Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Eve Dinner

 Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, or Hanukah, or Kwanzaa…..whatever you celebrate.  We had a wonderful Christmas.  We were back in California with my mom, sisters, and their families.  I got to see a lot of friends, including a brand new lil baby that my friend Becky had the week before Christmas. 
I am super sad that Christmas is over.  Mainly because now I have to take all the Christmas decorations down;)

So the next thing to look forward to is New Year’s Eve!  Are you going out?  We aren’t.  It really is just too difficult to find a babysitter.  Plus, everything is so expensive.  There are tons of parties here in Reno, especially downtown, but they all cost an arm and a leg.  I like my appendages, so I’m not willing to give them up for a party.

We will be ringing in the New Year with some good friends that live down the road.  They have a little boy who is Paisley’s age, so we will be toting the kids with us.  So yes, it will be a tame, low-key NYE.

If you plan on staying home too…..why not cook a super fancy and fabulous meal?  Today I am going to show you a great meal that would be perfect for a NYE at home.  I said “fancy”, but keep in mind, that doesn’t mean hard.  This is an easy meal that is sure to impress your family and friends.  I will show you how to make a delicious crab appetizer, blue cheese and bacon twice baked potatoes, and steak with a brandy mushroom cream sauce.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  It is.

Let’s start with the appetizer…..

This appetizer is a yummy crab salad that is served in crispy wonton cups.  I made the salad with lump crabmeat, mayonnaise, diced bell pepper, diced cucumber, and green onions….all topped with sriracha hot sauce.

You can always ask your fishmonger for lump crab meat that has been picked through, looking for cartilage and shells.  What’s that?  You don’t have a fishmonger?  Don’t worry….nor do I.  I just like to say it because all the Food Network Chefs love to talk about “fishmongers”.  I bought the lump crab meat that is in the seafood section by the fresh fish.

I mixed the crab, mayo, bell pepper, cucumber and green onion in a bowl.  I also salted and peppered the mixture.  If you are highly opposed to mayo, you could use coconut milk and lime juice.  That is a favorite of mine, but my kids prefer mayo.  It really depends what your tastes are.

I popped this in the fridge while I made my wonton cups.  You are going to be so excited when you see how I made these wonton cups.  They are so easy to make….and the filling possibilities are endless.

I sprayed a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and stuck a wonton wrapper into each hole.  They will wrinkle and fold over, but that is fine.  That actually makes them look fancier.  I sprayed the wrappers with more cooking spray and baked these at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  They come out crispy and perfect each time.

I filled each cup with the crab salad and then topped them with hot sauce.  You can go heavy or light on the hot sauce, depending on who you are serving.

Don’t these look yummy?  They also appear to be super fancy, but as you saw…they were easy to make.

As for the potatoes….

For the twice baked potatoes, I used 4 potatoes that I had already baked, cream cheese, blue cheese, a splash of cream, bacon that I cooked and crumbled and more green onions.

I love twice baked potatoes.  Actually, I love anything that has cream, cream cheese, bacon and blue cheese in it….but especially potatoes.  If you aren’t a fan of blue cheese, use whatever you like best.

I started by making little potato “boats”.  I took the baked potatoes, and I scooped out the “meat” of the potato, leaving a rim of flesh and the skin.  You don’t want to scoop out too much.  You need the shells to hold up to the filling.

You also have to wait till the potatoes are cooled a bit before you do this.  Duh.

With a potato masher, I mashed the potato guts with some cream cheese and a splash of cream.  I mashed until smooth.  I also hit this mix with pepper and a smidge of salt.  Blue cheese and bacon are salty, so go easy on the salt.

I stirred in the blue cheese, bacon and green onions.

Then, I scooped the potato mixture back into the shells.  The cheeses and bacon add more volume to the potato mixture so you will really be able to pile on the filling.  You can have it mounded up and super full.

I baked these at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the tops were starting to brown.

These were seriously amazing.  You must try these.

The star of the show was definitely the steak……

I started with two New York steaks.  Keep in mind, I was feeding myself, Chris and two kids.  Depending on who you are feeding, you will probably need more.

Due to the fact that it is late December in Northern Nevada, there wasn’t a chance in H@#$ that I was going outside to grill these bad boys.  I cooked my steaks on the stovetop….in a cast iron pan.  I cooked them in butter and a bit of oil.

These cook pretty fast, about 5 minutes per side.  I like my steaks rare.  Remember, these steaks need to rest for at least 15 minutes when they come out of the pan.  All that cooking made them tired;)

Once the steaks came out of the pan, it was time to make the sauce.  This sauce was so good, I could have eaten it as soup.

I used a shallot, garlic, mushrooms, butter, cream and brandy.  Yum.

I put my sliced mushrooms, diced shallot and garlic in the same pan that I had cooked the steaks in.  The meat juice will give the mushrooms great flavor.  I cooked the veggies for about 5 minutes, over medium heat, until they were starting to get sweaty and translucent.  I didn’t brown the veg…..don’t do that;)

Once the mushrooms were soft, I added the brandy.  I let this boil and reduce for about 5 minutes.

Then, in goes the cream and butter!  And lots of salt and pepper.  Holy crap-this sauce was good!!  And in case you are wondering....no, my kids wouldn't eat the sauce.

I poured the sauce over the steaks and then mentally thanked whoever realized that cow’s milk could be turned into butter and cream.

I think this meal is a New Year’s Eve winner, for sure.  It is restaurant quality, but you get to eat it in your own home…..which means it is cheaper, and you don’t have to be out on the road with the NYE crazies;)  Good Lord, I totally sound like my mom.

I will see you all on Friday with a New Year’s Day breakfast treat!

Crab Salad in Crispy Cups

2 cups crabmeat, picked through for shells

½ cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup cucumber, diced

1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/3 cup green onion, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Wonton wrappers

Sriracha Hot Sauce, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.  Place a wonton wrapper into each little cup.  Press down in center to form cup.  Spray wrappers with more cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. 

For crab salad:

Mix together crab, mayo, cucumber, bell pepper, green onion and salt & pepper.  Fill each wonton cup with salad.  Top with hot sauce.

Makes 48 cups.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

4 baking potatoes, baked and cooled

1/3 cup cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons cream

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons green onion, diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut potatoes in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out inside of potatoes, leaving a 1/8 of an inch rim. 

Mash together scooped out potato flesh, softened cream cheese, cream and salt and pepper.  Once this is smooth, stir in bacon, blue cheese and green onion.

Scoop mixture back into potato “shells”.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until tops are starting to brown.

Serves 4

Steak with a Mushroom and Brandy Cream Sauce

2 New York Steaks, any size

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 tablespoon oil

1 small shallot, diced

4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup Brandy

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Add oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a cast iron pan, set over medium heat.  Cook steaks in pan, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare. 

Add mushrooms, garlic and shallot to the same pan the steaks were cooked in.  Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are softened.  Add brandy and let sauce simmer for another five minutes.  Brandy should reduce by about 1/3.  Once reduced, add cream, remaining butter and salt and pepper.  Let sauce thicken and reduce a bit more. 

Pour over rested steaks.

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