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Merry Christmas Everyone!

I’m full in the throes of Christmas prepping today…the meatballs are made, my turkey is brining, the roast is marinating…stuffing is near ready, potatoes are peeled and ready for boiling…I still have to wrap 9000 presents (ok, maybe not *9000*, but it sure feels like it! :p), and bake cookies…but I just had to pop on here and wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season!  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another special holiday, I wish for you Joy, Peace, Love and Health in the new year.  Thank you all so much for all of your kind comments this year, and for sharing my love of cooking, new recipes and especially sharing yourselves, your wonderful personalities with me (and your awesome blogs!!!).  I am thankful to have “met” you all this year, and wish you all the best.

I’d like to share with you a special tradition we have in Las Palmas…every year sculptors from around the world come to create one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sand Nativities at Las Canteras Beach.  This year is no different.  Have a look (you can see the full size images on my flickr page, as well as the rest of the photos if you’re interested…click the link to my flickr on the right side of the page):

Joseph and Mary arrive from Nazareth at Bethlehem, and find shelter in the stable:

joseph and mary

Christ is born:

christ is born

The Three Wise Men:

three wise men

Creamy Spinach Soup

Winter is upon us, and with the cold temps and gloomy days, soup is always a great way to warm up your insides, and comfort the soul.  You may already know that I’m a soup junkie…and have been known to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So?  You got a problem with that?  I didn’t think so.  lmao ;)   This one is my daughter Ellie’s favorite.  “Soup with cheese,” she calls it.  I know immediately what she wants when she asks for “Soup with cheese,” even though it sounds vague….that’s bein’ a mom for ya.  This one pays frequent visits to our table, not only because it’s delicious, but because it is a fabulous way to pack the veggies into your kids without them even realizing it. LOL  I could put one of every veggie in this soup and the kids would gobble it up.  One thing I need to mention…the fried bread?  You must add it.  It’s not optional.  No sirree.  You will be SO glad you took the time to make it, because man…those crispy little bits contrasting with the silky soup?  There’s just nuthin’ like it. :)

creamy spinach soup 

Ingredients:

1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
4 zucchini (about 3-4 cups)
1/2 pound frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 sweet potato
3 large potatoes
2 double bouillon cubes (Knorr)
water (about 1 1/2-2 quarts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
8 triangles laughing cow cheese
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.
Saute sliced garlic until golden, then add remaining vegetables and toss around for a few minutes.
Add water, bouillon cubes, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to med-low.
Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Remove from heat, add cheese and evaporated milk.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (or alternatively, use a blender and puree in batches).
Adjust salt and pepper.
Serve with grated cheese and fried bread cubes.
*to make fried bread cubes, heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet, toss in bread cubes and toss around until golden.

creamy spinach soup

Spanish Hot Chocolate

We’re gearing up for a chilly, windy and rainy day today…the perfect weather for hot chocolate!  Spanish hot chocolate is a wonderful variation of this delicious winter standby.  Delicate hints of orange and cinnamon grace the silky smooth chocolate.  Typically, Spanish hot chocolate is thickened with cornstarch, but my version is not.  If you’d like, near the end of simmering just add a cornstarch slurry of 1 teaspoon cornstarch to 1 tablespoon water and stir in until thickened.  Warm up your insides this winter and give this one a try, I bet you’ll love it! :)

spanish hot chocolate

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole milk
zest from one orange (I used a clementine)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon best quality cocoa powder

Preparation:

In a small saucepan, bring all ingredients except chocolate up to the boiling point, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Allow to simmer about 10-15 minutes to allow the orange and cinnamon to infuse the milk.
Add chocolate powder and whisk to combine.
Serve.

Linguine Carbonara

After having posted so many sweets entries I thought it might be time to add something savory to the mix. :)   Mondays are always such busy days at the canaryhouse, the mornings go by in a blur of uniforms, backpacks and mad dashing out the door to get the canarykids to school on time.  Then comes my big weekly food shopping excursion.  With 6 people and a pup to feed, you can imagine how much time I spend food shopping.  And I’m a picky sort of shopper, and buy things at the local vegetable vendor, organic grocer, the central market, the Asian market, the butcher, and the “regular” store…so it’s pretty much a whole day affair.  I don’t mind it, actually…it’s pretty fun to go cruising around getting exactly the stuff one wants.  The thing is, though, is that it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to prepare lunch for the family (here in Spain, lunch is the main meal of the day, we usually eat around 3pm, then relax for a bit, then get back to work (whether it be a job, homework, or sahm duties).  Needless to say, Mondays generally require a meal that is very quick and easy to prepare.  Carbonara fits the bill perfectly…pasta served with lusciously creamy, bacon and cheese peppered sauce with just a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.  Fabulous and fast.  What more could you want from a meal?  :)

linguini carbonara fork

Ingredients:

1 lb (500 grams) linguine, prepared according to package directions
6 ounces (150 grams) bacon, chopped into smaller bits
3-4 cloves garlic (we don’t want any vampires at the table), minced
1 large onion, minced
2 cups heavy cream (or more to taste)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
chopped parsley to garnish

Preparation:

Using a larger skillet, brown bacon pieces until crispy, but not burnt.
Add garlic first, and give it a good stir.
When the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, add minced onion.
Saute until translucent.
Add cream and season with salt and pepper.
Heat completely through, and allow to simmer about 15 minutes.
Stir in cheese.
Remove from heat.
Beat egg in a small bowl.
Temper the egg with a little of the sauce, beating constantly (I do this adding a couple of tablespoons at a time until the egg is warm–about a half cup or so).
Add the egg mixture into the cream and bacon mixture stirring quickly and constantly.
The heat of the cream sauce will cook the egg, so don’t worry about that! ;)
Stir in chopped parsley.
Pour sauce over linguine and serve immediately.

linguini carbonara

Almond Joy Truffles

Joy to the World!  The truffles are done!  OMG if you like Almond Joy candy bars, you simply HAVE to try these.  Seriously, they’re like a little explosion of joy in your mouth.  Truffles are one of those things that sound hard to make, and yet, they’re just not.  They are so easy, and the results are almost always stunning.  I thought I’d be smart and try to use a melon baller this time to try to make perfect little round balls without getting my hands too dirty.  Well, that was a bust. LOL  Truffles do need to be rolled by hand it seems.  Or I was doing something wrong.  Could be…wouldn’t be the first time. lmao  Once the truffles are formed, rolling in coconut is a snap…I just sort of shook them around a bit in a bowl of coconut, and that little trick *did* work. (yay me! lol)  I am so excited to share this recipe with all of you….I think I may have just created a new favorite. :)

almond joy truffles

Ingredients:

6 ounces (150 grams) dark chocolate
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon espresso
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup grated coconut

Preparation:

Melt chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl in the microwave (check and stir frequently, time will depend on your microwave).
Allow to cool a bit, then beat in egg yolks.
Add milk and coffee and beat until combined.
Add butter and continue to beat.
Beat in almonds.
Refrigerate truffle mixture for a minimum of 2 hours.
Form smaller sized balls and roll in coconut.

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Another recipe for my Christmas cookie tray…I really love the flavor of the toasted hazelnuts combined with the dark chocolate.  I made a couple of different shapes, logs, squares and circles, just for variation…the squares were the easiest, just spread the dough onto the cookie sheet, bake and slice after removing from the oven.

shortbread

Ingredients:

1 cup husked hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Lindtt 59%)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC)
Toast hazelnuts on cookie sheet about 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Lower heat to 325ºF (160ºC).
Place hazelnuts in blender or food processor and pulse to coarse bits; set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt to blend; set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in egg.
Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix.
Chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Form into finger sized logs, about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons dough each, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. (Or, roll into smaller sized balls, and press with the back of a glass, or spread dough onto a cookie sheet evenly.)
Bake until firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on racks.
Melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip half of each cookie into the chocolate.
Place on parchment to dry.
Store in refrigerator.

Galletas de Avellanas con Chocolate

Ingredientes:

1 vaso (de los de Nocilla) avellanas sin piel
1 1/2 vasos harina simple
1/2 cucharada levadura Royal
pizca de sal
1/2 vaso mantequilla (temperatura natural)
1/3 vaso azúcar
1 huevo
1 cucharadita aroma de vainilla (Vahiné)
1 tableta de chocolate (Lindtt 59%)

Elaboración:

Precalentar el horno a 175º.
Tostar las avellanas unos 10 minutos y dejar enfriar.
Bajar el fuego a 160º.
Picar las avellanas en el robot y reservar.
Mezclar la harina, la levadura y la sal en un bol y reservar.
Batir la mantequilla con el azúcar con las varillas hasta que estén cremosos.
Añadir el huevo y volver a batir hasta que esté incorporado.
Poco a poco, añadir la mezcla de harina hasta que esté incorporado.
Añadir las avellanas y remover.
Dejar la masa en la nevera unos 30 minutos.
Formar palitos y bolas con la mitad de la masa y extender la otra mitad en una fuente de horno.
Hornear las galletas unos 15 minutos, o hasta que estén hechos.
Las que estén en la fuente? Partirlas ahora en caliente con un cuchillo, y dejar todas la galletas a enfriar.
Derretir el chocolate y “mojar” las galletas hasta la mitad.
Poner las galletas sobre papel de horno para secar.
Guardar en la nevera.

canarygirl




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