January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve Lunch

MM's sister and brother-in-law (and 2 of Patton's canine cousins) came over for lunch on New Year's Eve. Erin, my sister-in-law, is a vegetarian, and DC was having unseasonably warm weather (50 degrees!), so I was more than happy to make a meatless menu that would taste fresh and wouldn't weigh us down.

Our menu follows:
Arugula Salad with Clementines and Caramelized Fennel

I found this salad in the January 2010 issue of Bon Appetit. The recipe (which I halved) calls for oranges, but I had a box of clementines in the fridge, so I figured they would work just as well (if not better). I used 4 clementines. I would absolutely make this again and I think everyone would agree it was excellent!

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

This is one of Giada's recipes, from her cookbook, Giada's Kitchen. The vegetable bolognese came together quickly and was super flavorful. The mushrooms gave it a hearty, meaty goodness and the small amount of mascarpone was just enough to make the sauce slightly creamy. We had tons of leftovers, so MM and I will be eating this today too!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

My mom has been telling me to try this cake for years. She got the recipe from my grandmother and makes it all the time. I had extra cans of pumpkin puree and evaporated milk from Thanksgiving, so I decided it was high time I tried this recipe.

And... it was pretty good. I wouldn't say it was the best dessert I have ever had, but it was enjoyable. It is like a pumpkin pie on the bottom and crunchy cake on the top.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

2 cups pumpkin puree (I used a 15 oz can, which is just less than 2 cups, but it works fine)
12 oz. can evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I don't have pumpkin pie spice, so I used 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/4 tsp. cloves)
1 tsp. salt
1 (18.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans (my mom swears that 2 cups is better, but I am not a huge fan of nuts)
1 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 13x9 inch baking dish.

Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Mix well and spread into dish.

Sprinkle cake mix over top of pumpkin mixture and pat down. Sprinkle pecans over top and drizzle melted butter all over the top.

Bake for 1 hour or when a cake tester comes out clean (no longer than 1 hour 20 minutes - mine took 1 hour, 10 minutes).

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