Tag Archives: holidays

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.

Stuffing with Sausage, Leeks, Apples, and Mushrooms


This is a little late for Thanksgiving, but hey, some people make turkey for Christmas, right?  And who says stuffing should be relegated to Thanksgiving? !

This is a variation of my go-to stuffing. I’ve used hot Italian sausage or bacon in the past, onions instead of leeks, and added dried cranberries. However you decide to make it, you can’t go wrong!

Stuffing with Sausage, Leeks, Apples, and Mushrooms

12 oz package of seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 T olive oil
3 T butter
3 leeks, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
4 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
8 oz crimini mushroooms, sliced
kosher salt
black pepper
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
4 tsp poultry seasoning
2-4 c low sodium chicken broth (or homemade stock)
1/2 c parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. When the sausage has browned, remove it from the pot and drain off the excess oil from the pot.

Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the leeks, celery, apples, mushrooms, and poultry seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, then saute until the leeks are tender and the mushrooms are browned. Add the rosemary and some chicken stock to the pot and bring the broth to a simmer. (Start with 1-2 cups of broth, waiting until after you’ve incorporated the breadcrumbs to add more.)

Add the breadcrumbs and sausage to the pot with the vegetables and broth. Stir to combine, adding more broth until the stuffing is moist. (I personally like the breadcrumbs to be almost saturated, with a little bit of crunch left in the middle.) Add the parsley and stir.

Grease a 10-by-14-inch casserole dish and distribute the stuffing evenly in the dish. You can either bake the stuffing immediately or refrigerate it and bake it the next day. Cover the dish with a greased sheet of aluminum foil, and bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Turkey, Mushroom, and Barley Soup


Paco and I spent a lovely Thanksgiving with his father’s family at his aunt’s house. Everything was delicious, so delicious that we came home craving more turkey! After a five-hour drive, turkey, mushroom, and barley soup sounded perfect. I used turkey thighs, but you could of course use leftover turkey.

Turkey, Mushroom, and Barley Soup
Adapted from Diane Rossen Worthington at the Chicago Tribune

1 T olive oil
1 handful of dried Shiitake mushrooms
2 turkey thighs with skins removed (1 – 1/ 1/2 lbs.), or 2 cups of chopped, leftover turkey
kosher salt
3 leeks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 Portabello mushroom cap, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 stem of rosemary, finely chopped
4 stems of thyme, finely chopped
1 c of pearl barley
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 c parsley, chopped

Soak the dried Shiitake mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the leeks and garlic, and saute until softened. Add the fresh mushrooms and saute until browned. Add the carrots and celery, and saute for another minute. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Add the turkey thighs and enough water to cover all of the other ingredients. Add the barley, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for an hour, or until the barley is tender and the turkey is cooked through. (If you are using leftover turkey, add the chopped turkey to the pot once the barley is tender.) If using turkey thighs, remove them from the pot, remove the meat from the bone, and add the shredded meat back to the pot. Squeeze  the excess water from the soaking Shiitake mushrooms, and cut them into small pieces. Add the mushrooms and the soaking water to the soup.

Add the soy sauce to the soup, then taste and add additional seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle fresh parsley over the soup before serving.