It’s Another Patriots Super Bowl Weekend Special

New Englanders are beside themselves with excitement. Tom Brady and the boys are in Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52! They’re going for number six … that’s six Super Bowl wins. It’s party time throughout the region. Football fans will be watching (and eating) in fancy screening rooms and ordinary family rooms. Man caves will be packed and, invited or not, women will be there in their number twelve jerseys.

Now for the spread … how about Italian? … because – who doesn’t love an Italian feast. Here are a few ideas for a delicious spread:

Let’s start with beautiful antipasto platters. To start, arrange some of your favorite cheeses, sliced sausages and prosciutto on a platter, add some fruit and a few nuts. Next, roast some of your favorite veggies. Think Cauliflower, Beets and Butternut Squash as well as Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots & Pearl Onions. If you like, add a small pitcher of Balsamic Reduction Finally, fill a basket with artisanal crackers, toasted baguette slices and a few breadsticks and invite your friends to make their own crostini.

Enjoy your favorite pasta at halftime. Now you can keep it simple and toss up a big batch of Penne alla Vodka. (Hint: make the sauce in advance.) Or take the make ahead route with Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta Bake or everyone’s favorite Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach. Serve the pasta with a colorful Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad.

For dessert? How about a cupcake? Of course you’ll want to bake one with a white frosting … so you can add a few drops of food color to celebrate your favorite team. You might like my Sour Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting. Not enough chocolate? Well, then give my Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes a try. Too much, then maybe you’d like my favorite Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Touch down and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2018

The Super Bowl LII logo is a trademark of the National Football League.  

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Beef or Turkey? What’s for Christmas Dinner?

What’s on your Christmas dinner menu? The traditional favorites seem to be beef – either a rib roast or beef tenderloin – or turkey. I grew up with turkey on Christmas until Mom realized that beef was a much easier meal. Yes, it’s more expensive but she figured it was worth it. I’ve put together two menus to help you enjoy a delicious Noël. Feel free to use one in its entirety, pick and choose or mix and match. Whatever you cook this Christmas, have a wonderful holiday!

Delicious Beef Tenderloin for Christmas Dinner
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Toss up a salad with with Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad to start.
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Treat everyone to a beautiful Beef Tenderloin. Serve it with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce or Roasted Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots & Pearl Onions (I recommend the latter.) Add some Roasted Brussels Sprouts and a Nye Family favorite … Twice-Baked Potatoes.
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Finish with a sweet pud. Try my creamy White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle, homey Cranberry Clafoutis or my fabulous Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake.

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A Tasty Turkey for Christmas
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Start with a delicious salad of Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula.
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Move on to Roast Turkey with Giblet Gravy. Make it easy (there’s a lot going on!) and skip the stuffing. Instead serve the turkey with Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Mushrooms & Kale. Don’t forget the Cranberry Sauce or, for something a little different, Cranberry Chutney.

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End on a sweet and gingery note with traditional Gingerbread Cupcakes,
Ginger-Orange Cheesecake or luscious Ginger Crème Brûlée (or all three!)

Wishing you a joyful and delicious Christmas!

Christmas dinner on Jackson Road.
Grandpa Nye, Nana Westland, Mom, Grandpa Westland and Nana Nye

Happy Holidays!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you cooking Christmas Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus!  © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Holiday Special – What’s for Christmas Eve Dinner?

Are you cooking this Christmas? There are a lot of meals to consider. First, there are the two dinners, one for Christmas Eve and the other for Christmas Day. Plus, a lot of families love a special breakfast or brunch on Christmas morning. We are sharing the load in my family. I’ll be cooking on Christmas Eve and my brother and family are in charge of Christmas Day.

Now, I already have a few thoughts for Christmas Eve. From Stockholm to Sicily and New England’s rocky shores, seafood is the night-before dinner of choice. A feast of seven fishes might be more than you want to take on but how about …

Start with Salmon. You and your family and friends will love my Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce. No? How about Smoked Salmon Mousse or Savory Blinis with Smoked Salmon & Caviar.

Add a special salad. Toss together colorful reds and greens with my Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts.

Now for the main course. How about Creole Shrimp or Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce with Cheesy Grits and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, Pepper & Lemon.

End the evening with a sweet treat. My mom always baked Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie. When I was a teenager, I took over dessert and made a Bûche de Noël . Last year, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake. This year, I’m planning to make a Ginger-Orange Cheesecake.

Stay tuned for Christmas breakfast and dinner menus!

Have fun with the countdown to Christmas and have a great weekend! Happy holidays and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Waiting for Christmas & Gingerbread Decorations

There’s only one week to go in the countdown to Christmas. At this point, you’re probably so excited you’re ready to burst … or … please, say it ain’t so. You aren’t one of those bah-humbug types, are you? In either case, there’s not long to wait. Here are a few ideas to help the time go faster or, if need be, get you in the spirit.

Bake some cookies. Warm up yourkitchen with sugar and spice and everything nice. In the culinary world, baking is considered more science than art. It requires careful measuring and mixing. With its methodical rhythms, wonderful aromas and fond memories, baking is a great way to spend an afternoon. If your brain is skittering in too many directions, baking will ground you. Then again, if you’re having trouble getting in the spirit, baking cookies will bring you a few hours of sweet nostalgia.

Make a gift, maybe two. I love making Christmas gifts and decorations. You don’t have to be too terribly clever. Think knitted scarves for the kids, a chef’s apron for a favorite cook and spicy rubs for your barbecuing brother. Too complicated, don’t own a sewing machine or know how to knit? Not to worry, if you can string beads or work a glue gun you can make something happen.

Play secret Santa. You don’t need to work in an office or live with half a dozen roommates to play secret Santa. Although, come to think about it, I think the proper term for this particular holiday cheer is elf – as in elf-ing and you’ve been elf-ed. It’s easy to play. Start with a basket, add a few holiday treats, leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep, ring the bell and run like hell. No need to go crazy, a dozen of those cookies you baked, a homemade Christmas decoration and a jug of maple syrup will do nicely. Leave a note suggesting they continue the festivities and go elf a friend or two.

Sing carols. Check the local newspaper, there are opportunities galore to sing your way through the holidays. With community sings and special church services, you have your choice of ‘Jingle Bells’ and sacred music. There is nothing like singing to get into the spirit. So hum your way from one errand to the next and do a few rounds of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ on your morning walk.

Send a Christmas card. If you are like me, you’ve fallen out of the Christmas card habit. Bring it back this year but instead of rubber-stamping fifty cards, be selective. Choose a handful of distant friends and family, people you love but rarely see, and send them heartfelt messages of holiday cheer. Heck, if you like, make homemade cards to send.

Settle in for a holiday movie marathon. This one is an especially good idea if there is another snow day. Think of it as an excellent opportunity to multitask. Let Bing sing, Jimmy reflect on life’s mysteries and Hugh actually fall in love while you make magic with a ball of yarn or wrap presents.

Re-read a favorite Christmas story from your childhood. My mother read us a chapter a night from the Santa book. Christmas Eve had to be left for Mr. Moore’s poem, so she always timed it to finish on December 23rd. A book from her childhood, the nightly reading is a cherished memory. My sister found reprints several years ago and the tradition was reborn. Reading about the life and adventures of Nicholas the Woodcarver is a wonderful step back in time. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it is a lovely way to spend a quiet afternoon.

Enjoy the countdown to Christmas with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Gingerbread Decorations
These decorations look like gingerbread cookies and have a warm and wonderful scent. Hang them on your tree, use them to decorate an indoor wreath and toss a few into a bowl of ornaments or greens for a clever centerpiece. You can leave the cookies plain or embellish them with paint or glitter. Enjoy!

1 cup or more ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons each ground ginger, cloves and nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup white craft glue plus more for decorating
Acrylic paint (optional)
Glitter, beads and sequins (optional)
Ribbon

Put the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the applesauce and glue and stir until thoroughly combined. If the dough seems sticky, add more cinnamon. Knead the dough, adding more cinnamon if necessary, until it is smooth, firm and pliable.

Roll out the dough on a cinnamon dusted surface to 1/4-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Use a straw to cut a small hole in each cookie. The hole will allow you to attach a ribbon and hang the ornaments. If you plan to use some of the ornaments on a wreath or in a bowl, there is no need to cut a hole.

Place the ornaments on a wire rack and air dry. Drying will take at least several hours and up to a few days.

When the cookies are dry, you can leave them as is for a natural, rustic look or frost them. Instead of icing, use paint to outline the ornaments as well as add eyes, noses, mouths and buttons to gingerbread boys and girls. Do not cover the entire cookie with paint. Paint will mask its spicy scent.

If you want a glitzy look, run lines of glue along the edges of your cookies and sprinkle with glitter. Tap off the extra glitter and let the glue dry completely, about 30 minutes, before adding more. Finish the ornaments with beads or sequins for even more glitz.

To hang your ornaments, thread colorful ribbon or clear nylon thread through the holes. To attach them to an indoor wreath or swag, hot glue wire to the backs and wrap the wire around the greens.

After the holidays, store the ornaments in an airtight, mouse-proof tin in a dry place. They should last for several years.

Please note – these decorations are NOT edible!

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One Year Ago – Sticky Buns
Two Years Ago – Cranberry Coffee Cake
Three Years Ago – Fish Stew Provençal
Four Years Ago – Twice-Baked Potatoes
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Eight Years Ago – Potato, Leek & Kale Soup
Ninet Years Ago – Salmon & Lentils

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend your time during the countdown to Christmas? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Another Weekend Special – Holiday Cocktails

Will you invite friends in for cocktails this holiday season? A great way to entertain a crowd, a cocktail party lets your friends meet each other, mix and mingle. Whether you sport an ugly sweater or the classic little black dress, a cocktail party is a wonderful excuse to celebrate the season in your party best.

I’ll leave the fashion advice to someone else but here are a few foodie ideas …

Start with a cocktail … what could be more festive than a rosy red tini.

PomegranaTinis
Serves 8

1 cup vodka
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2 1/2 cups or to taste pomegranate juice
Seltzer water, cold (optional)
Garnish: orange twist

Combine the vodka, Grand Marnier and pomegranate juice in a pitcher or jar, stir or shake and store in the refrigerator or freezer until very cold.

Stir again, pour into martini glasses, add a splash of seltzer and garnish with a twist of orange.

For a large party, quart Mason jars are a perfect fit for each batch of martinis. Keep them cold in the refrigerator or frosty in the freezer or out in the snow until ready to serve.

Now, what to munch? Why not cook up a few of my favorite appetizers. If you aren’t hosting but heading to a potluck, any one of these delightful little treats will be welcomed by your host.

You’ll want to start with a savory or two to pass. Here are a few ideas:
Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Cheese Tartlets with Sausage & Leeks
Spanakopita Triangles

You’ll also want a platter, maybe two:
Gravlax with Tarragon-Caper Mustard Sauce
Three to five of your favorite artisanal cheeses, thinly sliced sausage and Spicy Olives
Add some delicious artisanal crackers and toasted banquette.

A nice spread will make a nice addition …. how about
Chicken Liver Pâté
Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts
Artichoke Pesto

When it’s time to kiss everyone goodnight, pass a tray of sweet treats. Think …
Chocolate Mousse or White Chocolate Mousse served in tiny dessert glasses (even a shot glass) and top with a raspberry
Gingerbread Cupcakes or Coconut Cupcakes
Snowy Pecan Balls or Sweet Dream Bars

Happy holidays and have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

Check out the list of all the recipes with links on this blog!

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? or create your own. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What are you up to this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Try one of my seasonal menus or create your own with the help of my extensive recipe index. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What’s Cooking? Thanksgiving at my House

I am very excited to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner in my new kitchen. So you ask, “What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?” Obviously, you’ve noticed, I’ve got a lot of recipes that would be pretty darn delicious for Turkey Day. How do I whittle them down for the Nye Family Thanksgiving?

It’s a juggling act. When it comes to Thanksgiving, my family can be pretty traditional. I developed a somewhat eclectic (electric for my family) while I was in Switzerland. When I moved back to New Hampshire, I had to dial it back. Slowly but surely, I’ve add a new dish or two.

So – here’s what I’ll be cooking next Thursday!

Nibbles, spreads, dips, savory biscuits and appetizers
Dad will prepare his Shrimp and Cocktail Sauce. I think I’ll cook up a small wheel of Warm Brie with Cranberry Chutney or put together a display of my favorite cheeses and add a basket of my Cheesy Pumpkin-Sage Biscuits. And finally, I’ll roast up a batch of Rosemary Cashews.

Soups
I’ve already whipped up a batch of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. I generally serve it in mugs towards the end of the cocktail hour.

Turkey& Sides
I will be roasting a Turkey, stuffing it with Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing and serving it with Giblet Gravy and Cranberry Sauce.

For veggies and sides, I’ll be making Broccoli Purée, smashing up some Decadent Cheesy Potatoes and Savory Smashed Sweet Potatoes. As an updated homage to my mom, I may make my Roasted Mushrooms, Leeks, Shallots & Pearl Onions. (Mom always made creamed onions for Thanksgiving.)

Sweet Treats
My sister-in-law is bringing dessert so I’m off the hook. If I was going to bake, I would make my Pumpkin Cheesecake. If that wasn’t enough, I’d add my Rustic Apple Croustade.

And there you have it! My slowly evolving and changing Thanksgiving menu, version 2017.

Happy Thanksgiving from all the Nyes!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Fourteen Hundred & Ninety-two & Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Corn

As kids, we learned all about Christopher Columbus and his perilous voyage in 1492. Queen Isabella, along with the Niña, the Pinta and Santa María are entrenched in our psyches. Looking back, I might be tempted to think there was a little hanky-panky going on. The benevolent Izzy got a lot of coverage but there was next to no mention of King Ferdinand. That said; there was no mention of hanky-panky either. Then again, you can only share so much with second graders.

Anyway, throughout elementary school we cut galleons out of construction paper and studied maps of Columbus’ journey. As interesting as galleons and maps are, the best part was the day off from school. Why, we’d barely been back six weeks and already a mini vacation. A parade wound its way down Washington Street. My sister and her Girl Scout troupe marched in it one year. I must admit, I preferred jumping in a giant pile of leaves to standing in the cold watching Brenda and her friends parade by.

Come to think of it, it was also a good day to eat birthday cake.You see, my sister was born on Columbus Day. No, not the second Monday of October, that’s the let’s-have-a-long-weekend holiday and not the real thing. Brenda’s birthday was on the actual day Chris discovered America. Well, the actual day plus more than a few hundred years. Of course, CC thought he was in Asia. Columbus had the brilliant idea that the quickest route from Europe to Asia was a short sail west across the Atlantic. He didn’t figure on a bunch of islands, a couple of continents and another ocean standing between him and Japan.

Anyway, when I was in kindergarten, maybe first grade, Brenda tried to convince me that the holiday commemorated her birthday. I knew it wasn’t true but that didn’t stop me from having a double twinge of doubt and jealousy. I’ll also admit to feeling more than my fair share of vindication when the parade and the rest of the hoopla was moved to the second Monday of October.

All these years later and living in New Hampshire, the Columbus Day weekend is a reminder that cold weather is coming soon. Forget parades, it’s time to get my act together. Along with a quest for perfect pumpkin, I’d better take a stab at all those summer-is-over chores. (Is it okay if I just kind of start to think about taking a stab at them?)

Unless you are a weed-whacking aficionado, it’s not a fun list. There is a certain sadness to putting the kayak away, especially when I barely had a chance to use it. Perhaps if I wait another week or two, I’ll find the time for one last paddle. The same goes for the Adirondack chairs. Is it possible that a few hours will suddenly free up? It would be nice to sit in the sun with a good book. Thankfully I have (or hope I have) a few more weeks before the snow tires must go on the Mini.

Truth be told, I’d rather take a long walk and check out the foliage than clean out the garage. True or not, I’ve been assured that the brilliant reds and golds are just a few short days away. People come from miles to see our foliage. Shouldn’t we take some time to revel in the glorious color?

Speaking of color, my red kitchen is getting closer and closer to completion. The big stuff is done – floors, cabinets, countertops and appliances. All that’s left is a list of gnarly little odds and ends. Well, except for a second coat of paint for the walls and trim, that one’s neither odd nor little.

Anyone know a good painter? Bon appétit!

Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Grape Tomatoes & Corn
This dish combines pasta and pesto from Columbus’ native Genoa with tomatoes and corn from the new world. If you like, add a few roasted shrimp. After all, Genoa is a seaport. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Pinch or to taste red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
16 ounces gemelli, cellentari or your favorite short twisted pasta
About 1 cup (1-2 ears) fresh corn kernels
Pesto alla Genovese
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a large skillet with equal parts olive oil and vinegar, add the tomatoes, season with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Add the onion, toss to combine and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Add the garlic, toss and roast for a final 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and begin to brown.

While the tomatoes roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Reserving a little pasta water, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, corn and about 1/4 cup pasta water and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add a little more pasta water. Cover and simmer on low for 1 minute.

Add a dollop or two of Pesto alla Genovese to the pasta and toss to combine. Transfer the pasta to a deep platter or individual shallow bowls. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Pesto alla Genovese
Makes about 1 cup

4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup plus more to cover extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Put half of the basil, the pine nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse to chop and combine. Add the remaining basil and 1/3 cup olive oil and process until smooth. Add the cheeses and pulse to combine.

Transfer to a small bowl or jar, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to combine the flavors.

Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of leftover pesto, cover and store in the refrigerator.

You might like to make a big batch and store in small containers in the freezer. Making pesto is a lot more fun than weed-whacking.

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One Year Ago – Cardamom Plum Tort
Two Years Ago – Easy Microwave Popcorn
Three Years Ago – Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pesto Oil
Four Years Ago – Lemon Pasta & Shrimp with Olives & Capers
Five Years Ago – Roasted Sausages with Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe & Polenta
Six Years Ago – Lobster Mac & Cheese
Seven Years Ago – Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup
Eight Years Ago – Soupe au Pistou
Nine Years Ago – Mulled Cider

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate the long weekend? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017