Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas...and BEYOND!

Sorry it's taken me so long to post pictures and reviews of my Christmas recipes. I had a "guest photographer" for some of them, because I can't find my (extremely crappy) camera. I actually used the built-in webcam on my laptop for some pictures and it works way better than my 6-year-old digital camera...pretty sad. Anyway, here's what I've been up to for the last week and a half:

On Christmas morning, we opened our stockings and then I made these Banana Sour Cream Pancakes. They were really easy, and the consistency was PERFECT--they were light and airy and perfectly cooked inside. I think the trick is to add the bananas after you pour the batter onto the pan--every time I make pancakes with mashed bananas in the batter, it seems like the batter doesn't cook properly. Ina is a genius. My only issue was the syrup. The pancakes didn't taste right with the real maple syrup that I had...they were way too lemony. I confess that I don't really love real maple syrup, but maybe I just haven't found the right one yet. When I used Mrs. Butterworth's, though, the flavor overwhelmed the pancakes. In any case, Casey said these were the best pancakes he'd ever had.

And for dinner...this very small pot roast. We started off with a soup/salad course with leftover Roasted Vegetable Soup from the night before, and Green Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette. Then we had Sunday Rib Roast and Chive Biscuits. For dessert we had more Raspberry Cheesecake. The roast was delicious, although I overcooked it a bit. The only thing we did was cover the top with salt and pepper--but somehow it created this amazing crust. As for the Mustard Horseradish Sauce, it was pretty good on the pot roast and even better on sandwiches the next day. It was very mayonnaisey, so I doubled the amount of mustard and horseradish.

The biscuits were great, too. Light and flaky and the chives added a little zing that went great with the pot roast.

Now, on to New Year's Eve:
On New Year's Eve I made Ina's Rum Raisin Rice Pudding. I'd never made pudding before, and I'd never even seen rice pudding, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Unfortunately, the recipe didn't help much. Unlike most of the recipes, there was no picture to help me out. In addition, the recipe didn't give any indication of how the pudding was supposed to look or feel at any point. I ended up leaving out a whole cup of half-and-half because I didn't think the pudding was thick enough, and I'm glad I did--with that extra cup, it never would have set up right. The recipe doesn't even mention that it has to be refrigerated in order to set up--it says "serve warm or chilled" at the end and makes no mention of refrigeration. Luckily, Casey knows his way around the kitchen and suggested that my soupy mixture might look more like pudding in the morning. He was right. It tasted great, though. I'm not much of a raisin fan but I might make this again sometime.

On New Year's Day I had some friends over for pasta salad and games. I made Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and it was a huge hit! The dressing is made of sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, oil, capers, garlic, and salt--what a winning combination. The pasta-to-cheese-to-tomato-to-olive ratio was spot on, and I loved the last-minute additions of basil and parmesan. I left out the cheeses for Casey's vegan brother and he seemed to like it too.

And here we have the dreaded Linguine with Shrimp Scampi. I say "dreaded" because I have an irrational fear of cooking seafood, having had way too many overcooked specimens. Also, I have to be in the mood for shrimp to enjoy it, and that night I was decidedly NOT in the mood for shrimp. Still, the recipe was good. It was a little too lemony, though, which has been a theme throughout this cookbook. I think my palate is just too lemon-sensitive, and the flavors are often overwhelmed by the amount of lemon in the dishes. Oddly, Ina's picture in the cookbook seems to have way more parsley than mine did. Hers looks delicious, and mine was so-so. I guess that's why she's the chef and I'm...not.

THESE COOKIES ARE THE BEST. They're Jam Thumbprint Cookies from the Kids! section. They're shortbread batter, which is mostly butter, rolled in coconut and filled with raspberry jam. Really, how can you go wrong with that? That's right, you can't. These will definitely make it into my box of recipe cards.

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