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

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Christmas Dinner 2012

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Every year at Christmas we try to do something different. Last year for Christmas we had a German-inspired meal. We always have several dishes that require more effort than a normal night’s dinner. My mom and I spend most of the day and most of Christmas Eve preparing for the meal. It’s small, just the nuclear family (though we typically have an honorary guest, this year a dear friend of mine from childhood who happened to be in the area, my dad’s cousin, and his girlfriend.) But the reason we do it small, is because we typically like to do something more intensive than what you could easily serve a bigger group.

I posted the Christmas Dinner Menu earlier this month. The only changes to that menu were that instead of the breaded Brussels sprouts we had balsamic glazed Brussels, we switched crown roast recipes though the concept was essentially the same, and instead of the mixed berry sauce on top of the panna cotta, there was a cranberry sauce instead.

I’m not sharing all of the recipes, I’m only sharing the recipes that I personally cooked or was involved because they’re the ones I know the changes we might have made. All the dishes are shown though, because you need to see the meal!

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The star of our meal was the Crown Roast of Pork with Apple and Hazelnut Stuffing. Our crown wasn’t the prettiest crown there is, because there are definitely better butchered crowns, but given the store didn’t charge more for it than the cost of the pork chops individually, it’s hard to complain.

The brine called for a lot of salt, which we ended up halving because the recipe called for 9 cups of salt which is a lot. The problem was that even then, the salt didn’t all dissolve into the water, and frankly, all the seasonings in the brine really didn’t come through in the meat at all. All in all though, the stuffing was a show stopper and was delicious. The pork was really just pork chops, but they were perfectly cooked and yummy. I’m not going to share this recipe besides giving the link to the recipe we followed because my mom made some changes, but I am unsure what she did. I was in charge of the stuffing portion which we followed absolutely to the recipe.

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We also had a side of Burgundy Mushrooms from the Pioneer Woman. My mom had seen this recipe and was very excited to make it. The flavor of the mushrooms was divine. The only problem is that the bouillon contains so much salt and my family doesn’t really eat much salt, so we couldn’t eat very many mushrooms without needing to drown in a glass of water. But the flavors of the wine, butter, and mushrooms was great. I’m also not sharing this recipe because it wasn’t made by me.

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I promise, this isn’t just a picture post. I made sweet potato rolls. Mine didn’t come out quite as beautiful as those on Food Done Light, but the flavor was perfect. The oven I was using is a little cool I think, so I had to bake them longer than the recipe said. The flavor of the sweet potato is extremely mild in these rolls. In fact, if I hadn’t told you there was sweet potato in it, you probably wouldn’t know. The rolls were soft and even two days later haven’t gone stale (we finished them off tonight with a spaghetti squash casserole.)

Sweet Potato Rolls

Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, divided
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups to 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

1. In a large pot boil water over high heat. Add the sweet potato for about 20 minutes, until soft. Once the sweet potato is soft, remove from the water and smash. Place in the freezer until needed.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, yogurt, salt, 1 egg, dry milk, and whole wheat flour. Beat with the paddle attachment, mixing on low speed until the dough starts to hold together. Add 1 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour and mix more. Slowly add more all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky.

3. Replace the paddle attachment for the bread hook and use the bread hook on the dough for 6 minutes.

4. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise for about an hour.

5. Deflate the dough. Tear the dough into 16 equal pieces. Place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Cover the rolls with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

6. Beat the other egg and spread the egg mixture lightly over the rolls.

7. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes at 375. Allow to cool.

* makes 16 rolls

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Like I said above, instead of breaded Brussels like we had originally discussed at the last minute we decided there was a lot of bread going on, so we decided to make a simple balsamic vinegar sauce, roast the Brussels sprouts, and throw in some dried cranberries. It was a yummy addition to our meal. I would give you a recipe, but there isn’t one.

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I’ve never made or heard of creamed onions before making this menu plan. I’m not really sure what inspired them or how I happened across the recipe. But I am convinced that this dish was the star of the meal. The onions get really sweet when you cook them as long as you need to in this dish, and how can you say no to sweet, creamy onions?

I’m not sharing this recipe since I hardly had a hand in it, but click that link above for a great recipe.

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To end this meal we had panna cotta. For as simple as this recipe was I was incredibly intimidated by it and was convinced the whole thing was going to fall flat on its face. Luckily I was incredibly wrong. The panna cotta was delicious. But really, the process of making it was full of fail.

I made them Christmas Eve since they had to set in the fridge. I had sprinkled the gelatin in the bowl. As I went to go get water to add to the gelatin, I go back to find my bowl gone. My mom had loaded it into the dishwasher. Luckily I had more gelatin left. When boiling the cream, I turned my back for a second and the whole thing boiled over. Without me realizing it, it had also boiled over so much it had put the flame out. I didn’t realize for a few minutes and then had to resimmer the entire thing. I got everything into the molds and was sure it had failed.

Christmas Day I was surprised to see the panna cotta had set. When it became time to make the sauce I learned that all the blackberries we had bought to make the sauce with were disgustingly moldy. After scrambling around the kitchen I made the cranberry sauce with blood orange juice and honey. In retrospect I think I should have just served the panna cotta plain. The flavor of the cream was great on its own and didn’t need to be weighed down by any sauce. Also the cranberries were kind of tangy, so there’s that too.

Panna Cotta

Ingredients
2 tsp plain gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 cups cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 piece of vanilla bean 1 1/2 inches long, split

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine the gelatin and water. Set aside.

2. Over medium heat, combine the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and add the gelatin to the mixture. Mix well until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

4. Pour into 6 1/2 cup molds or ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

5. To remove the panna cotta from the ramekins, run a sharp knife around the sides and then flip upside down. Top with a fruit sauce (or not.)

* makes 6

What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?

* shared with Full Plate Thursday, Catch A Glimpse Party, and Linkin’ up Thursday

 

 

Christmas Breakfast 2012

IMG_8388Over the next few days I will have several Christmas posts. There will be a Christmas breakfast post, a Christmas dinner post, and a Christmas cookie post. I figured it’d be best to stretch them out instead of cram everything into one overwhelming post of holiday cheer.

I go home to my parents’ house every year for Christmas. On Christmas Day we always wake up around 9 a.m. Of course, when my brother and I were little that used to be significantly earlier, but now that we’re in our 20’s we all appreciate the sleep. We wake up, make coffee or tea, and open presents. Our dog Mozart does most of the unwrapping for us. He loves Christmas and loves pulling the paper off of presents, but he knows only to do it when we let him.

Yesterday I got everything I could have wanted. The best of the presents I received was the milk frother so I can make some delicious coffee drinks and beautiful white gold hoop earrings from my dad. It was a great Christmas. I gave my mom the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I made my dad homemade beef jerky, I got my brother whiskey rocks and tumblers, I got my dog a blanket and made him chicken jerky, and I got my cat new water/food dishes and some toys.

After opening presents, laughing, and having generally a wonderful time we enjoy a huge breakfast. I always try to make something festive (last year I made eggnog and gingerbread pancakes.) This year I made Eggnog and Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls, a recipe I found at The Dutch Baker’s Daughter. They were absolutely delicious (in fact, I had a leftover cinnamon roll this morning for breakfast.) Clearly I didn’t make the frosting to top the rolls, but they really didn’t need it. With the rolls we had bacon, eggs, fruit, and sausage bread. My mom makes sausage bread every year a few days before Christmas, so regardless of what we eat on Christmas Day, sausage bread is always a part of it.

Today I’ll be sharing the cinnamon roll recipe with you.
Tomorrow you can see what we had for our wonderful Christmas dinner.
What did you have for Christmas breakfast?

Eggnog and Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
1 cup eggnog
1/4 cup butter
1 package active yeast
1 egg, room temperature, slightly beaten
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries

Directions

1. Heat the eggnog and the 1/4 cup butter. Heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and let cool to about 110 degrees (Fahrenheit) – bathwater warm temperature.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggnog mixture, yeast, egg, 2 cups of flour, and salt, beat well with the paddle attachment to a stand mixer. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Continue until the dough has just pulled together. Remove the paddle attachment and put the bread hook attachment on. Knead with the bread hook in the stand mixer for 5 minutes.

3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Place in a location free from drafts. All the dough to rise and double, about an hour.

4. While the dough is rising combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened butter in a small bowl.

5. Once the dough has doubled, place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 12×9-inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon mixture on the rolled out dough. Sprinkle with the cranberries. Roll up the dough from the long end and pinch the seam to seal. Cut into 12 equal sized pieces and place into a greased 9×13 pan. Cover and let rise until doubled.

6. At this point you can either bake them or refrigerate them. If you refrigerate your rolls for the morning, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Before you bake the rolls let them sit out for a half hour.

7. Bake rolls in an oven preheated at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until browned.

* makes 12 rolls
* shared with See Ya In The Gumbo