Christmas Menu Planning

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I can't believe we're a mere 2 days from Christmas already. Sydney is in high gear this year, at 2 1/2 years old, she's really starting to get the idea of Santa, Gifts, etc.  Every morning she asks "Its Christmas??" and every day we talk about how many more days to go...  She has also finally decided to let us know what she would like, so we've scrambled to find what we hope she was asking for.  What fun!

We're hosting Christmas dinner this year.  My inlaws are in town from Florida, my parents and sister will be here as well as Nick's uncle and grandfather.  I LOVE a full house for the holidays!!

I have just finalized our menu this year, and wanted to share it.  I will follow up with the recipes chosen, that have not been covered before.

Our Christmas Dinner Menu


Baked Brie wrapped in Phyllo Dough with Carr's Water Crackers
Pear and Goat Cheese Mixed Green Salad

Main Course

Honey Glazed Ham (gift from Nick's company)
Herb and Spice rubbed Beef Tenderloin w/ Horseradish Cream Sauce

Side Dishes

Gratin Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes (undetermined method)
Creamed Spinach


Individual Swirl Cheesecake Cups
Gingerbread Cookies
Ice Cream & Whipped Cream

I hope everyone out there is planning something fun this year, and hope you have a blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!

Potato Gratin

Friday, December 17, 2010

I recently came to my own blog site looking for a recipe I was sure I had shared in the past.  Shocked not to find it, I have to add it now.  These are a staple in my house.  By now I have basically memorized this recipe, and can throw in curve balls here and there, given what I have on hand in the fridge, and how inspired I'm feeling.  I give you a really smashing, basic Potato Gratin (courtesy of Williams-Sonoma) with slight modifications for helpful hints, and CHEESE.

Potato Gratin

1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled, sliced thin (about 1/8")
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
(1/2 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese, optional)

Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a 2 qt baking or gratin dish with butter.

In a heavy saucepan, over med-high heat, add cream, half and half, garlic, salt and pepper (about 10 twists of a peppermill, or about 1/2 tsp).  Add potatoe slices carefully, making sure they don't stick together as you add them to the pan.  Let mixture reach a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring gently (so that you don't break the slices).

Carefully transfer potatoes and cream to baking dish, arranging in layers.  Add generous sprinkle of cheese throughout, and on top (optional).

Bake about 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender, and slightly browned.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Every now and then I think back to my childhood, and remember my favorite meals that my mom used to make.  Tuna Melts, Sloppy Joes...and Chicken and Broccoli Casserole.  I have made a few modifications to this recipe over the years, but the flavors and textures remain the same.  This is a relatively easy recipe, sure to please even the picky little ones in your family.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 -3 large broccoli crowns, flourettes only
1-2 medium onions, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar/jack cheese
3 tsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Meanwhile, set a non-stick skillet on medium to medium-high heat with olive oil.  Once oil has thinned, add chicken breasts and brown both sides, 8-10 minutes.  Then remove chicken to a plate to rest.

In same pan, add onions and cook until translucent and slightly carmelized, 5-7 minutes. 

Then add soup, milk, butter, and remaining seasonings, and stir until smooth.  Consistency should be of a thin gravy, not lumpy (aside from onions).  If its too thick, add a little bit more milk until it is thinned out.  Adjust seasonings to your taste.  Add 1/2 of the cheese at this point, and stir until incorporated.

Meanwhile, chop chicken into cubes, and then add into sauce.

In a 9x12 glass baking dish, lay broccoli flourettes in an even layer across the bottom.  Pour sauce/chicken mixture over broccoli, make sure all broccoli is covered.  Sprinkle remaining cheese overtop.

Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until slightly browned and bubbly. 

Serve with freshly steamed basmati rice (add a touch of butter and garlic salt to water, prior to boiling for a nice hint of flavor).

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