Friday, December 07, 2007

Thankful for Moms and Santa's Helpers...

...Plus Two Recipes!

Thanksgiving came and went in a flash this year. It felt really sandwiched in --
but we did take a few days to slow down. David's mom, Sandy, came into town
on Thanksgiving Day and left bright and early Tuesday morning.

Our visit was, as always, too short, but we had a nice time. She got to
finish a book, work on her knitting, and tell us some fun stories.
We enjoyed a nice meal, watched a movie, hung out, chatted, shopped a bit,
went on a walk, loved on the dogs, ate leftovers, put up Christmas decorations,
and logged some serious couch time.

It was very relaxing. In fact, to the point of indulgence. I loved it. No agenda
whatsoever. The best part of all was just being together.

Only had the camera out one evening...
(It didn't want to come out to play.)

David and mom got matching ipods.
It was cute seeing them get set up together.

Mom helped Santa out this year by making an
early Christmas delivery to Killian and Norah...
How sweet is she?

She even bought them cat treats --
which, as you can imagine, David had some
commentary on. She got Killian started on
them when he was at her house. So, it was cute.

Thanks to mom and Jim for the puppy love.
They were in heaven -- and they're still playing
with all their toys. And mom, thank you so much
for making the trip out. It was good to see you
and catch up . . . . We miss you already.


...Wanted to share two recipes I used on Thanksgiving
for the first time. I know I'll revisit them again. Both
were delicious and easy...

Sweet and Spicy Holiday Almonds
Makes 2 1/2 cups
prep time 10 min, total time 25 min
from Food Everyday

Preheat over to 350
Spread 2 cups (12 oz) plain, raw almonds on a rimmed
baking sheet. Toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook
1 Tbl honey
1 Tbl water
1 tsp olive oil
Stir until combined, about a minute.
Add almonds. Toss to coat.

Transfer nuts to sugar mixture. (Don't scrape extra
glaze into bowl.) Toss to coat. Cool in a single layer.
Will keep for up to two weeks.
Let cool completely and then store in airtight container.

(Mary, I put the almonds in the crystal candy dish you
handed down to us, and it looked lovely!)

Creamy Red Pepper Soup
from Giada of Everyday Italian, Food Ntwrk

Doesn't it look lovely? I topped it with the suggested mascarpone cheese,
but I forwent the croutons. Here it sits, steamy and ready in one of Leona's
(David's grandma) dishes.

4 Tbl olive oil (half for soup, half for croutons)
2 onions, chopped and peeled
2 carrots peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp chopped, fresh thyme leaves
6 cups chicken broth
2 (12 oz) jars roasted red bell peppers preserved in water, drained
1 russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 Tbls sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
16 baguette slices (3/4 inch thick), cut into 3/4 inch cubes
mascarpone cheese, about 1/2 cup

Heat 2 Tbl of oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat
Add onion, carrot, garlic, and thyme. Saute until onions are
translucent, five minutes. Add broth, peppers, tomato, wine,
and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease heat
to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until potatoes
are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Cool the soup slightly.

Now it's time to puree the soup. If you have a hand held
immersion blender, use that. If not, a regular blender will
work just fine. (That's what I used.) Working in batches,
pour the soup into your blender and blend. Take care as
liquids are warm. Pour back into pot when finished. Season,
to taste, with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbl (plus) of oil in a heavy
skillet. Add bread cubes. Saute until golden and crisp,
about 8 minutes

Ladle soup into bowls. Dollop with a tablespoon of mascarpone
in the center of each bowl and top with croutons. Sprinkle
with pepper and serve.

Bon app├ętit !

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