Christmas Eve Dinner: Spinach Lasagna, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Lemon-Butter Green Beans

One of my favorite nights of the year. Friends come over for Christmas Eve dinner and then we watch a movie. Tonight: Strictly Ballroom, a quirky Australian treat by Baz Luhrman.

This year I had a request to make Spinach Lasagna again, I haven’t made it for a few years. I really like it because I can prep it ahead and the night of the party I’m not stuck in the kitchen.

On the board:

  1. Spinach Lasagna
  2. Green Beans Tossed w/Butter & Lemon Pepper
  3. Garlic Cheese Bread
  4. Ice Cream Sundae Bar

This recipe takes about an hour to prepare and another hour to cook. It easily serves 6 – 8. I made it on Sunday and refrigerated. It will need additional cooking time to bring the center up to temperature.

Spinach Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 3-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely grated
  • pinch of sugar (reduces acidity of the tomatoes)
  • Optional: ½ lb ground beef and ½ spicy Italian sausage, browned

Saucepan Continue reading

Holiday Gifts: Sesame Brittle

Always a fun treat to find on a cookie tray. These sweet, addictive bites are a breeze to make.

Such a simple recipe. No candy thermometer needed. I used to use oiled wax paper, but oiled parchment works better. The heat of the candy on the wax paper melts it in places. Difficult to peel off.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, parchment, and baking sheet Continue reading

Holiday Gifts: Pecan Cookies

These have several names: Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, or just Pecan Cookie Balls. Whatever you call them, they are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Pecan Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Continue reading

Holiday Gifts: Instant Pot Dinners for Two

 

Getting my parents Christmas gifts is impossible. They really don’t want more stuff and if I give them cash, they give it back. ❤

This year, since I was traveling home last week, I decided the best thing I could do was cook for them. So that’s what I did. I made twelve meals for two.

This included:

Spinach Tomato Soup (recipe here)

Spinach Lasagna (recipe here)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe here)

Shredded Chicken – I shredded two pounds of chicken that I cooked with garlic, sage, rosemary and basil in the Multi-Pot/Instant Pot. They can then use it for chicken salad or BBQ chicken.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 lb chicken, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
  • 32 ounces of veggie broth ( I use my vitamix to blend carrots, celery, garlic, onion to make a quick, nutritious vegetable broth)
  • 12-ounce sliced carrots (I use frozen)
  • 12-ounce green beans (I use frozen)
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion diced (optional, my parents love onions)
  • 10 oz of small bowtie pasta or egg noodles.

Continue reading

Holiday Gifts: A Variety of Spritz Butter Cookies

In honor of National Cookie Day, my favorite Christmas cookie recipe:

Spritz Cookies

I love spritz butter cookies. They’re tiny little, melt-in-your-mouth bites that go great with a cup of coffee. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make. It helped that a friend of a friend gifted me her all-metal, ratchet handled press. These are not easy to come by any more, at least not when I went looking. Most of the new ones are partially plastic and received tepid reviews, especially for durability and ease of use.

I love all the cute designs. Although my Christmas trees kind of look like trilobites, they taste great.

I have also upped the ante and made zesty butter cookies – one with lime zest and another with lemon zest and dust with citrus powdered sugar. Recipe here.

Spritz Raw

Spritz Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened/room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Continue reading

Holiday Gifts: Spicy-Sweet Pecans

I received this as an early Christmas gift. Yum. They are addictive. The rosemary is the surprise ingredient that takes it up a notch. This will make your gift boxes and bags really stand out.

Friends Mary and BJ included the recipe.  Here you go:

Mary and BJ’s Spicy-Sweet Pecans

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp finely crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 cups pecan halves

cooking spray, wax paper, bowls, baking sheet, parchment paper Continue reading

Thanksgiving Files: Turkey and All the Sides

Spatchcock Turkey finish

It’s that time of year again, here are the links to all the Thanksgiving recipes and my still favorite way to roast a turkey. I prepped one last night, the hour-plus cooking time takes much of the stress out of turkey roasting. My Thanksgiving is going to be a bit different this year, so I wanted to make sure I had leftover turkey.

I’m also thinking this may be this year’s Christmas Eve party menu. We’ll see. And starting in December, I’ll be posting food gift recipes, just in time for your cookie platters and tins.

From 2015:

This is the only way I’ve been preparing turkey since my first attempt. The only thing I changed up from that first time I prepared it, I skip the metal rack and instead place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor needs the boost the roasting veggies add. The brown sugar not only helps brown the skin, it also adds a yummy, unexpected flavor. Continue reading

Christmas Eve Party: Sesame Brittle

I was doing some recipe searching for a project I’ll post about later and sesame seeds were heavily featured. That put me in mind of Sesame Brittle. I thought it might be nice to have it to crumble over ice cream on the Sundae Bar on Christmas Eve.

Such a simple recipe. No candy thermometer needed. I always use oiled wax paper, but I’m wondering if oiled parchment would work better. The heat of candy on the wax paper melts it in places. Difficult to peel off.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, wax paper (or parchment) and baking sheet Continue reading