It’s the holidays! We all enjoy special meal gatherings during this time of year with recipes that are family favorites—sometimes on the rich and high calorie side. The recipes in this issue are all great for a light lunch or dinner during the holiday season. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Italian Chicken Orzo Soup
This is a very tasty, brothy soup. We love making it at our house—and it is always welcome on cold winter days. I like to spend some time during the weekend making one or two soups. I keep them stored in the refrigerator in plastic pitchers and it makes meal preparation during the week a little less time consuming.
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
12 cups chicken broth
3/4 to 1 cup dried orzo pasta
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan
Place butter, onions and garlic in a large soup pot over medium heat and sauté for 5 minutes to soften.
Stir in carrots, celery, Italian seasoning and a teaspoon of salt. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
Add whole chicken breasts to the pot, pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Remove chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the orzo and stir well. Shred or chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the pot. When ready to serve, taste and then season with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. Serve warm.
Onion Cheese Bread
This is one awesome bread recipe. Serve this with your favorite soup or stew.
Serves 6 to 8
One large baguette
For the onion topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced sweet onions
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon salt
Heat olive oil in a 10-inch skillet. Add sweet onions, sugar and rosemary and mix well. Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes or until onions turn golden brown. (The sugar will help them brown.) Add green onions and salt, and cook another 2-3 minutes or until green onions are a bit wilted. Set aside
For the cheese topping:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, blend cream cheese, Parmesan, egg and salt. Mix well. Cut the baguette in half, lengthwise. Spread 1/2 of the cheese top on each half of the baguette. Arrange 1/2 of the onion topping over the cheese. Bake in a preheated 425 oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 3-4 minutes and then slice into pieces. Serve immediately.
A Christmas Salad with Broccoli and Cranberries
Over the years, I have seen various versions of this broccoli salad—this version is great around the holidays because of the green and red colors in the salad. Add this as a side dish to any holiday gathering.
Serves 8 to 10
6 cups small broccoli florets
3 cups finely chopped kale
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 apple, cored and chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I like the orange-infused dried cranberries)
3/4 cup cooked bacon, chopped
3/4 cup sunflower seed kernels (optional)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
Chop and prep all the salad ingredients and place in a large bowl. Toss gently. Pour the dressing over the salad until thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made up to two days ahead.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Would a holiday meal be complete without something pumpkin flavored? These dessert bars are great and can be served with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
Makes 18-24 bars
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups chocolate chips, divided
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt. Whisk ingredients together and set aside.
Using a large stand mixer, combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars together on medium high, making sure to scrape down the sides. Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree and combine. Add the dry ingredients until the mixture is just combined. Add in 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips and mix to combine.
Spray a 13×9 baking sheet with baking spray. Place the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it out.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips—press very lightly into the batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. I would definitely test it at 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting and serving. A scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream will make this dessert even better. M! December 2016/January 2017