Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Dinner

I love roasted turkey.  Why do I wait till Thanksgiving and Christmas to have turkey?  Maybe that should be on my list for 2011...more turkey!  For Christmas Dinner I roasted a turkey, brussel sprouts, made a new stuffing, smashed potatoes, rolls with cranberry butter, and homemade eggnog.  What a great dinner to share with my boys!

Look at this bird!  I used my roasting pan, brushed it with vegetable oil and added salt, pepper and Italian seasoning mix.  That is it.  Roasted for 3 1/2 hours (16 pounds!).  Once it starts browning you just tent some foil on it.  I did not baste it either.  Didn't need it.  Let it rest for a good 20  minutes before carving.

Brussel sprouts are EASY to make.  I just cut off a bit of the bottom, slice them in half, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper.

I really wanted to take a shortcut on the dressing.  I was sooo close to doing just that (thanks Tammy!).  I was on the phone with my friend Tammy, telling her I was gonna buy stove top or something so I didn't have to make it.  She was like, "really?  Are you serious?  Really?"  So of course, I made my own.  Geeze, try to take one shortcut and they think you're crazy!  :)  It was worth it though.  This stuffing had onion, celery, bread, parsley, rosemary, dried cherries and pecans.  YUM!

So my intentions were to make homemade rolls, but while I was talking to my husband (and not paying attention), I added to much liquid and ruined them.  So I just ran and got some dinner rolls.  But I did use the Honey Cranberry butter that I made.  It is amazing!  TRY IT.  You can also see my son's homemade eggnog in the background.  YUM.  He, however, was not a fan.  Ha!  More for me and my Captain.  Those are Yukon smashed potatoes.  I used Fage yogurt in them, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and butter with some seasonings.  Fage is a Greek yogurt.  You can sub it for sour cream anytime.

Here is the bird on the table.  Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

Here are the brussel sprouts and dressing on the table.  WAY to much dressing, but yum.

Have you ever seen a bigger turkey leg for such small kids?  This cracked me up.  And believe it or not, they ate the entire leg!  BOTH OF THEM. I must have done something right for Christmas dinner.  :)  The gravy was my youngest son's favorite with the turkey.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Easy Homemade Eggnog

Eggnog is one of those things that you either love or you hate.  I LOVE it!  I usually don't buy it though because I could easily drink it all on my own.  My husband on the other hand, is not a fan of eggnog.  Of course living in my house he has the privilege or punishment (depending on the outcome, I guess) of taste testing all my trials.  He really liked it.  Although, he prefers it warm to chilled.  (He is strange I know.)  I loved it and loved it more with some Captain Morgan's in it!

I found the recipe looking at my blogger dashboard at all the sites I follow.  I could easily spend a day looking at people's creations and deciding if I should give it a try or pass.  Of course then I make a recipe and have to blog my own, and before you know it a couple hours are gone for good.

Here is a simple way to make your own eggnog that even those who turn their noses up at "the nog" will enjoy.  I did a double batch (two separate batches so that I didn't mess up the recipe) to fill my pitcher.

The recipe says to whisk the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl.  Those who know me know I hate dishes...even if I have a dishwasher.  I mixed it in the stock pot I was using to heat the mixture and it was fine. 

Make sure you do check the temperature or you will end up with scrambled eggs.  I don't know about you, but I don't need any floaties in my drink.  I used a candy thermometer, but it got broken, so I checked it with a digital thermometer to make sure it didn't get past 160 degrees.

Why are we straining?  You want to make sure you didn't accidentally scramble and you want to make sure the nutmeg or any larger pieces do not end up in your drink.  I used fresh nutmeg and grated it myself.  This is a larger texture than the bottled kind you buy and you definitely need to strain out the larger particles.  

Two batches and I have my pitcher filled with the yummiest eggnog I've ever consumed!  I kept the alcohol on the sides so those who wanted to add it could, and those who didn't want any didn't have to have it.  I wish I could credit the person I got this recipe from.  I looked at so many websites over the holidays I honestly don't know.  But I did copy and paste the recipe to word before exiting the site....so here it is for you to try:

Easy Homemade Eggnog

4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste*
4 cups low fat milk
2 oz. brandy or bourbon, for serving (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Whisk in vanilla, nutmeg and milk.

Pour mixture into a large saucepan and turn heat to medium. Bring eggnog just to a simmer (160F). Hold at that temperature for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Strain into a pitcher or serving dish and chill for at least 4 hours, or until ready to serve.

Pour into glasses, add brandy if desired, and sprinkle with additional nutmeg for serving.

Serves 8

*Note: If not using freshly grated nutmeg, you may want to use more nutmeg.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Breakfast

Well, this year I decided not to over do breakfast and dinner.  :)  I made the casserole ahead of time the night before and only had to put it into the oven.  The potatoes take no time to cut up and cook in the skillet.  And the biscotti I made a few days ahead (cranberry chip and pistachio cranberry).  Mimosas on the table, coffee in hand, we were good to go.  The casserole did take an hour and a half, so it is best to put it in the oven right when you wake.  (or wake before the kiddos)

Dipped in your coffee...these are just plain delicious.

The recipe for this casserole is on my blog.  It is made of english muffins, canadian bacon, eggs, cheese and milk.  Super easy!

Cut up the potatoes and throw them in the large skillet.  :)

I also put Cinnamon Plus in the coffee grounds when I brew them.  YUM.  Plain cinnamon is just as good.  Hope you had a great Christmas breakfast to start your day too!

Cranberry Butter

I finished making cookies, bread, got breakfast and dinner preparations done for Christmas day and sat down to check my email and look at the blog posts.  I came across this EASY recipe that added something extra from things I already had on hand.  It takes no time to put together, so it was a "must make."  The recipe came from Tasty Kitchen's website.  Click here to be directed to the site.

Here is what you need:  1 lb of butter, the zest from one orange (I only had clementines on hand), 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries.  That's it.  I'm telling you, this is delicious!

Great for gifts too!  :)  I think I may do small jelly jars of this next year.  YUMMY!

Cranberry Butter

Prep Time 5 Minutes
Cook Time
Servings 20 Difficulty Easy


  • 1 pound Butter, Softened To Room Temperature
  • ½ cups Chopped Fresh Cranberries
  • ½ cups Honey
  • 1 whole Orange (just The Zest)

Preparation Instructions

Such an easy recipe, it’s easy to adjust the ingredients to your personal taste. Want more orange flavor? Zest another orange! Want it less sweet? Reduce the amount of honey. Make it your own!

Combine softened butter, chopped fresh cranberries, honey to taste (about 1/2 cup) and the ZEST ONLY of one orange. Mix until well blended.

You’ll need to store this in the refrigerator.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

White Russian Cake

I thought the perfect birthday cake for George would be a White Russian cake.  There is always Kahula at my parents house and ever since I can remember my step dad, George, has made White Russians.  YUMMY ones!

Here is what I did:

Bake your favorite white or yellow cake.  I chose white since the title says it all "WHITE Russian."  Instead of using vanilla, you can use kahula or vodka.

I love homemade butter cream frosting.  You can add whatever flavor to it and it will taste delicious.

 I added both vodka and Kahlua!

I also brushed the cakes with both vodka and kahula before putting on the layers.

You can add as much alcohol as you like.  It keeps the cake moist and adds a little more YUM.

I know what you are thinking:  "you gave alcohol to your kids?"  No, they got their own cakes.  Any alcohol you put into the batter burns off in the oven.  When I cut the tops of the layers off of the cakes to make them level, I used biscuit cutters to make small layer cakes for the kids.  I also made frosting WITHOUT alcohol to frost them.  So no worries people.

I even frosted theirs cute and put them on little appetizer plates.  Cute, huh?

They enjoyed them, and we enjoyed the White Russian Cake.  YUM!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

Yes, there ARE shrimp under there!  :)  I forgot to take a pic of it served up.  This dish is a definite replay at our house.  My husband and I loved it.  The kids would have if I didn't mistake a can of diced tomatoes with chilis for regular diced tomatoes...oops.  BUT it was a delicious mistake most adults would enjoy!

The full recipe is at the end of this post.

I substituted regular onions for fennel since I didn't have any on hand.  It was just fine with onions sauted in olive oil.

Add garlic and cook for one minute more.

Add wine and let it reduce.  Then add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper to the skillet.  Simmer 10-15 minutes.

Add shrimp.  It said to leave the tails on and I did, but next time I will take them off.  I don't see the sense in it.  I'd rather not have to wipe my hands 5 times when eating my dish.  

Cover with feta cheese.

Mix bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest with olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp and feta.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Squeeze lemon juice over shrimp when you take it out of the oven. 


adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's "How Easy is That?" cookbook

Serves 4
4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups medium-diced fennel (1 bulb) ...I used onion.
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained ...I used diced tomatoes with green chilis.
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod ...couldn't find it, so just omitted it.
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
12 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds (16 to 20) shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails left on ...next time leave them on.
5 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs ...I used progresson Italian bread crumbs.
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 10- or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and garlic and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the skillet, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Arrange the shrimp artfully in one layer over the tomato mixture in the skillet. Scatter feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle evenly over the shrimp.

5. Bake the shrimp for about 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with wedges of lemon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells in Arrabbiata Sauce

I was going through my giant binder of recipes that I have either torn out of magazines or printed out when I saw it on the food network, when I came across this one.  I haven't made it in ages and it is even more amazing since it makes two batches!  We had one for dinner and I froze the other for a lazy night.  That makes me smile...I love a lazy night of no cooking.  I will just turn the oven on and put them in!

The batch you make right away only takes 20 minutes in the oven, so by the time you clean up your mess, set the table and put the second batch in the freezer, it is ready!

Start by boiling a large pot of water to partially cook your shells (they will cook the rest of the way in the oven).

Next, saute onions and garlic in olive oil.  

Then add the ground turkey, salt and pepper.  Once that is cooed through, add the artichoke hearts and stir.

Allow to cool so you will be able to handle the meat to stuff into the shells.

Add ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and salt & pepper.


Mix all ingredients.

Add one cup of the Arrabbiata sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 by 2-inch baking dish.

Stuff shells with about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture.  I used a medium scoop.

The easiest way to fill these is to put the shell in the palm of your hand and fill it with the scoop.  Then place each filled shell in the dish.

Add remaining sauce to the top and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese.  I use fresh.  It is easier to grate if you put it in the freezer for a bit before trying to grate it.  Soft cheeses are never easy to grate, but I think it tastes so much better.  I use a box grater for this.

Seal the other dish and put into the freezer.  To reheat later, preheat to 400 degrees and bake for 60 minutes.

Bake the dish you are going to eat for dinner at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite veggies.

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
6 to 8 servings


  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boilover high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta. 

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool. 

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine. 

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced panchetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use. 

Yield: approximately 6 cups