Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Dinner: Salads & Side Dishes

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Whether you have turkey, ham or beef, every dinner needs a good salad and side dishes. It's easy to load up on the starches. Who doesn't love potatoes and rolls? Try to add one or two dishes that are a little healthier. You don't have to sacrifice taste, and you don't have to use cream soups. I have a few dishes to pick from today.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

3 apples, cored and chopped
3/4 cup celery
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Combine the apples, celery, cranberries and nuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl
combine the mayonnaise and spices. Fold into the apple mixture. Cover and chill
until serving time. Makes 6 servings.

Ginger Fruit Salad

2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 apples, cored and chopped
2 peaches, sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

In a large bowl toss the fruit. Combine the yogurt and ginger, then
fold into the fruit. Serves 8.

Mediterranean Style Corn

5 tsp. olive oil
1 clove peeled, minced garlic
4 cups frozen corn, cooked in microwave and drained
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried, crushed thyme
Ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Combine the oil and garlic in a large skillet and heat over low heat just enough
to heat the two together until they start to sizzle. Do not brown garlic. Add
the corn and stir to heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme, pepper
and salt to taste. Serve warm.

Notes: You can use this same recipe but substitute in whole green beans, or peas-- it's really good with all three.

Spinach Salad

1 (5 ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup roughly slivered almonds
Dressing: Italian or other vinaigrette

In a large bowl combine the ingredients. Serve with a couple kinds of dressings.

Notes: this would also be good served with a bag of mixed greens instead of spinach.

Pear and Pecan Salad

1 (10 ounce) bag mixed salad greens
1 ripe firm pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup Italian-style salad dressing

Toss the ingredients in a bowl, and serve with the dressing on the side.

Do you need more side dish recipes? Try these:


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Entertaining: Breakfast & Brunch

Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. ~Augusta E. Rundel

Today I wanted to share recipes that are perfect for a holiday breakfast or brunch. I will admit that I don't often get to vary breakfast for my husband and kids because they LOVE pancakes, waffles and French Toast. Casseroles or anything too "different" have them making faces before they even try it. Actually, waffles are a newer favorite since they boldly bought me a waffle maker last spring. I love that every family has their favorite breakfast dishes and favorites.

Apple Waffles

2 cups pancake mix
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup finely diced apples

Beat the milk, eggs, pancake mix and melted butter until smooth. Stir in the apples. Bake in a waffle maker until steam stops. Serve with butter and syrup.

Orange Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 orange, zest
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

This recipe makes 18 muffins-- I use a muffin tin with 12 cups, and one with 6 cups. Spray the tins with pan spray or grease. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together, add eggs and beat well. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk. Sift the flour and salt together. Add the buttermilk and the flour to the first mixture, alternating each one until combined. Using a zester or a grater-- add the zest (skin) of the orange to the batter. Save the orange to juice for the glaze. Pour the batter into the tins, dividing evenly. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Remove and brush the glaze on while they are warm. Glaze: combine the orange juice, sugar and cinnamon together to make the glaze. If it's not thin enough you can use a little water to thin.

Apple Cheese Bread

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup melted butter, warm not hot
1/2 cup finely chopped or grated apple
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup milk

Grease or spray a 9x5 loaf pan. In a large bowl combine the sugar, baking powder, salt, flour, cinnamon and nuts. In another bowl combine the eggs, butter, apple, cheese and milk. Add to the dry ingredients. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cinnamon Ginger Pancakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 tbsp. vegetable oil

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. In another bowl beat together the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just
moistened. Don't over beat. On a hot griddle that has been coated with pan spray pour 1/4 cup batter. When the top is bubbly flip the pancake over and cook until lightly browned. Butter the pancakes as you remove them to a platter. Serve with maple syrup. Makes 16 pancakes.

Notes: Diced apples are very good added to this recipe.

Do you need more brunch recipes? Try these:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Entertaining: Christmas Cookies

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts. ~Janice Maeditere

Today I wanted to share cookie recipes from some of my older cookbooks. The first two are from The Christmas Cookie Book by Virgina Pasley. My husband's grandmother gave me this book years ago. It was published in 1949.

Nut Kisses

6 egg whites
1 pound confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound nuts, finely grated or ground
(almonds, pecans or walnuts)

Beat egg whites until stiff, add sugar gradually, beating all the while, salt, then grated nuts. Drop from teaspoon on tins lined with letter paper (parchment) and bake in a slow oven for about 15 minutes. (300 degree F.)

Garnish with a piece of whatever type of nut you used for the cookies.

Cinnamon Almond Stars

4 egg whites
1 pound granulated sugar
1 pound (3 cups) ground almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon

Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar gradually beating all the while and continue beating for 10 minutes. Stir in almonds and cinnamon and let mixture stand for several hours. Roll out on a board sprinkled with confectioners' sugar or flour to about a half-inch thickness and cut with a star shaped cutter. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet or one lined with paper in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for about 15 minutes.

This next recipe is from The Good Housekeeping Cook Book, published in 1944.

Chocolate Coconut Kisses

3 egg whites
1 1/2 sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp. sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the sugar and flour, which have been sifted together. Fold in coconut, vanilla, and chocolate, mixing thoroughly. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned and firm. Allow cookies to cool before removing with a spatula. Makes about 4 dozen.

I love gingersnaps and this recipe is a simple basic one from the Modern Priscilla Cook Book, published in 1924.

Ginger Snaps

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 egg, beaten

Beat all the ingredients together, using enough flour to make a soft (not stiff) dough. Roll thin, cut, and bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 12 minutes. Makes 40.

Looking for more holiday cookie recipes? Try these:


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Entertaining: More Appetizers

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

I always have good intentions of posting more often during the holidays but things never seem to settle down. Since I have a lot of last minute recipes and ideas I'll be posting today and the next three days. A mini-marathon of holiday blogs:) Today I'm starting with more appetizer recipes. I can seriously never have too many appetizer or snack ideas. Between my teens, our family get gatherings and friends dropping by I always need quick finger food.

Rueben Appetizers

1 cup diced cooked corned beef, roast beef or chipped beef
8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
8 ounces (1 cup) sauerkraut
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
Loaf Party Rye Bread

Combine the beef, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sauerkraut and garlic powder. Set up the pieces of bread, and spread each one with the cheese/beef mixture. Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese on top of each appetizer and broil until bubbly. Serve warm.

Notes: You can also add a pickle to this appetizer, or serve pickles on the side near it.

Pepperoni Bread

1 loaf frozen bread dough
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 package sliced pepperoni (small pack)
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Lightly rub the frozen loaf with oil, place it in a bowl or on a cookie sheet with a clean tea towel over it. Allow the dough to thaw and double in size. Roll out the dough. In a small bowl beat the eggs, Parmesan and oregano. Spread about 2/3 of this mixture on the dough. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and place the pepperoni evenly on the bread dough. Roll up the dough with the cheese/pepperoni etc. inside. Seal the edge by pinching with your fingers then brush the rest of the egg mixture over the bread on the outside. Place the rolled bread on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter after removing from the oven.
Slice and place on a platter to serve.

Notes: I like adding a little garlic powder to the butter before brushing.

Jalapeno Poppers

12 whole Jalapeno peppers
12 cubes Colby Jack cheese (or Cheddar)
1 cup Bisquick
1 egg
1/2 cup beer

Cut the tops off of the peppers with a very sharp knife and clean out the seeds. Stuff with the cheese cubes. Set aside. Mix the Bisquick, egg and beer. Dip in each pepper to coat it and deep fry in grease for 2-4 minutes. Drain on paper towel before serving.

Herb Deviled Eggs

12 hard boiled eggs
6 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
4 tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Peel the eggs, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks, and set the whites aside. Mash the yolks with a fork, in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the cheese, mayonnaise, basil, garlic and pepper until smooth. Spoon or use a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner tip cut off) the yolk mixture into the egg white halves. For garnish you can sprinkle with paprika, or a few snipped chives. Serve on a platter after they've been chilled.

By the way, do you need tips on caring for your poinsettia?