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Thursday, 9 December 2010
Christmas with Maryann Miller
I have mulled wine on the table, a slice of my homemade Christmas cake. The log fire is roaring and Maryann and I are sitting in a comfy armchair, talking about what a hectic year this has been. Here is a few of the things that’s kept Maryann busy
As a journalist and author, Maryann Miller amassed credits for feature articles and short fiction in numerous national and regional publications. The Rosen Publishing Group in New York published nine of her non-fiction books including the award-winning, Coping With Weapons and Violence in School and On Your Streets, which is in its third printing. Play It Again, Sam, a woman's novel and One Small Victory, a suspense novel, are electronic books available on Kindle, Nook, and other e-book reading devices. One Small Victory was originally published in hardback. A mystery, Open Season, is a new release in hardback from Five Star Cengage Gale. A young adult novel, Friends Forever, is her first book for BWL Publishing Partners. She has also written several screenplays and stage plays and is the Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts.
I thought before we discussed our favorite recepies, I’d show you a few of her wonderful covers. Click here to have a look at her website. It’s pretty fabulous!
While I sit here and tuck in I’ll leave you Maryann’s capable hands.
An Italian Christmas
Good Morning Everyone. At the Miller household we started a tradition many years ago of having our big dinner on Christmas Eve, and the kids voted to have lasagna instead of the traditional holiday fare. That suited me just fine as lasagna is much easier to prepare than turkey, ham, dressing, sides, etc. Plus it's a one-pan cleanup.
I actually started this new approach after the first Christmas we spent in Texas, away from extended family. On Christmas, I was in the kitchen most of the day cooking and cleaning up, while the rest of the family was having fun playing with new toys. Normally, I do not begrudge the family some fun, and I really do love to cook holiday meals and see how much they are enjoyed, but for some reason that inequity really bugged me that year.
Plus, I'm always looking for a good excuse to play, so I decided that was the last Christmas I would spend in the kitchen.
When I proposed the change to my husband and the kids, they were all for it. They liked the idea of a relaxed day and a much happier mother. Instead of the standard holiday dinner fare on Christmas Day, we had sliced ham with fresh fruits and veggies to munch on, as well as the usual Christmas cookies and breads. Somehow I always ended up with lots of leftover fruits and vegetables, but why is that not a huge surprise?
As the years piled up, we really started looking forward to the Christmas Eve dinner more and more until it became almost sacred family time. In fact, even to this day with the kids grown and a bit scattered, we try to hold to this tradition as best we can. Christmas Eve just would not be the same without the lasagna.
From Maryann Miller
All good lasagna starts with the sauce. For a meat sauce:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic chopped (or pressed)
1 green bell pepper chopped fine
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1/2 cup water
4 tblsp white sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp ground pepper
Brown the meats with the onion, pepper and garlic. Pour off excess fat, then add tomatoes, water and seasonings. Simmer at least an hour. This recipe can be made days in advance and just gets better with age. There is more than enough sauce for the lasagna so the rest can be frozen for use later.
To prepare the lasagna:
Soak 12 lasagna noodles in hot tap water for 15 minutes. While they are soaking, you can prepare the cheese filling:
23 ounces ricotta cheese.
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp parsley
Mix all ingredients well. When noodles are ready, take them out of the water and shake off excess water. Then start making layers. Put a cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9X12 pan and add a layer of noodles. Then add a layer of the cheese mixture, topped with some shredded mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan cheese. Alternate layers, ending up with sauce on top. Sprinkle more Parmesan on the top layer.
Cover with foil
Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for 25 minutes
Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 25 minutes.
I’m off to try this..really…I am. I love lasagna. But maybe not at Christmas. I think my hubby would have me committed as insane.