Archive | December, 2010

Pancetta Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream

29 Dec

Christmas dinner generally would consist of either a turkey or a pork tenderloin.  Since I am mainly vegetarian but do eat poultry and fish I don’t do much else in the way of other meat dishes.  This Christmas Eve was a vegetarian spread so I decided to surprise the family with a beef tenderloin dish.  The recipe called for a 5-6 lb size.  Well I was not about to spend $70-100 on a tenderloin so I bought some individual thick tenderloins instead.  Needless to say the family was pleased and impressed with dinner.  I did succumb to eating a little just to make sure it was ok and it was!  The recipe directions will be adapted to how I made this for the cuts that I had.

Adapted from Southern Living

Pancetta Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream

makes 8 servings

  • 3 lbs beef tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 14 very thin pancetta slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • rosemary sprigs
  • Whipped Horseradish Cream

Preheat oven to 425F.  Sprinkle tenderloins with salt and pepper.  Cook the tenderloins in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes on each side.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the tenderloins to an aluminum foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Line them up in a row and sprinkle the garlic over the tenderloin.  Lay a rosemary sprig over the top.

Place 2-3  slices pancetta across the top of each tenderloin.

Bake at 425F for 30 minutes or until pancetta is crispy. 

Let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve with the whipped horseradish cream.

Whipped Horseradish Cream

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Beat whipping cream at medium speed 1 minute or until soft peaks form.  Fold in remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.


Caramel-Cream Cheese Flan

27 Dec

Christmas Eve 2010 definitely had a spanish flair.  I served sangria, vegetable paella and this flan.  When Larry and I were in Merida MX a few months ago, on a Sunday evening in the main town center the streets were closed and they had various vendors of food and items all around the square and live music and dancing.  One vendor had baked goods and we got a big slice of a cream cheese flan.  It was delicious!  I googled the recipe and in the meantime I also came across this recipe in Southern Living.  Since I like caramel so much I made the caramel portion from the Southern Living and the flan from Food Network however the baking directions were from Southern Living.  The flan we had in MX did not have the caramel and I think I prefer it that way as it was more like eating cheese cake.  So you can make this without the caramel or with, either way it is yummy.  I am still undecided as to whether I prefer it cold or room temperature.  I like it both ways.

Caramel adapted from Southern Living


Cook 1 cup sugar in a 9″ round cake pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until sugar melts and turns golden brown.  Remove pan from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Sugar will begin to harden.

Flan recipe adapted from Food Network Sandra Lee

Cream Cheese Flan

Makes 8 servings

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk

In a blender, combine all ingredients except for the evaporated milk. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Whisk in evaporated milk. Pour custard over caramelized sugar in pan.  Place cake pan in shallow pan.  Add hot water to a depth of 1/3 up sides of cake pan. 

Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the flan comes out clean.  Remove pan from water; cool completely on a wire rack about 2 hours.  Cover and chill 4 hrs to 2 days.

Run a knife around the edge of the flan to loosen; invert onto a serving plate that has a lip to catch the extra caramel sauce.  May serve at room temperature or cold.

Red Velvet Brownies

26 Dec

I was cruising the December 2010 issue of southern Living when I came across some red velvet recipes to include this brownie.  Since we love red velvet and brownies I had to add these for my christmas eve spread.  I modified the recipe because I prefer a denser chewier brownie as the original recipe was more of a cake brownie.  I also had to halve the original frosting recipe as it was too much icing for a little 9 square pan.  They turned out exactly they way I hoped and preferred and were enjoyed by all. 

Adapted from Southern Living

Red Velvet Brownies

makes 16

  • 1 4 oz bittersweet chocolate baking bar chopped or chips
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz red liquid food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line bottom and sides of pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave safe bowl at high about 1 1/2-2 minutes until melted and smooth stirring at 30 second intervals. 

Whisk in sugar.  Add eggs 1 at a time, whisking until just blended after each addition.  Gently stir in the flour and remaining ingredients.  Pour mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake for 44-48 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Cool completely on a wire rack about 2 hours.

Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles; gently remove foil.  Spread with frosting. 

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz white chocolate chopped or chips
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Microwave the chocolate for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth. 

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the melted white chocolate.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended.  Stir in vanilla.

Spiced Sangria

26 Dec

This is my go to holiday sangria.  I make a simple syrup infused with various spices and this time I had some nice tangerines that Barry got a bushel of so I squeezed some fresh juice to add to the sangria.  The addition of the fresh tangerine juice was a big plus.  I like to make the syrup about 2 days ahead of time and then strain right before I add to the sangria.  I tripled the sangria recipe but only doubled the spice syrup.  Between 3 of us drinkers we killed that sangria on christmas eve! 

Spiced Sangria

Spiced syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 star anise pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 2 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon crystalized ginger pieces
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 teaspoon whole cardamom pods

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Boil until reduced by about 1/2 and slightly syrupy about 15 minutes.  Let the syrup cool and strain


  • 1 750 ml bottle dry red wine
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 2 tangerines, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange liquor
  • 1 cup seltzer water

Pour wine into a pitcher.  Add in the fruits and tangerine juice.  

Add the strained spiced syrup.  Place in cool area or refrigerator overnight. 

Before serving add the brandy, orange liquor and seltzer water.  Serve over ice.  Cheers!

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

20 Dec

My part-time job has me working every Sunday evening.  We are now 5 days away from Christmas and the closing time has been extended from 7 to 11pm so I managed to change my shift to a mid-shift.  This meant once again I needed a meal to put together quickly and have it done by the time I got home in the evening.  I got my beloved trusty crockpot out and decided to try this recipe that I found on the internet about a year ago and have been wanting to try.  I put my family to the vote and it was unanimous to try the buffalo chicken and since it was less work I was all for it.  After working the longest 6 1/2 hours yet I came home to the smell of the completed lasagna and my mouth was watering!  I was ravenous as I had nothing to eat all day but 4 crackers and pimento cheese.  I was telling all my co-workers that when I got home I was grabbing a plate of lasagna and my dogs and hopping in the bed with my laptop and that is exactly what I did.  Let me tell you, this lasagna was kicking!  What a great combination and to do it in the crockpot was to easy.  My crockpot runs hot and while I added extra water in the end, one side did burn a little but not much and it did not affect the taste of this meal. 

Adapted from

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

  • 1 box uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 3 chicken breasts, previously cooked
  • 1 jar prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 3 bell peppers (I used orange, red and yellow), chopped
  • 1 tub of ricotta cheese (15 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2/3 cup water

Use at least a 5-quart oblong shape crockpot.

in a large bowl, combine cooked and chopped chicken breasts, pasta sauce and buffalo wing sauce.

Ladle a big spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of the crockpot.  Cover with a layer of the uncooked lasagna noodles.  You may need to break some to fit in the crockpot.  I was able to use 1 in the middle and for either side I broke 2 noodles in half and slightly overlapped the middle pieces.

Add dollops of ricotta cheese to the top of the noodles.  Add a layer of peppers and sprinkle with a handful of mozzarella cheese.  Top with a large spoonful of the sauce.

Repeat layers until you use up all ingredients.  I got about 5 layers.

Top the last layer with the blue cheese crumbles.  Put the water into your empty pasta sauce jar and shake.  Pour the liquid over the top of the entire lasagna.

Cover and cook on low about 6-7 hours.  When cooking time is complete, unplug and remove the lid.  Let sit for about 20 minutes before cutting into or it will fall apart.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

17 Dec

I made these a few years back for a picnic.  It was a 4th of July outdoor symphony with fireworks at the end.  They do this every year and its so much fun.  We laid out tarps earlier in the day to save a spot.  We only had about 10 people but the wraps and other snack food with beer and wine was a nice picnic dinner and a great way to start the evenings festivities.  I made these originally with a ground beef and a chicken filling and they were a huge hit.  Now I make them on a regular basis as it is an easy dish and a great way to use up romaine lettuce since I buy in bulk at Costco.  Also the family loves these.  Normally I also make a sauce to spoon over the filling but I was out of red chili paste so I skipped it this time but I made the filling extra saucy so it really wasn’t needed anyways. 

Filling recipe adapted from

Asian Lettuce Wraps

  • romaine lettuce
  • 1 pound chicken breast cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons crystallized ginger pieces
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons asian sweet red chile sauce
  • 1 8 ounce can diced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and set aside to dry.  In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the chicken in the olive oil, stirring often until cooked thru.

Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chile pepper sauce to the chicken and stir.  Stir in the water chestnuts, green onions and sesame oil.

 Continue to cook until the onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves on plate and top with chicken filling.

Asian Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons chili paste

Mix all ingredients until well mixed.  Serve over wraps or as a dip.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes with Apple Cider Frosting

13 Dec

A new season of Cupcakes Wars premiered this past week and as always some great ideas presented itself.  I came away with the idea of white chocolate and cranberry cupcakes.  However rather than the eggnog frosting I decided to try apple cider.  It apple cider sounds like a better combination for the cupcake.  I had some apple cider left over from last weekends cookie exchange Mariya and I hosted and figured I could put it to good use.  The cupcake recipe is actually from the Cake Mix Doctor called Lemon Lovers White Chocolate Cake.  This is a delicious cake using cake mix.  I decided to follow the basic recipe and added chopped fresh cranberries instead.  The frosting is a regular buttercream frosting but I substituted apple cider for the milk.  The cupcakes taste great with the sweetness from the white chocolate offsetting the tartness of the cranberry.  I actually probably could have used more cranberry but I ate a good bit of it!  I love fresh cranberry and I used a spoonful of sugar mixed into the chopped cranberry and it was really very good. 

Recipe inspired by the Cake Mix Doctor’s Lemon Lover’s White Chocolate Cake

White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes

  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 package (18.25 oz) french vanilla cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. 

Remove bowl and stir with a small spatula until smooth.

In a food processor chop the cranberries and set aside. 

Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add the slightly cooled white chocolate.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat an additional 2 minutes. 

Prepare the muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill cups with batter 2/3 way full.  Bake in oven for 18-23 minutes until tops are slightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan and continue to cool on wire rack for another 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile prepare the Apple Cider Frosting.  Frost/decorate cupcakes.

Apple Cider Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 box 1 lb confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider

Combine butter and vanilla in mixer; beat until fluffy.  Add confectioners sugar slowly, beating on low speed.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of apple cider, beat until fluffy.  Add additional tablespoon of cider if needed.