My Holiday Menus

Here are some of the recipes we'll be eating this week and weekend...

dijon ham
Our Family Dinner (just me, my hubby and our 3 kiddos)
Brownies and Peppermint Ice Cream

brie bites
Family Game Day hosted at our house
Meat, Cheese and Crackers
Veggies and dip
Peanut Butter M&Ms

24 hour salad
Christmas Eve Dinner (with all my fam)
Prime Rib and Grandfather's Creamy Horseradish Sauce
Yorkshire Pudding (I need to get this recipe from my Grandma)
Mom's Twice Baked Potatoes
Mom's Rolls
Dessert (I'm not sure what we're having this year!)

spinach bacon quiche 1
Christmas Day Brunch (my FAVORITE of ALL holiday meals!)
Scrambled Eggs
Gingerbread Waffles with homemade Buttermilk Syrup
Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
Hot Chocolate with toppings

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

roasted green beans
This is the other side I chose for our holiday dinner from Gina's Skinny Taste. I have decided that pretty much anything roasted is going to be delicious :-), and these were too! Much, much better than the typical green bean casserole in my book, but I've never really liked it to be anyway (shhh).

12 oz green beans, trimmed (make sure they are dry)
2 tsp olive oil
kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum for easy clean-up.
Lay green beans out on the baking sheet and drizzle oil over them.
Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss to evenly coat.
Spread them out on the sheet so that they all lay flat and place on the lower third section of your oven.
Bake 10 minutes, shake the pan to turn; bake 5 additional minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Skinny Scalloped Gratin Potatoes

skinny gratin potatoes
Since we have all our big holiday meals at this time of year with extended family, I decided to do our own mini-Christmas dinner last week. I didn't have a lot of time, so I wanted to keep it simple and I wanted the sides to be fairly light since they are my favorite part of any meal and I knew I would be the one eating all the leftovers :-). I found 2 great sides, both on Gina's Skinny Taste. This first one was amazingly delicious! You would never know it was made with such light ingredients! I like the top of my gratin potatoes very golden, but make them your way!

olive oil spray
6 medium peeled yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch-thick
2 tbsp light butter, melted
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 oz (3/4 cup) shredded reduced fat Cheddar (I used about 1 1/4 cups, mostly 2%, but with a little FF and regular mixed in as well)
1 cup fat free milk
1 bay leaf
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp thyme

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, butter, salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper.
Arrange half of the potato slices in the baking dish; top with 1/4 cup cheese. Add the remaining potatoes.
In a small saucepan, bring milk, thyme, bay leaf and nutmeg to a boil; pour over potatoes.
Top with remaining cheese and bake uncovered, for 45 - 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup

spicy sweet potato soup
This is super yummy soup comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I L-O-V-E-D it! I've realized I'm not great at describing the meals I make other than saying whether or not I loved them, but this one I really did :-)! It was filling, had just enough spice, a great combination of flavors and is pretty healthy too. I couldn't wait to have leftovers for lunch the next day! Although I haven't loved the cooler temps we have had recently, I am glad I can enjoy a great bowl of soup without sweating!

1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or use about 3-4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken (I used 2 cans chicken)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/- inch pieces
1 can (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 t)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot (4 or 5 quarts), melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes, until softened. Add bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender. Add remaining ingredients (don’t add the cooked chicken, if using, you’ll add it near the end), stir well, and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. If using cooked chicken, stir it in at this point and let it heat through. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Greek-Style Pork Chops

greek style pork chops
greek style pork chops 2
Not the best pictures (I'm ready for another time change so it doesn't get dark so early!), but it actually looked much better in person and it was really delicious!
This recipe came from Cooking Light is super low in calories, yet still full of flavor! The kids LOVED the pork and I LOVED the cucumber salad. We had leftover tzatziki sauce and just used that...perfect!

* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
* 3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek-style yogurt
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes (about 2 medium)
* 1 cup diced seeded cucumber
* 1/2 cup diced red onion
* Cooking spray

1. Combine 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, oregano, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and garlic in a zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag, and seal. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature, turning after 10 minutes. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, yogurt, 1 tablespoon dill, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Cover and chill. Combine tomatoes, cucumber, and onion. Sprinkle tomato mixture with 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss to combine.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from bag, and discard marinade. Sprinkle both sides of pork evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add pork to pan, and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove pork from pan, and let stand for 2 minutes. Place 3/4 cup tomato mixture on each of 4 plates, and top each serving with 1 pork chop and about 3 tablespoons yogurt mixture.

Thankful Cookies

thankful cookies 1
My oldest, Ella, spotted this recipe in the November issue of The Friend and couldn't wait to make them. They ended up being a great activity with minimal clean-up which I loved. We used chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and marshmallows for the filling and were only sad that we didn't have more pie crusts to make even more!
thankful cookies 2

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
1 package uncooked piecrust
Choose any of the following filling ingredients:
chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut-butter chips, mini marshmallows, canned raspberry or cherry pie filling

1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Heat the oven to 375ºF.
3. Beat egg and water together in a small bowl.
4. Sprinkle a little flour on work surface. Spread out piecrust, and use a rolling pin to flatten it until it is about 1/8 inch thick.
5. Use any large cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as possible.
6. Spread 3–4 tablespoons of chips or pie filling on half of the cut shapes. Leave 1/2 inch around the edges uncovered.
7. Brush the edges of the shapes with egg mixture. Place a second shape on top, and press the edges together to seal.
8. Brush the tops of each filled cookie with egg mixture. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
9. Use a spatula to move the cookies to a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let cookies cool for several minutes before moving them.

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

chicken gyros 1
(this is mine in the gluten-free pizza crust for lunch the next day, it was too dark the night we ate them to get a good picture in the flatbread)
This recipe (from Favorite Family Recipes) has been on my "to make" list for quite sometime. I kept putting it off thinking it seemed like a lot of work, but was surprised at how easy it all came together when I finally made them. I LOVED these! They are light and crisp and such a wonderful combination of flavors. I used a gluten free pizza crust cut in half as my flat bread while the rest of the family used the real thing. The pizza crust (I used an Udi brand one) ended up being a perfect substitute. Leftovers for lunch the next day were just as good and we used the tzatziki sauce on another dish later in the week. I think I will be making these for my next lunch get together!

3/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 of a lemon)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Tzatziki Sauce (cucumber sauce):
1/2 c. seeded, shredded cucumber
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. Montreal seasoning (I substituted some extra dill, garlic powder and coriander)
kosher salt to taste
pepper to taste

4 slices of soft flatbread or pitas (or gluten free pizza crusts :-)

heart of romaine lettuce, cut into slices
red onion, thinly sliced
tomatoes, sliced
kalamata olives (didn't use)
banana peppers (pepperoncinis), sliced
crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl mix all marinade ingredients. Cut up chicken into cubes (for skewering) and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, combine cucumber and kosher salt and let sit for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Season with garlic, fresh dill, and Montreal seasoning. Squeeze the cucumber to remove any excess water; stir into sauce. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Skewer chicken (remember to soak your skewers if they are wooden) and place on grill over medium-high heat, turning 1/4 turn every couple minutes. When chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, remove from heat. (I used my grill pan)

Place flatbread on the grill, and cook for about 90 seconds, until warm, turning frequently to avoid burning. Arrange chicken (removed from the skewers of course), lettuce, onion, tomato, olives, and banana peppers on the flatbread. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.

Sourdough Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

mom's stuffing
This is the stuffing my mom brought to our Thanksgiving dinner and everyone loved it. I didn't personally get to try it, but Mike commented to me about really liking it and if it was good enough for him to do that, then it was GOOD! She found the recipe on Picky Palate and said the only change she would make is to use a little less bread the next time around.

1 lb Sourdough Loaf, cubed
12 oz baked cornbread, cubed
14 Tablespoons butter (1  3/4 sticks)
1 large onion, diced (about 1 1/2 Cups)
1 bunch of celery, chopped (about 3 Cups)
3 large carrots, chopped (about 2 Cups)
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped (about 1 1/4 Cups)
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
1/2 Cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 T fresh)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 lb Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Place cubed sourdough and cornbread onto a large jellyroll baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.
2.  Melt butter into a large dutch oven or large rimmed skillet over medium heat.  Saute onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until veggies turn tender.  Stir in garlic and cook for another minute then pour in chicken broth, parsley, rosemary, sage,  thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir and reduce heat to low to simmer.
3.  Brown sausage in skillet, drain if necessary then add to vegetable mixture.  Place bread cubes into a large bowl and slowly pour mixture over cubes gently stirring throughout to ensure all pieces get coated.  Taste a couple pieces and season with additional salt and pepper according to taste.  I added a few more pinches of kosher salt and pepper at this point.
4.  Divide stuffing into a 9×13 inch baking dish and a 11×7 inch baking dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until just golden brown on top.  Should still be nice and moist.  Remove from oven and serve!
12 servings, each dish

Creamed Bean Casserole

creamed beans
This is a dish my Grandma makes for our special occasion dinners and I always LOVE it! In fact I love it so much I have avoided getting the recipe because I knew I didn't want to know what was in it to make it so delicious :-)...and I was right. Sometimes we have to live a little though and holidays are definitely the right time, so make this to go with your Christmas dinner and you won't regret it!

Ingredients & Directions:

1 small bag frozen baby peas
1 bag frozen cut green beans
2 bags frozen baby lima beans
*Cook, DRAIN, salt and pepper

8 oz whipping cream
8 oz mayonnaise
3/4 c grated parmesan cheese
*Whip the cream and then fold in mayo and cheese.

Mix the beans and the creamy mixture together and place in an 8x8 dish.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkin cheesecake
Years ago I tried a sample of a pumpkin cheesecake at Costco and fell in love :-). This year I decided to try making my own and was surprised at how easy it was! The other good news is that this is a much more manageable size so I wasn't tempted to keep eating it for days and days and days! I once again went to for this holiday hit. It got rave reviews from everyone at dinner!!!

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2.In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
3.Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie
This year for our big Thanksgiving feast I was in charge of bringing the pumpkin pie and the mashed potatoes. I ended up making a traditional pumpkin pie and also a pumpkin cheesecake, which I'll post the recipe for soon. I love pumpkin pie! It's so yummy warm with vanilla ice cream and as far as pies are concerned one of the healthier options out there. The other reason I love pumpkin pie? It's sooo easy to make! I found this particular recipe on and it was perfect!

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (I used FF)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (this is a good one!)

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
2.Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.