Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christmas letter 2012

This is one of the two versions of the Christmas letter DH and I sent out with our cards this year ... the family one had a few more personal items listed on it and the "Merry Christmas" and "into 2013" block were both smaller so I could add personal notes.

Not quite what I had originally envisioned , but I like how it came out.

Cuban Picadillo - cheater's style

Had this in a restaurant long ago .... had my doubts while reading the menu ... a main dish that combines beef and cinnamon?  But I gave it a try and it was really good.  
Later I found this recipe in a magazine I read occasionally ... must have been fate!

This tends to be our "emergency meal" for the nights we are both tired from work and didn't start anything before heading off to work.  
Both DH and I really like this ... as you can probably tell from the LARGE jar of olives! 

Cheater's Picadillo

1-lb package of lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped -  about 1 cup
1/2-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 jar (16-oz) corn and black bean salsa
1/2-cup golden raisins (brown raisins work, but they can look like bugs)
1/4-cup drained pimento-stuffed Spanish olives, stuffed

In a large, non-stick skillet, cook beef and onions over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and onion is soft.  
Stir in cinnamon so it flavours all the beef.
Add salsa, raisins, olives and 1/2-teaspoon salt.
Cook stirring occasionally until heated through.
Serve over cooked rice or quinoa.
Chopped cilantro can be sprinkled over the top, if you have any. 

I keep mis-placing the recipe ... decided if I saved it here, I could always find it again!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

how does your garden grow?

Part of Giovanni and Carmela's winter garden for this year....
 it just never stops.
One thing gets finished  ... pull it out and put in the next item.
They can .. and do ... grow just about everything!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

super-easy chicken wings

It's Superbowl Sunday for American football .... time to settle in and watch the 49ers and the Ravens battle for supremacy.  It is a time to gather with friends, cheer on your team and eat!

This is my go-to recipe for wings...

You will need:
bag of chicken wings
bottle of barbeque sauce (I personally prefer one with molasses)
bottle of hot sauce (tabasco, texas pete, buffalo wing -- whatever)

Boil however many of the wings you want in a pan of water until they are cooked (I usually set them cooking and fix other dishes .. so not a clue how long they generally cook).
Drain off the water.
Mix the bottle of barbeque sauce with however much hot sauce until it has the spiciness you prefer (we like it spicy so we generally use a about half of a large bottle of tabasco sauce).
Pour the sauce mixture over the cooked wings.

You either cook the wings now or let them set for a while ... either way works.

Line a shallow pan with foil (believe me, you don't want to try and clean the pan .... been there, done that ... I ended up tossing the pan) and spread out the wings and the sauce in the pan.

Put n the oven at about 350 - 375 degrees F and let cook until the skin is cooked to your liking.
I like my wings crispier than DH does so we pull out his share and then put the ones for me back in the oven to finish crisping up the skin.


"Cookie Dough" I sent my son for Christmas

A friend of mine sent me a photograph of a variation of this ...
 that one used a deep picture frame to hold the "cookie dough". 

I found this plate (started looking around for one with writing in Italian .. no joy.. oh well, so life goes sometimes) in a euro-store
 and decided I would rather use it to hold the gift.
Modified the wording of the original tag ... not totally satisfied with the wording ... will play with it some more to see what I can come up with.

I think it turned out pretty cute.

Late note:  At some point, it may be a good idea to let the recipant know the money is real ... my son didn't realize that until we talked on the phone some days later.   He thought it was a joke gift until we talked.

a bit out of season ...

Thursday night, DH stopped by our favorite bakery and picked up some bread for dinner...
this was the bag the bread was sent home in ....
a bit out of time ... but I think it's a charming bag.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

gifts for the single mechs

At Christmas DH and I give "care packages" to the single mechanics who work with us ...
some soups or chili to keep in the freezer until a day comes when it's too late or much effort to cook  (at least one eats out just about every meal) that they can just pull out and heat up,
some cookies and sweet bread,
a few pieces of fresh fruit from the market
... and this year, we found chocolate "tools"
the pefect sweet ending for a mechanic.

Forgot to share

Our landlord's grandson likes to bake ... here are some of the Christmas cookies he made for us.

more rolls

More rolls she has shaped ... check out the purse on the right side!

Fancy rolls

Fancy rolls being hand shaped by a baker in Monterosso Almo, Ragusa province, here in Sicily.