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Merry Christmas and Happy December 25th GUSstars!  First, I send best wishes to all who are in worrisome weather conditions.  Hopefully everyone comes through the storms safely.

I've been making candy for days so have basically been offline.  Of course, I know all of you chatterboxes can handle the GUS posts without the diarists.  Well, one thing that has been made abundantly clear is that I've neglected StateOfGrace.  Amazing I realized it because it is not like her to complain about anything.  So, today is veggie day.  Also, here's a list of carnivore and non-carnivore safe beverages.

Marvelous holiday drinks thanks to Chicago bartenders

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Roasted Fennel with Parmesan - Ina Garten

Ingredients

    2 large fennel bulbs
    1/4 cup good olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    Parmesan shavings

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stems of the fennel and slice the bulb in half lengthwise. With the cut side down, slice the bulb vertically into 1/2-inch-thick slices, cutting right through the core. Spread the fennel slices on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands.

Roast the fennel slices for about 1 hour, turning them once after 30 minutes, until the edges are crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and cover with Parmesan shavings. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Gobi Aloo (Indian Style Cauliflower with Potatoes)

"Cauliflower, potatoes, and an enticingly fragrant blend of spices make up this traditional Indian dish."

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste
1 pound cauliflower
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1.     Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger paste. Cook about 1 minute until garlic is lightly browned. Add the potatoes. Season with turmeric, paprika, cumin, garam masala, and salt. Cover and continue cooking 5 to 7 minutes stirring occasionally.
2.     Mix the cauliflower and cilantro into the saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cover. Stirring occasionally, continue cooking 10 minutes, or until potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic

Ingredients

    2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons butter
    2 large garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 tablespoon lemon zest
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Blanch green beans in a large stock pot of well salted boiling water until bright green in color and tender crisp, roughly 2 minutes. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop from cooking.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the butter. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans and continue to saute until coated in the butter and heated through, about 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Indian Eggplant - Bhurtha

 This is a traditional North Indian (Punjabi) Bhurtha made with eggplant and tomato, and seasoned with cumin, turmeric garlic and ginger. Serve with fresh roti or naan."

Ingredients:
1 eggplant
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 large tomato - peeled, seeded and
diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1.     Preheat the oven's broiler. Rub oil on the outside of the egg plant, or coat with cooking spray. Place under the broiler, and cook until the flesh is soft and the skin is blistering off, about 30 minutes. Turn as needed for even cooking. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Discard the skin; chop up the flesh, and set aside.
2.     Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, and let them crackle for a few seconds and turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Add the onion, ginger and garlic; cook and stir until tender. I don't let the onions get very brown. Stir in the tomato, and season with turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook and stir for a few minutes.
3.     Place the eggplant pieces in the skillet, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes so some of the moisture evaporates. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.

Vegetarian Stuffed Pepper

Ingredients

    6 large sweet peppers
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    3 small tomatoes, chopped
    1 cup frozen corn, thawed
    1 small sweet onion, chopped
    1/3 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
    1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
    3/4 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
    1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
    4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    3/4 cup meatless spaghetti sauce
    1/2 cup water
    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

    Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds; set aside. In a large bowl,
    combine the rice, tomatoes, corn, onion and beans. Stir in the
    Monterey Jack cheese, olives, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon
    into peppers.
    Combine spaghetti sauce and water; pour half into an oval 5-qt. slow
    cooker. Add the stuffed peppers. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle
    with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
    Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until peppers are tender.
    Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Corn

Ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups wild rice (about 9 ounces)
    2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
    3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 11/2-pound squash)
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
    1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white part only)
    1 1/2 cups frozen white corn kernels, thawed
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions:

 Rinse rice in strainer under cold water; drain. Bring 6 cups water and 2 teaspoons coarse salt to boil in large saucepan. Add rice; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until rice grains begin to split and are tender but still slightly chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain. Spread on rimmed baking sheet to cool. Transfer to bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil rimmed baking sheet. Toss squash cubes and 3 tablespoons oil in medium bowl. Spread squash in single layer on prepared sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast just until tender but firm enough to hold shape, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer squash to bowl. Cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and 3/4 cup water; simmer until leeks are tender, about 7 minutes. Add corn; simmer 2 minutes longer. Add rice and butternut squash; simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Test-Kitchen Tip: Some kinds of wild rice take longer to cook than others. The rice is fully cooked when the grains are tender but still chewy and beginning to split. Be sure to test the rice before draining.

Blessings to all.  And all those who will be enjoying Chinese cuisine today, may your fortune cookies bring good tidings.  
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