Friday, December 25, 2009

Thomas Christmas Dinner

I did review this week's grocery store flyers, however there really isn't much to report. I'm sure this is a popular week for takeout and who really wants to do more shopping? So, I decided to post the Christmas dinner I served tonight and follow up later in the week with a few more easy weeknight meals.

For the last couple of years I have hosted Christmas dinner for my husband's family and have stressed about cooking a large, expensive cut of beef, only to be disappointed with the final result. I do not have a full size oven so if I cook with a roasting pan, nothing else fits. I have to cook everything else in advance, reheat when the beef is resting, and hope that it doesn't dry out in the process. I hate to ruin $100+ of premium beef!

This year I decided to cook an easy pork tenderloin dish and it was well worth it! It was tender, roasted on a shallow jelly roll pan, and all of the dishes were ready to serve at the same time. Here is our menu and the links to the websites where I found the recipes. I would make the pork for an elegant dinner party, or even on a Wednesday-just substitute with store bought fig preserves.


Herbed Mushrooms
(recipe below)

Pancetta and Herb Pork with Fig Jam

Creamed Spinach
(recipe below)

Barefoot Contessa Penne with Five Cheeses

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Sundaes with Holiday Cookies, Candy Cane Pieces and Fudge

Sister Shubert Parker House Rolls
(Best roll on the planet!! Everywhere in the south. Only sold here at Fresh Market)

Just a note about the pork. I substituted four 1-2 lb pork tenderloins for pork loin, marinated them in dried herbs, no fresh at Dominick's, overnight, seared in a pan(earlier today, before guests arrived), then finished cooking right before dinner in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. I forgot the pancetta and it was not missed! Not sure what we would have gained from it, except too much salt? Fig jam was delicious and well worth the extra effort. *Picture posted above copied from Epicurious website.*

Herbed Mushrooms
1 16 ounce package mushrooms, rinsed
1 (5 ounce package herbed goat cheese (Boursin), softened
2 tablespoons olive oil

Remove stems and inside of mushrooms. Spoon cheese into mushrooms until slightly bulging out of top. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes until mushrooms have cooked and cheese mixture is slightly toasted.
**This is one of my favorite appetizers to make. One of my favorite friends and home cooks gave me this recipe and it is a crowd-pleaser. I usually stuff the mushrooms in advance, then cook in my toaster oven right before party time.**

Creamed Spinach
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 lbs of baby spinach(large bag available at Costco for around $3.00)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

Saute shallots and garlic on medium heat in a large pan until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add spinach in batches and cook until wilted and juices cook down. If extra juice remains in pan, remove with spoon. Add cream, Parmesan, cream cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook a few minutes more until mixture is thickened and creamy. Serve immediately or transfer to an oven safe dish. Let cool, refrigerate, and reheat when ready in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling.


  1. Elizabeth- new to your blog after hearing you talk about it at Kim's Holiday Tea. Looking forward to following your blog and try some things. Even read an old post about a rice cooker and its inspiring me to finally try mine (it's been sitting for a year in the box).

    I'd be curious on your thoughts on the prices at Trader Joes. I like shopping there for some unique and healthy items.

    Thanks for your blog - looking forward to following it.

  2. Hi! I intend to do a price comparison with Costco, Trader Joe's and our local stores. I do most of my shopping at Costco and Trader Joe's and I like to think I save money there, but we'll see. As soon as I can go shopping without my screaming children, I will give it a try! Thanks for checking out the blog!

    Love the rice cooker!!