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Happy Holidays!
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It's official...Dino and I have been turned into full-fledged coffee snobs. But it's not our fault! He did some work for a friend, and as payment, he gave us THIS:





Behold, the Technivorm KB-741 Clubline. It's amazing. I didn't want to think that such an expensive coffee maker would reeeeally make a difference in how our coffee tastes, but woah...I was SO wrong.
Read about it here and you'll get a peek into what this beauty can do. I would have never bought a coffee maker that costs this much (do you know how many video games I could get for that money?!), but I will honestly say that it makes the best cup of coffee I've ever had. HANDS DOWN. And it's a bonus because it was free. And I'm not the one who did any work to get it. So I just lucked out all around. Merry Christmas to me! ;)
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This recipe comes from one of my middle school teachers from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This stuff is a hit EVERY year, and it makes a great gift. I can't remember the name of the teacher that gave it to me, and it drives me nuts every time I make it.





Uncle Tom's Cabin Moon Gulch Hot Cocoa Mix


20 ounce box evaporated milk
30 ounce box Nestle Quik
13 ounce jar chocolate malt mix
2 pounds powdered sugar
22 ounce jar Coffee Mate
1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
4-6 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder


Mix all ingredients in large clean garbage bag. Watch out for the dust storm!


Fill mug 1/3 of the way with mix and to the top with boiling water.


Enjoy!


Notes:
Do not substitute Coffee Mate for other brand. Do not cut in half.


MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars
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I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I hadn't made it for a while and was craving it. It's such a comforting soup, and the cool sour cream is really nice mixed in with the hot curried soup. Dino doesn't usually like soup, but he LOVES this one. It comes together pretty quickly, too. My only word of caution is to make sure you get pureéd pumpkin only, and not pumpkin pie mix. My father-in-law got the canned pumpkin for it last year, and we didn't realize until it was too late (and too sweet!) that he had gotten the pie mix. Consider yourself warned!





Curried Pumpkin Soup


6 servings


2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon black pepper
12 ounce can evaporated milk
sour cream
chives, chopped


Melt butter in a large saucepan; add mushrooms and onion, and cook until tender, stirring often.


Stir in flour and curry powder; gradually add chicken broth, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.


Stir in pumpkin and next 4 ingredients; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in milk, and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired.


MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars
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This meal was really easy and tasty! The only complaint I have is that it didn't reheat so well (and the recipe makes a LOT).





Spaghetti Alla Ceci
30-Minute Meals - Rachael Ray


1 lb. spaghetti
Salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can, (14-ounce) chick peas, drained
½ teaspoon dry thyme, eyeball it
Pepper
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 can, (14-ounce) crushed tomatoes
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Grated Parmiginao-Reggiano, to pass at table


Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


Boil water for pasta, salt it, and cook spaghetti to al dente.


While spaghetti cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic. Place chick peas in food processor and pulse grind them to a fine chop. Add chick peas to garlic and season them with thyme, salt and pepper then saute them for 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine or broth and cook down 30 seconds or so then stir in tomatoes and adjust seasoning. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Top with parsley and grated cheese.


MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars
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The first time that Dino made French toast for me, I was amazed! I hadn't ever had such flavorful French toast at home, and it still impresses me every time he makes it! We got a loaf of challah this week and he made another awesome batch of French toast - and the challah makes it extra special. I asked him to write up a recipe for me to share, so here it is!





French Toast
Dino Covelli


4 Eggs
½ cup Milk
1 Tspn Cinnamon
1 Tspn Sugar
1 Tspn Vanilla or Almond Extract
4-6 slices of bread


Mix all ingredients except bread until well blended. Dip bread in and let soak for 20-30 seconds per side. Place on heated griddle and cook until golden. Flip and cook the opposite side until golden.


Top with butter, maple syrup & powdered sugar.


MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars
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We decided to pick up some new cheese from the grocery store a few nights ago. I threw on some salami nuggets, grapes, and pumpernickel bread and it made for a great snack while dinner was cooking! I can't believe how many awesome cheeses are in the regular grocery store now - and we've already eyed some up for the next time we want to splurge.



Top Left: Applewood Smoked Gouda Top Right: Winey Goat
Lower Left: White Stilton with Apricot



Dinner was a really tasty beef dish. I couldn't find cremini mushrooms so I used a mix of portabella, shiitake and button mushrooms instead. I could only find red pearl onions, so I subbed those too. The flavor is very good, and it was great served over egg noodles. It's definitely a comforting meal.





Beef Braised with Red Wine and Mushrooms
Cooking Light October 2007


½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
1 cup boiling water
1 ¼ lbs. lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pearl onions (about 16)
6 cups chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 pound)
1 ½ cups (1/4-inch) slices carrot (about 2 large)
1 ½ cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
½ cup dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
3 cloves, garlic crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch


Add a teaspoon or two of ground dried porcini mushrooms along with the broth and red wine to give the dish an extra layer of mushroom flavor. Meaty, earthy-tasting mushrooms such as porcini or black trumpet are ideal. Serve over egg noodles or rice.


Combine porcini mushrooms and 1 cup boiling water in a small bowl; let stand 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms through a sieve into a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.


Sprinkle beef with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.


Add onions to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cremini mushrooms and carrot; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add beef, porcini mushrooms, porcini liquid, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, broth, and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaves); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Uncover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid thickens. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.


Wine note: Mushrooms and merlot are a natural match. An affordable California version like Buena Vista Carneros Merlot 2004 ($20) provides classic merlot flavors of plum and black cherry fruit along with a touch of earth and smoky oak that marries beautifully with mushrooms. The wine's rich flavor and firm tannins make it a perfect choice for flavorful beef, as well. --Jeffery Lindenmuth


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)


Nutritional notes:
CALORIES 307 (30% from fat); FAT 10.3g (sat 3.8g,mono 4.3g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 33.5g; CHOLESTEROL 88mg; CALCIUM 47mg; SODIUM 716mg; FIBER 3.5g; IRON 4.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19.9g


MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars
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I saw this idea in a magazine and just had to try it out to give as gifts to a few people at work. I made the Five-Chile and the Coffee ones, and they were a huge hit! I didn't try them out (yet), but I found bottles at the container store, printed out some labele, and wrote a recipe on a tag on each bottle. It's a great gift to give, and it's super easy to make.











Infused Vodka
Every Day with Rachael Ray December 2007


STEP 1
Place 1 liter of vodka and your infusion ingredients in a large bottle and seal shut; let rest in a cool, dark place for 2 to 5 days, depending on your desired strength.


COFFEE
1/2 cup crushed (not ground) coffee beans; shake every 2 days during infusion.


APPLE VANILLA
2 whole, split vanilla beans + 1 apple, peeled and sliced.


FIVE-CHILE
5 dried chiles, chopped


ORANGE GINGER
1 orange, sliced + 1/2 cup sliced fresh ginger


STEP 2
Strain and pour into gift bottles.


STEP 3
Print recipe gift tags, (rachaelraymag.com).
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I made this for dinner last night and ate it again tonight. It's really easy and very tasty. Since we had rice the night before, I threw on some couscous that I added raisins and peas to. It paired really nicely - the sweetness of the raisins was a great compliment to the stew. The yogurt really brings this dish to the next level. Yum!





Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Cooking Light November 2007


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup diced carrot (about 1 large)
2 cloves, garlic minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 ½ cups cubed peeled Yukon gold potato, about 1 large
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 can (28-ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 can (14-ounce) organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
3 cups hot cooked brown rice
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt


Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over whole wheat couscous instead of brown rice, if you prefer. For milder heat, seed the jalapeño.


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in potato and next 7 ingredients (through broth). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt.


Wine note: With spicy ethnic cuisine, seek out the German grape gewürztraminer, which yields wines with floral and lychee aromas, as well as natural sweetness that makes a perfect foil to the jalapeño and cumin in the stew. Chateau St. Jean Gewürztraminer 2006 ($15), from Sonoma, California, offers classic honeysuckle and melon aromas, with a spice-friendly sweetness and snappy acidity that adds texture to the dish. -Jeffery Lindenmuth


Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups stew, 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 tablespoon yogurt)


Nutritional notes:
CALORIES 251 (14% from fat); FAT 3.8g (sat 0.6g,mono 1.9g,poly 1g); PROTEIN 7.3g; CHOLESTEROL 1mg; CALCIUM 97mg; SODIUM 401mg; FIBER 6.8g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 47.5g


MacGourmet Rating: 4 Stars
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And now for a peek into my tiny kitchen! I've been trying to maximize space in there since we bought our home over 2 years ago, and we made a big step this week! I had these magnetic spice canisters that I had on the side of the refrigerator for the last few months. I wanted to put up a big piece of metal to hold them all up on the wall, but I ended up finding these great knife holders at the Henckel's warehouse sale. Then I was able to stock up on more spice canisters to fill up the racks and take care of most of the clutter in my cabinet (more room for new kitchen goodies - WOOHOO!!). Dino always hated trying to find my spices when he was making something in the kitchen (my method of "just knowing" where in the cabinet they were doesn't really work for him) so we went super nuts and put them in alphabetical order. We wrote on them with dry erase markers so we can always change them up later.














This saves us a lot of space, which is GREAT in a tiny kitchen.
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