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

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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

Christmas Red & Greenery & Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce

The Fourth of July has its parades and fireworks. Thanksgiving has turkey. When it comes to traditions, Christmas has cornered the market. We bake dozens of cookies and roam the streets serenading the neighbors with seasonal ditties. We hang our stocks on the fireplace, wait only somewhat-patiently for reindeer to fly and a jolly old elf to arrive. Hmm, if you stop and think about it, some of our favorite Christmas traditions can best be described as, well, odd. Take, just for instance, the foliage we bring into the house for the holidays.

First, there’s the tree. Forget settling for a houseplant or flower-filled vase. No indeed, we cut down a full-grown evergreen and drag it into the living room. If that’s not strange enough, we then foolishly think that the dog and cat won’t notice. Really? Even the most standoffish of felines can’t help but observe a tree in the middle of living room. Perhaps, we think our furry friends will just ignore it. Could that explain our astonishment when the puppy lifts his leg? As for our show of surprise at the cat racing up the tree and then refusing climb down; just who are we trying to kid?

Speaking of bringing the outside in, mistletoe could be an even odder choice to deck the halls. First of all, it’s a parasite. New Hampshire is too cold for mistletoe but I used to see it all the time in Geneva. It latches on to a tree and grows into a massive ball. As that ball of greenery and white berries grows, it robs the tree of moisture and nutrients and eventually kills it.

If that’s not bad enough, mistletoe is poisonous. It’s not so bad for humans. Rather than kill you, it might make you drowsy, blur your vision or cause vomiting, maybe even seizures. However, it can be very dangerous for the hamster, cat and dog. In spite of all that, we hang it in doorways throughout the house. Not because we want a stash of poison handy but to induce loved ones and strangers to kiss under it. What’s next? Hemlock wreaths.

However, when it comes to poison, poinsettias get a bit of a bad rap. By the way, what’s with the name? If it wasn’t for spellcheck, I couldn’t even write about these bright red beauties. Although no one sings about it, poinsettia is another one of those tomato-tomahto kind of words.

Growing up, everyone had a grandmother or aunt or a fancy-pants neighbor who pronounced it poin-set-ee-ah. The rest of us, and by that I mean everyone at my house including both Nanas, pronounced it poin-set-ah. Although, come to think of it, I think some of us added a -t- along with dropping the -ee- for point-set-ah. All that said; my Grandfather Westland might have used the la-di-da pronunciation once or twice. The family comedian, he delighted in making us giggle with, among other things, fancy-pants accents and pronunciations.

Anyway, regardless of an extra t, ee-ah or ah, poinsettias are barely toxic. There’s little reason to worry about kids or grandkids keeling over. They’d need to chow down about 500 leaves to become ill. That would be quite some salad for a little one. Given the awful taste, there’s little chance the children will indulge.

Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Roasted Shrimp with Rémoulade Sauce
My grandfather always brought cocktail shrimp to family celebrations. Dad continues the tradition. He serves boiled shrimp with ketchup-based cocktail sauce. I like to shake it up a little. Enjoy!
Makes about 36 pieces

Rémoulade Sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons capers, drained and finely chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the mustards, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and zest, capers and anchovy paste in a bowl, season with the spices, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the mayonnaise, scallion and herbs and whisk again. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to mix and meld the flavors.

Makes about 1 cup. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Roasted Shrimp
2 pounds extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil

Put the shrimp in a bowl, sprinkle with the garlic and lemon zest and toss to combine. Drizzle with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss again. Let the shrimp marinade for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the shrimp on rimmed baking sheets in a single layer and roast at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through and opaque. Don’t overcook.

Serve immediately or at room temperature with Rémoulade Sauce.

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One Year Ago – Bûche de Noël
Two Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Sautéed Greens
Three Years Ago – Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins
Four Years Ago – Ginger Shortbread
Five Years Ago – Baked French Toast
Six Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Seven Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Grapes
Eight Years Ago – Savory Bread Pudding
Nine Years Ago – Triple Chocolate Parfait

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

How will you decorate for the Holidays? Feel free to share!

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

Another Weekend Special – A Festive Holiday Dinner with Friends

If dinner for eight (or twelve) is on your weekend agenda, I’m happy to help. The holidays are a wonderful time to invite friends over for a casual-elegant dinner. Here are a few ideas …

Put a bottle of prosecco on ice, light the fire and get cozy. You’ll want to start with a savory or two. Perhaps you’d like to try my Greek Mushrooms and/or Butternut Squash Tartlets? No, how about my favorite dip – Baba Ganoush?

When you are ready to move to the table …

Start with a colorful salad. My Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts is beautiful and delicious. Serve the salad with a basket of Savory Rosemary Biscotti.

For the main course … well, how about Roast Chicken, Lemon Roasted Salmon with Beurre Blanc or Braised Short Ribs? All three would be delicious with a side of Roasted Cauliflower and a spoonful of Whole Grain Pilaf.

Now, for dessert! For rich and delicious and chocolate, you can’t beat my Flourless Chocolate Cake.

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? Try one of my seasonal menus or create your own© Susan W. Nye, 2017

The Sounds of Christmas & Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Walnuts

The Christmas season is a beautiful time of year. When we were kids, Mom and Dad piled us into the station wagon for a trip around town to see the holiday lights. Sometime in early December, Nana gave my sister and me sweet little party dresses. From the school assembly to family dinner on the twenty-fifth, we were belles at every festive event. Delicious treats warmed our bellies and the smell of fresh pine boughs fill the air.

Not just sights and smells, there is a whole bunch of wonderful sounds to enjoy throughout the holiday season. Here are a few:

Any day at any time, happy voices fill the air. We’re never too distracted to exchange a friendly greeting with a neighbor or offer a merry thank you to our favorite barista. Perhaps more raucous is the shared goodwill at a holiday party. The season just brings out our cheery best.

Carols and songs fill the air. Let’s start with the radio station that plays only Christmas music. Move on to the musak in a department store elevator. Don’t forget to join a sing-along, impromptu or planned. And finally, I’m sorry but throughout the holidays you can hear me tunelessly humming as I go about your errands. There is something about the holidays that makes me want to sing.

Bells jingle and ring at every turn. They decorate the front door, letting out a cheery jingle with every opening and closing. They jangle at the student assembly. After all, not all of us can play the clarinet. Someone has to clatter the triangle and clang bells. Of course, no one can ignore the bell ringers with the red kettles and big hearts. They stand in front of malls and department stores for hours in every kind of weather collecting money to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and assist those in need.

Then there is the rasping sound of skates on the ice and the swoosh of skis on snow. Okay, skis are just as likely to make a skittering noise as they hurtle over New Hampshire’s icy slopes. Anyway, these sounds reassure us that we do indeed love winter … in spite of the cold and short days.

A crackling fire and whistling teakettle are sounds that will warm you inside and out. After a day shopping or an afternoon on the ice, it is pure pleasure to relax with a cup of tea or cocoa by the fire.

The rattle of cookie sheets is a welcome holiday sound. Whether you bake dozens and dozens or just one batch of an old family favorite, cookies are a delicious Christmas tradition. Be sure to bake a batch or two with your kids or grandkids. If they aren’t around, borrow a child or two from the neighbors. They will be happy to oblige as long as you return them with a couple dozen cookies.

There is nothing like the peace and quiet of gently falling snow. Cars stay home and off the road, the birds find shelter and any remaining sounds are muffled by the snow. It is pure peace and a sharp contrast to …

The happy shouts of children unwrapping their presents! I love all the excitement and noise on Christmas morning. The confusion of everyone talking and laughing at once just adds to the fun.

Enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. Bon appétit!

Romaine , Radicchio and Avocado with Pomegranate & Walnuts
This salad is as beautiful as it is delicious. Serve it at your next holiday party or bring it along to a potluck. Enjoy!
Serves 12

10-12 ounces baby romaine
2 endives, thinly sliced
1/2-1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Citrusy Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1-2 avocados, halved, pitted and cut into thin wedges
About 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
About 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Put the romaine, endives, radicchio and fennel in a bowl, drizzle with enough Citrusy Vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine.

Transfer the greens to a deep serving platter or individual plates, top with avocado slices, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts and serve.

Citrusy Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
3/4 cup or to taste extra virgin olive oil

Put the garlic, shallot, mustard and brown sugar in a clean glass jar and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar, lemon and orange juice and zest and shake vigorously to combine.

Add the olive oil and shake again to combine. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes or more to combine the flavors. Give one more vigorous shake before serving.

Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Garlicy Shrimp with Tomatoes & Olives
Two Years Ago – Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Mushrooms & Kale
Three Years Ago – Maple-Nut Sundaes
Four Years Ago – Rosemary Cashews
Five Years Ago – Greek Stuffed Mushrooms
Six Years Ago – Ginger Crème Brûlée
Seven Years Ago – Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie
Eight Years Ago – White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle
Nine Years Ago – Chicken with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Penne

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

What are your favorite sounds of the Holidays? Feel free to share!

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