Month: December 2012

Happy New Year!

Working a wedding today, a bridal party of now 11!, which will most likely last into the evening. Where then my family will be greeting me at my house for dinner when I get home, to spend the night together eating Chinese and drinking!

So before my day gets insane and I don’t have time to say it:

✯✫✩☆ HAVE A FABULOUS NEW YEARS EVE NIGHT! ☆✩✫✯

✯✫✩☆ HOPE 2013 BRINGS YOU LOTS OF GOOD HEATLH & PROSPERITY. ☆✩✫✯

Oven Roasted Leeks with Herbs de Provence

Oven Roasted Leeks With Herbs de Provence

6 medium leeks, cleaned and cut lengthwise into quarters
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup of vegetable stock

You will need a baking sheet covered in parchment.

Pre-heat oven 400°F.

To Clean Leeks
Remove the coarse outer leaves. Trim each leek like you would a scallion- chopping off the root end, and then taking off the darkest portion of the leaves down to the light green; leaving about 2 inches of green. Slice the leeks down the center, rinse under cold water to remove all bits of dirt/sand, slightly bending the leeks around to remove the debris. Drain on paper towels and proceed with recipe.

Take the clean leeks, in a bowl, and toss with the oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Then add to baking sheet.

Roast the leeks until they are tender, about 35-45 minutes. Around the 20 minute mark add in a few splashes of the stock, and then repeat at the next interval of 20 minutes. Once they are tender and have caramelized marks they are cooked.

Finished Side Dish!  Oven Roasted Leeks with herbs de Provence.

Finished Side Dish! Oven Roasted Leeks with herbs de Provence.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (featured covered in Cocunut flakes)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp milk

In mixing bowl, add powdered sugar and butter, mix on low speed. Mix in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.

Powdered sugar

Powdered sugar

Gradually add in the remaining milk, the frosting should appear more smooth.

Add in the butter and milk

Add in the butter and milk

Mix on low until creamy, if needed cause of thickness add in a tsp of milk more

Mix on low until creamy, if needed cause of thickness add in a few drops of milk at a time more

If the frosting is too thick, add in more milk a few drops at a time.

If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.

This makes enough to frosts a 13×9-inch cake or a 9-inch two-layer cake.

This cake was made for Christmas Day covered in coconut flakes;  for Christmas Eve we replaced the vanilla in this recipe with peppermint extract for a minty frosting.

Frosted cake covered in Coconut Flakes!

Finished Cake!  Frosted cake covered in Coconut Flakes!

Decorative Orange & Lavender Ice Tray

This tray adds whimsy when serving cold foods. The best part is that you can use any decor and shape to fit your party theme. It’s super easy and it’s my favorite way to showcase a cold appetizer! This tray was used on Christmas this year.


Decorative Orange and Lavender Ice Tray

  • 4-5 slices of a large orange
  • 2 sprigs of fresh lavender, or your favorite herbs
  • water

Fill a 13 x 9 pan with an inch of water.

Place the oranges and lavender in a decorative fashion. Add a strip of tape over each row of orange going vertical and horizontal. Take a toothpick for each fruit slice and poke through tape and let it submerge each slice under the water.

In a high walled pan pour about 1 inch deep of water. then add decor.

In a high walled pan pour about 1 inch deep of water. then add decor. Freeze for at least 4 hrs (more prefer)

Then place pan on a level rack in freezer, and let freeze at least 24 hrs.

To remove. Take off the tape and toothpicks. Then run warm water over metal part of the pan for a few seconds to slightly melt the ice away from the pan. You will be able to fit a slim butter knife to wiggle it loose around the edges. It should slip right out. Then place ice, as it was in the pan, on a tray larger than the size of the block. This way it’s even and won’t rock on the tray.

Before adding the cold food, let the ice block sit for a few minutes.

;

Have fun!

set tray onto a larger serving tray, and wet the surface. let sit for a few minutes and then arrange food on top.

Set ice tray onto a larger serving tray, let sit for a few minutes and then arrange food on top.

Ice tray close up

Ice tray close up. As the food is eaten you can see the decor on the tray. Real pretty.

Potato Galette

Potato Galette

2.5lbs (5-6 large) Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thin, then rinsed in cool water to remove excess starch
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of each salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp of each dried rosemary and thyme

You will need a baking sheet covered with parchment.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Take slices of potatoes and coat with all the ingredients.  Then shake to remove excess before putting on the pan for cooking.

Thinly sliced potatoes dressed in olive oil and herbs


Thinly sliced potatoes dressed in olive oil and herbs

Place a slice in center of pan then overlap slices in circle around center slice, forming a flower pattern.  Continue overlapping around so they are even in thickness to the top.  Sprinkle a touch more of salt and pepper.  Place a piece of parchment on top and weigh it down with a pan.

Let cook for 45 minutes, then remove the pan and parchment, and let cook 15 minutes more till browned and all potatoes are tender.

To serve cut into wedges.

place the potato slices around and atop one another in a flower pattern

place the potato slices around and atop one another in a flower pattern

Christmas 2012 Recap

Hope you all had a great Christmas, and are gearing up for the New Year celebrations!

Thought to recap Christmas.

Though we had a wonderful Christmas, it wasn’t without the downside of my sister and her family falling extremely ill.  They all fell ill Christmas Eve night, which meant they were note able to attend the dinner we hosted the next day.  😦   It really left a void, but you can’t predict illness or risk others getting sick.. and thankfully they are all feeling better now!

We had a whirlwind few days getting ready for the big holiday.  Last minute food shopping, wrapping presents, cleaning, prepping food, gifts to grab, making sweets, setting up tables, making an ice tray for some apps, and everything done before heading to Mass on the Eve before hitting the family get togethers.  Christmas Eve Mass was literally insane this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one place for a Catholic Mass.  This church always has a huge attendance at the 4PM Mass. Even before we became parishioners, we would go for the Christmas Eve Mass. It would be so full that they’s open up the basement level; people would be surrounding all over the building.  A real fire hazard i.m.o. This year they figured to split the Mass out and host them at different locations.  One at 4PM in the HS’s auditorium, to seat 1200 people, and another one at 4:30PM at Merrimack College to fit a few hundred. We opted for the 4PM, and IT WAS BEYOND FULL! It was a beautiful service and it was a great idea on their behalf.

all the dishes and glasswares were washed and ready to go!

Sunday Night- all the dishes and glassware were washed and ready to go!

Christmas Eve Mass

Christmas Eve Mass- we sat in the nose bleed section!

Soon after Mass ended we scurried off to my sister in-laws for their new annual open house. We brought our homemade peppermint flavored buttercream frosted vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, and traditional spritz cookies. It was great to see my husband’s family, old and young. It’s a shame that some of us only get together at this holiday. But plans were discussed to make more face time happen.  Then after a handful of hours of catching up, drinking and eating, we drove off to my sister’s.  Where, when we arrived, found my sister deathly ill on the couch, my niece and nephew, as well. My parents told us the story that soon after their first course my sister fell ill.  We hung out there anyway to keep company, even though we kept a distance. The kids had fun nonetheless, and all wanted to open gifts. We ended up exchanging and even though my sister was so ill, it was a sweet evening together.  The girls were exhausted and we hurried home to get ready for Santa.  They passed out cold in the car before we even left my sister’s which made it easy on Santa and Mrs. Claus.

spritz cookies!

Making spritz cookies!

Made cupcakes!

Made cupcakes!

frosting made

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting Made

Christmas Day started off with the girls doing the ‘SANTA CAME’ shuffle.  It’s like the Chunk Shuffle mixed with Elaine Benis’ little kick dance. They made a bee line for the much requested bikes and then slid under the tree for all the wrapped presents. Paper was flying everywhere. They were so excited; and it was such a joy watching them all bewildered by which gift to open next.

Then the Mr. and I exchanged gifts while the girls were playing with their new toys.  Since we’ve had our first Christmas together he has requested a theme for wrapping my presents.  It’s always the best part of the present. This year was A Seinfeld Christmas.  I’m attaching a photo. It was too good not to share!  This girl got a lot of real nice presents, and can’t wait to use everything.  Right after gifts were exchanged it was time to get into hostess mode; all about setting up the tables, dressing them, getting myself and the girls dolled up, prepping food and cooking everything on time.

Monk's Diner!

Monk’s Diner!

How awesome!?  He made me Uncle Leo Wrapping paper!!  He was so clever with the wrap.

How awesome!? He made me Uncle Leo Wrapping paper!! He was so clever with the wrap.

Christmas dinner was great. In attendance were my parents and my in-laws. My girls enjoyed having some one on one time with both sets of grandparents. It was a major downer to not have my sister and her family there, but we kept them in our thoughts, prayed for their speedy recovery and the kids made them a card to get well, too.

My family ate and drank everything;  my dinner menu was a success! Yes! My beef tenderloin, which I had never made before, was real yummy. I was so nervous making it.  My parents love to eat red meat at over well done.. so I cooked the roast to medium-well.  I would’ve preferred medium (slight pink center) though. But even though it was medium-well, it was still cut with a fork tender, juicy and delicious.  Everyone hung out till pretty late which was nice. Overall, a wonderful night.

place setting.. place cards made by my oldest.

place setting.. place cards made by my oldest.

the kids table was set, though we didnt use it :(

the kids table was set, though we didnt use it 😦

Last night we had friends over for an impromptu drink and catch up session. It was all great fun and a late night again.. yearbooks came out and there were bottles of wine gone. A lot of laughing. Which was a great way to end this holiday!

I have a few recipes to share from my cooking frenzy Tuesday that I will be posting through the next few days. I got the beef tenderloin and gravy recipe up.

So keep an eye out for more recipes!

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom and Shallot Gravy

Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom and Shallot Gravy

  • One (3 pound) beef tenderloin roast, preferably trimmed and tied
  • 1 tsp of each salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsp of butter cubed
  • 3-4 sprigs or 1 tbsp dried lavender
  • 3-4 sprigs or 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil

For the Gravy

  • 15 white mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and cut into slices
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tspn of each S&P

You will need a large baking pan (no parchment).

Preheat oven 375F

Remove the tenderloin from the refrigerator an hour before roasting to bring it to room temperature.  Once an hour has passed, rinse with cool water and pat dry thoroughly.  Then massage the beef with the s&p.

Rinse the roast with cool water, and dry thoroughly.

Rinse the roast with cool water, and dry thoroughly.

Then take a skillet, on medium-high heat, and add 1 tbsp of the oil.  Sear the roast on all sides, let rest 5 minutes.

In a skillet, sear the roast (before placing in the oven)

In a skillet, sear the roast (before placing in the oven)

In the baking pan, add the mushrooms, shallots, herbs, garlic and the s&p.  Rest the roast on top.  Add the cubes of butter on top of the roast and all around the mushrooms.

Place the roast on top of the mushrooms, shallots, herbs and garlic.  Then add three tablespoons of butter cubed all around the roast and the veggies below.

Place the roast on top of the mushrooms, shallots, herbs and garlic. Then add three tablespoons of butter cubed all around the roast and the veggies below.

Roast until the internal temperature reaches 130F. This can take anywhere between 45-50 minutes.

Once temp is reached, remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes either on a plate or cutting board loosely covered in foil.

In a small sauce pan/skillet, on medium-high heat, take all the cooked mushrooms, shallots, herbs and juices from the roast and bring to a slight simmer.  Add in 3 tbsp of water and the flour and stir until the color turns brownish grey and the sauce thickens.

 

Voila!  The finished dish!  Beef Tenderloin with mushroom/shallot gravy.

Voila! The finished dish! Beef Tenderloin with mushroom/shallot gravy.