure don't mind the take-aways.

Here are some pics from the much anticipated, never duplicated, 5th Annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Party. What a fun-filled way to start off the Christmas Season!

Step 1 (a week before the party): Measure the Ingredients and Get to Work. It's going to be a long day.....

Step 2 (Day-Of): Set-Up

Step 3: Ladies, Grab Your Pastry Bags

This year, we added a special event The 'Gingerbread' House Decorating Contest. Congratulations to our winner, P, and honorable mentions K and C.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the 5th Annual Cookie Party Participants!

December 07, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

There's nothing better than spicy food when it's cold outside so Drew and I treated ourselves to my "Better-than-Take-Out" Thai Chicken Satay for dinner last night. It's a 30 minute meal that doesn't require looking for a parking space. A winner in my book!

Outside the office: Snowy and Cold!!!!!
Inside the house: Hot, Hot, Hot!!!!

Thai Chicken Sate

Slice 2 chicken breasts into strips and season with Salt and Pepper. Marinate the chicken in 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce and 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil. Let the Chicken marinate for at least 15-20 minutes.

Thai Peanut Sauce
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
¼ cup onion, minced
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Thai Curry Paste [If you use green curry paste, add about 2 teaspoons of “Sriracha with Galanga” (Thai Red Chili Paste)]
¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
¼ to ½ cup water, depending on thickness desired
Salt and pepper

Grind peanuts and sugar in a food processor for a few pulses. In a separate bowl, stir the curry paste and about ¼ cup of water together until the paste is dissolved. Next, heat the oil in a skillet over moderately high heat until hot, then sauté the garlic and onions, stirring, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the peanut and sugar mixture and crushed red pepper and cook for about 1 minute stirring constantly. Stir in curry mixture and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.

While sauce is coming to a boil, skewer the chicken on bamboo skewers and grill the meat on a grill pan for about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve this Thai Chicken Satay with jasmine rice and of course, a good beer. I had an Amstel Light.