Updated 2009-02-24 22:46:45 ID=262:1

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table, Duck Ragu with Spinach Fettuccine. 2009-01-05 23:12:27:103
©2009 The Romantic Table

Duck Ragu with Spinach Fettuccine.

A look at January's recipes

With the Holidays passed, we're starting to realize our excesses during the last few weeks. This is the month we'll start to recover our energy levels as well as our budgets. These recipes are really straight forward and oh so yummy, yet they can really stretch the budget as well!

It's the beginning of January and I feel like I've indulged just a bit too much--way too much! Now that 2008 has been put to bed, I want to get back to my "normal" pre-Thanksgiving Christmas-New Year's shape and weight-when I still felt like I was "holding -my-own" against Father Time.

To help all of us get us back on track --as well as our wallets, we've come up with some straight forward recipes that are oh-so mellow to our tummies while being easy on the wallets --and you can stretch the meals into other entree forms for other suppers.

For instance, we were planning on having Roasted Duckling l'a Orange (with all the accompanying rich sides) for our New Year's Day meal. But because we were (especially me) feeling a bit too bloated for my own good, I decided to take that $11.00 bird and instead make a more slimming Duck Ragu. That turned out wonderfully!

We still had a lot of ragu left. So we froze part of it for another meal sometime later when we're in a hurry and just want to have a quick ragu on pasta. We used the other part for a Duck Risotto --and that was absolutely delicious! But then we had duck risotto left. So the question was should we eat it as a leftover meal or use it another way? We decided to eat it as a leftover.--But we could have used it yet another way by turning it into a Duck Frittata.

Well you see the point, with some good selections, you can easily stretch your food dollar. And the great thing about all these meals, they're delicious enough to serve guests!

This month as our appetizer, we'll start off with a Smoked Salmon with Asperagus and Dill Frittata. It's beautiful to look at as well as flavorful- perfect to start a dinner off, served cut like a pie.

With the worst of winter coming on this month, there's nothing better than a good bowl of homemade split pea soup. I'm sure most of you already make this in one form or another, but this is how we serve it with homemade croutons.

This month's winter salad is one that we've been talking about for weeks in our Farmers Market reports. It's our fresh Baby Spinach with Persimmons, Sesame seeds and topped with a mellow Balsamic vinaigrette. Balsamic vinegar is especially well suited on persimmons! The sweetness of the vinegar complements the sweetness of the persimmon for an oh so delicious fresh taste in your mouth.

©2009 The Romantic Table, Golden Cauliflower with Pancetta and Penne 2009-01-05 23:17:26:104
©2009 The Romantic Table

Golden Cauliflower with Pancetta and Penne
Next up is a real budget-stretcher: Golden Cauliflower, Pancetta and Penne pasta! It's so tummy-warming and good "Mama's cooking" at its best! We love it, and it's wonderful flavor. All you need is a medium head of golden cauliflower, 4 ounces pancetta or bacon, two cups of milk. a little Parmesan cheese, and a couple tablespoons of flour. It serves four! And with an accompanying salad and optional wine, you're all set!

Then of course we have the talked-about Duck Ragu -which is fabulous!, As well as the duck Risotto which is very easy to make since you already have the Ragu made. Please see my Blog Risotto - Rice Italian Style!.

Since it's January and we have access to lemons in their peak, now's the time to pull out another good recipe from my mother-in-law: The famous one-step lemon and sour cream pound cake. This cake has been served to people from many countries. They all love this pound cake! It can serve a crowd and is almost foolproof! And this is another dessert that practically digests by itself!

All in all, it's going to be long month as we roll-up our sleeves and get back to reality. But it doesn't have to be boring or expensive. If you use a little imagination with your meals, you can stretch your food-dollars and your repertoire of ways to serve-up healthy low-cost meals that will get you back to "own zone" of contentment.

Stay tuned!

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A tip from Sue!

No cheese on seafood please!

When serving an Italian seafood dish, unless the recipe specifically calls for cheese, grated Parmesan cheese on top is not a good idea!

The pungent taste of Parmesan is usually too strong for the delicate fish flavors.