Monday, December 21, 2015

FANTASTIC Holiday Meal Plan! (You're Welcome.)

My mom is one seriously gifted party-thrower and hostess and her food is just out of this world! So guess who I called first when it was time for me to make dinner for 40+ people for our residency applicant dinner thing? Yep. Mama. Because Mama knows best. Well, I hosted that dinner last night and everyone raved about the food and requested recipes, hence this handy dandy blog post.

Perhaps YOU are you sitting around thinking, WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE FOR CHRISTMAS EVE and/or CHRISTMAS DINNER (OR fill in the blank with whatever fancy/important meal thing you will be hosting)?!?!?! Put those worries to bed. Make this and everyone who is graced to sit at your table will go to bed very, very satisfied - including yourself.

Meal Plan:

Tri-tip (1/3lb. per person)
Mandarin Orange Salad
Roasted Red Potatoes (1/4lb. per person)
French peasant bread
Quinoa apple Freekah Salad
Red Grapes
Artichoke dip w/ veggies and pita chips
Cheeseball with crackers
Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
Bottled Water

**Hostess (Mom) Tip #1: Everything that can be done early should! (For example, washing and cutting grapes, cutting up the romaine salad and storing in gallon ziplocs with a paper towel, making salad dressing and candied almonds, cheeseball, quinoa salad, artichoke dip layered and sprinkled with cheese)
**Hostess (Mom) Tip #2: Make a master plan on paper for the day of the meal. Plan out exactly when you will put what foods into the oven and when so that you don’t have to waste energy worrying about what to do next. For example, 3 hours before the meal, start to make the bread. For example, here is an abreviated version of the plan I used to have dinner ready by 6pm. I outsourced the potato roasting, quinoa salad and grape washing and cutting to friends, whose fridge and oven space was much appreciated in preparing this meal. If you only have one oven like I do, and you are doing all the cooking, probably the potatoes should go in after the meat, so the bread is the freshest out of the oven.:

3:00pm – Make Peasant Bread
4:15pm – Preheat oven to 350*F
-          Pull out meat from fridge to warm to room temp.
4:30pm – Form Peasant Bread into loaves
-          Wash all the dishes
4:40pm – Put meat in oven
5:25pm – Check meat (155*F – 160*F)
-          Take out and let rest for 15 min.
-          Turn up oven to 425*F
-          Pull out artichoke dip to warm to room temp.
5:30pm – Brush bread with melted butter and put in oven.
-          Bake for 10min. at 425*F
-          Put artichoke dip in with bread.
5:40pm – Turn down heat and bake for 15min. @ 375*F
-          Meat can be cut up into thin slices. Covered back up with foil in own juices.
5:55pm – Pull out bread and brush with butter
6:00pm – Slice up the bread loaves and put on table
-          Time to eat!!
6:25pm - Water bath the fudge jars on low
7:15pm – Take out Dessert
7:25pm - Cut up and serve the ice cream cake

**Hostess (Sister) Tip #3: Put all the master plan stuff in your phone as alarms so your phone can remind you of what to do next as you go along! :

Mom’s Famous Tri-tip

Tri-tip (I got my meat from Costco)
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Chili Powder

Mix 1 part Montreal Steak Seasoning to just under a ½ cup chili powder. Rub all over the trip tip so it is well coated. Discard any extra. Put rubbed meat into a 9x13 glass casserole dish and cover with foil at least overnight.

The next day, pull out the meat from the fridge 30 min. before cooking. Preheat oven to 350*F. Back for about 45 min. or until the meat is between 155*F-160*F (check with meat thermometer through the foil.) When up to temp, pull out the meat. ***VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT take the foil off the casserole dish yet! Let the meat rest, covered, for 15min. until slicing up in thin slices. Put back in dish with own juices and serve. This meat freezes well once cooked, too. Just make sure you have some of the juice in the bag with it.

Mandarin Orange Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2 heads of romaine washed and chopped
1 small can of mandarin oranges (in own juice) drained
1 ripe pear, diced
1/3 cup craisins
1 ripe avocado, diced
½ bunch of green onion, chopped small
½ candied almonds
Feta cheese (optional, but delicious – amount to taste)
Homemade Sweet Vinaigrette Dressing (to taste – a little goes a long way. Don’t use a full recipe of dressing for the salad. Less is more for oil based dressings.)

Right before eating, toss all the ingredients together and serve.

Sweet Vinaigrette Dressing:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TBL. raw apple cider vinegar
2 TBL. sugar
1 TBL. chopped Italian Parsley (optional, but delicious)
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Dash of Tobasco sauce

Mix all the ingredients together. They will separate, so make sure to shake it up each time you use it. Can be refrigerated to keep longer, but know that the oil will harden, so make sure to pull it out 10 min. before you need it if it has been refrigerated for a while.

Candied almonds

¼ cup sugar
½ cup almonds (sliced or slivered)

Melt sugar in skillet over a medium heat until melted to a light brown liquid. Quickly stir in almond slices. Stir until incorporated and move to a ceramic or glass plate to cool. Then break apart and toss with the salad.  

Roasted Red Potatoes

3lbs. red potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Adjust rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450*F. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange cut side down on a large lipped cookie sheet or 9x13 pan.
Roast until tender and golden brown, about 30 min. (check after 20 min.) Transfer to a serving dish.
**VERY IMPORTANT: JUST SAY NO TO FOIL!! I repeat - DO NOT COVER WITH FOIL!! If you do, you will steam the potatoes and lose the yummy crispy outer texture and soft potato insides and get soggy potatoes instead.

(No-Knead) French Peasant Bread

1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 TBL. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached, unbromated)
Corn meal
Melted butter

Place yeast, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one – one and a half hours or until doubled in size. Flour hands. Remove dough from bowl and cut into two pieces. Form into rounds and place on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. (If using a baking mat, you don’t need the oil, but you will still want some cornmeal.) Cover and let rise an additional hour. Preheat oven to 425*F. Brush with melted butter and bake for 10 min. at 425*F. Turn down the heat to 375*F and bake for another 15min. or until golden brown on top of loaves. Remove from oven, and brush again with butter. Serve warm.

**IMPORTANT: The double butter brushing is what gives this bread a fantastic flaky crust. Don’t skimp on this important step!**

Mom’s Cheese ball Recipe

2 packages Philadelphia cream cheese (original, full fat)
Tillamok Medium Cheddar Cheese, sliced thin and then diced into little squares
½ package of Ham (I like Applegate uncured black forest ham), diced into squares
1 bunch of green onion, chopped

Mix the cheese, ham and green onion with cream cheese until incorporated. Do this step with ziploc bags on your hands. Form into a ball. Serve with your favorite crackers and/or sliced cucumber.

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

½ gallon of Dreyer’s Peppermint Ice cream
1 tub of cool whip
1 standard package of Oreo’s
½ stick butter
1 jar of Mrs.Richardson’s Hot Fudge

**VERY IMPORTANT: At least one day before serving, prepare the cake!** Pull out ice cream and cool whip soften a bit. Crush up package of Oreos, and stir in melted butter until incorporated. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, mix ice cream and cool whip together until incorporated. Layer and smooth out over the Oreo crust. Cover with foil and freeze overnight. 30 min. or so before serving, warm the fudge in a water bath on the stove top until warm and easy to stir. Pull cake out 10 min. before serving. Cut up into 15 pieces. Serve with scoop of warm hot fudge on top.

Other Sides to compliment the meal:

-Costco’s Spinach artichoke dip. Just layer in an oven-safe dish, sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and warm up @350*F until cheese is melted and the dip is warmed through. Serve with Sourdough or pita crisps, and a veggie tray. Do this or the cheese ball - or both. Unless you have objections to creamy cheesy goodness. In that case, I can't help you.
- Red grapes, washed and cut into bunches.
- Costco’s Organic Quinoa, Apple, Freekah salad. Serve warm or cold. Prepare according to package instructions on stove top.

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