Friday, December 04, 2009

Getting Ready for Xmas

Living in Australia, I'm learning to take joy in the small traditions I can claim as my own during the Christmas season. You see, this Chicago native is having a very hard time adjusting to Christmas in the sun. Last year on Boxing Day, I closed the curtains, put on Christmas movies, and pretended it wasn't warm out. Christmas eve and day had just about killed my holiday spirit, so it was time to get back to basics. This year, on top of the Wassail and Rum cake I made last year, I'm going to make a few of the meals my family traditionally makes for Chrissie. Xmas eve we'll be having homemade pizzas.

"Red" pizza
Spread some pizza sauce on crust (jar or can from the store)
Add pepperoni slices and any other ingredients you desire
Top with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella and some romano cheese
Bake according to directions on pizza dough

"White" pizza
Spread crust with olive oil
Spread diced garlic on top
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, perhaps a little oregano
Top with mozzarella (not as thick as you do on the red pizza; more like a sprinkling)
Bake according to directions on pizza dough

On Boxing Day, pasta!

Baked Ziti
1 pound of ziti
1 cup grated Romano (or Parmesan if that's what you like, or half and half)
2 cups grated mozzarella
16 oz fresh ricotta (if you can't get this use a 15 oz container from supermarket)
1/4 cup fresh or 1 TBS dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Put all the above in a bowl and mix it up - except for the pasta. Cook pasta very al dente - almost to the point of being hard as it will cook more when you bake it. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan, add a bunch of sauce to it and mix it up. Then add cheese, spice, and egg mixture and mix it all up.

In the bottom of a lasagna pan, or other large pan (13x9) pour 2 ladels of sauce, or as much as it takes to liberally coat the bottom of the pan. Then add more sauce to the pasta mixture so it's really moist because after it's baked the sauce will soak into the pasta, making it dry, mix it up and put it inot the pan you coated with sauce. Pour more sauce over the top, sprinkle with cheese (mozzarella or romano or parmesan - whatever you have) cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 45 minutes at 350F. When you serve it you can always add more sauce and cheese.


Muddiah said...

I think the key to enjoying your holidays is starting with family traditions and adding some of your own along the way!

Maya said...

I can't really say that since becoming an ex-pat we have really celebrated Christmas in a traditional sense. It has been years since I have decorated. However, no matter what every year we have traditional New Mexican Tamales and Posole for Christmas Eve, and I always make some of our favorite sweets.