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Dinner with Friends to close out 2016 and welcome 2017

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I love celebrating New Year’s Eve at home with friends.  And since last night was especially cold and rainy, it was even more perfect to be home, by the fire, eating too much as the tradition typically goes! I’m sharing our menu – these are relatively simple dishes to make for a special occasion, or any other night.

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts over Arugula and Kale Salad

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It’s the crispy brussel sprouts that make this dish so great (plus the dressing – the maple syrup adds a nice additional flavor – I think it’s an under-utilized ingredient).

Ingredients

  • 12 brussel sprouts chopped or shaved
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 3 cups of kale  (buy the bagged kale – already washed, dried, ribs removed)
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds (optional)
Dressing
  • 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove,  minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add half the brussels sprouts (or however many will fit in a single layer in the pot) and fry until crispy and beginning to brown.
  • Remove the fried brussels to a paper towel-lined plate
  • Continue with the second batch of sprouts.
  • Dressing:  mix together with a whisk: the Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and garlic. Add the olive oil and whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Toss the kale and arugula with the dressing and mix in the crispy brussels sprouts before serving.
  • Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top if you choose to add (I think you’ll like the addition!)

Butternut Squash Risotto with Leeks

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I found this recipe on Epicurious years ago and it continues to be a crowd pleaser.  Truth be told, I was so behind schedule last night that I hadn’t even showered yet and our guests were coming in 15 minutes, so my excellent sous chef (that would be my husband, Jeff) offered to get the risotto started and actually kept the reins even after I was ready (sometimes he is a saint).  One thing to note about this dish is that I find it always takes longer than the recipe says – but just keep stirring and adding chicken broth.  Some might say risotto isn’t an easy dish – it does take a while and a fair amount of stirring, but in our house everyone is usually gathered in the kitchen anyway, so we are able to entertain our guests while it’s cooking.  I also think a one-main-dish dinner party is easier than multiple side dishes and a main dish (especially if you are having wine during the cooking!).

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups (about) chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth (have a little extra on hand just in case the rice takes longer)
  • 3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (I just use 2% milk)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional – its great without it too)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (add as much or as little as you prefer – I usually add about 1 1/2 tablespoons first, test it, and add more if it needs it).

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes.  (I often make this ahead and refrigerate) 

Bring stock to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep stock warm. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot stock; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes longer. Add roasted squash, cream or milk, Parmesan cheese and sage; stir until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Apple and Caramel Galette

This is based on a great recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction – I simplified and used Pillsbury’s Refrigerated Pie Crust.  My mom is an amazing baker of pies, and always makes the crust from scratch – but I didn’t get that gene (sorry Mom!).  But honestly, the Pillsbury crust was so good and flaky why bother with making it from scratch.

Ingredients

Filling & Topping
    • 2 – 3 large apples (I prefer Granny Smith), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices (about 4 cups) 
    • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
    • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (to prevent apple browning)
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • jarred caramel sauce (Smuckers works well, but Williams Sonoma salted caramel sauce is very good!)
    • egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
    • optional: 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Prepare the fillingMix the apples, brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F (190°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Roll out the Pillsbury pie crust onto the parchment paper/baking sheet.
  4. Arrange the apples (not the juices) into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border all around. Gently fold the edges of the dough over the apples, overlapping the dough as necessary. Press gently to seal the edges. Drizzle 3 Tablespoons of salted caramel over the filling (not the crust). Brush the crust edges with egg wash and sprinkle the whole thing with walnuts, if using.
  5. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 35 minutes (mine actually cooked a little sooner than this – so check it at 30 minutes). Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  6. Serve with extra caramel sauce drizzled on top and Vanilla Ice Cream.

If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll try these delicious dishes – I’m confident you will enjoy them.  And so sorry that my photos aren’t better – we were starving – with less interest in perfect staging, and more interest in eating!

Cheers to a great 2017 for all!

 

 

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