My Ideal Christmas Dinner

We’ve reached a critical time in the year.  Christmas is one week away and Christmas dinner needs to be planned.

For us Latinos, we’re in an even bigger pickle because we do Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) dinner.  So that means we have 6 days left to plan a feast.

This time of year is always particularly frustrating for me, because my family doesn’t like anything.  No really, they don’t. An hour ago, I was walking around Sprouts talking to my sister about how I wanted to give up on Christmas dinner.  She pumped me up a bit about it.

We decided on some random menu:

-Chicken with Lemon-Caper sauce
-Ham
-Spinach Salad

-Yucca
-Mashed Potatoes
-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We’ll see how that goes.  I always have grand plans for Christmas dinner, but it never happens because the things I like are 1. too expensive to make for a crowd or 2. generally disliked by my family. Last year, I got close.  I made awesome short ribs braised in red wine (they were a hit) served with mashed potatoes, as well as coq au vin.  Guys, I got fancy.  This year… it’s not looking that way…

So today, in the spirit of dreaming, I’m going to plan my ideal Christmas Dinner.  I’ll probably never make it but let’s just pretend.

Of course, in my ideal world, I would have a beautiful, hipster-chic table setting

Photo Source: Style-Files

Because of course, I’ll have enough logs for everyone to sit on!

We’d start the evening with appetizers and drinks.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Persimmons

Photo Source: Food and Wine

Along with Cheese, Crackers, Nuts and Dried Fruit.  To drink, wine, beer and a fun Prosecco cocktail for those who are so inclined:

Photo Source: Rue Mag

Then for dinner:

Roast Leg of Lamb on a Bed of Potatoes and Wilted Greens

Photo Source: Epicurious

Served with Roasted Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Photo Source: Henry Happened

and Mashed Potatoes

Photo Source: Foodista

And for dessert… My favorite Bourbon Banana Pie

BourbonBananaPie3(which I’m actually planning to make for Christmas!)

and because you can never have enough dessert…

Photo Source: Smitten Kitchen

Gingerbread Apple Upside-down Cake

That’s it.  Pretty much my perfect Christmas dinner.  Mine won’t be that perfect, but it’ll still be great.

I’m being totally dramatic about Christmas Dinner.  I’ll be honest, I really don’t care what we eat.   I’m more excited to spend time with my family than anything else.  We could eat KFC or Chinese Takeout, and I’d be happy.  That said, day dreaming about fancy dinners is what foodies do.

What’s on your Christmas menu?  Share your menus so I can get more inspiration!

Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

As much as I advocate cake and pie eating, I really want you to eat vegetables too.

Lots of vegetables.

They’re good for you.  Sometimes sugar and butter need to take a back seat and we need to have something good for you.  Like this salad.

Salad1

Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

2-3 fresh beets
3-5 cups arugula1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tomato, sliced
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Thoroughly wash beets, then wrap beets in aluminum foil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until tender.  Allow to cool.  Peel and slice. (Note: You can roast a bunch of beets and once and store them in the fridge for about a week in the roasting foil.  Peel and slice when you’re ready to serve them)

Steam asparagus for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and rinse with cold water.  Set aside. (You can do this while the beets roast, or you can plan your next vacation)

Make dressing by mixing together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well combined.

Lastly, assemble the salad.  Start with a bed of arugula, layer on the tomatoes, asparagus, beets and goat cheese.  Drizzle with dressing and serve!  This salad will feed 2 very hungry people or 4 as a side salad.

Salad2

Eat it up!

Crazy Good Biscuits

My boyfriend confessed to me that one time, I ate his biscuit.

That sounds totally gross.  Let me back up.  Once night, we had a crazy hankering for KFC.  So like any normal couple, we satiated the craving with a bucket, 4 biscuits and 2 sides.  Apparently, after dinner, I wrapped up the leftovers and told him to take them.  When he went home, he forgot them.

The next day, lunch rolled around and I ate the last biscuit, but left Jesse the remaining chicken and sides.  At least that’s how I remember it.

Yesterday, he confessed.  I ate the last biscuit and he was silently sad about that for a while.

Naturally, I laughed and apologized profusely.  Then, of course, made some biscuits to make amends for my biscuit-devouring habit.

crazygoodbiscuits

Crazy Good Biscuits

adapted from Epicurious

2 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out)
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cold
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1-2 tbsp melted butter (for brushing)

Preheat oven to 425F.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add butter and using your fingers work the butter into the flour until you get coarse crumbs.  Next, add yogurt, cream and milk and stir with a spoon until combined.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times, then form into a disk shape.  Pat it down with your hand until it’s about 1 inch thick.  Using a biscuit cutter or the bottom of a cup (I used the bottom of a mason jar I use to make pies in jars, so mine were small biscuits), cut out biscuits and place onto a parchment paper lined baking pan.  Repeat until all dough is used up.  Brush with melted butter and bake 10-15 minutes (this will vary depending on the size of your biscuits) until golden brown.   This will make about 2 dozen biscuits (depending on size).

biscuits1

Serve with whatever you like.  We like to keep it Latin so we ate them with carne asada, grilled corn and squash.

Tasty.

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Let’s take a break from the usual sweets I present to you on this blog.  Instead, I’ll show you some real food.  As in a real meal.  Are you pumped?

Thought so.

This weekend, I met my neighbors for the first time when I went across the street to ask if they could spare a wood pallet.  They could, more on that later…  But in addition to giving me a wood pallet, my neighbor showed me her vegetable garden and gave me two huge bags filled with tomatoes and an assortment of squash.

If you know me, you could only imagine how excited I was, especially after being cooped up in the vegetable desert that is my parents’ house.

So my first creation with these delightful vegetables:

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
4 good sized zucchinis
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
5 tomatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
few ounces of queso fresco or queso cotija

In a sauce pan, combine quinoa and broth.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and cook until translucent.  Add red pepper and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until tomatoes have cooked down.  Then add the quinoa, turn off the heat and stir together.

If you choose to stop here, you can have a wonderfully delicious and healthy quinoa side dish that I’m guessing would be amazing served over some sauteed kale.

Or you can continue.  Slice the zucchinis in half, length-wise and spoon out the center (I actually diced up the stuff I spooned out and added it to the quinoa mixture.  No waste!).

Fill the zucchini with quinoa mixture and bake at 400F for about 30 minutes (depending on the size of your zucchini times may differ). I used the toaster oven, because it’s hot and who wants to turn the oven on when it’s 90F degrees out?

Take the zucchini out of the oven, sprinkle with cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Oh but wait! One last thing… If you decide to put whipped cream on yesterday’s Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

It is divine.