Sometimes all you can do is listen to a voice that is comforting. When I want to feel that safe, warm embrace I turn to Rosemary Clooney or Bing Crosby. Eventually it will become very clear how much I adore and absolutely love, LOVE Christmas. For a number of years, long enough that I don’t remember when we started this tradition, my mom, sister, and I have watched Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at Christmastime. It’s the one movie that we can’t not watch, it would just be wrong. Anyway, Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby, in my mind, are the stars of that film, and boy do they bring me back to all of the feelings that I’m already experiencing at Christmastime when the trees are blanketed with a white, glistening, pure snow, the moon reflects a magical light, and it is nearly impossible to be unhappy.
So on days like today – the Sunday after a truly lovely vacation, when I am not really looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, and just generally needing a pick-me-up. Rosemary Clooney.
And a tasty, (healthy), but comforting dinner:
Pasta with Green Beans and Pesto & Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon (yes, really.)
This last week I got my whole menu from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine I picked up in the airport on the way back from Seattle… I am one of those people. I grabbed a magazine I would love and planned our dinner menu for the week on the plane and loved it.
Alright. Dates – SUPER easy and decadent. Printed in the LOVELY book (Actually a book – really, you should sit down and read this now. Seriously.) Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist They are sweeter than you might think, so maybe consider for an after-dinner treat. Otherwise, if you like sweet, try them with a light or savory meal.
8oz.Whole Dates (recipe calls for pitted, I pitted my own – very easy)
4oz. Goat Cheese
…that’s it. Now, if I had a chance to re-make this recipe I might consider letting the goat cheese sit out for a bit before trying to use it and then stirring in some yummy, good salt. Like a grey or pink sea salt… (you decide – but I’d make the recipe first and then go back and make it again and tweak it the second time around to your taste)
Preheat your oven to 400. Line an oven-safe pan (jelly roll pan/cookie sheet with edges will enable better browning/crisping of the bacon) with tin foil (for easy clean up).
Pit dates by slicing down one side and pulling the pit from the middle. (or, if you get pre-pitted, just slice down one side) Open up your dates so you can easily spoon goat cheese into the cavity in the middle where the pit was and spoon a generous spoonful of goat cheese into the date. Seal the dates back up as best as you can by squeezing the edges you cut open back together. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a little gaping, but you don’t want it wide open.
Figure out how many 1/2 of the number of dates you have are. (Sooo… if you have 13 dates, round-up to 7)
Cut that many pieces of bacon in half and wrap a half piece of bacon around the date. You can tell this is going to be good, huh?
Place bacon-seam side down in the lined pan and pop in the oven. 20-25 mins or until the bacon is golden-brown and crispy. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for about 5 mins otherwise you will burn the roof of your mouth. I accept no liability for over-eager eaters. Proceed at your own risk if you can’t wait 5 minutes.
Alright, now the main event.
As printed in BHG, Green Beans and Pesto Pasta
1 C. dried ditalini or small shell macaroni (4 oz.)
12 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch pieces (oops, definitely did not cut the pieces up)
1 C. Green Bean Pesto (ooookay, another confession, I just got a jar of pre-made pesto. It was so easy and so good… but if you want the recipe for the green bean pesto, here you go: 12oz. green beans, trimmed; 1 C. fresh basil leaves; 1 C. chopped pitted green olives (the good kind, not the ones with the pimento in the middle); 1/2 C. toasted almonds or pine nuts, 1 C. extra virgin olive oil. Cook beans, drain. Place beans and all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and start blending til finely chopped, add oil slowly while the machine is still running. Stir well before using.)
1/2 C. finely shredded Parmesan
2 C. Romaine lettuce, sliced into small 1/2 inch pieces
Cook pasta for 6 mins. add beans to the pot while the pasta is still cooking and continue to cook until the pasta is al dente.
Drain out most of the water from the pot leaving about 1 C. of pasta water in the bottom of the pot. Dump the rest of the beans/pasta that went into the strainer back into the pot. Add the pesto. Add the cheese. Stir.
Now quick! Pan fry some over-easy eggs, one for each serving you are making.
Nooowww… This recipe says to stir in the romaine. BUT. If you want any hope of having left overs, DON’T. You’ll end up with soggy lettuce and icky leftovers. SO. Put a handful of romaine on the bottom of your plate. Spoon the pasta mixture on top. And carefully place the egg on top of the whole thing. Season with pepper and salt…and more cheese if you want.