Tag Archives: entertaining

Thanksgiving 2013


Paco and I hosted Thanksgiving for both of our families at our house. We decided on a turkey-less Thanksgiving meal, with bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin roast as the main course. Also on the menu were a mango-chutney glazed ham, stuffed mushrooms, apple herb dressing, roasted squash with brown sugar, goat cheese chive mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

My brother Doug took the pictures below; he is the real photographer in the family!

I tied two pork tenderloins together and wrapped them in bacon after rubbing them with the mustard marinade.  I followed Claire Robinson’s recipe, but since I roasted the pork loins together, I roasted them for about 50 minutes, until they reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I also brined them overnight to ensure that they would be juicy.


Here’s Lando waiting for me to drop a morsel of pork.


A few of the finished dishes.


For other recipes that I used to inspire this meal, please see:

Happy holidays!


Lobster Paella – My own little Christmas miracle!


After watching Tyler Florence make his Ultimate Paella, I knew that I wanted to make it for my Christmas meal. Special and festive enough for a holiday, but not as heavy as a traditional roast.  I did not have a paella pan, so I used two large skillets.


On a side note, we spent Christmas in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, so our actual dinner on Christmas night was pescado frito. My lesson for this year was that you can still have Christmas without a standing rib roast (although I do love roast beef).

Adapted from Tyler Florence
(serves 6)

3 lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shells and veins removed
1 lb mussels, scrubbed and soaked in saltwater
3 chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
3 andouille sausages, sliced
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 T smoked paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c arborio rice
3 c water or chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
1/2 c frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c Italian parsely, chopped
lemon wedges

In a large skillet or paella pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Brown the andouille in the pan, then remove and drain on paper towels.  Drain the extra fat from the pan if necessary.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, oregano, and smoked paprika.  Place in the skillet skin side down, and brown on both sides.  Once browned, remove from the pan and place with the andouille.  Again, drain off the majority of the fat from the pan, leaving a tablespoon or two in there.


Over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions in the pan until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cook until the mixture has caramelized a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.

In the 3 cups of warm water or chicken stock, allow the saffron to steep until the water develops a rich color.  Add the rice and saffron water to the tomato mixture.  Bring to a simmer, then add the chicken and andouille back to the pot.


Simmer without stirring for 10 minutes.  Nestle the mussels into the rice, arrange the lobster cut side down over the rice, and cook for 5 more minutes.


Finally, arrange the shrimp and peas over the top of the paella, cover, and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.  Add liquid to the pot if the rice does not seem fluffy enough at this point. When the rice and seafood are cooked (the mussels should be open, and the shrimp and lobster should be pink), turn the heat up to high for 30 seconds to brown the rice at the bottom.

Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.  Enjoy!

How to Glaze a Ham


I think that ham is the easiest way to feed a crowd, especially during the holiday season.  Glazing it is so simple, and it will make your house smell delicious.  I usually use Ina Garten’s recipe.


When shopping for a ham, you’ll want to find a spiral-cut, bone-in ham.  Do not buy one that has water added, but if it says “with natural juices” on the package, that’s okay.

Ham with Mango Chutney Glaze
(Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

7-9 lb spiral-cut ham
6 oz of mango chutney
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c dijon mustard
4 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of 1 orange or 2 clementines
juice from 1 orange or 2 clementines

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the ham in a large roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the mango chutney, mustard, sugar, garlic, orange zest, and orange juice.

Using a spoon or a brush, coat the ham in the glaze. If the slices a the end start to fall away from the rest of the ham, use toothpicks to secure them.


Bake for 1 hour.  Do not overbake, or the meat will be dry.

Spicy Italian Beef Sandwiches


In honor of the first night of football, I had to make a large piece of meat! I made The Pioneer Woman’s Hot & Spicy Italian Drip Beef. Her other sandwiches (portobello mushroom and steak) have not let me down.

I used the slow-cooker to braise my roast, because although it has cooled down a bit, it is not nearly cool enough to be football season!  I browned the meat in a pan first, but if I were to make this again, I would try skipping this step.

I served these with quick pickled cucumbers, which acted as both a vegetable and a topping.  Cole slaw or macaroni salad would be great too!

Spicy Italian Beef Sandwiches
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

2 1/2 lbs. chuck roast
kosher salt
1 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 c beef stock
1 16 oz jar of peppers (I used a jar of green and red sweet peppers, which were still quite spicy)
1/2 jar pimientos

For the sandwiches:
provolone cheese

Rinse the chuck roast and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then sear the roast on both sides.

Place the garlic, tomatoes, stock, peppers, pimientos, and seared beef into a slow-cooker.  Cook on the high setting for 4-5 hours (or low for 8-10 hours).

When the meat is tender, remove it from the sauce.

Pull the meat apart with forks or tongs, then place it back into the liquid.

Toast the rolls and butter lightly.  Top with meat and provolone cheese. Melt the cheese under the broiler.

Optional: You can top these with pepperoncinis (I used fresh ones so that they would be tart) and serve them with some of the liquid on the side for dipping.

Spinach and Cheddar Quiche


I made this quick quiche for book club. It’s a really easy vegetarian meal, and it’s delicious at room temperature.

I forgot to take a picture after it had cooled, but it looked much better when the eggs had deflated a bit!

Spinach and Cheddar Quiche

1 frozen pie crust
1/2 T olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 c raw spinach
kosher salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (I used habenero cheddar)
3/4 c cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small skillet, saute the shallot in olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Once the shallot is soft, and the spinach and saute until wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs and milk.

Arrange the spinach mixture and cheese inside of the frozen pie crust, in an evenly distributed layer. Gently pour the egg mixture over the spinach and cheese, then arrange the tomatoes in the quiche.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the eggs are set and the quiche is golden brown.