Christmas Dinner 2013

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Though my 12 days of cookies may have fallen into oblivion (though I do have some cookies to share in the next few days that I did end up making,) December always for me is a month of cooking. I made cookies for Matt’s family for Christmas, I made my doggy chicken jerky, and I made my dad homemade barbecue sauce in two different flavors.

What always becomes a cooking marathon though, is Christmas Day. Some families go BIG and invite everyone they know for Christmas. My family is the opposite. My parents moved to California from Ohio in the ’80s and because none of our extended family is around, we tend to keep it small. We go for fancy meals instead of meals that serve a lot of people. Christmas is always a time that my mom and I spend the whole day in the kitchen, making sure we make our meal perfect.

This was another year of perfection.

Rather than share the recipes, I’m linking you to the recipes we followed.

2013 Christmas Menu in Pictures

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The star of the show was a beautiful Beef Wellington. My mom’s made Beef Wellington in the past, but we followed a new recipe this year. It was my first time ever making one. This dish took all day, but it was worth every second it took making it. The beef tenderloin was so juicy and tender, having cooked with the pate, mushrooms, and proscuitto wrapped tightly around it. Though my taste buds would have enjoyed eating all 3-lbs of the tenderloin, this is so rich that one slice was all the rest of my body could handle.

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As a side dish we had Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding from the cookbook that can do no wrong. I gave my mom Barefoot Contessa Foolproof last year for Christmas. She cooks out of the cookbook a lot and has told me everything in it is divine and flavorful and yet, easy to make. We decided to make this bread pudding and it hit the mark.

We also made Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but I did not take a picture of those. We seasoned them with salt and pepper and tossed them in some olive oil and roasted them. Though simple, this decadent meal needed a simple veggie.

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To put an end to our Christmas meal, we had Vanilla Roasted Pears with vanilla ice cream. The fruit dessert was a great end to the meal. My aunt had sent us pears for Christmas. This was a great way to use them. They were so soft and delicious.

What did you have for Christmas this year?

* This recipe is being shared with Full Plate Thursday

Upside Down Asian Pear Cake

At the farmers’ market this weekend it became clear that Asian Pears are quite in season. I decided to get a bag and bake something with them. I’ve never made an upside down cake before, so this was new to me. I always thought the process must be soooo difficult. I’m glad I was wrong! It was so easy, but so yummy.

Upside Down Asian Pear Cake

1 or 2 big Asian pears, peeled and sliced
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 lemon, zested


1. Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Arrange the pears in a single layer in the pan. Cook 3/4 cup of sugar and water together on high heat until it becomes a light brown caramel. Pour the caramel over the pears and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 325.

3. Cream butter and the rest of the sugar (1/2 cup) until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time until well combined.

4. Add in the lemon zest, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix well. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the mixture. Mix until well combined.

5. Pour the batter evenly over the pears. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

6. Cool the cake for 10 minutes and then flip the cake out of the pan onto a clean plate.

* Shared with What’s Cooking Wednesday