Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ... !!!  Man is the snow really coming down out there.  Just walked in the door from coming back home from work, and let me say has the snow really come down!  When I left for work this morning, there was absolutely nothing on the ground, and when I peeked out the window at work, there were several inches already on the ground in Manhattan, meaning that Brooklyn must have a ton more snow - and I see now that it definitely does!  I wish yesterday would have been like this - it is so festive.  Oh well, at least it's here now.  The funny thing about snow is that I come from a state where there is so much snow so much of the time that coming here to NY was like living in a tropical place.  Now that I've been here for over three years, I find myself becoming wimpier and wimpier as the time goes by and cannot imagine my poor family trying to live and work in several feet of snow.  Let's move on, shall we, now that I have my hot tea in front of me?

I had a great Christmas, spending lots of time with the Hubby and hope everyone else out there did too.  I was somewhat on a time crunch this year with so much stuff to do that I didn't really cook as much as I wanted, which is not to say that we didn't have enough - we were sufficiently stuffed at the end of the meal.  I usually prepare the same kind of food for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for some reason I didn't feel like eating the green bean casserole, unturkey and all that goes along with it.  I felt like eating a little bit lighter, so that's what the Hubby and I did.  We still had to have the staples mashed potatoes and stuffing of course, but we also added a bunch of veggies with a dipping sauce, baked seitan with a mushroom sauce, sweet potato casserole,  Peruvian style salad, etc.  I'm going to list a few of the main recipes I made.  I'm not going to write down the desserts, because frankly, I was a little disappointed in them and do not want to write them down until I have tried them a couple more times.  So here are some of the delicious things I made for the  Hubby and I to enjoy!

The Christmas Spread

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6-8

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
6 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups dark roasted vegetable stock
6 springs fresh thyme, stripped off tough stems
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Place the chopped butternut squash in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes.  Add the roasted squash and saute until all veggies are well mixed. 
4.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the stock, sea salt, black pepper and thyme.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the veggies are cooked through and the liquid is well seasoned.  
5.  Allow soup to cool down for 15-20 minutes and working in batches, blend the soup until smooth and creamy, placing the pureed soup in a clean pot.  Once all of the soup is pureed, taste for seasoning, adding more salt of pepper as needed.  Keep warm and serve.


Serves 6-8

10-12 cups dried bread
1 large onion, small diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2- 2 tablespoons better than boullion, no-chicken flavor*
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2.  In a medium sized pot, add the onions and celery, along with the boullion, sage, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.
3.  Add 4 cups hot water and bring contents to a boil.  Once it boils, turn down to a simmer and simmer just until onions and celery are cooked through. 
4.  Place the dried bread in a large bowl and pour the herbed onion and garlic broth over top.  Using a spatula, toss to coat, ensuring everything is well coated.
5.  Lightly oil a 9x13" pan and firmly press the stuffing mixture into the pan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the top is crispy and the edges are browned.
*Note: This mixture is supposed to taste strong.  My mum always told me that when you're making stuffing it should always taste too salty, to peppery and too sage-y.  That way, once it has cooked into the bread, which is extremely plain, it will be perfect.  This has always worked for me.  Also, this is a basic recipe .  If you'd like, just before mixing the bread with the broth mixture, you can saute half of a package of Gimme Lean Sausage Style and mix it in, baking it as indicated above.

Peruvian Salad

Serves 6-8

3 beets, peeled and small diced, about 3 cups
6 potatoes, peeled and small diced, about 4-5 cups
1 1/2 cups green peas, cooked according to package directions
2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise ( I like Follow Your Heart)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(I like to add the following, but in the Hubby's purest view*, the above is perfect:
1/2 small sweet onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, sliced down the middle and small diced)

1.  In a medium pot, cook the potatoes and beets, separately, until just cooked.  Drain with cold water and place in a large bowl.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.  The salad will have turned a beautiful pink color, which is what you want.  At this point, you can add the onion and celery, if desired.

*The hubby grew up eating this salad in the Dominican Republic and has pretty strong  opinions about what goes in it, but I feel like it definitely benefits from some added crunch, achieved here by the onion and celery.  But you can prepare it as you'd like.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 6-8

5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons earth balance
pinch sea salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Boil sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain well and return to pot.  Add the earth balance and allow to melt.  Sprinkle with the sea salt, black pepper and 3 tablespoons of the raw sugar.
3.  Mash potatoes until completely fluffy and lump free.  Season to taste.
4.  Lightly oil a 8x8" pan and scoop potato mixture into pan, pressing firmly with a spatula and smoothing out the top.
5.  Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons raw sugar on top, followed by the chopped pecans.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until warmed all the way through and sugar on top has caramelized.

All of the Delicious Food!

This was an amazing Christmas for the Hubby and I (our second together!) and we wish everyone great health, happiness and good eats as we make our way into the new year!



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