Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fancy Schmancy Holiday Dinner

There is less than a week until Christmas.  There, I said it.  Did it freak you out?  Are you prepared?  I’m certainly working on it.  The one thing I do have set is Christmas Dinner.  I love a good holiday dinner.  Especially Christmas.  This is one of the few meals during the year that I am willing to put some time into.  But don’t get nervous…this meal still has shortcuts, and it is still pretty easy.  I said “put some time into”, but I didn’t say a long time.

I like to celebrate Christmas with beef.  That is a sentence I sure didn’t think I would ever say.  No turkey, no ham….beef.  I like a good prime rib or a nice steak.  This year, I am going with a big ‘ol rib eye, my favorite cut off the cow.  My menu consists of broiled rib eye with “All-Day Mushrooms” and Gorgonzola, Spinach and Artichoke Mashed Potatoes and Stuffed Zucchini.  It sounds delicious, right?  And just festive enough.

A little side note: My menu serves 4-6.  You will need to adjust the recipes depending on how many hungry people you have to serve. 


Let’s start with the “All-Day Mushrooms” because these take the longest to cook.  All day, obviously.  But you don’t slave over the stove all day.  I use my slow cooker.  Yay for the slow cooker during the Holidays!

I used a one pound container of whole button mushrooms.  Once I cleaned them off with a damp towel, I tossed them in the slow cooker.  I added almost a full bottle of red wine (any kind), a stick of butter, 4 cloves of minced garlic and black pepper.  You could add some Italian seasoning to this too.  I don’t because I don’t like it.  To each their own.  If you are cooking the meal, you get to pick.

These mushrooms cook all day on low.  When they are ready they are almost purple from the wine.  And they are so packed with flavor.  And oh yeah, your house will smell like a small slice of heaven.  Make sure you have crusty bread to serve with these mushrooms because your guests will be all over the “juice” left in the slow cooker.

Like I said, I served the mushrooms with a broiled rib eye.  I bought some huge rib eyes (three) that were bone-in.  I seasoned them with salt and pepper and broiled them in my oven for about 6 minutes per side.  This cook time really depends on how hot your oven is and how you like your steak cooked.  I prefer rare, but my hubs prefers well done.

I served my steaks sliced, as too feed more people.  I topped the slices with the mushrooms, a bit of the juice and a ton of crumbled gorgonzola cheese.  The combination of the beef, creamy cheese and garlicky mushrooms is really, really, really good.


Wondering about my mashed potatoes?  I am going to confess right now.  I used a bag of “Steam and Mash” potatoes (short cut!).  Why not?  They are essentially peeled and boiled potatoes that have been frozen.  They aren’t powdered or anything weird.  Just frozen potatoes.  I cooked then in the microwave according to the package directions.  Once they were cooked, I mashed in some butter, a splash of milk and an entire container of Spinach and Artichoke Alouette Spreadable Cheese.  This is the best part….you can use any flavor Alouette or something similar (Boursin, etc.).  You could do Garlic and Herb, Sundried Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon…any kind you want!  They give the potatoes a creaminess and flavor you can’t get from anything else.

But the potatoes aren’t done yet.  Once they are mashed, I spread them in a pretty baking dish and topped them with buttered Panko bread crumbs, then popped them in the broiler.  Why not?  The broiler was already on from the steaks.  Mashed Potatoes with a crunchy, buttery topping?  Come on!


As for the Stuffed Zucchini….you have to understand that serving zucchini at Christmas is a big deal for me.  I dislike most green vegetables.  But this recipe is so good, I am willing to overlook the green vegetableness of the zucchini. 

I halve the zucchini lengthwise and hollow them out leaving a zucchini “boat”.  I saved about half of the zucchini guts and threw them into a bowl with diced onion, diced tomato, minced garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  I mixed that up and then stuffed the zucchini boats with the filling.  These got topped with more parmesan cheese and baked until the zucchini was tender and the filling was starting to get browned and delicious.  Pure zucchini goodness. 


This meal is fancy, but totally do-able.  I took help from my slow cooker and the grocery store.  Yes, I put some time into this meal, but not so much time that it would take away from my family and friends on Christmas.  I hope you try these recipes for your Holiday dinner!

All-Day Mushrooms

1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

20 ounces red wine

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serves 4-6

Spinach and Artichoke Mashed Potatoes

1 package Ore-Ida Steam and Mash Potatoes

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1/3 cup milk

6.5 ounce container Alouette Spreadable Cheese, Spinach and Artichoke flavor

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler.

Cook potatoes according to package directions.  With a potato masher, mash in 2 tablespoons butter, milk and Alouette Cheese until potatoes are smooth.  Spread potatoes into a baking dish (8x8). 

Melt remaining butter in microwave for 35 seconds.  Mix melted butter into bread crumbs.  Sprinkle buttered bread crumbs evenly over the top of the mashed potatoes.

Broil potatoes until bread crumbs are browned, about 2 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium sized zucchini

1/3 cup tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup parmesan cheese (shredded), divided

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Halve zucchini lengthwise and hollow out halves, using a spoon.  Save ½ of the scooped out zucchini and discard the remainder.  Place zucchini “shells” on a baking pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine scooped out zucchini, tomatoes, onion, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, minced garlic, salt and pepper. 

Fill each zucchini half with stuffing.  Top each zucchini with remaining parmesan cheese. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until zucchini is tender and cheese is slightly browned.

Serves 4-6

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