December 22, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I will completely confess that I had never, ever tried Brussels Sprouts until last year.  My parents didn't like them, and they kindly didn't want to inflict their children with them.  Then came this recipe.  So simple and delicious.

Elizabeth's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 to 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1 tsp fine sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and remove the stalk of the sprout.  Coat a black iron skillet with cooking spray and add the sprouts.  Gently toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Toss well to insure complete coverage.  Cover the pan with foil and roast for 20 minutes, uncover and roast for an additional 30.  Remove from oven, toss & serve.

You could do these on a cookie sheet as well & I have used Truvia instead of sugar as well.
Nice dinner of grilled lamb chops, whipped potatoes, & roasted Brussels Sprouts

December 21, 2010

Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

There is nothing like our curb market at Christmas time.  The wreathes, garland and poinsettias are amazing.  It could definitely put even old Ebeneezer into the Christmas spirit! 
In addition to a new wreath for the front door & a kissing ball for the den, I picked up the hot pepper jelly for our Christmas Day brie, peach preserves for our Christmas Eve ham, and a Brunswick stew starter for the Sunday after Christmas (can't believe it is already the 21st).

Keeping with the Christmas traditional red and green I give you my take on the classic asparagus dip.

Asparagus & Roasted Red Pepper Dip
1 can asparagus, drained well
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
4 slices of prosciutto, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash of hot sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Drain asparagus well, add to mixing bowl & mash with a fork.  Add all ingredients except for 1/2 cup of Parmesan to the asparagus and mix well.  Transfer to a small baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes or till it is hot and bubbly.  Serve with Ritz crackers &/or fresh veggies and enjoy!
Red & Green - festive!!!

December 12, 2010

First Tastes of Christmas and French Friday Cookies

Most weekends in December we start off either Saturday or Sunday with this Sausage and Jalapeno Casserole.  I came across its inspiration in a Southern Living years ago.  There was a large spread on holiday cocktail party ideas which included jalapeno bites (or something like that).  That recipe lead to this recipe & hope you enjoy!

Sausage Jalapeno Casserole
serves 4 or double for 8
6 oz sausage, cooked & crumbled
2 tbs diced jalapenos
3 eggs
1/3 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup shredded Jack Cheese or Mexican Blend
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper
Salsa & sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a pie plate sprayed with cooking spray add the sausage and jalapenos to the bottom of the dish, toss together and spread evenly.  Whisk together the eggs, 1/2 & 1/2, garlic powder, Salt & Pepper.  Cover the sausage and jalapenos with the egg mixture & top with cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Serve with salsa and sour cream as optional toppings.

This week's French Fridays with Dorie I choose to make Speculoos. 

They are a gingerbread type cookie and they went over very well.  The dough was very fragile, and for some reason I froze it (don't ask).  I did decide to treat these more as a wafer rather than a cookie by cutting the dough into strips and made small rectangle treats (with  my pizza cutter - very easy).  I also topped my version with sparkling white sugar to add a little more sweetness to the spice.  Overall very yummy & perfect coffee or tea treat.
At this point I am almost completely decorated for Christmas.  We do multiple trees around here - 2 real and several fakes.  Here is a little tour of how things are looking so far...
Family Room
Family Room at night
Dining Room

Living Room

Our bedroom & our watch dogs
Breakfast Room Tree

December 6, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice

This is the perfect Sunday Supper for a rainy, cold evening.  It is too thick to be a soup and too thin to be a casserole - we can go with a stew maybe?  Anyway serve it with crusty bread, biscuits, or crescent rolls & enjoy!!!

Chicken and Wild Rice
1 onions diced
2 cups quartered baby carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1 6oz box Long Grain & Wild Rice
2 1/2 cups shredded chicken, rotisserie is perfect
7 1/4 cups Chicken Broth
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup sherry
Hot Sauce
Parsley & Parmesan Cheese

In a stockpot add onion, celery, carrots & olive oil, saute for about 10 minutes.  Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil, add bay leaf and garlic & simmer for about 35 minutes.  The point here is to really soften the veggies.   Remove the bay leaf & add rice and seasoning packet & 2 1/4 cups of broth, bring back to a boil & reduce to a simmer for about 35 minutes (until you can really see the rice & liquid has cooked down).  Add sherry, chicken, 1 1/2 cups of broth and hot sauce & boil down for about 20 minutes.  Serve topped with touch of chopped parsley & Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers are wonderful too!

December 4, 2010

Tree Trimming on a French Friday

Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Pecans
Especially this time of year I love to have tasty treats before dinner, it seems as if we always have a little something to do before. Tonight it was testing the lights for the big tree in our den.  Lights for this tree are always a bit of a conversation. Color & bulb size are discussed beyond reason - so long story short we are trying something different this year - warm white C5 bulbs with strands of C3 green and C3 red (if you even understand the bulb size lingo you are my friend for life).  For a little tree trimming inspiration I whipped up a batch of Christmas Princes (not to be confused with Christmas Princesses) and French Fridays with Dorie's sweet and spicy nuts.  I choose pecans and they turned out very yummy.  The kitchen smelled wonderful - so I would definitely recommend throwing these together right before guests arrive.  The recipe is very similar to the Ritz Carlton's Spiced Pecans I posted in October.  Both would be wonderful hostess gifts. 

Another holiday Champagne treat...

Christmas Prince
1 bottle Champagne
3 cups Grapefruit Juice
1 cup Ginger ale
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a pitcher add the champagne, then juice, and finally ginger ale, allowing each layer to sit for a minute before adding the next.  Top off with raspberries.  You can also mix up individually & these make nice brunch drinks.

This treat came about on one of my favorite Christmas Eve's - it was my nephew's first Christmas. My husband & I had been asked to help his parents get ready for Santa's first visit after a big dinner at my parents.  My husband through together a punch and hence we have the Christmas Prince (the names are just silly & meant to be so).  Champagne cocktails are so versatile & many of our creations have literally come from throwing together what was in the fridge.  
Side note the Christmas Princess was named such because she is definitely a lighter cocktail due to the type of juices.  Hope you enjoy!!!

December 2, 2010

A Winter Wonderland for Thanksgiving

It was a totally different world than anything I was used to.  We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Truckee, California.  We arrived in a blizzard & left in the snowfall. You know it really is a big deal when the locals are telling you that even they were not prepared for this kind of weather. The area is unbelievably gorgeous & pictures don't do it justice, but here are a few.

Blizzard in action

Picture perfect
25 miles around Lake Tahoe & up to the top of Mt. Watson (8,200 ft)

The morning after the blizzard
The clouds filling the valley

The 1st bloody Mary of the trip (running joke in our family)

A true Winter Wonderland

December 1, 2010

Kitchen Reveal & Christmas Princess Cocktail

I love this idea - Penny from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen has proclaimed December 1st as the "Kitchen Reveal Day"!!!  So without further ado - here is my kitchen:
View from the Fridge - our kitchen and breakfast room.  And yes that is Beauregard wearing a jacket.

My sink, prep space & little "communication corner".  Did you know Julia Child even had a "communication corner" in her kitchen.  My tiny TV is on a lazy Susan - so it can be seen from almost every angle.
View into the kitchen from the back door, our laundry room is to the left & has a sliding door to block it off when needed
My predominant prep space - so much easier right next to the stove
View from the laundry room
Sorry the pictures are so dark - we had some massive storms last night & I couldn't find the correct balance.

Now for a holiday treat...

Christmas Princess 
1 bottle of champagne
1 bottle of cranberry, pomegranate juice
Frozen cranberries

You can do an entire punch bowl or prepare per glass.  Regardless the proportions are the same 2 counts champagne to 1 count juice.  Pour the champagne & then the juice and serve with frozen berries. 
I often use the Diet Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate Juice Cocktail.  It is even easier if you use the split bottles (small bottles which are 1/4th the size of a regular bottle of champagne).  Hope you enjoy!!!