Sunday, November 28, 2021

Italian Caponata Appetizer



We had a very Happy Thanksgiving and a very happy 40th Birthday celebration for our daughter! Thank you for all your good wishes!


Our Christmas tree was up and decorated for the very first time, ever, before Thanksgiving Day. We decided that getting a large real tree was getting too heavy and hard for us to bring in and out of our home every holiday, so we bought a new pre-lighted artificial tree.  Since we were concerned about supply chain issues we ordered it early online and put it together to make sure the lights were working.  It is 9 feet tall so once it was up we decided to keep it up and decorate it, and we were very happy with the final results.  Thanksgiving eve we had snow flurries, and our backyard Colorado blue spruce tree collected some snow but sadly not much else accumulated. The Denver area record for the latest snow was broken a week ago and has had temperatures into the 70s. It is very strange weather and a bit worrisome as it has been very dry


Some of our Thanksgiving Day appetizer lunch is in the first photo collage, and these were the entrees I made for our dinner. Lots of food, lots of favorites, and everyone took home leftovers.

 

Desserts were birthday ice cream cake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, and apple pie.  The apple pie crust decorations before on the right, and after on the left. They looked better before baking!



One appetizer we really enjoyed this Thanksgiving was homemade Caponata. Caponata is a Sicilian sweet and sour version of ratatouille, with a mixture of eggplant, celery, red peppers, onions, tomatoes, olives, etc, in an agrodolce sauce. I made some crostini to serve with the caponata by thinly slicing baguette type loaf bread and toasting the slices in the oven, brushing them first with olive oil, garlic, and parsley on top,

To make the Caponata I used a New York Times recipe with the addition of pine nuts (pignoli nuts) imported from Italy.  Caponata is best made the day ahead of serving, so it can marinate and is best eaten at room temperature.

 CAPONATA

 Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds eggplant (1 large), roasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, from the inner, tender stalks (the heart), diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
Salt to taste
1 pound ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped, or 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes (in puree) 3 heaped tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pitted green olives
1/2 cup toasted Italian Pine Nuts (pignoli nuts)--optional.
2 tablespoons plus a pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (more to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation:

1) Roast the eggplant, allow to cool, and chop coarsely.

2 ) Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet and add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook together for a minute, until the garlic begins to smell fragrant, and add the peppers and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring, until just about tender, about 8 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil and the eggplant, and stir together for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. The eggplant will fall apart, which is fine. Season to taste.

3) Add the tomatoes to the pan with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of sugar. Cook, stir, and scrape the bottom of the pan often, for 5 to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and they smell fragrant. Add the capers, olives, remaining sugar, and vinegar.  Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are thoroughly tender and the mixture is quite thick, sweet, and fragrant. Stir in the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Allow cooling to room temperature. If possible, cover and chill overnight. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy spoonfuls of Caponata eaten plain or served on slices of crostini or crackers.


November has continued to give us some remarkable skies and sunsets. 
 
Let's hope December will bring us some well-needed snow!

Wishing all who celebrate this week a very Happy Hanukkah!

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Monday, November 22, 2021

November Happenings and have a Happy Thanksgiving!






It will be a busy week ahead as I prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner and our daughter's "new decade" birthday!


Our Thanksgiving buffet photo collage from 2020

As our family gathers we have a large appetizer-style lunch with delicious orange, pineapple, and strawberry champagne punch we make every year. 
For dinner, l roast a large turkey, and sometimes a baked ham if we have many guests, and many sides--giblet gravy, sausage and mushroom stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, a few varying vegetables, cranberry sauce, fresh rolls and of course apple and pumpkin pies and a birthday cake for dessert. Everyone takes home a good portion of leftovers for the next day's meal.

It is wonderful to give thanks for the blessings of family, our country's freedoms and abundance, and our good health! 
More than ever, during this pandemic, we can not take good health for granted. 


Now for what's been happening this month of November...

A view of some of the Colorado front range taken from the Denver International Airport area

Tomorrow, the Denver area of Colorado breaks a weather record that dates back to 1934--a Dust Bowl year--for the latest snowfall!  Our autumn has been unusually warm and dry. The ski resort areas above 9,000 feet have had some snow and they supplement with man-made snow, but the front range has been extremely dry. It's not something to celebrate and I hope our weather returns to normal and does not continue this way for much longer.  Wildfires are always a danger when there are drought and high wind.



Some beautiful November sunsets that we've marveled at.




Local deer visitors to my back and front yards.  It's always a joy to see them! They have been having a good time munching all the fallen leaves from our trees.


One of our backyard tree's resident squirrels has enjoyed eating a leftover Halloween pumpkin.  We had a lot of fun watching him from our window for a few days as he devoured all the pumpkin seeds first and then worked on eating the pumpkin flesh. 





My youngest grandson is one of the trombone players in this photo of his elementary school's 5th-grade band.  They played in a wonderful combination school district concert this month, along with 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade junior high school, as well as a 9th-grade high school band.  Bravo to all the students who are learning to play music as an extracurricular activity! My older grandson plays viola in his junior high school orchestra.


My husband and I attended Opera Colorado's production of one of our favorite operas this month--Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Colorado.  The cast takes its final curtain call bow in the collage above. Bravo!  We loved it! 




Wishing all who celebrate this week 
a very Happy Thanksgiving!

You can also find me on


I'm linking this post to some of the following blog events:

 Mosaic MondayBlue Monday, Through My Lens MondayHearth, and Soul Link PartyYou Are the Star Blog Hop, Inspire Me MondayHome Matters Linky Party,  Good Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialTravel Photos, Travel TuesdayHappiness Is Homemade, Our World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesday's TreasuresTuesdays With A Twist, Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday,  Party in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful Wednesday, Wednesday My Corner of the WorldWonderful WednesdaySigns2 Little Things ThursdayThankful Thursday,  Thursday Encouraging Hearts and Home,  Thursday Thinking Out Loud, Thursday Favorite ThingsFriendship FridaysA Morning Cup of JoeFriday Features Linky Party, Skywatch FridayWeekend Roundup,  Pink SaturdaySaturday SparksSaturday CrittersSunday on Silverado
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