Holiday recipes + donation to Feeding America

Oh, how I love the holiday season! I have been blasting Christmas music (sorry neighbors), decorating and holiday shopping since before Thanksgiving. Now that we’re well into December I’m sure there is a lot on everyone’s mind, especially the thought of what you’re going to cook when the family gets together! I thought I would help you along with your planning by providing you with some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Starting with an appetizer, here’s a full menu idea (recipes below):

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Marmalade-glazed ham
  • Goat cheese potato gratin
  • Cheesy grits souffle
  • Peanut brittle
  • Pecan-pumpkin pie

Another great tip is to make as much as you can ahead of time. And plan, plan, plan! Read your recipes a couple of days in advance to see how long each dish takes so your recipes can all come out at the same time and still be warm when you are ready to serve! Some parts can even be made the day before, or even the week before if you can freeze and store until you are ready to finish baking or cooking. You can also assign different activities to different people. I have also included a sample time-table below.

As an added bonus, the company I work for, GolinHarris, just launched their holiday site, GHoliday.com. Every time someone submits a recipe, they will donate to Feeding America. So share your favorite recipes – it’s for a great cause!

Stuffed mushrooms

mushrooms

  •  1 lb cremini mushrooms (small, bite sized mushrooms that are good for stuffing)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Remove the stems from the mushrooms by gently turning the stems and pulling them out. Chop the stems up and save for the next step. Chop the green onions and bell pepper. Melt the butter on the stove over medium heat in a 12 inch skillet.

Add the chopped mushroom stems, bell pepper, and onions to the skillet and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

If you want to make ahead of time, you can stop after this step and pick up with the next when you are ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use remaining butter to grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place mushrooms, open side up, in the pan. Fill each mushroom with the mixture. Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Total time: 30 minutes

Marmalade-glazed ham

ham

  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 cooked, spiral-sliced, smoked bone-in half ham

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together marmalade, sugar, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and rosemary. Place ham in a 9×13 inch roasting pan. Brush the mixture all over the ham. Place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted horizontally in the bottom portion of the ham (not touching the bone) reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to a platter and garnish with herbs and fruit if you like!

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Goat cheese potato gratin

goat cheese potatoes

  • 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping cup soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Chives or green onions, chopped, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease an 11×7 inch baking dish.

Slice the potatoes very thinly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, garlic, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish overlapping them slightly. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes, then repeat the layers two more times with the remaining potatoes and cream.

Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and the potatoes are cooked through. Allow to stand at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chives or green onions and serve.

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cheesy grits souffle

souffle-e1324962973594

  • 6.5 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking dish.

In a saucepan, bring water, margarine, salt, and 1 1/2 cup of milk to a boil. Whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk well, then stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1 cup milk, and the Cheddar cheese. Whisk in 3 egg yolks; discard the remaining yolks. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat all 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add one-third of the whites to the grits mixture and stir until blended. Fold in remaining egg whites, stir gently, then transfer to a souffle dish. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.

Total time: 1 hour

Peanut brittle

peanut brittle

  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Grease a baking sheet, and set aside. In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes on High (700 W); mixture should be bubbly and peanuts browned. Stir in butter and vanilla; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet. Let cool 15 minutes, or until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Total time: 30 minutes

Pecan-pumpkin pie

pie

  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 2/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 prepared deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°.

In small bowl, combine one egg, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Spread in pie crust.

In medium bowl, beat remaining two eggs slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 2/3 cup sugar, the butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack.

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Time table

Day before:

  • Make peanut brittle
  • Make pecan-pumpkin pie
  • Prepare the filling for the stuff mushrooms and store in the fridge over night

Day of:

  • 10:00 am Before guests arrive, set the table, set out wine glasses, etc.
  • 12:00 pm Assemble the stuffed mushroom, bake, then serve for guests
  • 12:30 pm Mise and place – Prepare the glaze for the ham
  • 12:40 pm Mise and place – Prepare the ingredients for the goat cheese potato gratin
  • 1:15 Put the ham in the oven to cook
  • 1:15 Put the potatoes in the oven to cook
  • 1:20 pm Mise and place – Prepare the ingredients for the cheesy grits souffle
  • 1:40 pm Put the souffles in the oven to bake
  • 2:30 pm Remove the ham from the oven and let rest
  • 2:30 pm Remove the potatoes from the oven
  • 2:30 Remove the souffles from the oven
  • 2:35 Serve!

I would love to hear about your favorite recipes – share them here and also on GHoliday.com!

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Homemade hummus

hummus

I love making homemade hummus because I can make it my own and add flavorings as I like. If I’m making it for others, I can simply make a batch of plain hummus and set out spices and additions for others to add based on their preferences.  Hummus is so easy to make and requires so few ingredients. This weekend I found that I already had all of the ingredients and since I was “iced in” and couldn’t get myself to the grocery store, it made perfect sense!

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (I used juice from half of a lemon, but add more to your preference)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients using a blender, food processor or immersion blender. (Side note, this is when I LOVE my immersion blender, because I can blend directly in the bowl, and serve – saves a lot of cleanup as opposed to the food processor). Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. I like to garnish with parsley, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, Kalamata olives, etc. Serve with veggies like cucumbers, pita chips or pita bread.

Goat cheese crackers with tomatoes and balsamic reduction

I’d like to think I’m an expert at utilizing what is already in my fridge for cooking and preparing various foods. A couple of my friends wanted to get together spur of the moment, but I wanted to make sure I had something for them to snack on! So I looked in my pantry and found some crackers, score! Then I noticed I had a block of goat cheese I could use, along with some cherry tomatoes. My idea was to make a Bruschetta-like appetizer.

All you need for the balsamic reduction sauce is balsamic vinegar and a pan. You can get fancy with other recipes, but this works just fine. You are going to reduce the vinegar by about 75%, so keep that in mind when pouring your balsamic into a saucepan. If you need a 1/4 cup of reduction, start with about 1 cup of vinegar. For this amount of food, I used 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar.

Pour balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Use a spoon to dip it into the pan, touching the bottom and remove. At first, the vinegar will slide right off the spoon. When it’s ready, it should stick to the spoon, almost like syrup. Doing this throughout will help you gauge how much your vinegar has reduced.

Be sure to stir every so often to prevent burning. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer softly until sauce reduces 75%. Take a second spoon and dip again when you think it is ready. Compare it to the first spoon. Starting out with 1/2 cup of vinegar should take about 20 minutes to reduce.

While you are waiting on the vinegar to reduce, slice the cherry tomatoes in half.

When the sauce is ready, prepare the crackers by spreading the goat cheese on each individual cracker. Add the tomatoes. Top by drizzling the reduction sauce with a spoon.

Colleen’s queso

I was going through a stack of recipes that I had piled up and found a Post-it note with “Colleen’s queso” scribbled across the top. I decided it was finally time to get around and try it! And I’m so glad I did because it was a wonderful pot of queso and chili. YUM! Thanks, Colleen!

  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 1 can wolfe brand chili without beans
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 small can of jalapenos

Heat cream cheese in a pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the chili, tomatoes, jalapenos, stir until blended and melted.

Serve with chips and enjoy!

Easy baked mozzarella sticks with fresh marinara sauce

Today was the Super Bowl, and I must admit, I didn’t really care about the teams that were playing. What I DID care about was the food! I decided to make these easy baked mozzarella sticks to snack on while I watched the Super Bowl commercials…I mean…the Super Bowl.

There is something you must know before making this recipe: Cut the mozzarella sticks in half and freeze a couple of hours before baking. This step is necessary other wise the cheese will melt in the oven before the crumbs get golden!

Mozzarella sticks
  • 12 sticks part-skim, reduced sodium mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • olive oil cooking spray
Marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Cut cheese in half to give you 24 pieces. Place cheese in the freezer until cheese is frozen.

In small bowl, whisk the egg. Place the flour on another small dish. In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese and dried parsley.

Dip the frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess…

Then into the egg…

Then coat with the crumbs.

Repeat this process with the remaining cheese placing them on a tray with wax paper. Place cheese back into the freezer until ready to bake.

While the mozzarella sticks are in the freezer, prepare the marinara sauce.

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn.

Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and bay leaf. Stir and reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh basil.

When the mozzarella sticks are frozen and ready to bake, preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil.

Place frozen cheese sticks on baking sheet. Spray the tops of the mozzarella sticks with a little more oil and bake in the bottom third of your oven until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 4 – 5 minutes watching them closely so they don’t melt.

Italian stuffed mushrooms

 

My family gets together on Christmas Eve and we have our sit-down dinner together that night and leave Christmas Day to rest and relax. I wanted to make something to contribute, so I made stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer.

  •  1 lb cremini mushrooms (small, bite sized mushrooms that are good for stuffing)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Remove the stems from the mushrooms by gently turning the stems and pulling them out. Chop the stems up and save for the next step. Chop the green onions and bell pepper. Melt the butter on the stove over medium heat in a 12 inch skillet.

Add the chopped mushroom stems, bell pepper, and onions to the skillet and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

If you want to make ahead of time, you can stop after this step and pick up with the next when you are ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use remaining butter to grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place mushrooms, open side up, in the pan. Fill each mushroom with the mixture. Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.