It’s the end of the world, or maybe not, dinner

So all the “end of the world talk” made Lynley, John and I decide to have a “last meal” dinner on 12/22/12.
This also meant we had to put on our comfy, expanding eating pants, because if you’re eating your last meal then you don’t want uncomfortable clothes getting in the way.

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Lyn decided her last supper would consist of lots and lots of shell fish. She’s allergic, so she could yell “to heck with it” and let her skin peel away while the earth ends around her. Needless to say we all believed there would be a tomorrow, so Lyn decided on an alternative last meal with less ramifications.

Chips, dip and Red Stripe beer.

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You may not know this but Lynley had goldfish named chip and dip as a child so her passion for her final food was sincere. We did pick-up some “quality” chips just to fancy it up a bit.

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John debated on his meal. He loves breadsticks with cheese dip and Lyn’s chips and dip almost pushed him in that direction. Instead he went with cheese manicotti with Cupini’s pasta sauce. I decided to make him breadsticks anyway…when the world may or may not be ending, why not have it all?

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I, of course, had Paul Newman’s vodka sauce. Although it was tempting to eat it straight from the jar, which I might have done if the people speculating about the Mayan’s seemed to be right, I cooked it up with the widest pasta noodle I could find. I had to have a big glass of Pinot, fresh mozzarella, and garlic stuffed olives too.

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…and a breadstick to wipe up that extra sauce! I made that sort of, but not really, last meal count.

Not only did we dine on some of our favorite foods, we decided to make a dinner and a movie of it.
Here we’re our doomsday choices….

We went with the less apocalyptic choice of Talladega Nights. I’m not sure what this says about us but it says something.

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Well the world didn’t end, but our comfy, eating pants were put to good use.

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Winter Solstice Mulled Wine

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Winter Mulled Wine Recipe
1 orange or half a cup of apple cider
1 lemon
1 lime
1/2 cup of sugar
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 star of anise
1 cinnamon stick
I bottle of Chianti

Add sugar to a large sauce pan on medium heat. Cut fruit and squeeze juices into the sugar then drop all the fruit into the pan. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, vanilla and the nutmeg. Pour just enough wine to cover the sugar.

Let this simmer until the sugar has almost dissolved, then bring the wine mixture to a rolling boil. Your making a syrup so don’t add the rest of the wine for 5 minutes or so, until you have a thick-ish syrup.

Add the wine and the star of anise once your syrup is ready. Turn the heat to low for 5 minutes then serve!

The Spaghetti Factory plus Paul McCartney = Love

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We went to see Paul McCartney in St. Louis recently. The show wasn’t until later and I was all primed for an Italian feast on the famous Hill, the birthplace of fried ravioli. I got restaurant recommendations from lots of people and was prepared to have my pasta-loving socks blown off.

And then we discovered that almost every restaurant on the Hill is closed on Sundays! Ack!

While trying to find somewhere else very St. Louis to eat, John remembered eating at the Spaghetti Factory on family trips as a kid.

We both knew that the food was not going to be the same as the Hill, but we decided to indulge a craving for nostalgia instead.

John had the basic tomato sauce and pasta (which he probably ordered as a kid).

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And I ordered their special Mizithra cheese pasta. The placemat told me to do it.

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We laughed a lot during that dinner and enjoyed stepping back into John’s childhood. Was the perfect pre-Paul meal? As long as I was with my honey, you bet it was!

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And, yes, we were wearing matching Wings t-shirts.

Roasted Pumpkin Fondue

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My good friend Annie tipped me off that there was a roasted pumpkin fondue recipe in the holiday special issue of Gourmet magazine. I bought it right away because how could I not make a pumpkin fondue?

I did change their recipe some. They wanted you to layer the bread inside, but I just couldn’t do that. It would be more like a pudding than a fondue and although I like my puddings I’m a dunker when it comes to fondue.

To start, preheat your oven to 450.

As in almost any real pumpkin recipe, first you gotta scrape out that pumpkin.

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I halved their recipe since there are just two of us. This meant I used a pie pumpkin instead of a 7 pound pumpkin.

Season the inside of the pumpkin with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I used garlic salt, but either will work.

In a small bowl whisk together a 3/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup veggie broth, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

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In another bowl or big measuring cup, mix 1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese and 1 1/4 cups shredded Emmental cheese.

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Add the cheese and cream mixture to the pumpkin.

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You’ll notice I lined my cookie sheet with foil– you’ll want to do that. As the pumpkin bakes it collapses and the cheese oozes out some.

Put the lid back on the pumpkin and coat the out side with a little oil, maybe a tablespoon or less.

Before putting the pumpkin in the oven, you may need to lower the rack down or remove on entirely. Pie pumpkins are always taller than I think!

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Let it bake for 1 to 1 and a half hours. The pumpkin will brown and the sides will get soft (see the spillage note earlier).

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And then it’s done!

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Our dipping spread. We added pretzel bread into the mix.

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We decided to play games while eating fondue. I guess you could say we fun-dued it.

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As you eat the cheese, bits of pumpkin come off the sides.

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It’s not overwhelmingly pumpkin, but very subtle. It was so good, we ate every last dip of it!

Like a fondue miracle, there’s no pot to clean!

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yet another conquest of the sandwich makers

turkey reuben with some kick-ass potato salad

turkey reuben with some kick-ass potato salad

i don’t know about you but i’ve been fully in love with my sandwich maker for some time.  and the other night my love was validated yet again. the sandwich master piece was a turkey reuben, turkey, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing,  with some very good homemade potato salad.  oh sandwich maker i love you so!

RECIPE:   Lynley’s Potato Salad

4-5 potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped celery

1 tsp dill

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 TBSP mustard

1/2 cup mayo

combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, salt and pepper according to taste.  for a “dirty” variation leave potato peelings on potatoes.