Menu for Christmas Dinner

Presents are under our tree, lots of cookies to munch on, egg nog and coquito to sip (that’s my glass with the sip mark)!  We are ready for a weekend of good food, drinks and family time!

Here is the menu I decided to cook for our Christmas dinner:

    • Pear and Pomegranate salad
    • Horseradish and garlic prime rib with mushroom gravy
    • Tofu with mushroom gravy
    • Scalloped potato gratin
    • Veggie (my mom’s menu choice)
    • Bread (my mom’s menu choice)
    • Bordeaux wine – lots!

    Recipes adapted from the following websites;

    Coquito from Always Order Dessert

    Pear & Pomegranate Salad from Inspired RD

    Prime Rib from Food Network

    Baked Tofu Steaks from Veggie Belly

    Scalloped Potato Gratin  by Tyler Florence from Food Network

    My taste buds are already watering.  Wishing you a wonderful, blessed holiday season!!

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    Copycat Starbucks Bliss Bars

    My coworkers are regulars at Starbucks and just about everyday I see a drink with the familiar coffee label on one of the desks in our office. They’re not the “mocha latte lo-fat cream” types, but although they like the plain ol’ fashion cup of joe they will occasionally pick up some fancy treats from under the display case.  A favorite among these seems to be the Cranberry Bliss Bars. They’re a seasonal favorite this time of year, and exactly the recipe I wanted to duplicate! Maybe it was divine intervention or just another foodie on the same quest for deliciousness, but quite by surprise a friend tagged me on Facebook a copycat Starbuck Cranberry Bliss Bar recipe from Mr. Breakfast, mrbreakfast.com!
    These triangular pieces of cookie with cake crust are topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting, mixed with white chocolate and dried cranberries, similar to my earlier scone recipe combining chocolate and cranberries, and just as delicious.  Added is a hint of ginger in the crust… ohhh, bliss for sure! Mr. Breakfast’s recipe has a perfect frosting, although I tried to save 1/3 calories by using neufchâtel cheese instead of full fat cream cheese, and I did tweak the bar ingredients just a bit.
    Bliss Bar Base – preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.
    • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
    • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 cup dried minced cranberries (I used pomegranate Craisins)
    • 4 0z. white chocolate (I used 1 bar of Lindt), coarsely chopped

    Directions:

    1. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
    2. Add vanilla.
    3. Once incorporated, add eggs one at a time.
    4. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.
    5. Combine flour and butter mixture.
    6. Separately, mix fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of sugar, then add to the dough.
    7. Fold in cranberries and chocolate.
    8. Put in greased 9 X 13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Frosting
    • 4 oz. neufchâtel cheese, softened
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1. Mix well and top cooled bars.
    Garnish
    • 1 tablespoons minced dried cranberries
    • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips, melted (I used Ghirardelli)
    1. Sprinkle cranberries on top to frosting.
    2. Drizzle chocolate on top.

    Cranberry Scones with White Chocolate Chips

    I think of scones as the stage for a grand production!  With a little thought and imagination, nearly all varieties of toppings and ingredients can be folded into the dough.  These little babies won’t last long, so as soon as you bake them stash a few for yourself to enjoy at your leisure!  Cranberries and white chocolate chips will be the stars of this scone, creating a beautiful combination of slightly tart and tangy, with bits of creamy sweet bursts! Is your mouth watering yet??

    Cranberry Scones with White Chocolate – preheat oven to 400 degrees F

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour ( sneak in some wheat flour!)
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk

    Goodies to add:

    • 1/2- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
    • 1/2 – 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

    Top drizzle:

    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon milk

    Combine flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knifes incorporating the butter into the flour mixture. The result will be course crumble. Add buttermilk. Combine well.

    Add cranberries and chocolate. I left my cranberries whole, but you can chop them into course pieces.

    Kneed dough on a lightly floured surface 10-15 times. Protect your counters!  Cranberries can be naturally staining.

    Divide dough in half. Form each piece into 5″- 6″ round circle. Use a sharp knife to cut into triangles. I used a pizza wheel and cut it like I would a pizza.

    Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 9-11 minutes. The sides of the scone should be slightly browned. Once cooked, combine the powdered sugar and milk, and drizzle the top of the scones using a spoon.

    Doesn’t cuddling up with a blanket, a good book, and a cup of tea with your freshly baked scone sound enticing? You deserve it. Now relax….

    Ruby Red Cranberry Sauce

    Cranberries seem to only make their apperance during the holidays. Bags and bags of fresh cranberries fill the grocery stores this time of year, along with prepared cranberry sauce and other “holiday only” fare like pumpkin pie filling and green bean casserole fixings.

    These fresh little hearty berries are sturdy enough to be surrounded by a candle or placed at the bottom of a vase, which is exactly what I’ve used them for.

    I never really liked this little berry, until I started making my own. Cranberry sauce would be on my grocery list during the holidays, and year after year I would buy a can and put it on our Thanksgiving dinner table for anyone that wanted it, but I was very ambivalent. I became quite amused watching the gel-like glop make it’s appearance, and took great efforts to keep my sauce intact by opening both ends of the can watching it slowly slither onto a plate. There was something intriguing about those cylindrical canned designed ripples on the gel that kept me looking forward to the next year of can opening. Then, one year I paid closer attention when my mom made her delicious sauce, and I couldn’t believe how simple it was! No candy thermometer or special cooling process needed! I finally learned that, besides adding color to candles or vases, which was all I ever used fresh berries for, this fruit’s purpose is to become a flavor filled ruby red side dish! I was reformed from being a yearly can opener, to becoming a fresh cranberry sauce maker!

    It’s simple to make and you will love the way it tastes!

    Ruby Red Fresh Cranberry Sauce (yields approximately 2 cups)

    • 1 cup juice (I used Trader Joe’s orange-strawberry banana juice, but orange or apple works well too)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 12 oz fresh cranberries
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    Wash the cranberries. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the sugar and juice stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and cook until the berries start to burst and begin to soften (close to 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add cinnamon. As the sauce cools, it will begin to thicken. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
    Don’t wait until next year to buy fresh cranberries. More holiday festivities are on the horizon!  One great idea for this luscious sauce is to put it on top of baked brie, and serve with crackers as an appetizer.  Or you can blend it with cream cheese, form a cheese ball, and roll it in chopped nuts.

    “The Bomb” Potpie

    The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite stay in your jammies as long as you want kind of day; it’s my Lounge Friday!  After the busy preparations of our Thanksgiving meal, and enjoying the company of my family, I really look forward to a few days of not-a-lota anything! Everyone is on their own in the kitchen, helping themselves to their favorite dish(es) that were left from our feast. Bellies are definitely satisfied for a few days. By Monday we were getting to the point of snubbing our noses at the remaining leftovers, but I still had some turkey that I wanted to spruce up!  My last bit of turkey would be surrounded by a creamy sauce and vegetables aka potpie casserole. I debated on using Bisquick as a topping instead of the traditional pie crust because I wanted the meal to be just a tad bit lower in the caloric category.  Keeping with the traditional crust-like theme, I baked popovers and used it as a base, then added the casserole filling.

    After my son took his first bites,  he mumbles “mom, this is the bomb!”  I have to agree, it’s good!

    Popovers (12) – Preheat oven to 425

    • 1 cup of milk at room temperature
    • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
    • 2 eggs
    • dash salt

    Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Traditionally, popovers are baked in a custard cup or special popover pan.  I used a regular muffin pan.  Grease generously, and put muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes.

    Remove pan and fill with batter half way.  Put in oven and let the popovers puff for 20 minutes.  Don’t be tempted to open the oven.  It needs to stay hot!

    After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and cook an additional 10 minutes.

    Popovers will be puffy and golden brown.


    Potpie Filling

    White Cream Sauce

    Ingredients:

    • 4 Tablespoons butter
    • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules

    Melt butter in saucepan on medium high.  Once, melted, whisk flour into butter until smooth and free of lumps. Gradually add milk and continue stirring until the sauce thickens.  Add pepper and bouillon.  Turn to simmer and continue to stir so a film doesn’t form on the top.

    Filling (4) – Preheat oven to 350

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 1 celery stalk, diced
    • 2 small red potatoes, diced (microwave for 6 min.)
    • 1 carrot, diced (microwave for 6 min.)
    • 1/2 cup frozen petite peas
    • 2 cups turkey or chicken, diced

    Get ahead start of the cooking process by microwaving potatoes and carrots on high setting for 6 minutes.  Sauté the onion and celery in a non-stick pan until onion is translucent and fragrant.

    Add peas, meat, and microwaved ingredients to the onion and celery.

    Fold in white sauce and put in a casserole dish. Place in heated oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

    Plate up with a popover topped with the casserole filling.  There you go, “The Bomb!”