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Holiday Recipes

Comfort Food, Dinner, Entrees, Holiday Recipes, Soup

Pumpkin Tomato Tortellini Soup

October 17, 2016

I love winter and trying out new soup recipes!  Since the holidays are approaching, I am trying out new recipes with pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and yams.  I came up with this interesting pumpkin tomato tortellini soup that tasted pretty darn good, so I decided to post this one.  I hope you enjoy as much as my husband and I did.



  • 2 cartons low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cans of pumpkin puree (or if you are really ambitious you can roast the pumpkin and puree yourself)
  • 2 packages of cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 small cans or 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package bacon
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons dried sage or if you want to use fresh sage, use the entire package
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons of chipotle spice or to taste


  1. Cook the bacon and crumble into small pieces and set aside for later.
  2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil or grape seed oil into a large pot and add onions and garlic.  Cook at medium heat until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the chicken broth, cream and pumpkin puree and mix well.  Then add the other spices and cook at low heat for 15 -20 minutes.
  4. Add the tortellini and cook at low for another 15 minutes and serve.
  5. Garnish with bacon.


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.
Drinks, Gift Ideas, Holiday Recipes

Creamy Limoncello

December 29, 2015

I have been wanting to make Limocello for awhile now, and finally decided to make it this year as Christmas gifts.  I made several batches until I came up with the one I liked the most and thought I would share my recipe with you.  I personally like the Creamy Limocello version much better.   Make sure you have some time when you decide you want to make it.



  • 12 lemons
  • one 750 ml bottle of your favorite vodka or everclear
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. You can use a potato peeler or paring knife to peel the lemon, but I found that a paring knife is easier.  Try both to see which one you like the best.  Some people use a zester as well.
  2. Peel all 12 lemons and try to use the knife to remove as much of the pith (white part of the lemon peel) as you can.
  3. Place the peels in a large canning jar or ice tea container that has a lid on it.
  4. Pour the vodka or everclear in the jar and close the lid tightly.
  5. Place in a dark spot for 5 to 6 days.
  6. Heat milk and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat until the mixture because a syrup (approximately 5 to 10 minutes).
  7. Let the syrup cool down to room temperature the pour the mixture into the same jar as the peels and vodka or everclear.  Stir the mixture together and then close the lid.
  8. Place in a dark place again for approximately 1 to 2 days and then pour into your favorite container(s).
  9. Because this recipe has milk in it, make sure you place in the refrigerator afterwards.

If you like Lemon Drop cocktails, you will love this.  This is best served with chilled glasses (shot glasses or small that liqueur glasses).  Garnish with fresh or candied lemons.

See my Limoncello Cake recipe as well.

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
Entrees, Holiday Recipes

Roasted Leg of Lamb

October 6, 2015

This is one of my roasted leg of lamb recipes I made a couple of years ago.  I just found it and thought I would share on my website as I am moving my recipes to my website.  My friend’s mother raises grass fed lamb and sells to The Kitchen in Sacramento every year.  It’s the most amazing lamb you ever tasted!  I am always grateful when I get invited to cook one of her lambs!

grass fed


  • 7 to 8 pound leg of lamb roast with bone in
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups Guinness stout beer
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons dried juniper berries (you can find at Whole Foods) – other substitutes could be dried blueberries or blackberries
  • 3 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • Let leg of lamb roast sit for approximately 10-15 minutes to reach room temperature.
  • Insert 8 of the garlic cloves into meat by creating small wholes with a knife all over roast (both sides).
  • Baste lamb with olive oil, part of the chopped rosemary, salt and pepper.
  • In a bowl mix the Guinness stout beer, honey, chopped garlic (about 1 to 2 cloves), juniper berries, and bay leaves.  Note:  It is best to heat the honey so it blends with the bear mixture.
  • Place lamb roast into roasting pan.
  • Pour part of the mixture carefully over lamb roast.  Leave enough for basting.  Use a spoon to get some of the juniper berries, garlic and rosemary and place over the lamb.
  • Turn over down to 325 and place lamb into over.
  • Baste every 10-15 minutes.
  • Cook 13-15 minutes per pound for medium rare or until internal temperature reaches 130 to 135 degrees.  Lamb is best at medium rare!
  • Remove the roast from the oven, cover it loosely with foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan drippings.