Category Archives: Holiday

Passover

As you guys know, Christopher and I are Christians. Neither of us are Jewish by religion or race, but Christianity came out of Judaism. And in honor of that, we try to remember the long-ago deep roots of our faith. So every year we celebrate Passover.

tableThe Passover table

Passover is a time to pass on the story. Not only how God brought Israel out of Egypt, but also how Jesus came to be our perfect sacrifice. And a wonderful opportunity to pass the story on to our children. So many things are different about the night that we celebrate Passover that children always ask questions like: “why do we sit on the floor tonight?”, “why do we have to eat the bitter herbs?”, “why does everyone wear white?” etc. These questions give us ample opportunity to pass on the stories and traditions.

plateMatzah, horseradish sauce, parsley (to dip in salt water as bitter herbs), and charoset (apple and honey mixture).  This is the plate we begin with. Each part of it symbolizes part of the story we read (both from the Exodus from Egypt and of Jesus’ death & resurrection).

foodAnd then after the first two hours of story telling, it is time to FEAST! We always eat lamb, but the rest of the meal is based on what everyone decides to bring.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (2)

I made creamy garlic mashed potatoes. You guys… these are unreasonably delicious. And I’m not the only that thinks so. I had several people rave about them to me so I think it’s a definite winner!

creamy garlic mashed potatoes{Click recipe card to see larger. Recipe adapted from Pillsbury.com}

passoverChatting during the meal part of the Passover

I am thankful for Jesus.
I am thankful that He came.
I am thankful that He took on my sin and died for me.
And I am thankful that He rose again!
Easter is coming, my friends! Resurrection Sunday! 🙂

Love Rach

Advertisements

Celebrating St David’s Day {and our own personal holidays too}

For those who don’t know, I’m not actually Italian. I married into an Italian family and carry a very Italian last name, but my family of origin is actually from the British Isles. And that includes Wales. In an attempt to connect to my long-ago-family-roots, Christopher and I decided to celebrate the Welsh holiday of Saint David’s Day today!

st david daffodilDaffodils are the national flower of Wales and commonly worn (along with leeks) on St. David’s Day. These particular flowers are actually growing just outside my house. 🙂 Also, I really like this quote by Saint David. He emphasized living a simple life and focusing on the little joys of life.

To celebrate, we started with Welsh Cakes for lunch. Oh. My. Wow. They don’t look like much, but the mixture of spices and sweetness are amazing. In a way, they are sort of like giant snickerdoodle cookie cakes.  Even if you never celebrate a Welsh holiday, you need to try these.

Welsh Cakes for St David's Day

welsh cakes{recipe slightly adapted from NurtureStore}

And for dinner we had Welsh Cawl which is traditionally a soup with lamb and whatever veggies are in season, but it varies by region and season. It can be served together as a soup (like we had it) or as two courses by removing the veggies and lamb from the soup and serving the broth first and then the meat/veggies next. I think I sort of expected to not like this soup just because I’d never had swede (rutabaga) before and it’s not like I eat just a whole lot of lamb. But we both actually really enjoyed it! The flavors came together perfectly! I’ve heard that it’s even better the next day so I’m excited to eat the leftovers tomorrow. 🙂

Welsh Cawl for St. David's Day

welsh cawl{recipe slightly adapted from BritishFood}

Earlier today, Christopher and I were talking about Saint David’s Day over chat and about different traditions that are associated with these sorts of holidays. Which led to this conversation:

Christopher: If I were to die and have a day of celebration named after me, I would want people to play basketball and have excellent coffee. What would you want your day to be celebrated with?
Me: Sunshine and the beach. And I would want everyone to eat spaghetti. And pizza!
Christopher: Hmm… I think we should make our own holidays. Like as a family. So you get to pick a day and so do I  and our kids get a day too. So it’s like a birthday, but without gifts. We just do something that makes that day celebrated. This is brilliant!
Me: It is brilliant! I love it!
Christopher: And you can name it whatever you want. And it can change each year so you don’t get stuck with “Hippo Day” because our kid picked it when he was 3.
Me: Haha! Well, at some point, I think it should stay the same. Just for a true “holiday tradition”
Christopher:  Yeah, hmm… that will be interesting.
Me: Maybe at 16 it can be their rite of passage to pick their official holiday
Christopher: Maybe they can choose their day when they are like 13. Rite of passage stuff.
Me: Haha! Yes! Exactly!
Christopher: That just happened

So apparently, my husband and I think alike when it comes to rites of passage for our kids. We typed that at the exact same time! Thankfully we’ve got some time to hammer out the details seeing as how we don’t even have kiddos yet. 😉 I will definitely keep you posted on when Rach Day occurs.

If you had your very own holiday, how would you want your day celebrated?
Love Rach

Pioneer Woman’s Buttermilk Biscuits for Valentine’s

Since there are only two days until Valentine’s, I thought I’d share a little heart-shaped-foodie inspiration with you guys. First up, The Pioneer Woman’s Buttermilk Biscuits! These are light and fluffy and easy to make. And isn’t it just great how you can cut biscuits into any shape you want? So perfect for Valentine’s! 🙂 Serve with jelly or honey or even better molasses and butter!

pioneer woman's biscuits
Pioneer Woman’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:

4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. In large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir together. Add the shortening and cold butter pieces. With pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter into dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with fork until just combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky,  not overly dry or crumbly.

4. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn the dough out of the bowl and roll to a 1/2″ thickness. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

And while we’re on the theme of heart-shaped-food… have you guys ever heard of “egg-in-the-hole”? I didn’t grow up eating this, but I think it’s actually pretty cute!

egg in the hole

Egg-In-The-Hole

Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter
1 slice of bread
1 egg

Directions:

Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Cut a hole in the center of your bread then place in skillet. Crack egg open into the hole in your bread. Let cook 1 minute then flip over. Cook until bread is lightly toasted and egg is cooked, but the yolk is still runny. Enjoy!

Aaand finally, this isn’t heart-shaped at all, but it’s called “Anniversary Chicken” from All Recipes so I feel that it is appropriate inspiration for this Valentine’s post. 🙂 Also, it’s delicious.

anniversary chicken

Anniversary Chicken 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup teriyaki basting sauce
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 (3 oz) can bacon bits
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts, and saute 4 to 5 minutes each side, until lightly browned.

3. Place browned chicken breasts in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Brush with teriyaki sauce, then spoon on salad dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and bacon bits.

4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Oh, and for those celebrating, happy Mardi Gras today! Eat something Cajun inspired! 🙂
Love Rach

 

A Little Cajun Inspiration for your Mardi Gras

Glad you guys were as excited about the fact that I got to feed a giraffe as I was! I mean, how often do you get to do something like that? I love fun little adventures like that! 🙂

Speaking of little adventures… yesterday was the Chinese New Year! I had plans for a giant feast like last year, but Christopher woke up super sick so he nibbled on crackers and sipped gatorade while I made a quick chicken stirfry for myself and tea eggs (a recipe I will share as soon as I get a chance to take a picture of the eggs today) for us to snack on this week. And speaking of things to celebrate… tomorrow is Mardi Gras! So I thought today I’d share a couple of our favorite Cajun recipes. 🙂

First up, my mom’s homemade jambalaya recipe! I can’t promise how authentically Cajun it is or isn’t, but I can tell you how delicious it is! This is the recipe I grew up eating and it is my absolute favorite! 🙂

Jambalaya.JPG

Jambalaya

Ingredients:

1/3 cup oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb chicken, diced
2 lbs smoked sausage, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
12 cups chicken broth
2 cans tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp basil
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
1 (400 grams) bag small shrimp
4 cups uncooked rice

Directions:

Sauté onion, garlic, peppers in oil. Sauté chicken in onion mixture. Add sausage and saute a couple of minutes. Add broth and tomato paste. Add seasonings. Mix well. Bring to boil then add shrimp. Bring back to boil then add rice. Turn down heat and simmer over low about 20-25 minutes or until rice is done.

And while I’m sharing my mom’s recipes… I’ll share her Low Country Shrimp Boil recipe too! She and my dad live close to the beach now so they get great fresh seafood! She has had plenty of opportunity to perfect this recipe! 🙂

Low Country Shrimp Boil 

1/2 lb. Keilbasa smoked sausage/ per person
1/2 pound medium raw shrimp in shell/per person
3 small red potatoes/per person
1 ear of corn/per person
2 Lemons
4 tbsp salt
4 cloves of garlic
Old Bay or Zatarain’s Seasoning

Optional:
1-2 crabs per person

Directions:

Boil about a gallon of water in a large kettle on stove or outdoor cooker. Season water with salt, garlic, and Zatarain’s flavorings along with the juice of 2 lemons. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add sausage and corn. Bring back to a boil. When potatoes are almost tender, add crabs. Bring to a boil, then add shrimp. Cook only a few minutes until shrimp are just done – they will be pink in color. Drain and pour into a basket or onto platters.

And finally, from Cat Cora via Oprah… I give you Jerk Rubbed Pork Chops!

Jerk Rubbed Pork Chops

Ingredients:

4 pork loin chops, thin cut
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 tbsp preferred Caribbean jerk seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro sprigs

Note: I didn’t have Caribbean Jerk seasoning on hand so I made some using: 1 tbsp dried minced onion, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tsp crushed dry thyme leaves, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground allspice, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. In small bowl, mix lime zest and lime juice with jerk seasons and oil. Rub both sides of pork chops well with mixture and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place pork chops on hot grill set to medium-high heat, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, running over once until brown on the outside and slightly pink inside.

3. Remove from heat, garnish with lime edges and cilantro and serve immediately.

Again, I’m not claiming any authenticity to these recipes, but I can vouch for them as far as how delicious they are! Hope you guys have a great Mardi Gras tomorrow! 🙂
Love Rach

Little Lasagnas for Leap Day!

Happy Leap-Year-Day, friends! But more importantly… today is only the second time in 7.5 years that Christopher and I have been able to celebrate our month-iversary in February! Today marks 89 months together… my oh my! To celebrate we are going out for frozen yogurt with friends! 🙂

Earlier this week I made little individual sized lasagnas based on this recipe from Can You Stay for Dinner (originally from Hungry Girl’s Lasagna Cupcakes). I took them to our small group on Sunday and they were gone in a flash (I even doubled the recipe and made 24 of them!). One of my friends who dislikes Italian food (I know, I know… it’s hard to believe she and I are friends, haha! The girl doesn’t even like pasta!) actually liked these! Not like “oh my goodness these are my favorite ever,” but she didn’t hate them and sorta kinda liked them. This is super high praise from her. 😉 Anywho, I hope you guys like ’em too!

Little Lasagnas

Ingredients:

1 16oz jar spaghetti sauce with meat (I use the Aldi’s brand because it has the lowest sugar and is inexpensive)
1 8oz tub part skim ricotta cheese
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
pinch salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (48 count) package small square wonton wrappers

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat 2 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 wonton wrapper into each of the 24 cups, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides.

2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, salt and pepper, oregano, and basil. Stir to mix well. Using half of the ricotta mixture, divide it among the 24 muffin cups. Next, using half of the sauce, spoon it evenly over each of the ricotta filled cups. Sprinkle with 2 tsp of mozzarella.

3. Gently press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozzarella layer. Repeat the process by distributing the remaining ricotta, then the remaining tomato sauce, and finally the rest of the shredded mozzarella.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Let the cups cool, remove them from the pan, and serve!

Enjoy today! You won’t see another Leap Year for four more years! 🙂