Monday, December 28, 2009

holiday menus that were never meant to be

due to recent injury -- dislocated shoulder (story told in my other blog, The Entertaining House) has prohibited me from being able to create in the kitchen. this is maddening and frustrating to me because the kitchen is where I spend most of my time. It is where I feed and nourish my family and it is where I create. As long as I can create I am happy. But I am now very limited in what I can do. I am left handed and it is my left arm that is injured. I can bear no weight on that side at the moment. Carrying a cup of coffee is even impossible. Moving around the kitchen using just one arm and hand means that the smallest task is taking forever to accomplish.

We were to be celebrating Christmas with my parents and eating a lovely lunch just hours after the accident took place.
The Menu would have been:

Grilled Fillet of Salmon in a dry rub of chili powders, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper accompanied by Lightly Sauteed Garbanzo Beans (with salt, garlic powder and paprika) and
Lemon Parmesan Orzo and a
Simple Mixed Greens Salad
Wine Selection for the adults
Shirley Temples for the Children

Dessert would have been:
Assorted Christmas Cookies (made by my mother in law) and
Freshly Brewed Coffee or Cappuccinos

Instead my mother was able to make sandwiches for everyone using the cold cuts that had just been purchased from the deli.

We were also to be having a few friends over for a New Year's Day Party. I am still deeply saddened that we had to cancel this too.

This was to be a get together with friends we have known since long before children. Friends who are all fairly local, but we do not get to see often. This is a family friendly party -- an open house -- and the menu needed to accommodate many different ages, and children!

The Menu for Lunch (served buffet style) simple, family friendly but not short on flavor, would have been:

Spiral Ham with Assorted Mustard -- hot, mild and sweet
Various Breads and Rolls
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Quiche Lorraine
Spinach Salad

Assorted cookies and pies
Fresh Fruit

Hor D'oeuvres:

Homemade potato chips (purchased from Stew Leonard's)
with Barefoot Contessa's Sun Dried Tomato Dip
and Caramelized Onion Dip

Assorted Spiced Pita Chips with Sabra Hummus

Olive Bar
Spiced Nuts
Cheese Straws

Crudtiees with Herbed Yogurt Dip

Cheese Platter with Assorted Crackers

Goldfish for the littlest guests

Seltzer Water
Diet and Regular Colas and Gingerale
Assorted Wines
Assorted Beer
Juice Boxes for the littlest Guests

Assorted recipes below:

Barefoot Contessa's Sun-dried Tomato Dip:


  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (8 tomatoes)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • 10 dashes, hot red pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Puree the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, red pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the scallions and pulse twice. Serve at room temperature.

Barefoot Contessa's Pan-Fried Onion Dip:


  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Cheese Straws

(I usually wing these and never measure, so I am using The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for proper measurements)


  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese (I often use cheddar, pre-shredded, pre-packaged)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I don't use the thyme but now I will!)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it is 10- by 12-inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan, 1⁄2 cup of the Gruyère, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper. With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don't over bake or the cheese will burn.
Cool and serve at room temperature.

Spiced Sauteed Garbanzos (Chic Peas)

1 can garbanzo (chick peas) beans
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

In a saute pan add olive oil and heat the pan.
As pan is heating open the can of garbanzos, rinse and drain of all liquid and add to pan. Stir so that the beans are well covered. Add seasonings.
Garbanzos will start to brown, the shells will harden and get crisp. When nicely browned and crisp (taste) about 5 minutes, remove from pan and place in a serving bowl. May be served hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Fanny Farmer's Macaroni and Cheese

The Fanny Merritt Farmer Cookbook is my go to book for all basic recipes. I adore her macaroni and cheese.
2 cups Elbow Macaroni

2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 1/4 cups of milk heated
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 F
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Carefully Stir in the flour. This makes a roux. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown - about 2 minutes.
Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil.
Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Stir in cup grated Cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Remove from the heat and spray a casserole with nonstick spray
Place the cooked macaroni into the casserole, pour the cheese sauce over it, and mix gently with a fork.
Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top and spread the crumbs over the cheese.
Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 - 30 minutes.

Spinach Salad with French Vinaigrette

This recipe will need to be altered to feed more for a party.

1 lb baby spinach (these look like small leaves)
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
8 slices of thick bacon, cooked
1 medim red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup of sliced mushrooms

For the dressing:
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Place all salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.

In a jar with a lid or cruet add the following ingredients and mix well. Add to salad just prior to serving. Unused dressing may be set aside and used at a later time. Keep for a week at room temperature.

Shirley Temple

8 0z of good quality gingerale such as Canada Dry
1 shot glass (I have used a medicine cup in its place!) of Rose's Grenadine
1 maraschino cherry
1 straw


KatiePerk said...

Sorry about your shoulder! No fun. I am going to try this onion dip recipe for New Years!

Donna-FFW said...

Oh geez, I hope you are on the mend soon.

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