Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 12 recipes of Christmas - Part 1

The family Christmas dinner is at my house every year. And every year, I spend weeks beforehand with recipes spread all over the place trying to plan, fine-tune and test an innovative menu that will wow everyone. But guess what? Nobody is wowed, nobody is disappointed. Everybody just eats and enjoys. Every year. I guess it truly isn't the food, it's the family. So this year I decided to simplify: no intricate recipes, no mounds of leftovers, no three days of cooking for 30 minutes of eating and 3 hours of cleaning. The rules: Yummy, Easy, Primal. Yep!

Shrimp and cocktail sauce is a Christmas tradition for us. So there was one munchie out of the way already. I make my own sugar-free cocktail sauce with tomatoes from my garden, but my in-laws brought a jar of store-bought with them. Fine by me! Easy, remember.
I made two cheese appetizers, neither of which impressed me much, but both of which served their purpose. The first was a goat cheese log rolled in dried cranberries and crushed pistacios (get and green...very festive). Not awesome, but I would make it again for the simplicity (ok, and the fact that I love goat cheese). The second was a hot ricotta dip. Bland, wouldn't do it again.
Finally, I made baked stuffed mushrooms. Yummy. A winner. I actually got asked for the recipe, meaning not only was it good, but someone actually paid attention to what they were eating :)

Baked stuffed mushrooms
24 large baby bella mushrooms (or white button if you prefer)
1 tb olive oil
1/4 c fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 c shredded parmesan
1/2 c almond meal
Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve. Bake caps, stem side down, for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in a small food processor, chop the reserved stems (and a couple of extra whole mushrooms if there are any) with garlic and parsley. Sautee in oil in a frying pan for a couple of minutes until the oil is absorbed, the parsley is wilted and the garlic is fragrant. Combine parmesan and almond meal and add mushroom mixture. Stuff into mushroom caps and bake again, 15 minutes.

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