Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Food - Here We Come

For occasions like this, I spend several days (or weeks) mulling over, thinking about, researching, discussing with husband, sisters, friends, considering and planning. I make a few lists - rough drafts, if you will. And then finally, on an evening like tonight, I sit down and make the final draft. Listing the menu, then the recipes*, then the grocery list. I print it all out and then I have my supermassively important group of pages that will be placed in an important place in the kitchen. No searching for recipe cards or trying to keep pages pulled up online. It's all right there, in front of me. I thought I would share my lists with you. And a very Merry Christmas to you.

Christmas Eve (always an appetizer meal):

Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie*
Hot Crab Dip
Crackers / Cheese / Summer Sausage
Mini Beef Wellingtons
Veggies and Dip
Peppermint Ice Cream and Christmas Cookies
Non-Alcoholic Hot Buttered Rum
Meier's Sparkling

Christmas Breakfast:

Breakfast Casserole
Rolls (maybe)
Christmas Eggnog

Dinner on Christmas Day

Carrot and Squash Curry Soup*
Roasted Beef Tenderloin*
Twice-baked Potatoes*
Fresh green beans*
Dinner Rolls (Costco)
Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake*


Mushrooms Stuffed with Brie

1 package White Button Mushrooms, Washed And Stems Removed
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¼ cups Flat-leaf Parsley, Chopped
4 whole (to 5) Green Onions, Sliced (up To Middle Of Dark Green Part)
Splash Of White Wine (optional)
1 slice (wedge) Of Brie Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish. In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle very lightly with salt and splash in wine, if using. Stir around until wine evaporates, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie. Top mushrooms with parsley/garlic mixture. Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted. Note: mushrooms are best when they’ve been allowed to cool slightly. Delicious

Hot Crab Dip

1 c fat free cottage cheese
½ tsp lemon zest
2 T lemon Juice
1T Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8 oz cream cheese, soft
2 T green onions, chopped
1 lb lump crab meat
2 T fresh parmesan cheese
¼ c bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Combine first nine in a food processor, process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese mixture, cream cheese and onion in a large bowl – gently fold in crab meat. Place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 min. Top with bread crumbs and parm. Bake 15 min or until golden and bubbly.

Hot Buttered Rum Beverage Mix

6 cups packed brown sugar 1 cup butter, room temperature

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 Tbsp rum flavoring or extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until well blended. To serve, stir about 1 teaspoon of mix into each 8 ounce mug of hot apple or orange juice, hot milk, or hot water. Mound the mix in a serving bowl and invite guests to serve themselves. Dollop with some fresh whipped cream and it's perfect!

If you want to go the extra mile, you can shape them when the mix is room temperature into little tiny cookie cutters.

To store, cover and chill up to 3 months.

Breakfast Casserole

1 lb sausage, cooked
6 eggs
2 slices bread, cubed
2 c whole milk (or 1½)
1 c sharp cheddar, shredded
1 tsp dry mustard

Combine all. Place in a greased casserole. Bake 350 for 40-45 min. Can be made the night before.

Carrot and Squash Curry Soup

3 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced thin
4 yellow squash, sliced
salt to taste
1 T curry powder (more to taste)
½ c dry white wine
48 oz chicken broth
Heavy cream

Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over med heat. Add garlic and onions and stir to coat. Add carrots and cook for 3 minutes, or until they start to get soft. Sprinkle in a little salt. Add squash. Stir and cook for a few minutes, until squash is soft and tender. After a few minutes, add salt to taste and the curry powder. Pour in wine. Let evaporate for about 30 seconds, then pour in chicken broth. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot, and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour, taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off heat. Puree soup in batches. Return to soup pot and bring to a simmer. Serve hot, drizzled with heavy cream.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

1 whole (4-5 lb) Beef Tenderloin
4 T salted butter
1/3 c whole peppercorns
Lawry’s seasoning salt
Lemon Pepper seasoning
Olive Oil

Rinse meat well. Trim away some of the fat to remove the silvery cartilage underneath. Sprinkle meat generously with Lawry’s. You can much more liberally season a tenderloin, because you’re having to pack more of a punch in order for the seasoning to make an impact. Start with Lawry’s. Rub it in with your fingers. Sprinkle both sides generously with lemon pepper. Crush the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag. Set aside. Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is to the smoking point, place the tenderloin in the very hot pan to sear it. Throw a couple of tables spoons of butter into the skillet. A minute or two later, when the side is starting to turn nice and brown, flip and repeat. Place the tenderloin on an oven pan with a rack. Sprinkle the pummeled peppercorns all over the meat. Press the pepper onto the surface of the meat. Put several tablespoons of butter all over the meat. Stick the long needle of the thermometer lengthwise into the meat. Place it in a 475 oven until the temp reaches just under 140, about 15-20 min. Stay near the oven and keep checking the meat thermometer. Do not allow to overcook. Let meat stand for ten minutes or so before slicing. To serve, you can spoon the olive oil/butter juices from the skillet onto the top of the meat for a little extra flavor.

Twice Baked Potatoes

8 baking potatoes
8 slices thick-cut bacon, fried
½ lb butter, cut into slices
1 c sour cream
½ c whole milk
¼ to ½ tsp lawry’s
½ tsp pepper
2 c grated sharp cheddar
2 green onions

Preheat the oven to 400. With a paper towel, rub the outside of the potatoes with oil. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 45 min or until potatoes are cooked inside and skins are slightly crisp. Turn the oven down to 300. Dice the fried bacon. Throw the butter, souc cream bacon milk seasoning salt and pepper into a large bowl. While the potatoes are still hot, cut in half, lengthwise. Spoon out the insides into the bowl with the other ingredients. Set shells on a large baking sheet. Mash the ingredients together. Stir in a cup of the cheese. Add green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Fill each potato half. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are hot.

Fresh Green Beans

1 lb green beans
1 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
½ c red pepper, chopped
2 T bacon grease
1 c chicken broth
½ to 1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper

Snap the stem ends off the green beans, or cut them off. Melt bacon grease in a skillet over med low heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for a minute. Then add green beans and cook for a minute, until beans turn bright green. Add the chicken broth, chopped red pepper, salt and black pepper. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving a crack for the steam to escape. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until liquid evaporates and beans are fairly soft, yet still a bit crisp. You can add more broth during the cooking process, but don’t be afraid to let it all cook away so the onions and peppers can caramelize.

Caramel Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

12 oz gingersnaps
½ c chopped pecans
6 T butter, melted
2 T brown sugar
1 dash salt
4 pkg cream cheese
1 ½ c sugar
1 can pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
4 whole eggs
2 T heavy cream
1 jar (12 oz) caramel topping
Extra chopped pecans and gingersnaps

In a food processor, crush gingersnaps. Add chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar and salt; pulse until thoroughly combined. Press into bottom and sides of a 10 in springform pan. Chill for 20-30 min. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and spices and mix. Add eggs one at a time, mixing for 20 seconds between each addition. Add cream and mix until just combined. Remove crust from fridge. Pour ½ jar caramel topping on crust. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Gently pour cheesecake filling into pan. Even out the top. Bake 350 for 1 hour 15 min, or until no longer soupy. Cheesecake should still be somewhat jiggly. Cool on counter for 30 minutes. Pour the rest of the caramel topping over the top. Smooth out. Cover and chill for another four hours or overnight. When ready to serve, remove rim from pan and slice. Sprinkle each slice with extra crushed gingersnaps.

*Don't lets be silly and not offer proper credit where credit is due. Any menu item marked with a * is taken from The Pioneer Woman, or as we affectionally like to call her - PW.

Thank you PW.

Any items listed in the menu that do not have a recipe included below are either self-explanatory, or things I didn't need a recipe for. If you have questions about any of those things, like the Mini Weeeeners, just let me know.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

'Tis the season for Pumpkin

I found this recipe in a Real Simple magazine and couldn't resist. Let me tell you, you shouldn't resist either. These cupcakes are super delish and super easy!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 18.5 ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
24 pieces candy corn

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Cursed

This isn't the greatest picture. Sorry. Let me explain. On the right, is the first pan of cookies that came out of the oven. On the left is the second pan.

I thank Landee for introducing me to the world of making cookies with my kids. We opened the package. We broke the little squares of cookie dough apart. We put them on the pan. Several squares were eaten before they ever had a chance to get to the pan, let alone the oven.

But here is the curse, my friends. The last pan always cooks too long. Always. I get the first one out, put the last one in and - forget about it. Always. So, we get one pan of perfect and one pan of - well....crispy.

I do the same with pancakes. They all turn out great until the last three. I put those on and, as usual - forget about it.

Do you have any kitchen curses? I'd love to hear about them.

P.S. I'm also quite clumsy. I can't even count the numerous times I've cut myself, burned myself or spilled things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Drum Roll Please.....

My dearest friends and Savory Sisters followers (which are one and the same), today I am sharing with you one of my prized and precious recipes.

Tomato Curry Soup.

Once upon a time, we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. When we sat down to the table, the first thing brought out was this soup. Everyone was quiet while they ate it. I was very sad when it was gone. Sad, I tell you. I’ve had tomato soup before. But this was nothing like normal tomato soup. I’d never really had curry before, so I didn’t know what the spices were. Just that they were fabulous and I needed more. Thankfully, my friend was willing to share the recipe with me. It came from a cookbook that she’s had forever that isn’t available in stores anymore.

Do you have pre-conceived ideas about tomato soup? About curry? Set them aside and give this a try. If you’re too nervous to go to the trouble, come around my house in the fall and winter. I will gladly share some with you.

I’m taking pictures of the process, cause it’s a cold and rainy day. Good for that, I think.
The recipe is listed below, but the pictures are of a double batch. I’m going to take some to a friend who is sick.

Tomato Curry Soup
¼ c butter
1 lg onion, chopped
3 carrots, shredded
2 T chopped black olives
1-2 T curry powder
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes or 3 c fresh seeded tomatoes
2 13 oz cans chicken broth
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 c half & half
salt to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter at med. high heat. Cook onions, carrots and olives for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.

It will cook down until it’s almost caramelized. Trust me. It’s supposed to do this.

Stir in the curry powder and cook for 5 minutes more. Add fresh parsley, all spice and cumin.
Freshly chopped parsley is pretty, no?

Stir this together and enjoy the fabulous smell of deliciousness.

Then add the chicken broth.

In a separate bowl, mash up those whole canned tomatoes. I heard on a cooking show once that the whole canned tomatoes are the best quality in can, as compared to diced or something else. You'll be blending anyway, so it's worth it for the quality, don't you think? Pour these into your soup and bring it to a simmer.

Reduce heat and continue simmering for 30 minutes.

It will then look like this.

This is the fun part. Messy – but fun. The soup needs to be blended until smooth. Because it’s hot, you need to blend only about 1-2 cups at a time. Again, trust me on this. Start with a cup and test your blender. You’ll be able to tell whether you can blend more or not. I tried my little hand blender thingy once, but it did not make the soup smooth enough. I guess it’s up to you though.
As you’re blending, pour the blended portions into a separate bowl. When it’s all done, return it to your original pot.

Isn't it B.E.A.Utiful?

Add the remaining chicken broth.

And the half and half.

Mmmmmm. Creamy!

Bring back up to temp and serve.

Or take liberties as the cook and give yourself a little cup full to taste.

Afterwards, you might find yourself cleaning out the bottom of the cup with your finger.


See how much I love you? This is truly in my top three for precious recipes.

And, btw, I did not end up using any salt in this batch. It was perfect. Make sure you taste the finished product first.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Want These

I found this picture on listed under the Shortcake Cookies recipe in her cooking section. I had to share it. I LOVE things like this. LOVE them.

This is evidenced in a couple of posts I put on my personal blog several months ago. You can see them here and here.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beef and Sugar Snap Stir-Fry

This is what we had for dinner tonight. It was quite good. Smelled very good while cooking. There wasn't much left in the pan when dinner was over - a very good sign.

This recipe has a pretty good list of ingredients. You could easily do some of the prep work a day ahead to save yourself some time. (P.S. way obvious, but serve it with steamed rice...)

Beef and Sugar Snap Stir-Fry
Cooking Light Magazine, July 2009

3 T rice vinegar
2 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 (1 lb) flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced against the grain
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp bottled minced ginger
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c carrots, cut in matchsticks
1 (8 oz) pkg fresh sugar snap peas
1/3 c chopped green onions

Combine 1 T of the rice vinegar, 1 T of the soy sauce and the pre-cut flank steak in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine remaining rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, hoisin, salt and crushed red pepper in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Add beef mixture to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes or until done. Place beef in a bowl. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in pan, still on med-high heat, and add the chopped onion. Saute 1 minute. Add giner and garlic; saute 15 seconds. Stir in bell pepper, carrot and peas. Saute about 3 minutes. Add vinegar mixture and beef to the pan and stir into the veggies. Cook approximately 2 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lasagna in a Bun

Oh, the joy that comes from a meal my children love to eat.

Lasagna in a Bun
thanks to Taste of Home

8 sub or hoagie buns (8 inches)
1 pound ground beef
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 T garlic powder
1 T Italian seasoning
1 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Cut a 'V' out of the center of your rolls. Depending on the kind of rolls you get, you can either hollow it out a little or press down the inside of the roll. Save the pieces for something else. Or not.

In a large skillet, cook the beef and drain. Add the spaghetti sauce, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Cook 4-5 minutes or until heated through.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan and a half cup each of the cheddar and mozzarella.

To assemble, spoon the meat mixture into the buns. I pressed mine in with the back of a spoon to create a well for the cheese. Spoon the ricotta mixture onto the meat. Place rolls on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheddar and mozzarella. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes.

These are SO good! My children loved them. My husband loved them. I loved them. Totally a keeper. Let me know what you think!!!