Friday, December 24, 2010

Easy Christmas Recipes

It will only be the three of us for Christmas Eve this year but my family always had big parties with tables loaded with appetizers and I can't break the tradition! I'm scaling back the amounts, no need to feed the fifth army, but a variety is as necessary as the Christmas tree.

Christmas Eve Menu
New York Style Cheesecake (can't bring myself to make mini cheesecakes; I need HUGE pieces to satisfy the sweet tooth :)
Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Shrimp Cocktail
Pigs-n-blankets
EggNog (sorry, I bought it this year!)
Deviled Eggs
Sausage Balls
Ok, I'm thinking I need to stop myself by chanting: it is only three people and one is a vegetarian child, it is only three people ...

I'm assuming Pigs-n-blankets and deviled eggs are pretty standard items so I'll just post the Cheesecake and Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts recipes; and in case you're wondering what the secret to great Shrimp Cocktail is-boil in Old Bay Seasoning just until they turn pink: perfect!

New York Style Cheesecake
Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
4- 8 oz packages of cream cheese @ room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325F. To make crust: Mix crumbs and butter and press evenly along bottom and half-way up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan.
2. To make filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, egg whites, vanilla and lemon rind. beat on medium, scraping sides of the bowl for about 5 minutes or until creamy. Pour into crust. Bake 1 hour, then cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
3. While cake cools, make topping. Mix the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla then spread on top of cake. Return cake to oven and bake 10 minutes more or until topping is set.
4. Turn off the oven, leaving door ajar (stick a wooden spoon handle in the door)and let the cake stand in the oven for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Makes 16 servings

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
1 can whole water chestnuts
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
dash of Allspice
Bacon-strips cut in half
Toothpicks (pre-soaked in water about 5 minutes)

Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and allspice: add drained water chestnuts. Toss to coat and let stand about 30 minutes. (add more soy sauce and some water if there isn't enough liquid to cover the water chestnuts)
Assemble:
1. Take a half strip of bacon, lay a water chestnut on it, roll it up, and secure with toothpick. Lay on parchment covered sheet pan.
2. Bake at 425F for about 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked.
Note: This recipe works equally well if you substitute dried apricots for the water chestnuts!

Bonus:
Christmas Day my parents will be here and we are having Tuscan Pot Roast. Sooo good and really easy; here's how.

Pot Roast-whatever size you need to feed the crowd (I'm cooking about 4.5 lb)
1-3 Tablespoons of grainy mustard
2-4 Tablespoons flour
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dry red wine
small red potatoes (I'll use about 1/2 pound for 4 adults)

1. Spread the meat with the mustard, then sprinkle all over with flour; set aside.
2. In a large flameproof casserole, Dutch oven, or heavy stock pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. (note, my Dutch oven bit the dust so I'm doing this step in a large skillet then transferring everything to the stock pot)
3. Add roast and cook, turning occasionally until meat is browned, 10-15 minutes should do it.
4. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Boil until the wine is reduced by half. Add water, salt, and pepper (to taste).
5. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, turning the roast occasionally, for about 2-1/2 hours. checking water level and adding as needed to prevent burning.
6. After 2-1/2 hours, add potatoes and more water if needed. Cover and continue to cook until the meat is fork tender and the potatoes are done, 30-40 minutes.
7. Let Roast stand about 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve with a green salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and a loaf of warm, crusty bread: yummy!


So, if you're not swamped with preparations, tell me what ya'll are having!

1 comment:

  1. Sausage balls! That's one of our holiday family traditions too! We inevitably have people look at us funny when we mention them, so we have to make some for them to try. Then all the curiosity on their face dissolves into a sheen of bliss. Nice to know you enjoy them too!
    Enjoy the rest of your holidays!

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