Category Archives: Thanksgiving & Christmas

Christmas Music: Silent Night, Jennifer Hudson

 

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Mushrooms Stuffed with Wild Rice

Stuffed Mushroom AppetizersStuffed Mushrooms ready to go into the oven just before company arrives – if I manage to get a photo after baking, before they’re snarfed up, I’ll update.

I wanted to try something different for an appetizer for tonight’s dinner. Stuffed mushrooms sounded like it would fit the bill. I searched around for recipes, but I had an idea that I wanted to use wild rice, so I just went from there. Who needs a recipe? I used large button mushrooms because they were appetizers, but I think it would work with portobello mushrooms for a main course or nice side.

Pop Quiz: Is wild rice actually rice? Answer: Nope, it’s a grass.

The best way to cook wild rice, is to bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil add salt and (well washed) wild rice, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. You’ll want it chewy, try not to overcook it, because then it just gets mushy. Drain as you would pasta, don’t rinse.

Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 12 large white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup or more of cooked wild rice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to .

Butter a shallow baking dish.

Snap stems off mushrooms and chop. Place the mushroom tops, bottom up, in the baking dish.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. Add garlic and mushroom stems. Cook over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Add rice and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Spoon wild rice mixture into the mushroom caps. Top each with two or three leaves of rosemary.

Bake in  in a 400°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot.  Serve warm.

You can put the mushrooms together ahead of time (I did it the night before), cover and refrigerate and bake just before company arrives.

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Christmas Music: 12 Pains of Christmas, Bob Rivers

It’s just not Christmas until I hear this song. I’m in the kitchen baking more cookies. Lots of cooking left to do for tomorrow’s dinner. House is clean (-ish) and I’ll have to get some actual office work done tonight, but it’s all falling together.

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Christmas Music: Welcome Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Oh, come on, you know you love it, too:

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Christmas Music: Sarah McLachlan, River

Been a busy and fun holiday season, but every once in a while a bit melancholy with Harley being gone, and this is my go-to song when that mood hits. So pretty.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Christmas Eve Party

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Once again I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner. I try and keep the menu simple because I have a small kitchen and I like to spend time with my guests. I’m actually doing much of what I did last year, because it worked so well.  The menu will serve as tonight’s recipe exchange.  Thanks to JeffreyW for making lasagna this week so that I had an awesome photo to use tonight.

Christmas Eve Menu:

Appetizers –  Herbed Tomato Crostini (recipe here), vegetable tray

Main Event – Spinach Lasagna (recipe here), Salad, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Dessert - Truffles (featured recipe below), Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe here) and everyone’s favorite, a Sundae Bar

With the exception of the garlic bread, because I’m using gluten free noodles, the entire evening is gluten free and vegetarian. Everyone should be happy.

Dinner is at 6 pm, bring the wine.

That takes care of Christmas Eve, but what about Christmas day? How does this sound:

German Pancakes with Walnut Syrup (both recipes here) for breakfast and a Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Carrots for dinner (all those recipes are here and tips for perfect mashed potatoes are here).

How are your holiday plans coming along? Do you have a crowd coming? Share your favorite holiday recipes in the comments, I’d love to see what you prepare.

Now about those truffles. This was the first time I’d made them, though I’d thought about it for a while. How hard could it be? It’s basically ganache, right? That was very simple to make. The pain was making the actual truffles, a bit of work and very messy. But I think it was worth it and I’m sure the guests will enjoy them.

Truffles

Here’s the basic recipe, I then added pieces of walnut to the center of some, hazelnut to others and rolled them in either crushed walnut or hazelnut. The rest are rolled in either dark cocoa and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar kind of melted into them, so I’ll probably dust them quickly right before I serve them.

Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (I use 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp prepared coffee
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • Nuts, whole and finely chopped (optional)

baking sheet, parchment paper

Heat the cream in a double boiler until it’s hot, not boiling, and then add chocolate chips. Whisk together until fully melted, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the optional Grand Marnier, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. Roll each dollop of chocolate in your hands to roughly make a round ball. Roll in powdered’ sugar, cocoa powder, or both.

Makes about 48.

These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

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ATK: Glazed Spiral Ham

If you’re looking for foolproof ham this Christmas, America’s Test Kitchen can be counted on for coming up with the perfect recipe. Normally I’d just link to the site, but they put their stuff behind a firewall (it’s free, but you have to give them your credit card to access) after a certain amount of time. So here’s the entire recipe and I encourage you to go check out their other recipes and also Cook’s Illustrated, their sister site, which has a great magazine.

From America’s Test Kitchen

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

Our recipe for a moist ham with a glaze that complements but doesn’t overwhelm the meat includes avoiding labels that read “ham with water added” and heating the ham to an internal temperature of no higher than 120 degrees. Soaking the ham in warm water before heating it and placing it in an oven bag or wrapping it in aluminum foil are also part of our perfect glazed ham recipe.

Serves 12 to 14, with leftovers

You can bypass the 90-minute soaking time, but the heating time will increase to 18 to 20 minutes per pound for a cold ham. If there is a tear or hole in the ham’s inner covering, wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap before soaking it in hot water. Instead of using the plastic oven bag, the ham may be placed cut-side down in the roasting pan and covered tightly with foil, but you will need to add 3 to 4 minutes per pound to the heating time. If using an oven bag, be sure to cut slits in the bag so it does not burst. We’ve included two optional glazes.

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Ham

  • 1 spiral-sliced, bone-in half ham (7 to 10 pounds)
  • 1 large oven bag (plastic)
  • Maple-Orange Glaze
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cherry-Port Glaze

  • 1/2 cup ruby port
  • 1/2 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Leaving ham’s inner plastic or foil covering intact, place ham in large container and cover with hot tap water; set aside for 45 minutes. Drain and cover again with hot tap water; set aside for another 45 minutes.

2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Unwrap ham; remove and discard plastic disk covering bone. Place ham in oven bag. Gather top of bag tightly so bag fits snugly around ham, tie bag, and trim excess plastic. Set ham cut-side down in large roasting pan and cut 4 slits in top of bag with paring knife.

3. Bake ham until center registers 100 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (about 10 minutes per pound).

4. Remove ham from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cut open oven bag and roll back sides to expose ham. Brush ham with one-third of glaze and return to oven until glaze becomes sticky, about 10 minutes (if glaze is too thick to brush, return to heat to loosen).

5. Remove ham from oven, transfer to cutting board, and brush entire ham with another third of glaze. Let ham rest, loosely tented with foil, for 15 minutes. While ham rests, heat remaining third of glaze with 4 to 6 tablespoons of ham juices until it forms thick but fluid sauce. Carve and serve ham, passing sauce at table.

To Make Maple-Orange Glaze:Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes; set aside.

To Make Cherry-Port Glaze:Simmer port in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes; set aside.

I like this recipe because it’s pretty simple (not always the case with ATK recipes) and it uses a cooking bag, which can make for a stress-free cooking experience, which is great when you’ve got a hungry crowd heading over the river and through the woods to your house for Christmas dinner.

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Rube Goldberg Machine with Retro Toys

I am a total sucker for Rube Goldberg machines and this one is terrific and holiday themed:

 

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Christmas Music: The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping (Bonus Light Show)

It’s really not Christmas until I hear a couple of songs, this is one of them:

 

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Holiday Cookies: Peanut Butter (Bonus – Gluten Free)

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UPDATED: I changed up a few ingredients when I made the second batch. Changes are in blue. The second batch I also threw some whole peanuts in and omitted the chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 18)

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

baking sheet

Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool ON the baking sheet.

I added chocolate chips to a few after I flattened them on the baking sheet. They were good, but it did make the cookie more fragile and they broke apart as I transferred them to the plate.

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