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Christmas poem and pasta

Although I didn’t feel like making dinner on Monday, I ran into Trader Joe’s with only, “Make pasta for dinner.” on my brain. I was instantly inspired by the sight of a bag of sliced crimini mushrooms. From there the recipe developed in my head as I put heirloom tomatoes, arugula, two linguini flavors, and Fontina cheese in my cart.

But I have to admit that I find it immensely difficult to make dinner on the nights leading up to big holidays. All my focus and attention are currently pinpointed on Christmas Eve Mass and dinner. Next, on Christmas day breakfast, gift opening, and dinner. All that makes it feel nearly impossible to care about the “now’.  I am well aware that that is not the way to live life, but making the holidays special is just what I, and most of you, do.

So, for you – and for me, I post a little poem and this pasta recipe, both of which I created just for the holiday hustle and bustle. I’m far too frazzled and scatterbrained to finish the last 10 stanzas. Here is a LINK to the original poem, please feel free to add some stanzas of your own. And if no one steps forward, maybe I shall get back to it later!

“Twas the Monday before Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was focused, not even the mouse.
The “to-do” lists were sitting on the counter with a nasty glare
In my hopes that someone else would please do them with care.

The husband and children were kicked back in their Keds
While visions of the perfect Christmas danced in their heads.
And mama in her panic, bustling here and there in a flap
Wondering how everything would happen without a single nap!

When out in the kitchen there arose such a bang and a clatter,
Mama continued getting dinner on the table as if nothing else mattered.
Away to the shops and markets, she went in such a dash.
Doing her best to get it all done in time for each camera flash.

The family was ever confident as they watched her go, go, go,
That this Christmas, like all the rest, would be everything and mo’
When what to all wondering eyes should appear,
But another “perfect” Christmas- full of joy, love, and cheer!”  

– Linda Hopkins

Crimini, Arugula, and Tomato Linguini

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces arugula
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into rough chunks
1/4 cup dry Sherry
1  1/2 cups fat-free half and half
6 ounces Fontina (about 2 cups) shredded
1 pound linguini

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; when hot, add mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their liquids.

Add the garlic and cook for one minute, then stir in the arugula and cook until leaves are wilted.

Season with salt and pepper and then remove the mushroom-arugula mixture to a strainer and set aside to drain.

Return the skillet to heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  When hot, add the tomatoes and stir until just heated through about 2 minutes. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

Pour the sherry into the skillet and cook on high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add half and half and continue to boil and reduce until liquid is thick and creamy about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions or until al dente.

Return mushroom-arugula mixture and tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in the cheese. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4


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1 sloane { 12.21.10 at 12:33 PM }

Oh thats the sweetest poem! Every Christmas is magical at the Hopkins House!

2 Connor { 12.21.10 at 12:48 PM }

And thats why we love you mama!

3 Audrey Larsen { 12.21.10 at 2:54 PM }

Wonderful post and poem! You’re not the only one that finds it hard to muster much cooking enthusiasm right before a major holiday! We are all just so busy “making the magic!” And still you came up with a delicious-looking recipe — while my family got take-out sushi!! That says Merry Christmas, right? 🙂

4 Linda Hopkins { 12.21.10 at 3:26 PM }

Thanks Audrey, my family is always happy with sushi! Merry Christmas! xoxo

5 Linda Hopkins { 12.21.10 at 3:28 PM }

aww, Connor – you warm my heart! xoxo

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