Festive Recipes: A Crowd-Pleasing Holiday Menu

Photos: Bite Me More

‘Tis the season!  We’re getting ready to serve up some fantastically festive eats with this easy and crowd-pleasing holiday menu.

 

1. Velvety Tomato Soup With Parmesan Dumplings

tomato-soup

Looking for the perfect quick and easy tomato soup recipe? Here it is, a delicious tomato soup that can be made in under 30 minutes, but, don’t let the speed fool you. This quick bowl of comfort not only offers up depth of flavor, but also is elegantly topped with Parmesan dumplings to make it a perfect entertaining first course.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tbsp shallots, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 small carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3 sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained

Parmesan Dumplings

1/3 cup flour
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh basil
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vegetable oil

Thinly sliced fresh basil, for garnish

Directions

1) For the soup, in a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion, shallot and garlic, cooking 4-5 minutes until tender. Add carrots, celery, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes to soften vegetables. Add chicken broth and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and either puree directly in soup pot using a handheld blender or place half of the tomato soup mixture in a countertop blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with remaining tomato soup. Return all of the soup to the saucepan. Reheat when ready to serve.

2) For the Parmesan dumplings, combine flour, Parmesan, basil, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and vegetable oil. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture with a wooden spoon until combined. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Using ½ tsp measuring spoon, drop slightly rounded dough into boiling water. Cook 4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Serve with soup. Garnish soup with sliced basil
Yield: 25 dumplings

Serves 6

2. Maple Balsamic Salad with Bacon Roasted Pecans

salad

Really, the title of the lip-smacking recipe should read: Incredible Salad of Crisp Romaine, Tart Pom Seeds, Crunchy Apples and Sweet Pears, all tossed in a Maple Balsamic Dressing and topped with Homemade Bacon Roasted Pecans. A mouthful, but a delicious one at that.

Ingredients

Bacon Roasted Pecans

6 slices bacon
1½ cups pecan halves
1 tbsp bacon grease
1 tbsp maple syrup
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Maple Balsamic Dressing

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp brown sugar
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Salad

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 large pear, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1½ cups bacon roasted pecans

Directions

1) For the bacon roasted pecans, preheat oven to 375ºF. Using a large skillet, cook bacon and reserve 1 tablespoon of grease. Remove bacon and set aside. In a medium bowl, toss pecans with bacon grease, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-12 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.

2) For the balsamic dressing, in a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Add salt to taste.

3) To assemble the salad, in a large serving bowl, combine lettuce, bacon, pomegranate seeds, pear, apple and pecans. Toss with maple balsamic dressing just before serving.

Serves 4

3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Dressing

brussels

In 1812, Thomas Jefferson introduced Brussels sprouts to the United States. Over 200 years later, we’re still roasting these fiber-and-vitamin-rich sweet emerald gems until golden-crusted. Tossed in a sweet and tangy maple mustard vinaigrette, these tender sprouts are going to have an entire nation jumping on the Brussels bandwagon.

Ingredients

Brussels Sprouts

4 cups fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Maple Dressing

2 tbsp olive oil
1tbsp apple cider vinegar
1tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, gently toss Brussels sprouts with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 10 minutes, flip Brussels sprouts and continue to cook 10 minutes more, until tender and golden.

2) While Brussels sprouts are roasting, prepare maple dressing. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon, salt and pepper. Remove sprouts from oven and place in a large bowl. Gently toss with maple dressing until well coated.

Serves 4

4. Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

rosemary-potatoes

I love rosemary, both Clooney and the herb. For our purposes I’ll refrain from discussing that the former sings our toe-tapping anthem, “Sisters.” Instead, I’ll move on to the latter, a fragrant herb with a great rep. Known for improving memory, relieving muscle pain, curing indigestion and making hair grow (note: source not the AMA), rosemary is a powerful, needle-like leaf. In the culinary world this highly aromatic branch makes everything herbalicious, including this simple but satisfying side dish. Tossed with baby potatoes, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and garlic, rosemary boosts the flavour of these crispy-crusted, tender taters. Served up on a regular basis, “Come On-A My House” (sorry, it’s the other Rosemary again) and taste this perfect combination of woody rosemary and golden brown potatoes.

Ingredients

2 lbs mini white potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2) Cut potatoes in half, or if they’re large, in quarters. Place in a large bowl and add olive oil, mustard, rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Toss well to coat. Spread potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet disregarding any excess dressing. Roast potatoes 15 minutes, turn them and roast an additional 15 minutes until crusted on the outside and tender inside. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

5. Prime Rib with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

prime-rib

Ideal for a celebratory meal (or just because it’s Sunday), this beautiful cut of meat, rubbed with garlic, rosemary and thyme, is roasted until perfectly pink inside and browned outside. Grab the carving knife and serve up succulent slices of this old-school Prime Rib, accompanied with a tangy, creamy horseradish-and-mustard sauce. It gives new meaning to “having a rare old time,” huh?

Ingredients

Prime Rib Roast

1 (10lb/4) bone-in Prime Rib Roast
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped

Horseradish Mustard Sauce

1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp white horseradish
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 450°F. To ensure even cooking, bring roast to room temperature 30-60 minutes before roasting. Pat rib roast dry and make 1/2-inch slits over the top and on the sides of the roast. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Rub seasoning all over roast and inside the slits. Place roast in a large roasting pan, rib side down. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking 2 hours and 10 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the roast reaches 130-135°F (for medium-rare). Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before carving.

2)For the horseradish sauce, in a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, horseradish, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sour cream, rosemary, salt and pepper. Serve with sliced roast.

Serves 8-10

6. White Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

cheesecake

Love chocolate melting in your mouth? Us too, especially with every bite of this creamy White Chocolate Cheesecake. A buttery graham cracker crust is topped with smooth white chocolate cheesecake and topped with sweet cherries and chocolate. Slice after slice, this cheesecake is heavenly.

Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted

White Chocolate Cheesecake Filling

4 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
3 tbsp flour
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
6oz white chocolate, chopped and melted

Cherry Topping

1 15oz can cherry pie filling
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

2) For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl. Mix until well combined. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the prepared pan. Place in the freezer until ready to use.

3) For the cheesecake filling, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add the flour, mixing until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add in vanilla extract and melted white chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 250ºF and continue to bake 45 minutes more. The cheesecake is ready when the edges begin to brown slightly and the center is slightly wiggly. It will firm as it cools. Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan. Cool cheesecake completely then refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

4) Before serving, spoon cherry filling over cheesecake and drizzle with white chocolate.

Serves 10-12

Authors of bestselling cookbooks Bite Me and Bite Me Too, saucy sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat love eating, feeding, entertaining and dishing up easy recipes and forkin’ fun at BiteMeMore.com.