Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Crazy Christmas: Recap

Well, I hope everyone out there who was observing Christmas had a wonderful holiday with their loved ones! My sister and my celebrations actually lasted three days instead of the usual one, but that's what happens with our blended (and international) families!

Things got started on Christmas Eve when all 20 or so members of the Italian side of the family arrived for the "Feast of the Seven Fishes". Boy, do they know how to party... and keep partying! They were carrying on long after I went to bed that night (so I could get up early the next morning!) and we're still dealing with the leftover goodies from dinner. I didn't get any pictures, since everything flew off the buffet table at the speed of light, but I do have the recipes that I helped my mom write for the evening! The first actual recipe we used was from the March page of the new year's Milk calendar, for Fettuccine with Tuna and Tomatoes. The only change we made was to use a mix of whole-wheat rotini and penne for the fettuccine noodles, and personally I thought it was a better fit for the chunky sauce. It wasn't the favourite dish of the night, though... we were catering to little(ish) kids in the group so I can't say I'm surprised, but I wish we hadn't doubled the amount!

The main star of the evening's offerings was a creamy mango, scallop and pasta curry. The idea for our concoction came from another calendar, this time from the M&M Meat Shops edition! By the time I had gotten through my tweaks of the original recipe though (and sorry, it isn't available online for your comparison!) it didn't look a thing like it's former self. Mom and I found organic bucatini (like hollow spaghetti) and whole-wheat linguine on sale at the grocery the weekend before the party, and it seemed a shame not to use them with the recipe even though it called for angel hair pasta. In making this recipe the day of the party we discovered that the liquid amounts in the original recipe were off slightly too, making for a runny sauce base. I edited my copy to reflect our corrections and I think it turned out very well - I'm guessing our guests would agree (even the kids) since there was only a teeny bowl left for Andrew to take home at the end of the party!

Sweet Seafood - Noodle Curry
Serves 4 as a main
3/4 cup fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/4 cup fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) mango chunks
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup water
1 small white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 plum tomato, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup white wine
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb sea scallops
1/2 lb angel hair pasta, cooked and drained

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree chicken broth, evaporated milk, mango and jalapeno pepper until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat water in a large, deep saucepan.
  3. Add onion, cooking until translucent.
  4. Add garlic and tomato and cook 2-3 minutes further.
  5. Stir in tomato paste, basil, thyme, mustard powder, and curry powder. Cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
  6. Add pureed milk / broth / mango mixture and bring to a simmer. DO NOT LET BOIL!
  7. Cook, uncovered, on LOW for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. In a separate frypan over high heat, heat olive oil.
  9. Sear scallops, without stirring, 1 minute on each side.
  10. Add scallops to simmering curry sauce, followed by the cooked pasta. Simmer 1 minute, stirring, then serve.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 434.8
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 40.9 mg
Sodium: 913.1 mg
Total Carbs: 58.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
Protein: 35.9 g

After the Christmas Eve party excitement, it seemed like we hardly got a chance to sleep a wink before Santa came and went! I had to be up bright and early (even before my mom, and she's an earlybird!) to go to Andrew's for our annual gift exchange with his family - something I always look forward to since I don't spend a whole lot of time there. Like every year (and even not on Christmas) I was spoiled absolutely rotten by Andrew and his parents... I feel guilty for being given so much! I also got to watch the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade on CBC that morning, where I caught one of my schoolfriends on TV! He works at the Canadian EPCOT pavillion and gave me the heads up that he's be on TV, so I had to watch for him!

We headed back for a late brunch at my place, which included (for them) our yearly Brioche scroll, plain Challah and (the new) Apple-Vanilla Honey Challah braid as well as scrambled eggs, peameal back bacon, sausage, and a huge fruit platter! My sister, who doesn't eat any of that stuff (picky, picky...) opted for a huge plate of pancakes with chocolate chips, margarine and syrup for her Christmas fuel. Me? Well, not feeling so hot that Christmas AM, I oped for simplicity - a big bowl of puffed Kamut grains and a mug of green tea, followed by a few pieces of melon from the platter, a clementine orange, and eventually a couple pieces of 70% Lindt chocolate from a bar that was in my stocking! Between my sister and I we built a mountain of wrapping paper, tissue and ribbons that morning too, which quite entertained our cats and dog!

Dinner that night was at yet another house - my paternal grandmother's - where turkey, rolls, veggies and my grandma's famous mashed potatoes were on the table. Sheer jealousy that I couldn't partake... but no matter! Teriyaki rice, Napa cabbage and tuna made for a satisfying holiday meal on my end. Dinner was capped off with an offering of my green tomato mincemeat pie as well as a Devil's Food cake for my sister. The cake, sadly, was nothing more than a box mix (that's all she likes) that I doctored up with whole milk instead of water and frosted with (sigh) canned icing and tubed decorating frosting. It did, in it's defense, hold up very well and looked gorgeous at any rate!

What I was looking forward to this holiday was not gifts or Christmas feasts though - it was the most ultimate expression of Christmas emotion and joy that I know of. It comes in the form of a yearly concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who never cease to blow me away with their rocked-out renditions of songs like Pachebel's Canon in D, the Carol of the Bells, and even classical Beethoven. I cry every concert from the emotional power of the storytelling (bridged between narration and music), gape in awe at the insane use of lasers, strobe lights and pyrotechnics and always come away feeling like there is some Christmas cheer and hope left in the world. It's a tradition we've had as a family for the past 4 years and with any luck we'll keep it going for as long as they tour!

This year's holiday was a definite upswing from last year, even with the inevitable glitches that happen with every group event. Family and friends will always provide the true spirit of the day regardless of the outside world's opinions and actions, and I'm truly grateful for those I have with me in my life. Have a very happy holiday, everyone - may peace and goodwill be with you and joy be in your heart for the year to come!