25 December 2010

Merry Christmas from Florida

The Florida sunset from our backyard
I'm just back from having spent the holidays in Florida at my Dad and Susan's house.  The first dilemma of such a trip is always what to wear.  Packing for someplace warm(er) this time of year is always a challenge to me.  Especially when the warm Florida weather wasn't really all that warm. 

Chanel bag, Milly top, J Brand jeans, Chanel flats
This is really the only outfit you'll see from this trip and it's what I wore on the plane over.  I wore this Milly eyelet top that I bought a few years ago on sale, J Brand black jeans that I just recently bought from Rue La La with my trusty Chanel bag and flats which are ever present when I travel.

Chanel necklace and J Crew necklace

Hermes belt, leather and studded bracelets from SoHo street vendors
The rest of the trip didn't really lend itself to showing you all what I wore since we stayed in most of the time cooking and eating.  So the rest of this post will be about the food.

I'm a good cook and I love to get creative but baking has never really been my thing.  My first night in Florida, Susan and I were up after dinner anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sis and brother in law so we decided to fill the time by baking some cookies.  We were going to bake sugar cookies but most recipes call for making the dough and then chilling it for hours before baking and we just didn't have the patience for that.  Instead we made thumbprint cookies (recipe here) and we used strawberry and fig jam. 

Before baking
The finished product
One word of caution, baking after drinking too much wine can cause a few mishaps such as mixing ingredients together that shouldn't have been or softening butter in the oven with the residual heat from dinner (or so you think) but then you realize that the oven is pre-heating for the cookies.

After baking, but while still waiting for the arrival of my sis and brother in law, we watched a few episodes of Bobby Flay's Throwdown.  One of the episodes was an empanada throwdown and having never made them, we got the brilliant idea to make them the following night.  We were having the neighbors over and instead of doing the normal for us Italian menu we decided to mix it up .

There were leftover shortribs in the freezer from my brother in law's last trip to Florida so we stuffed the empanadas with that.  I should re-phrase and say by we, I mean my brother in law tried his hand at the empanadas, very successfully I might add.

We used store bought pie crust, rolled it out a bit thinner and used a martini glass to cut out rounds of the crust. 

The stuffed empanda pre baking
The delicious end result

We also made homemade guacamole.

The guacomole was made with three ripe avocados, red onion, half of a jalapeno (seeded much to my father's chagrin) and salt and pepper.  I would normally have thrown in a bunch of cilantro too but we had some cilantro haters in the crowd so we skipped it.

For the main course we made Mexican lasagna a la Rachael Ray (recipe here) and a basic salad with a very vinegary dressing.  We modified the lasagna a bit by skipping the beans (we had refried beans on the side instead), using ground turkey and using a different combination of spices.

And if all that wasn't enough, the neighbors brought over a homemade ricotta cheesecake.

For Christmas eve dinner, we followed the tradition of the Italians who celebrate the feast of the seven fishes.  We didn't quite have seven but we certainly had an abundance.
We started with some shrimp cocktail and followed with a feast cooked by my brother and Susan.

Susan made calamari salad.  She cooked the calamari ever so briefly and then cooled it in ice water to stop it from cooking.  This kept the calamari ever so tender.  She chopped up some celery, red onions and carrots and then we dressed it with a very lemony dressing that I made with lots of olive oil, the zest of half a lemon, the juice of the whole lemon, some fresh chopped oregano, about a clove of garlic and salt and pepper.

My brother made a very delicious linguine with clams.

The clams sauteeing

Very garlicy and delicious linguine with clams

My brother also stuffed two whole red snappers with loads of onions, lemons, garlic and whole sprigs of rosemary, sage and oregano.

All in all, a lovely few days with my family filled with more than plentiful and delicious food.  Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

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