Some things to follow up from Christmas. First, my mini-review of Monica's. Monica's is by far my favorite Mexican restaurant. Not only are the dishes inventive and interesting (with killer chips and salsa), but the prices are dirt cheap. You'd be hard pressed to find anything over $9 there and there are always these great specials where entrees are half off. So I had the brown rice risotto. This is the kind of dish that Monica's excels at (not that the other dishes are crap or anything). She takes stuff like lasagna or risotto and casts it in a Mexico City setting. The flavors are not compromised with the cross pollination, rather, they are given a new life with different contexts. My risotto was more pilaf than risotto but that's a plus in my book. It was swathed in a chipotle cream sauce and had roasted peppers, onions, corn and black beans throughout the dish. I loved with nutty flavor and texture of the rice and it paired well with the luxoriousness of the sauce.
Foodwise, I was on a high carb, high fat diet. And you know what? I lost 8 pounds during the trip. It helped that I was working out every day with my father-in-law (because he is now officially an active adult). But still, one would think the four dozen cookies, the chicken pot pie, the cheese grits, and the quiches would have at least prevented me from losing weight. Life is hard.
This was one of the sanest Christmases I've ever had. The main Christmas festivities were on Christmas Eve with the Christmas brunch with J's extended family and then Christmas dinner with just the siblings parents and assorted spouses and children. J's mother allowed us to make dinner for Christmas day. Christmas day was a laid back affair where lunch was the previous day's leftovers and dinner was something of a mezze/tapas affair with a big salad. Knowing that the previous day was some hard core eating. We wanted food that you could just nibble. So Christmas day dinner menu was: satay chicken, shrimp won tons, a winter salad with apples, candied pecans, and bleu cheese and Dan and Steve's spinach parmesan balls. J was responsible for the spinach balls and did some creative cooking. Most of the comments about the balls said that they were too dry and dan and Steve themselves said that the balls didn't reheat well. To solve both of those problems J added and extra egg and all was well with the world. We snack on the balls the next day and they tasted great. This weekend, I am catering an open house for some friends of ours and the spinach parmesan balls are on the menu.