Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 2015


Our December festivities began with a visit to Chicago’s famed Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza.  Patrick had mentioned it to us a year ago – friends had told him it was fun and interesting.  It is modeled after the Christmas markets in Germany and has a definite German characteristic to it. 

We met P. at his apartment – my chance to see where he lived, I liked it.  We walked north to Wrigley Field to get a picture under the famous marquee.  Unfortunately the stadium is undergoing major renovations and the whole area is enclosed with construction barricades.  We settled on pictures in front of the “official” Cubs Store.

Patrick and John with a snowman made from baseballs
We then took the “el” train to downtown Chicago.  It was after 11 o’clock so we decided to have some lunch first.  We’d chosen The Berghoff Restaurant in keeping with the German theme of the day.  The Berghoff has been family-run since 1898.  My meal choice was Rahm Schnitzel.  John and Patrick chose the Berghoff Burger and a tortellini dish.  We all enjoyed our food.

We then walked a few blocks to Daley Plaza.  The Christkindlmarket was packed to the point of not being able to walk around freely.  I knew it would be crowded, but this was way beyond anything I’d imagined.  You simply were not able to walk comfortably anywhere.  We soon gave up, but lucky for me, I did get to hear a German oompah band play “Christmas in Killarney.” 

We discussed a couple museums to visit and settled on the The Field Museum because none of us had been there.  We took a cab.  We got lucky – it turned out to be reduced admission prices for Illinois residents.  While I wasn’t terribly interested in the displays, the Field Museum is a nicely designed building and the exhibits were superb especially for anyone interested in the topics.

The Field Museum, Chicago
We left the museum shortly before 5:00 and went to the supper destination that Patrick had chosen: Tango Sur, an Argentinian steakhouse.  We all had steak, and for reasons unknown to us, we were also served a complimentary dessert flan with 3 spoons to share.

Following our supper we took a cab back to Patrick’s apartment and prepared to leave.  John took Lake Shore Drive to I-55.  We seemed to be driving an exceptionally long time on I-55 looking for the intersection with I-57.  John finally said “Do you think we missed it?”  I checked our GPS location on the cellphone and discovered that we had indeed missed the connection and were headed off into unknown cornfields.  We mentally updated our route and exited I-55 onto Illinois 47 at Dwight.

Christmas with Family

Patrick arrived in town via Amtrak on the 24th.  I picked him up shortly after 11:00, and we decided since we were so close to the newly opened Black Dog location, we’d have lunch there.  Patrick phoned John, and he came and met us.  I branched out and ordered a chicken salad sandwich with twice-baked potato casserole.  John and Patrick chose traditional BBQ: pulled pork and burnt end sandwiches.

Our Christmas Eve supper was a crockpot recipe: Red Pepper Chicken.

Patrick found a couple presents to open on Christmas Day.  Christmas Day lunch was a new recipe: Oven Beef and Noodles.

That afternoon Patrick made Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Cookies.  I've had this recipe for years, and it's one of his favorites.  Some were taken to each of the family gatherings, and there were plenty for Patrick to take into work with him on Monday.

Patrick makes delicious cookies

Saturday, the 26th, was a day with Benefiels in SB.  Then on Sunday, we were with the Bodes in GC.  Patrick headed back north on the train Sunday evening.  He toted home a Grammie-bag of goodies: his gifts, a balsam fir-scented Yankee Candle gift set with a shade that I'd been given at work, and the remaining cookies for his co-workers.

After 4 days, John and I finally finished off all the leftovers yesterday.  In addition to the leftovers from the previously mentioned recipes, there were also egg salad and potato salad that were our contributions to the family gatherings.

Another pleasant holiday.


Red Pepper Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz. each)
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Mexican stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted sweet red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
Hot cooked rice 

Place the chicken in a 3-qt. slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, red peppers, onion, salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until chicken is tender. Serve with rice.  4 servings.  (Taste of Home)

Oven Beef and Noodles

1 pkg. (1-1/2 oz.) onion soup mix    
4 C. water
1 can (10-3/4 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
3 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
1 pkg. (12-oz.) kluski egg noodles, uncooked
2 Tbsp. dried parsley

Combine onion soup mix and water in a covered roasting pan; stir in mushroom soup. Place roast in pan on top of soup mixture. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours, or until meat is very tender. 

Remove roast from pan and shred; return to pan. Add noodles to pan; reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes, until noodles are tender. Add water if necessary to prevent drying out. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.  6 to 8 servings.  (Gooseberry Patch)

Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Cookies

2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. cooked pumpkin
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 teaspoon milk
1 C. semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 C. chopped nuts (optional)

Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture along with dissolved soda; mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated 375-degree oven 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes about 5 dozen.

Our yule log - "Merry Christmas" from Fluffy and Spike