December 26, 2009

Christmas Dinner

For the second year in a row I was the only one of my siblings to make it home for Christmas. While the holidays aren't quite as exciting when you're the only one home, it certainly has its advantages. For one, I get way more presents than either of my brothers. And isn't that what Christmas is about? Just kidding, Bobby and Kyle. I'm sure mom and dad gave you just as many presents as they gave me. You guys got ponies, too, right? If not you should be happy to know that they at least hung up your stockings this year unlike the last when mine was the only one dangling from the mantle.

Since there were only three of us around to eat Christmas dinner, we kept it pretty simple. I brought my pasta-making discs home, and my mom and I made an Italian dinner from scratch. Noodles, tomato sauce, meatballs, and a caprese-like salad were on the menu, followed by a chocolate tart and a mincemeat pie for dessert. Yes, you read that correctly. Three people and two desserts. That's just how we roll. If it were up to my dad it would have been three desserts and no main course. That's just how he rolls. And due to his running regimen he has no rolls.

When I was in Matt's hometown last week I picked up a deeply discounted copy of the Silver Spoon Pasta cookbook at their soon to be no longer B. Dalton, satisfying my several month long desire to add that book to my collection. I set out to make meatballs and sauce from recipes in the book, and I ended up tweaking and adding on to both dishes. For the meatballs I combined about 1/2 lb. ground beef and about 1/2 lb. ground pork with an egg, a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, maybe 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

The fresh parsley was key to the tastiness of the meatballs. The original recipe called for a single sprig of parsley, but I used several. It helped to brighten the flavor of the little balls of meat.

The meatballs were first browned in a little oil over medium-high heat, and then the lid went on and they were transferred to a 350 oven for maybe 20-30 minutes until they were cooked through.

My mom's 30+ year old KitchenAid may be on its last leg, but it still managed to crank out all of these pretty noodles.


The sauce was diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and salt. It was OK (and much better than it looks in this photo), but it could have been better.

My plate.

My mom and I wanted to add olives to the pasta sauce, but since we knew my dad wouldn't be thrilled we resorted to sprinkling them on top as a garnish. It was slightly weird, in part because they were cold and raw and in part because they were of the green, pimento-stuffed variety. Next time I'll plan ahead and buy different olives and cook them with the sauce.

The salad was grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, chopped artichoke hearts, fresh basil, vinegar, and oil.

I've been going through this awful phase lately where I haven't been very impressed with desserts, but this Mexican Chocolate Tart has completely changed my outlook on decadent, chocolate things.

The tart was incredibly easy to make, it looks elegant, it tastes delicious, and it goes perfectly with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

I was going to post a picture of the mincemeat pie, but the amount of time it takes to upload a picture with this slow internet coupled with the fact that I don't like mincemeat held me back. Maybe next year.

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