- Appetizers: Rotel dip w/chicken & cilantro - my mom's specialty; puff pastries from Costco; Christmas cookies (I made these this morning & people snacked on them throughout the day - jam thumbprints, Russian teacakes and cranberry almond bark)
- Salad: I like to call it the "Hen House" salad since it is basically a bunch of ingredients from their salad bar. My mom makes homemade vinaigrette dressing to go with it, but the best part is the cheese tortellini (we're having this for dinner as a main course next week with chicken added for extra protein)
- Side Dish 1: Vegetable gratin (this link might not work since you have to log in to access it - but trust me it's worth registering to get it) - technically this is supposed to be a summer dish but I think it's the best vegetable dish I've ever had and would eat it any time of year. It's supposed to have a combination of zucchini and yellow squash, but we just used zucchini. It is combined with a garlic-thyme olive oil, topped with caramelized onions and tomatoes, more garlic-thyme oil then baked and later topped with bread crumbs, shallots & Parmesan cheese and baked some more to make the top crusty.
- Side Dish 2: Sauteed potatoes - I learned how to make these in my one semester of culinary school. The first time I made them they almost didn't make it to the table since they were being eaten right out of the pan as soon as they were ready! We haven't made them in years because they are a bit time-consuming and have to be served very fresh. We had almost forgotten just how good they were - it was the first time hubby had tried them and now he wants to know why we don't have them all the time! We probably will have to now! They are supposed to be cut into a fancy "tournee" but chunks or wedges are easier and taste just the same. Peel 2 small yellow potatoes (i.e. Yukon Gold) per person. Cut into uniform chunks or wedges. Place in pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender but not yet falling apart. Heat half-inch of peanut oil in large skillet over high heat. Add potatoes to oil and cook until brown on one side, turn and cook until brown on all remaining sides. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle liberally with salt while still hot.
- Main Dish: Prime rib, w/Paula Dean's house seasoning. We actually just use a standing rib roast and call it prime rib - technically not "prime" but good enough. Thanks to living in the beef capital of the world (I just proclaimed that - wonder where it officially is?), we get really good beef at our local grocery store for really reasonable prices. Still, this dinner cost about $80 in meat alone, though we fed 8 people and had excessive amounts of leftovers. For comparison, a heat-and-eat prime rib dinner for 2 from our local grocery store costs $35 or $17.50/serving, so I think we came out a lot better than that. For some reason the roast took a really long time to cook, but the wait was worth it. The seasoning combines with the little bit of fat on the outside and makes this garlicky, crackly crust of goodness.
- Condiment: Horseradish sauce, inspired by Ina Garten's recipe here. I use the same ingredients as she does, but vary the quantities. This time I only used about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and about 1 cup of sour cream, combined with about a tablespoon each of grainy and Dijon mustard, and about 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish. The amounts are guesstimates, I just keep adding things until I like how it tastes. This year it was apparently the best it's ever been, since even my brother asked for the recipe and as far as I know he never even cooks.
- Dessert: Pecan pie and cranberry-apple crumble. My mom made the desserts and they were a hit, but I only tried the pecan pie. I almost didnt' get a chance since apparently people were snacking on it at lunchtime - good thing she made two. The pie was good but I was still so full I think my taste buds were on overload and didn't really enjoy it like they usually would.
All in all this was a really successful and tasty meal - definitely a good way to start off the year and hopefully we'll get to finish it in a similar fashion with the same dinner next Christmas!