Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

 

The holidays are here, and cookies and cocktails are the name of the game as we countdown to Christmas Day!  Check out my favorite recipes with a healthy dose of Yuletide cheer.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.  Read On

I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka! Read On

These cookies are perfect when you’re looking for just a little something, as Doreen would say.  Pair with a spiked hot chocolate, vodka martini, or a big red wine like a spicy zin.  Read On

Moscow Mules aren’t just for summertime!  Try cranberries and rosemary for a holiday twist.  Read On

These ginger cookies are perfect to stack and pack and safely share.  Read On

Once you make these lovelies, just about any candy or specialty chips work in a batch!  Read On

Countdown to Turkey Day!

Countdown to Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is nearly here!  Get inspired with menu inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

 

 

 

It’s mere weeks before Thanksgiving, and we’re getting excited!

Whether you are traveling, staying put, or just looking to perk up this holiday’s menu, we have delicious dishes to inspire this season’s menu, from tasty take-alongs to tablescapes.

Let’s celebrate!

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Get on BOARD With This Charcuterie: Tuna Steak Nachos

Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe

 

There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness!

We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!

One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board.

Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses.

The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).

But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum.

But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other.

Just like I like it!

My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.

The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.

Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.

Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!

Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream

These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.

Ingredients

For tuna:

1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:

½ cup rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)

1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated

1 tablespoon olive oil

For roasted garlic cream:

Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup heavy cream

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For nachos:

Large, sturdy tortilla chips

2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)

Serves:   A Crowd

Time:   60-Minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade.  Pour the rest over the tuna steak.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade.  Shake off the excess.  Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare.  Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle.  Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.

Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade.  Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.

Remove the tuna from the freezer.  Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna.  Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip.  Drizzle with garlic cream. 

 

Fancy Dress Dinner in the New Normal

Fancy Dress Dinner in the New Normal

If you’ve been living in your Lulumons, this Fancy Dress Dinner Party is for you! Prepare a feast for your “bubble friends” or family this Social-distance Summer.

Click to skip to the recipes

 

When was the last time that you dressed up? 

For that matter, when was the last time that you got out of your sweats? 

We discussed this during my walking group’s morning trek the other day. The answers were startling. No one had dressed up in months!

I mean, “fancy- dressed-up”, like sparkles and heels and ties and pocket squares. 

The occasions that we dress for have all gone away.

No more business dinners, charity events, or milestone birthday parties. Weddings are postponed and black tie events are canceled. I’m not even sure that this year’s fall fashions haven’t been hanging in my closet since last spring!

I decided to change things up a bit in my bubble.

I’m planning a fancy dress party that fits with the new normal.

I’ll host a smaller group of friends, maintain a socially-distanced table in an open-air space and absolutely, expressly forbid hugging and kissing.

But there will be place cards and flowers on the table. We’ll be served on real china plates and crystal. Places will be set with linen napkins and a printed menu.

And yes…There will be FOOD.

Really, really good food.

Here’s my fancy-dressed dinner menu:

 

Spinach Salad Topped with Heirloom Tomatoes and Salt and Pepper Fruit

Beef Wellington with Red Wine Demi Glaze

Pommes de Terre Chantilly

Chocolate French Silk Pie

 

Sounds daunting, yes! Well, it’s not. Let me tell you how.

You can make the pie the day before. I’ll tell you a secret. 

I use Ina Garten’s pie crust recipe.

And Ree Drummond’s recipe for the filling. 

I topped the pie with whipped cream and dust with salted caramel sugar from Spice and Tea Exchange.

It’s not only yummy, but it’s also pretty!

 

The salad is created by tossing baby spinach leaves and thin slices of onion with a bit of vinaigrette. I top this with slices of ripe tomato with a dribble of olive oil.

What makes this salad so special is the fruit. I dice watermelon into very small cubes which I spritz with kosher salt. 

Next, I cut strawberries into the same size pieces and sprinkle with pepper. I scatter the “salt and peppered” fruit cubes on top of the tomatoes and chill the salad.

 The bite is crunchy, sweet, and surprisingly refreshing.

 

The Beef Wellington recipe is right out of my book, Fresh Traditions

Seared tenderloin filets are topped with a slice of pate and a spoonful of creamy, sherried mushrooms. Then they are wrapped in pastry and chilled until you are ready to bake. 

Twenty minutes in the oven creates an over-the-top main course, especially when served with a red wine reduction.

But my favorite dish on the menu is the potatoes.

Imagine a mashed potato souffle and you will get your mouth watering for these Chantilly potatoes. Named for a region in France that creates wonderous cream, these potatoes can be prepared in the morning and baked off in the same oven as the beef. Success!

My party is coming soon, and I hope it inspires you to get out of those pj’s and back into the worldAt least a little step towards getting back into the world!

Pommes de Terre Chantilly

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

Ingredients

Whipped potatoes meet whipped cream in this most delicious version of mashed potatoes. It’s a fussy presentation which requires a bit of work but is really worth the effort.

4 (1 ½ to 2-inch thick) beef tournedos (center cut fillet of beef)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Course ground pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 large shallots, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

8 ounces Baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons cup sherry

1/3 cup cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 (1-pound) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

4 to 6 ounces pate, preferably duck mousse, cut into 4 slices

Serves:   4

Time:  30-minute Cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½-inch cubes. Place the potato cubes into salted, boiling water. Cook until the potatoes are very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Use a colander to drain the potatoes. Place 3 tablespoons butter and milk into a large bowl. Use a potato ricer to smoosh the potatoes into the bowl. Stir the potatoes into a smooth puree.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Divide 1 tablespoon butter into four individual baking dishes. Place these onto a baking sheet. Place the dishes into the oven and let the butter melt onto the bottom of each one.

Use an electric mixer to whip the cream into soft peaks. Place about ⅓ of the whipped cream into the center of the potatoes. Gently stir the cream into the potatoes. The potatoes will be soft and light. Scrape the remaining whipped cream into the bowl. Gently fold this cream into the potatoes. You don’t need to overwork the potatoes. You want these to be light and airy. 

Spoon the potatoes into the baking dishes. Sprinkle each dish with Parmesan cheese. Bake until the potatoes are warmed through and the tops begin to turn golden brown on the edges, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Beef Wellington

Ingredients

This renowned dish is easy to make and a super way to show off in front of your guests. The good news is the beef packages can be prepared in advance and baked 30 minutes before you seat your guests. Talk about “fast food”!

4 (1 ½ to 2-inch thick) beef tournedos (center cut fillet of beef)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Course ground pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 large shallots, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

8 ounces Baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons cup sherry

1/3 cup cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 (1-pound) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

4 to 6 ounces pate, preferably duck mousse, cut into 4 slices

Serves:   4

Time:  60-minute Cuisine (Plus chilling)

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush the beef with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat a skillet over high heat.  Place the steaks into the skillet and sear until well browned, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Turn until both sides are golden, about 3 to 4 minutes more.  Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature.  

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the shallots in the pan until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the sherry, cream, and tarragon to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 to 5 minutes more.  Cool this mixture to room temperature.

Roll out the puff pastry sheets to about ¼-inch thickness.  Cut into 4 rectangles.  Coat a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.  Place a beef slice onto a pastry rectangle.  Brush the edges of the dough with a beaten egg. Place a slice of pate on top of the beef.  Top with sautéed mushrooms and the tarragon cream sauce.  Wrap the layered beef with the pastry.  Crimp the top ends together to seal the package.  (Form the bundle into a purse, trimming off the excess pastry.)  Repeat with all the filet slices.  Place each bundle onto the prepared baking sheet.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush each package with a beaten egg.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375°.  Bake until the pastry is golden, about 20 minutes more.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with red wine sauce.

Overboard Tip

To make red wine sauce heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook 2 large minced shallots until soft.  Pour in 1 cup dry red wine.  Reduce until ½ cup remains.  Pour in 1 cup beef broth.  Reduce until 1 cup remains, about 15 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh

Pick a Peck of Peppers: Short Ribs Two Ways

Pick a Peck of Peppers: Short Ribs Two Ways

Social-distance Summer just got hotter with pecks of peppers, two ways!  Add fresh air and “bubble friends” for this backyard feast!

Click to skip to the recipes

 

During this time of social-distancing, my “Bubble Friends” and I have taken turns hosting Potluck Sunday suppers. 

The host couple picks the theme and the rest of us bring the appys, sides, and dessert. We gather together on our porch, back deck, kitchen table; wherever we can dine and raise a glass in the open air with good friends…Well, you get the picture.

Recently it was my turn. 

We’ve been in this social-distance bubble for quite some time, so when it was time to plan my dinner theme, my thoughts raced away from grilled steaks and barbecue. 

I was looking for something that was unexpected on a summer’s night. 

I started thumbing through my Sunday Best Dishes cookbook and paged right through to the Slow and Sly Supper chapter. I saw the picture for my Chili Roasted Short Rib dish and a light bulb went off.

Let’s stuff a pepper or two or three…and my dish was born!  The recipe follows, but what made the evening really special and what makes every potluck supper really special…..The friends who share your bubble. 

Give this dish a try.

Invite your Bubble Friends and ask them to bring a dish. Open the windows and enjoy!

Short Rib Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

Ingredients

Serve these most delicious stuffed peppers with yellow rice and black beans for a hint of Mexico cuisine cooked in your very own kitchen.

10 to 12 beef short ribs, prepared as follows, shredded, tossed with sauce from pan

10 to 12 large poblano peppers (you can substitute with Anaheim peppers)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 cup prepared enchilada sauce

4 ounces Queso blanco cheese, grated

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Serves:   6 to 8

Time:  All Day or Overnight Cuisine

Prepare the short ribs according to the Chili Roasted Beef Short Rib recipe written below. You can do this the night before or even several days in advance. Remove the meat from the bones and shred. Place the meat into a large bowl. Spoon the sauce that remains in the pan over the meat and toss to combine. You should have one big bowl of meaty, saucy rib meat.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Slice one cut into the side of a pepper. Gently pull the pepper open and carefully remove the seeds and ribs. Place the peppers into a baking dish. Sprinkle with olive oil on the inside and out. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until the peppers just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Carefully remove the peppers. Pour enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan. Place some of the shredded Queso blanco cheese into the bottom of each pepper. Spoon the short rib meat into the pepper. Fill with as much meat as you can. Place the peppers back into the pan with the sauce and top with cheddar cheese. Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, and the beef is warmed through.

Chili Roasted Beef Short Ribs (from Sunday Best Dishes)

Ingredients

Prepare these ribs in the morning and slow roast in the oven while you enjoy your Sunday afternoon. It’s melt in your mouth comfort with just a hint of heat.  

8 beef short ribs, about 3 to 4 pounds (choose ribs that are thick and meaty)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 cup (or more) unbleached all-purpose flour for dredging

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, diced, about 1 cup

2 large carrots, diced, about 1 cup

2 medium celery ribs, diced, about 1 cup

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced, about ¼ cup

2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and deveined, diced, about 2 tablespoons

1 750ml bottle red wine

1 quart homemade beef broth, or low sodium beef broth 

1 cup tomato paste

1 cup chili sauce

1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and diced, about 2 tablespoons

2 cinnamon sticks

Chopped, fresh cilantro

Yield:   18 bite size cakes and about 6 large cakes

Time:  45 minute cuisine

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 250°. Season the ribs with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or large roasting pan) over medium high heat. Dredge each rib in flour, shaking off the excess. Place each rib into the oil and brown on all sides. Remove the ribs to a platter. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and jalapeno to the pan. Cook until the veggies are soft. 

Pour in the wine and beef broth. Stir in the tomato paste and chili sauce. Bring the liquid to a boil. Return the ribs and any juices on the platter to the pan. Bury the cinnamon sticks in the sauce.

Cover the Dutch oven with the lid (or place aluminum foil over the pan). Place the pan into the oven and cook until the meat is tender and pulling away from the bone, about 6 to 7 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the cover. Place the ribs onto a platter and spoon the sauce over top. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

 

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

My Best Cinco de Mayo Recipes 🌮

Cinco de Mayo may come but once a year, but Taco Tuesday is forever! Discover new twists on old favorites from my recipe archive.

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

 

 

Mexican-American dishes are a welcome addition to your kitchen’s menu any day of the year.  Savor these Cinco de Mayo specials today and as new Taco Tuesday favorites!

Easy Mexican Street Corn, Skillet Style

No fresh corn? No problem. The recipe produces results that are super savory with the right amount of tang, even with frozen or canned kernels!

Steak Tacos With Tomatillo-Ancho Chili Sauce and Avocado Cream

Chili seasoned meat drizzled with spicy red and creamy green sauce, garnished with fresh herbs make this street food taco an elevated Cinco de Mayo treat

Steak Tacos/Carnitas

Pico De Gallo The Green Goddess Way

This green goddess chunky pico de gallo sauce is absolute perfection on a pork-filled burrito, or in a bowl of rice and beans – or simply weighing down a tortilla chip.

Grilled Guacamole

Serve on nachos, as a condiment on fish or chicken, or…how about frying a tortilla in oil for just a couple of secs. 

Guacamole Dip