Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Butternut squash lasagna; braised short ribs; crock pot roasted cabbage and potatoes; wheat berry, rice, and mushroom pilaf; and fruit-sweetened candy

I love cooking at home because I don't have to pay for groceries, I get a lot more counter space, and I get to cook more things because the leftovers disappear more quickly.  But, I didn't cook as much as I thought I would because I was only really in town for about 5 days (despite being in FL for 2 weeks).  I did get to try several new things, though.

The first thing I made was a Cooking Light's butternut squash lasagna.  I was nervous because I didn't know how I would like the mix of flavors, but it was really good.  Next time I would use even more squash, and definitely a bigger pan (it overflowed a little).  The sauce was simple, but very tasty (even though I didn't use the fire-roasted tomatoes), and I can see myself making this for all types of pasta.

Next up was Christmas Eve dinner.  I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary, and what immediately came to mind was a dish that my friend Sam made a few weeks earlier - braised short ribs.  I sort of followed Cooking Light's recipe for braised short ribs, but also used Sam's instructions.  Basically, I sprinkled salt and pepper on the ribs, browned them on all sides, and set them aside.  Then I sauteed sliced onions, celery, leeks, carrots, and garlic until tender.  I then added about 2 cups of cabernet sauvignon, peppercorns, thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf and let that reduce until the wine had almost completely evaporated.  Then I added a few cups of beef broth and poured that over the ribs, adding more broth so that they were almost covered.  Then I covered the pan with foil and let it cook at 300 for 3 1/2 hours (at this point I picked up a piece of meat and the bone fell out).  It was really tasty and probably the most tender beef I've had, but not an everyday recipe (because of time and money).  I also made a mushroom, brown rice, and wheat berry pilaf from the Moosewood cookbook.  It was really tasty, and I can't get enough wheat berries!  Finally, I made roasted cabbage and potatoes from A Year of CrockPotting, but unfortunately I didn't know that the cooking temperatures on Mom's crockpot are way too low, so the potatoes weren't cooked.  I've made it again in mine since I got back to Michigan, and it was really good.

I also made some desserts sweetened with dates and fruit juice.  The fudge had grape juice in it, and that's all I could taste.  I didn't like it at all.  However, the peanut butter chewies were very tasty, and I'm sure I'll be making them again some time.

After that I didn't get much cooking done due to a lot of small trips to Atlanta, Gainesville, and Jacksonville (and because we had to eat up some leftovers!), but I'm trying to make up for that now.

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