We haven’t made it to Thanksgiving yet, but it’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Ann Arbor; we had 9-10 inches of snow here yesterday and everything is covered in a blanket of sparkling white, fresh-fallen snow. We haven’t put up our Christmas tree yet, as we always wait until after Thanksgiving at our house to do that, but we did visit the Farmer’s Market yesterday and pick out a gorgeous, fresh fir and boxwood wreath and hang it on our front door – not only does it look nice, it smells wonderful too! I did put a few things around the house in preparation for Christmas, like this really cute, red yarn pom pom garland from a local store, Found, in Kerrytown. And my Christmas cactus is blooming!
We wish you a very Merry Christmas – full of happiness, love, and enough warm fuzzies to last you a whole year!
Several years ago one Christmas my Dad suggested making French toast with panettone, Italian for bread with stuff in it. While we had never thought to try that it made perfect sense. The panettone is light and fluffy like challah and a bit similar to raisin bread with stuff inside making it the perfect combination of the two types of bread I most commonly use to make french toast. Since then each year we make sure to get a loaf of panettone and make French toast. My French toast recipe is probably the combination of several other recipes online but it works pretty well.
- 1 loaf of panettone
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- butter for cooking (about 1 tsp)
- powdered sugar for dusting
Slice the panettone in thick slices, about 1/2-inch thick or more. Mix the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and extract together in a wide bowl. Heat up a skillet, pan, or griddle over medium heat. To check the heat toss some water on it, when it dances and sizzles in the pan it is ready. Melt some of the butter in the griddle (I do this each time before I add a new slice of toast). Dip a slice of panettone in the batter make sure to coat both sides. Place on griddle to cook. Cook each side until golden brown. Plate and dust with powdered sugar.
Growing up in El Paso I was always able to count on one thing being there to eat, tamales. While my family didn’t make a tradition of making them each year, we always received them as a gift from family and friends. Many of my friends’ families would spend Christmas eve, or the days before, making tamales for post-midnight mass celebrations. Having stayed in Michigan this year Val and I decided to bring a little tradition into our home and make our own tamales.
We’ve made tamales before, and for the most part followed this basic recipe for the masa. The only difference this time around is I used 2 cups of veggie stock, real butter, and I nixed the green chile powder. For the fillings we made three different varieties: chipotle sweet potato; corn, peppers, and cheese; and faux-acoa (vegetarian barbacoa).
Chipotle sweet potato filling
- 1 tsp (or a little more) chipotle infused olive oil
- 1 medium to large sweet potato diced (into pieces 1/2-inch or smaller)
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 heaping tsp dried thyme
- 1 heaping tsp dried mexican oregano
- 2 tbsp canned chipotles in adobo sauce
Par-boil, or quick cook in the microwave, the sweet potato. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat up. Add the red onions and cook until translucent. Add the par-boiled sweet potatoes, chipotle powder, thyme, and oregano. Cook until potatoes begin to brown. Salt to your taste preference. Set aside. Puree the canned chipotles, you can use either a food processor or just chop into a puree. Set that aside as well. When making the tamales place a large spoonful of the sweet potato mixture in the masa then drizzle or spread some of the chipotle puree on top. Wrap the tamale.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 package of chorizo seitan (we use Uptons) diced
- 1 package of Rick Bayless’ Red Chile Barbacoa sauce (or make your own sauce)
I was a bit lazy on this one because the task of making 3 different fillings plus the tamales was a bit daunting. But none the less it worked quite well. Heat up a skillet to medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the chorizo seitan and cook for another minute or two, until the seitan heats up. Add about three quarters of a package of the barbacoa sauce and let cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. I didn’t add a full package because I didn’t want the mix to be to wet when putting it into the tamale. Add a large spoonful of the filling on top of the masa and wrap the tamale.
Chiles, cheese, and corn filling
- 2 poblano chiles
- 1 can of corn
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp green chile powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup shredded queso asedero (Queso Chihuahua or Monterey Jack will work too)
Roast the poblano peppers using whatever method you wish. I roasted them in the skillet over medium heat until they browned. Once browned, place into a paper bag for about 30-minutes or longer. Remove from the bag, remove the skins, stem, and deseed them. Dice them and set aside. Drain and rinse the corn. Heat a skillet to medium. Once hot add the butter, corn, and green chile powder. Cook until corn starts to brown. Add the chiles. Set aside. When making the tamales place some cheese and some of the chile and corn mixture into the tamale and wrap it up.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/3 red onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 5 medium tomatoes on the vine (cored and deseeded, cut into slices)
- 1 heaping tsp new mexico red chile powder
- 1 large roasted jalapeño minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves (rinsed)
Pan roast the jalapeño and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions sweat. Add the red chile powder and cook for an additional minute or so. Add the slices of tomatoes and cook until they either start to brown or fall apart. Put tomato mixture into a food processor. Blend into a sauce like consistency. Add the minced jalapeño. Chop up the cilantro to a size that you like and add into the mixture. Set aside to serve on top of the tamales.
Steam the tamales for an hour. Set aside and let cool for a minute or two. Unwrap and enjoy.
Ever wonder why some people put oranges in Christmas stockings? You can read all about it here!
We filled our weekend with some holiday shopping, picked up some beautiful Amaryllis and satsumas, saw the Wayne County Lightfest and the Walk of Trees in Plymouth, stopped in Dundee at River Raisin, bowling with friends, and we finally made that peppermint bark.
The peppermint bark turned out great! We melted dark chocolate to make the first layer, let it dry, then melted and added white chocolate (both with some peppermint oil added) for the second layer, topped it with crushed candy canes, and then drizzled it all with white and dark chocolate. Yum!!!
We started our weekend with the MOCAD Monster Drawing Rally on Friday night, which Ryan participated in. And Sunday was a flurry of Christmas shopping and Christmas present wrapping for us; Ryan kept saying, “How did it get to be [insert time here]?!?” We still haven’t made that peppermint bark we bought everything to make weekend before last. But we did get our gifts all wrapped and boxed up to ship out, which was a task in itself. Our trip to the office supply store for shipping materials devolved into me laughing uncontrollably in the middle of the aisle as I mispronounced packing peanuts in Spanish (“cacahuete”) while an employee asked us if we needed any help; do I need any help…yes, I think I was way past the point of helping at that moment! By the end of the weekend, I think we all felt like Melody in the photo below…with my sock placed on top of her head (not that she seems to notice or mind). I’m looking forward to settling down for a long winter’s nap myself soon!
Did you know the Aztecs used the sap of these plants to control fevers (during the 14th-16th century)? While we will not be using our poinsettia to control any fever, we will be enjoying the color and cheer it brings to our home this Christmas! I was not surprised to learn that there are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today; and I really enjoyed browsing several of them and picking this one out because it looked so interesting with the speckled bracts.
A few holiday-related things that had me laughing this week…
A few things that always make me happy are…Christmas, flowers, our dog Melody, lattes, and pancakes (not necessarily in that order, but you get the idea)! I’ve been feeling icky and Ryan was very nice and made me strawberry pancakes for breakfast this morning. Lucky me – because while eating my pancakes, I could also enjoy the fresh, Christmasy flowers I put together and our sweet dog, Melody, sitting near the Christmas tree. I just love these porcelain photo ornaments with personal, family photos on them – the one below is of Ryan as a little boy with his Dad…so sweet!