Wednesday, December 29

Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Truffle Oil

Inspired by Anthony Bourdain's Mushroom Soup from Les Halles.  This was the perfect way to use up my left over turkey stock from Christmas.  I couldn't believe how easy this recipe was to make - especially with a handy immersion blender!  This could easily be made vegetarian as well. 

6 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
12 oz button mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
4 cups chicken stock (or veggie if you want to make vegetarian)
1 sprig parsley  
3 oz sherry
1 tsp salt 
fresh cracked pepper
black truffle oil (optional) 
Melt 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot and saute onion until soft but not brown.  Add remaining butter, melt and then stir in mushrooms - saute 8 minutes.  Add parsley sprig and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for an hour.  
Puree with immersion blender or in pour into regular blender and puree.  If using regular blender, pour it back in the pot and bring back to a simmer.  Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with truffle oil if desired and serve.
Serve with crusty bread and brie cheese and a green salad for a complete meal.

Sunday, December 26

Christmas Day Menu and Memories

Merry Christmas 2010!  What a great holiday we had - it was my first time making Christmas dinner, first time roasting a turkey, and first time cooking a lot of these recipes.  I would do them all over again - and can't wait to cook again next year!

The day started with Christmas gifts and Breakfast Casserole

Then our friends Lee and Michelle came over and we had delicious appetizers to tide us over until dinner - Alton Brown's Shrimp Cocktail and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Dinner turned out perfect!  Here is the full menu:

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey
Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing
Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Gravy
Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Rutabaga and Turnip Gratin
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Garlicky Brocollini (Michelle is sending me the recipe - stay tuned!  It was delish!)

Dad was in charge of carving the turkey.

After dinner we had Pumpkin Cake for dessert!  First time I have ever baked a cake - it turned out really well.

We really couldn't have asked for a more perfect Christmas. 

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce

Nothing like homemade cranberry sauce - its so easy to make!

1 12oz package fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

Rinse and drain cranberries, set aside.  Bring sugar, water, and orange juice to a boil, then add cranberries and cover.  Bring back to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes.  Cranberry sauce will be liquidy - place in tupperware container and chill for a few hours so it will set and be ready for dinner.

Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

Inspired by a recipe in the cookbook "Two Dudes One Pan" - this was amazing!  Even Ryan enjoyed it and he hates Brussel Sprouts.

2 lb Brussel Sprouts, bottom rough part cut off and outer leaves removed
8 oz pancetta, diced
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Bring a pot of water to boil, add brussels to pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Transfer to cutting board and cut in half lengthwise.  Set aside.

In a nonstick skillet, saute pancetta until extra crispy.  Drain on paper towel lined plan, reserving 1 tbsp of fat.  Add shallots and garlic to skillet, saute until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Ad cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in Brussel Sprouts and pancetta and gently coat in sauce.  The sauce should have thickened a bit, but will still be liquid.  Serve with slotted spoon.

Rutabaga and Turnip Gratin

This was an easy and delicious dish - it reheats well so you can make well before dinner and then reheat for about 15 minutes at 400.  From Miller Union restaurant in Atlanta.

Serves 6

1 medium rutabaga (about 3/4 lb), peeled and sliced thin
1 medium purple turnip (about 3/4 lb), peeled and sliced thin
2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups homemade bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
1 cup heavy cream

Pre-heat oven to 450

Arrange thin layer of rutabagas in greased 8x8 dish (or equivalent).  Sprinkle layer with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little bit of thyme, then dot with tiny butter cubes.  Top with thin layer of turnips, season in the same manner and dot with butter cubes.  Repeat until turnips and rutabagas are gone.  Top with breadcrumbs and then pour broth and cream over breadcrumbs.  Press down on crumbs lightly to absorb the liquids.

Bake for 35 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden brown, and veggies are tender (test with small paring knife).  Allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Breakfast Casserole

Thank you to Danielle for providing the original recipe.  I made a few changes/added some things - it was delish!  Perfect breakfast for a holiday morning because you can make it the night before and cook it up in the morning.

1 32oz package frozen Ore Ida Southern Style hash browns
6 oz fresh shredded cheese - I used a combination of sharp cheddar and smoked gouda
3/4 lb sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 eggs
1 cup whole milk (make sure to use whole or casserole will cook up watery)
1 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Saute bell peppers and onion in a little bit of olive oil - season with salt and pepper.  In a large mixing bowl, mix frozen hash browns, sauteed veggies, cooked sausage, cheese, mustard and cayenne pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs then mix in milk and water.  Pour over hash brown mixture and mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into 9x13 Pyrex dish.  At this point, cover and refrigerate overnight if making ahead of time for breakfast.  Otherwise, bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until bubbling on top and cooked through.  Pop under broiler for 5 minutes before serving to get a nicely browned top, if desired.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Alton Brown's Shrimp Cocktail

Found this on - it was amazing!  It may seem a bit tedious to brine and broil the shrimp, but it really doesn't take much longer than steaming or sauteing and they were so flavorful it was totally worth it.

2 lbs 21 - 25 count frozen shrimp, thawed, cleaned, shelled, tails left on

For brine
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups ice

For cocktail sauce
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
4 tbsp extra hot prepared horseradish
1 tsp sugar
Fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp olive oil
Old Bay or Magic Seafood seasoning

Mix brine in a medium size mixing bowl.  Take cleaned shrimp and place in brine - marinate for 25 minutes in the fridge.

While shrimp is brining, place cocktail sauce ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.  Store in refrigerator until ready for use.

Place empty baking sheet or broiler pan under broiler on high for 5 minutes.

Drain shrimp and place back in mixing bowl.  Toss with olive oil and seasoning.  Place shrimp onto hot broiler pan (shrimp will sizzle) and place back under broiler for 2 minutes, then flip to other side and broil for another 2 minutes.  Transfer cooked shrimp to container and refrigerate until completely chilled.  Serve with cocktail sauce.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

From the cookbook "Two Dudes One Pan" with a few adjustments.  It was so easy to make this will definitely be a staple appetizer for future parties.  

2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves - pressed
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and quartered
1 bag (5oz) baby spinach, chopped
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cut in 6 pieces, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 tsp kosher salt

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant - 1 minute.  Add artichokes and spinach and stir often until spinach is wilted - about 3 minutes.

Add cream cheese to skillet and mix until thoroughly combined with spinach and artichokes.  Turn off heat, mix in Parm-Reg and salt, then scrap into serving bowl.

Serve hot with slices of french bread.

Pumpkin Cake

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can pureed pumpkin (2 cups)

Pre-heat oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and set aside.In a smaller bowl, lightly beat eggs then gradually beat in oil.&Beat egg mixture into dry ingredients.Once mixed completely, beat in pumpkin.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9 in cake pans. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients:
6 tbsp butter
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1 tbsp real maple syrup
1 lb powder sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Beat in maple syrup. Gradually beat in powder sugar

Frost cake when cool, chill until served.

A new Thanksgiving favorite!

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