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Holiday Cooking

Comfort Food, Dinner, Holiday Cooking, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes

Savory Yams with Kale

October 4, 2016

In preparation for the holiday season I am playing around with yams, pumpkin and butternut squash, so I came up with this savory yams with kale side dish that came out pretty good.



  • 3 to 4 yams, chopped into chunky bites (leave skin on) – you can use sweet potatoes as well
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped fresh kale (you can buy frozen as well)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • Irish Garlic Salt or sea salt, pepper, garlic and parsley to taste

Note:  I buy the Irish Garlic Salt from a gal who makes it locally and it’s amazing!  It has sea salt, lots of garlic, parsley and other spices.  I use it on potatoes, beef, chicken and so much more!


  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. Add the chopped yams, olive oil/grape seed oil, chopped onions, cranberries and spices and stir.
  3. Cook for approximately 45 minutes.  Take out half way to stir and see if you need more oil.
  4. Goes great with beef, chicken or pork!
Dinner, Entrees, Holiday Cooking, Holiday Recipes

Beef Wellington

October 4, 2016

Beef Wellington is one of most favorite meat dishes.  How can you go wrong with a filet mignon roast and puff pastry?  I usually make this around the holidays, and it’s always a great crowd pleaser.



  • 2.5-4 pound beef filet mignon tenderloin roast (trimmed)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 5 to 6 cups finely chopped white or crimini mushrooms (no stems)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or other spicy mustard (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sherry or marsala
  • 1 to 2 packages puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces of peppercorn mousse or chicken liver pate

I personally like the peppercorn mousse better because I am not a huge liver person.  You can make it pretty easily, or you can find it at Whole Foods and other more high-end grocery stores.


  1. Tie the filet roast with kitchen twine and make sure the twine is spaced about an inch apart.
  2. Season filet roast with salt and pepper and place in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil or grapeseed oil on medium-high heat for about a minute on each side to help seal in the juices.
  3. Transfer the filet roast to a cutting board and let it rest until cool.  Make sure the juices of the meat are drained because it will be hard for the pate to stick to the meat otherwise.  Chill until ready to assemble the pate and puff pastry over top.
  4. In another skillet or the same one you used for browning the roast, include butter and onions and cook for a few minutes and then add the chopped mushrooms.  Also add salt and pepper.  Cook until tender and the liquid has been cooked out and has evaporated.  Add sherry or marsala and cook until mixture is on the dry side (about 4 minutes) on medium heat.  Cool to room temperature, or you can refrigerate the day before if you want to make ahead.  Note:  I usually add a bit of spicy mustard as well.  This is my secret ingredient that adds a bit of extra flavor.
  5. On a flowered surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry sheets one at a time in a rectangular shape.  Do one first and see how much more you will need.  It depends on the size of the filet roast.  You want to make sure the beef is completely covered with the puff pastry.  If you are using more than one piece, you want to make sure the pieces overlap so that the roast is completely covered.
  6. Coat what you consider to be the top of the filet roast with the peppercorn mousse and then a layer of the mushroom mixture.   Carefully place the top coated part of the roast in the middle of the puff pastry and continue coating the roast with the peppercorn mousse and then the mushroom mixture.
  7. Enclose the puff pastry and the seem will be the bottom which you will place on a baking sheet.
  8. Coat puff pastry with egg wash to seal.  If you want a design on the top, do that and place on top of the egg mixture to keep together and put more egg wash on top of that.  I like to do holly leaves and berries or stars as a design, but you can pretty much do whatever you want.  Chill at least 2 hours.
  9. Heat over to 425 and place a roasting pan in the over for 15 minutes to heat up the pan.  Take then pan out and transfer the file roast from the baking sheet to the roasting pan.  Make a few small slits in the puff pastry to vent the meat.  Add more egg wash if necessary.  Sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  10. Bake filet roast until the top of the puff pastry is golden brown and beef registers at 120-130 (rare), or 130-135 (medium rare).  If the puff pastry gets too brown, cover with foil if the meat is not at desired temperature.  The specific time in the oven will depend on how big of roast (generally it’s 15 to 17 minutes per pound).
  11. Let cool for a least 10 minutes before you cut into the roast.
  12. Put on a platter and decorate!  This type of entrée can make a big statement at your dinner table.
Desserts, Holiday Cooking, Holiday Recipes

Poached Pears in Port Wine

December 4, 2015

I love poached pears in port wine.  You can use your favorite full-bodied red wine if you are not a port fan.  It’s pretty easy to make, and you can decorate each plate beautifully by pairing with ice cream, whipping cream, and so much more.  See below for other ideas.


1 bottle of your favorite port
4 to 5 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 peppercorns
1 vanilla bean
Orange zest of 1 medium orange
8 ripe Bartlett pears

In a large saucepan, heat the first 6 ingredients. Simmer for 30-35 minutes and stir occasionally.  Peel the pears and place into another pan that can be used on the stove with sides that has a lid.  Pour the simmering liquid port sauce over pears. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the liquid and set aside to cool. Strain the liquid and cool before serving.

What to Serve with Pears:

    • Your favorite vanilla bean ice cream (if you are really ambitious homemade is always better)
    • Mascapone or riccotta filling (with sugar, orange peel and nutmeg)
    • Homemade whipped cream
    • Top with chocolate sauce or caramel sauce
    • Garnish with mint leaves
    • Serve over puff pastry, pound cake, shortbread cookie or another one of your favorite cookies that might pair well
Desserts, Holiday Cooking

White Chocolate Coconut Cake

December 3, 2015

Coconut Cake is so good, so just think how good White Chocolate Coconut Cake will be!  This is a great recipe for the holidays because it looks like winter.  You can always dress up the cake to make it more festive.



  • 1 package white cake mix (regular size) See homemade white cake below if you would rather make from scratch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cream of coconut, divided
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup vanilla or white chips
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 3-1/2 cups flaked coconut, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water, 3/4 cup cream of coconut and egg whites; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
  2. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 22-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, chips, cream cheese, 3 tablespoons heavy cream and remaining cream of coconut; cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted.
  4. Remove from the heat; stir in 1-1/2 cups coconut and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl; cover and refrigerate until mixture reaches spreading consistency, stirring occasionally.
  5. For frosting, in a large bowl, beat remaining cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and remaining vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Place bottom cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of the filling. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings.

Homemade White Cake Recipe


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray or coated well with shortening or butter and floured, taking care to remove all excess flour.
  2. Cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Slowly add sugar one cup at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each cup before adding another. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour milks and vanilla into measuring cup and whisk together with a fork. Add to butter and shortening mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  4. Gently stir all ingredients until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure to have all ingredients mixed well.
  5. Evenly distribute cake batter between cake pans and place pans into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Frost cake as desired.