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Christmas Meal

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Curry & Maple Sweet Potato Soup

    curry_maple_sweet_potato_soupAre you a soup person? We tend, like most, to gravitate toward soup in the cooler months, but I know people who love soup year round. Even in hot weather, ending the day with a warm bowl of soup seems just right. We always make big batches so that we not only have enough for lunch the next day, but also have enough to put up several single serving jars in the freezer.

    In our series this month into a vegetarian-style Christmas dinner, we've learned about Roasted Red Beet Hummus, Holiday Jalapeno Poppers, and Pear & Gorgonzola Puff Pastry Squares. Last time we started on the soup/salad category with a yummy Potato Leek Soup, and since soup is such a great course to include in your Christmas meal I offer you today another very warm and savory soup ~ Curry & Maple Sweet Potato Soup.

    We have grown to love sweet potatoes in our house. Finding out they have so much nutritional value has moved this starch out of the only-for-Thanksgiving category, and into the every week category. Sometimes it's as simple as cutting the sweet potato into round discs, sprinkling with cinnamon and baking, and other times we get into a soup like today's recipe. I think it will make a fabulous addition to our very vegetarian Christmas meal. In fact, this recipe will also put a smile on the faces of your vegan friends and family too.

    Combining the natural sweet and rich flavor of a sweet potato with warm spices like curry, nutmeg and cloves make such a delightful combination, too. Your whole house will be a place you'll never want to leave, and I bet your guests will feel the same way. There is something about these warm spices that instantly conjures up a warm and cozy feeling.

    You can find the recipe for this simple soup here.

    Stay warm!

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Potato Leek Soup!

    We've been doing a series of posts that highlight some outstanding recipes that could make your next Christmas a vegetarian one! A few years back we would have never imagined ourselves searching for vegetarian fare, but we've come a long way.

    First, we covered some appetizers, and if you missed those, you can find them here. Mmmmm.

    Roasted Red Beet Humus,

    Holiday Jalapeno Poppers,

     Pear & Gorgonzola Puff Pastry Squares.

    potatoes and leeks

    Today we're featuring the first of our soups, especially designed to be completely vegetarian.  The base for most soups is vegetables, and most salads are, well, vegetables, but you'd be surprised how many wanted to include chicken broth or bacon! I did manage to find some pretty delectable soups and salads for your consideration. So, without further ado, let me introduce to you Potato Leek Soup.

    These two ingredients, potatoes and leeks, are some of the best-loved pair of ingredients when it comes to soup. They compliment each other so well that even a novice cook can prepare a creamy, comforting bowl of soup. The ingredients do all the heavy lifting. The recipe I'm sharing today is so thick that it's really almost a chowder. So so good.

    potato_leek_soup_finishSide note: If you have never worked with leeks before, you are in for a treat. Not just the mild onion flavor to satisfy your savory-hungry palate, but also the very act of slicing these beauties is so fun. They make a "swish swish swish" sound, and it makes me smile every time. It makes the work of chopping almost cathartic and also makes the fact that they are a little fussy to clean not so tedious.

    You can find this lovely Potato Leek Soup recipe right here. Soup's on.

     

    Photo courtesies: Potatoes and Leeks, Soup

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Appetizer #2

    I love the idea of serving appetizers, even during the week when nobody's coming over. I've not yet been able to pull it off on any kind of consistent basis, but I envision it being just a very lovely thing. The husband arrives home from work, and we have some tasty little bites of food, perhaps a glass of wine or iced tea and talk about our day. It seems like it'd be a great way to connect at the end of the day. And, if I can get organized enough, dinner could already be in the oven while we're connecting!

    jalapeno_poppers_recipeFor the Christmas Meal, appetizers are just a part of the big celebratory meal, aren't they? And a lovely addition they are! Keeping with the very vegetarian theme, I bring to you today Holiday Jalapeno Peppers! They are the perfect color for Christmas, and when these spicy treats are served, your men folk will be all over them. Christmas or weekday, these poppers will have everyone coming back for more.

    Combine some full flavor cheeses, add in a little garlic and some warm spices and voila, these are ready to rock n roll. You can find all the instructions for these simple apps right here.

    Next time we'll do yet another appetizer using puff pastry in our Very Vegetarian Christmas Meal!

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Appetizer #1

    It was Christmas 2007. We were living in a tiny condo, but nothing was going to stop us from having my husband's grown daughters over for Christmas Dinner. I was prepared with all the traditional fare with a spiral ham at the center when I realized that I may have to change gears a bit. Monica, his youngest daughter was a vegetarian.

    I didn't think we all needed to eat vegetarian just because that was her choice, so I made some peppery hummus and served it with tomato basil wraps along side my spiral ham and all the fixin's. While the hummus wrap was beautiful to look at, it just wasn't a hit. I don't know if it was all the traditional fixings that put her off or if the hummus was just too radish-y, but from that point on I knew our holiday meals would never be the same. I would have to work harder at making it a very merry Christmas for Monica also.

    Lately I've been thinking that perhaps making our Christmas Dinner be entirely vegetarian might not be a bad idea after all. My husband and I are meat eaters, but for one day we are thinking we could forgo it in lieu of new and interesting vegetarian dishes. Besides we both know we could use more vegetables in our diet, and plant based diets definitely never hurt anyone for a day. So, this year, we are taking the plunge and going all out with a pure and clean vegetarian menu!

    main_roasted_beet_hummus_thIn the coming weeks I will be sharing the different components of this menu with you, everything from appetizers to main courses to desserts! There really is no reason why a vegetarian Christmas Dinner can't be as delicious and celebratory and gorgeous as one centered around meat. So, today, we'll start with our first appetizer, Roasted Beet Hummus.

    You gotta admit, it is beautiful! It has the traditional chick peas and garlic, but with the beautiful red addition of roasted beets and a few other ingredients this appetizer will not only be healthy and delicious, it is just a looker too. There is absolutely nothing about this that isn't pleasing.

    You can get all the instructions on how to make this here. Next time we'll be looking at another appetizer that is sure to please the man in the house too!

    Merry Vegetarian Christmas!

  • Roasted Garlic and Baked Brie

    roasted garlic 2

    It doesn't matter how old you get, sometimes you just have to learn some lessons the hard way. I have decided that I simply have to stop saying "there is no better combination than . . . " when it comes to brie cheese.  This is getting crazy, I'm going to have to make brie cheese it's very own section in my Christmas notebook recipes!

    In honor of my self-declared Brie Cheese Week, I bring you yet another delectable brie cheese recipe.  Unlike the recipe I posted yesterday than can serve as either an appetizer OR a dessert, today's recipe is clearly defined as an appetizer, through and through, to the moon and back, appetizer.  Garlic, altho not impossible to flavor a dessert with it, is your classic appetizer ingredient, but today it is the star of the show. Brie will just have to take second place today I guess.

    I have a good friend who loves to serve appetizers before dinner, even on weeknights when nobody is coming over. One of her all-time favorites (and go-to recipes in a pinch) is roasted garlic. Popping several heads of garlic in the oven to roast and serving them with crackers, well there is just nothing better. Ooops, there I did it again. Let's just say that this is another to-die-for recipes that you really don't want to miss.

    Combine the mellow, sweet flavor of roasted garlic with some baked brie and your family and/or guests will be encouraging you to start your own cooking show, it is THAT good. I had roasted garlic with baked brie on a date with my oldest son once, and it forever changed my mind about eating garlic straight up. Garlic is one of those ingredients that is almost completely transformed when it's baked. The cloves become soft and spreadable, and the flavor is smoky and mellow and sweet. It is still advisable, however, that if you are with your honey to both partake. :)

    You can find all the to-do's here. The fruit chutney is a nice addition and makes the dish look very Christmas-y, but trust me, it's just as fantastic without it.

    Happy Brie Cheese Week!

    Photo courtesy

  • Honey Nut Glazed Brie

    honey nut glazed brie

    I've decided that this is Brie Cheese Week. Since our dinner appetizer last night and the post I wrote about it, I have discovered just way too many mouth watering things you can do with brie. If you've ever had brie, I'm suspecting that there'll be no complaints over spending a few posts on this creamy, melty, sinfully delicious cheese.

    I didn't think there'd be any better combination than brie, puff pastry and raspberry sauce, but I gotta admit that the sound of walnuts and honey might be hard to beat. The great thing about this "appetizer" recipe is that it can either be an appetizer OR a dessert. I love recipes like that!

    Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and served over granny smith apple slices, this would not only make a fantastic share-able Christmas contribution to a party, but in the fall months it could cheer just about anyone up with the summer-is-gone blues. Garnished with red and green grapes, this recipe is not just delicious but also so very pretty to look at!

    You can find the base recipe here, but I encourage you to make a couple of minor changes to make it extra special. First, use Kerrygold butter instead of the "butter spread", and before pouring the spiced walnuts over the top, pop the cheese into the microwave or oven to get it hot so it's melty and gooey. Believe me, when it comes to cheese, there is nothing better than melty, gooey brie! I guarantee you will NOT be sorry about these change, they will improve the flavor immensely!

    Happy Brie Cheese Week!

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Cranberry Brie Appetizer

    The huzz and I just got home from a fun dinner date at Crave, a popular restaurant here in the twin cities. It's located right next to our favorite theater, but interestingly enough we've only been there one other time. So, we thought it'd be the perfect place to revisit tonight for our weekly date night. And, we were definitely not disappointed.

    We started the night off with a Baked Brie in Puff Pastry appetizer. Oh Lordy, was it ever melty and gooey and delicious. I thought briefly how great this would be made miniature style and served at a holiday party, or really any party any time of year. I do have a couple of quick and easy go-to appetizer recipes that I can put together in just a few minutes, but today I want to share with you this delectable brie finger food that is sure to please even your pickiest guest.

    Cranberry-Brie-Bites1

    While it is true that anything made with brie cheese is simply amazing, these babies are like a melty, tart, buttery party in your mouth. And, they aren't too bad on the eyes either ~ just look at them! Is your mouth salivating like mine is? The appetizer that the huzz and I had tonight was more like a popover in puff pastry with brie in the middle. They served it with whole cranberries on the side. Now, I'm not complaining one bit about what we had, but I gotta admit that these cute little gems are dancing around in my head tonight. And, I'm so full!

    You can find the recipe for these adorbs apps right HERE. You can thank me later. Just make sure that you save some for the guests!

  • Winter Flowers

    nailsToday, in spite of the 7-10 inches more of snow that is accumulating right outside my window, I got my nails painted turquoise. I figure that winter is far from over here, and that I do have some control when it comes to bringing a little spring and summer into my life early. The truth is that it's good to find ways to fight off the winter blues, creative things to do that either remind us that the seasons will definitely still change or that spring and summer will be here before we know it.

    We are starting to think about our garden and what we'll grow this year, and I thought what a great idea it'd be to force some bulbs to bloom even before spring arrives to get us in the mood. I did a little searching on Pinterest, and found some really fun things to share with you today.

    winter flowers in a tea cup

    Look at this adorable idea for Grape Hyacinths! In about 6 weeks, y0u'll have some pretty blooms and spring will have no choice but to chime in. That is how it goes, right? Find some blemish-free bulbs, chill them to mimic winter dormancy, then plant in some soil. Water, then set them in a dark, cool place until some greenery peeks through the soil. Water only when soil is completely dry to keep the roots from rotting.

    There are other bulbs that work well when forced to bloom indoors. Tulips, Paperwhites (which by the way are the perfect Christmas centerpiece!) to name just a few. I think I'm going to run to the garden store this weekend and get this little project going.

    By the way, we don't have to wait until the dead of winter to work on this. These little pots of flowers would make the perfect hostess gift around the holidays, wonderfully bright centerpieces for the Christmas meal, and something to continue growing and blooming after all the decorations are long put away.

     

     

     

  • Baby It's Cold Outside

    The wind is blowing, the show is accumulating and the temps, well, yeah they are frigid as usual here in Minnesota. But, no complaints because today we are making a really yummy recipe in our house that is sure to warm us clear to the bone!  I'm talking about Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs! What does that have to do with Christmas, you ask?  The color is right, the feeling this recipe gives you is right, and I think it might even be a candidate for a Christmas tradition if you ask me. :)

    meatballsOh, did I mention this is also perfect comfort food for those cold, windy, snowy days? Look at that melty cheese in the middle? I thought when I saw these that they may be difficult to make, but when I took a look at the recipe I was wrong. They are so so easy! I got this recipe from the All Recipes site, and it is a total winner.

    And, like I said, getting that cheese in the middle of the meatball is not hard at all. All you do is cut up mozzarella sticks into one inch pieces and form your meatball right around it!

    You can visit the All Recipes site for the specific directions. I don't know about you, but this is the perfect meal for tonight as we stay cozy warm inside and watch the Olympics. :)

    Happy cheesy meatball making!

  • Christmas Morning French Toast For a Crowd

    Christmas french toast bakeThe name of the game on Christmas morning for this girl is simplicity. Especially when there is family in from out of town, a dozen kids sleeping over, and adults up late the night before still assembling toys . . . complicated just will not do.

    Here's a French Toast Bake that is quick, easy and will have your family eating out of your hand. Since this is a Christmas blog, we're touting this recipe as perfect for the King of all celebratory days ~ Christmas Day ~ but really, this recipe is fabulous any time of year when you have lotsa mouths to feed early in the morning. Best part? You put it together the night before, refrigerate, then just pop it into the oven in the morning! It cooks while you sip coffee in front of the Christmas tree. :)

    This recipe in it's original version, however, was a sugar bomb. Being the health freak that I am, I just couldn't recommend it when you're  feeding the people you love the most. But, do not fear, I've made some healthy tweaks so now it can be enjoyed freely!

    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1 cup coconut nectar sugar
    • 1 loaf of thickly sliced bread
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
    • Cinnamon for sprinkling
    • Raw honey
    1. Melt butter in microwave & stir in the coconut sugar.
    2. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan....spread around.
    3. Beat eggs, milk, & vanilla, and set aside. Cut off the crust of the bread (your kids will adore you for this).
    4. Lay single slices of bread in pan, and spoon half of the egg mixture over the bread, topping with cinnamon
    5. Add second layer of bread, and spoon on remainder of the egg mixture.
    6. Cover and chill over night.
    7. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove foil for the last 15 minutes.
    8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with melted raw honey.

    Mmmmmmmm!

    Photo courtesy and recipe adapted from: www.tablespoon.com

     

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