It has been a long week at our place but it is ending on a high note. I love decorating for Christmas and I have been up to my eyeballs in Christmas bangles and baubles since Thanksgiving. Here is what we have been up to the last few days.
I started cooking at 8 am Thanksgiving for the meal with my parents at 3pm. It always fascinates me that it takes me all day to cook something that we eat in under an hour. Why do we go through this process every year? Oh yeah, it is tradition. *rolls eyes* ;-)
Much to my mother’s disappointment I went with a reasonably healthy vegan Thanksgiving. I say reasonably healthy because if it has just been us the meal would have been healthier. If only she knew how we eat most days, LOL. Here is what I made for Thanksgiving:
• Portabella mushroom filled with whole wheat bread stuffing made with pinot grigio braised veg
• Cauliflower and potato mash (approximately 85% cauliflower)
• Mushroom gravy with soy and truffle
• Spicy cranberry and orange relish
• Miso and orange glazed green beans
• Whole Dijon and maple glazed Brussels sprouts
• Quick cucumber pickles with red onion and tarragon
• Marinated portabella and roasted red pepper
My father particularly liked the cauliflower and potato mash. Dan’s and my favorite was the miso and orange glazed green beans. My mother, as usual, didn’t “like” anything. She cleaned her plate but complained that there wasn’t any turkey, mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. Seriously, sometimes I can’t believe we are actually related. *shakes head* Oh well, I guess there has to be some family drama or it isn’t a national holiday, LOL.
I am sorry to tell you that I had too many things going to actually measure ingredients. However the green beans and cauliflower and potatoes will be showing up again since they were well received and I will measure the next time I make them so I can share the recipe. I am also going to make the cranberry again but include habanero next time to take the heat up a notch.
Friday: Christmas Decorating and leftovers
I adore Christmas! I love the decorations, music and giving presents. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. You will probably not be surprised to learn that I go overboard decorating for Christmas. We spent Friday putting up the first and my favorite tree in the family room. I have had this artificial tree for over 20 years. It is 9 feet tall and is shaped in spiral topiary. I think I like it because it is unusual. Since our felines are still extremely active (at 9 years old) we have to use only unbreakable ornaments. Thank goodness Pottery Barn and Crate Barrel have had many to choose from over the last few years. I load up during the after Christmas sale when everything is 75% off.
We spent all day testing lights and getting the tree up. The felines are always fascinated with holiday time, just like their mommy. They feel the need to get involved in every aspect of the process.
Here is Binky sitting on an ornament box so that we couldn’t open it.
This is Luca Belle doing her imitation of the Grinch. She wanted to sit on top of the lights we were testing and was annoyed that we wouldn’t let her do that. Can you believe that sour expression? LOL, she needs a little green Grinch outfit.
Here is sweet Masi watching patiently on the tree skirt under the tree. At least we have one well behaved feline. ;-)
This is a picture of the first Christmas tree which is my favorite. It is in our family room.
Here is Binky giving me the “I am not doing anything why are looking at me” routine. A few minutes later he was in the tree. LOL, our felines are so darn cute. But then again I am a bit biased being their mommy.
Saturday: More Christmas Decorating and Lunch with the Parents
The next day we spent listening to more Christmas music (you have to love Pandora which we stream over our TV) and decking the halls.
Here is a shot of the staircase in process. It still needs to have its ornaments but we are getting there.
With all the decking the halls I decided to make something simple for dinner and that meant soup. I choose red lentils since they don’t need to be presoaked. I asked Dan how he wanted it seasoned and he selected Moroccan.
Here is what I did:
Moroccan Flavored Red Lentil and Tomato Soup
1 large yellow onion (approx 2 cups) peeled and finely diced
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced
1 pound dry red lentils, sorted through and rinsed thoroughly
14 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably a low or no salt brand
14 ounce can tomato sauce, preferably a low or no salt brand
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
8 cups of water
6 ounces tomato paste, a low or no salt brand
6 olives thinly sliced (I would suggest leaving these out if the tomato products have salt)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in 1 cup water to plump, then drain thoroughly
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup cilantro, leaves picked (minced if you are feeding finicky people)
2 tablespoons almond slices
Combine all the soup ingredients (except the lemon) and simmer until the lentils are soft. I simmered mine about an hour and a half. It takes a while to cook the harshness out of the ginger but it will happen. You can start with less ginger if you like though more is better since it a healthy ingredient. Still the lemon zest and juice in at the end of cooking.
To make the topping combine the ingredients listed above and stir.
To serve, place a dollop of the topping on the soup. Stir the topping into the soup and enjoy.
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 386.71
Calories From Fat (10%) - 38.71
Total Fat - 4.62g
Saturated Fat - 0.59g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 629.46mg
Potassium - 1327.59mg
Total Carbohydrates - 69.65g
Fiber - 13.44g
Sugar - 13.31g
Protein - 23.61g
This is a simple soup but one that has a lot of flavor. I added the topping to provide freshness from the cilantro, crunch and fat from the almonds, and brightness from the lemon. I think the fresh topping is a nice contrast to a long simmered soup. Even my omni parents finished their soup so it much have been fairly good at least, LOL.
To accompany the soup I made a simple salad of roasted parsnips, oranges, watercress and a miso and mirin dressing. I topped this salad with a few almond slices.
The long weekend has been good so far. Here are my happy thoughts now:
• We had a family gathering with a minimum amount of drama. I didn’t even utter a dead animal crack when my mother complained about the lack of turkey. Talk about self control. *pats self on back* LOL
• Dan loved the green bean dish which made me very happy. I love to make things that he enjoys.
• My father practically raved about the cauliflower and potatoes. Another score. ;-)
• While I did spend all day cooking it wasn’t at a rushed pace which meant cooking was actually pleasant this is not what usually happens on Thanksgiving.
• Since I was cleaning as I cooked the holiday aftermath was easy. You have to love that.
• The spicy cranberry sauce has serious promise. I need to make it hotter but I think that will be a winner when I adjust the heat level.
• Everything is starting to look like Christmas. We have lots more decorating to do but we have a great start on things. It is going to be a great holiday.
• The farmers’ market was a lot smaller this morning both in terms of vendors and patrons. We did manage to pick up a few things: cauliflower, lacinato kale, onions, collards, red potatoes, and broccoli. Our refrigerator was still a little stuffed with food so I had to hold it down today.
• We are listening to Christmas music as I type this. I love Christmas, LOL.
It is time for me to get back to decorating and cooking. I need to at least get the stairway finished today. Dan has decided he wants white bean chili so that will be the next recipe posted. White bean chili is one of Dan’s favorite cold weather dishes.
I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday and a great long weekend. I will talk to you again soon. I should have another post up tomorrow as well as time to catch up on your posts. Tuesday may be rough since I am scheduled for jury duty. Woo hoo? I have my fingers crossed that my number is too high to be called but I don’t think that is going to happen. At least it means I can ride to work with Dan in the morning and meet him for lunch. At least that is something to look forward to. Hopefully I don't get picked for a jury again I really don't have time for that at the moment.
Enjoy your Sunday and stay warm and cozy. ;-)