Chef Spotlight: Health Conscious Chefs

Tonight I hosted my monthly Chef Spotlight Dinner paying homage to health conscious chefs. With the new year, many folks are making the effort of a healthier lifestyle and better food choices. For this dinner, friends and I prepared dishes that were healthy and came from popular health conscious chefs & sources. The following was our dinner menu, along with links to the recipes!

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
(Ellie Krieger recipe)

Creamy Pasta with Salmon, Asparagus & Dill
(Pam Anderson recipe)

The World’s Most Delicious Asian Chicken Salad

(Kathleen Daelemans recipe)

Roasted Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes
(Pam Anderson recipe)

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
(Gourmet recipe)

Tabouleh Salad
(Allrecipes recipe)

Oven Fried Buttermilk “Commando” Chicken
(Juan-Carlos Cruz recipe)

Poached Salmon
(Cooking Enthusiast recipe)

Chicken with Tomatoes & Capers
(Epicurious recipe)

Lemon Bundt Cake
(Kathleen Daelemans recipe)

Sassy Water
(Flat Belly Diet recipe)

Christmas Eating 2008

It’s amazing how quickly the years go by as we age. It’s already Christmas (Eve)?! With so many things to be thankful for, we hope you will be enjoying time spent with loved ones this holiday. What’s on your holiday table to celebrate? Are you hosting a special meal, preparing anything to contribute to the table or enjoying the offerings as guests?

This year family on both sides are out of town/overseas so no big family celebrations for us this Christmas. It took me some time to figure out what to prepare for our quiet and intimate Christmas since it will only be husband, brother in law, cousin and myself. I’m so used to preparing meals enough for an army! My menu for Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Brunch and Dinner are below and it was definitely a relaxing, tasty and Merry Christmas for us!

We hope wherever you are, you enjoyed a tasty table too and
here’s wishing you all a wonderful and warm holiday season!

Christmas Eve Fondue:
Emmentaler & Gruyere Cheese Fondue
w/toasted bread cubes, baby carrots, potatoes, apple slices

grape tomatoes & roasted garlic chicken sausage
Grilled Lemon & Herb Salmon

over bed of Spinach Salad

Chocolate Fondue

w/French butter cookies, banana slices

Coffee / Mint Hot Cocoa Service
w/various creamers & peppermint marshmallows

Christmas Brunch:
Cinnamon French Toast
w/cinnamon syrup & fresh whipped cream
Stuffed Potato Boats
w/eggs, spinach, artichoke, brie & ham
Roasted Asparagus
w/lemon zest butter
Coffee & Peppermint Tea Service

Christmas Dinner:
Brie Cheese Plate
w/water crackers, black raspberry jam and apple slices
Oven Roasted Herbed Turkey Breast
w/rich turkey gravy
and sour cream & chive mashed potatoes
Crispy Onion Topped Orzo
w/mushrooms, spinach & brie
Roasted Vegetables
w/balsamic dressing
Lemon Garlic Knots
and lemon zest & roasted garlic butter
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
served in martini glasses
Wine, Holiday Punch & Coffee Service

Biscotti Bonanza!

Unfortunately, my husband has to work tomorrow on Christmas Eve. I decided to bake a few things today that he could take in tomorrow to share with his staff. I absolutely love baking and cooking for his staff at work. It allows me the opportunity to try new recipes and share them with others. (I especially like the fact we don’t have all these sweet temptations around at home where I could easily indulge and regret it all later!)

With some random baking ingredients on hand, I decided to make various kinds biscotti for them to enjoy. These are great to make since the recipe doesn’t call for any butter and uses pantry staples. Biscotti are great gifting goodies because they have a long shelf life and sturdy enough to package up. Here’s the biscotti line up I making (click the links for the recipes!):

Floribbean Holiday Party!

This year we wanted to celebrate the holidays with friends in a special way. To take our mind off the cold Chicago winter, we provided a bit of the tropics with our Floribbean menu. We chose this cuisine in honor of Florida… where we would have moved this past late November/early December. We decided to stay in Chicago after reviewing our work situations so here we are. We’re not sure if we will move in the future, but for the time being, Chicago is home.

We couldn’t have asked for a better holiday party with friends and good food. Here’s what I prepared with links to the recipes! (and a special thanks to my husband for helping out around the house to prepare while I was busy in the kitchen…)

black bean corn salad
spinach orange cranberry salad
carribbean jerk chicken salad

Side Dishes
Congri (spanish rice, black beans & chorizo)
Arroz con Gandules (pigeon peas & rice)
Maduros (sweet plantains)
Tostones (green plantains)
Yuca w/Mojo

Main Dishes
Mojo Chicken
Guava BBQ Ribs
Jamaican Roast Pork
Citrus Flounder
Cuban Paninis

Key Lime Pie Bars
Tres Leches Trifle
Creamy Tropical Fruit Salad

DIY Caribbean drink bar
assorted wines
Caribbean punch

For holiday fun, we had our White Elephant Holiday Gift Exchange! Friends brought in a cooking/baking related gift… but it had to be something they already had. We all drew numbers and picked out a gift, with the option to swap a gift that was already opened. It was a lot of fun and some great gifts were received! Here are some of the great smiles of the night…

Holiday Cookie Swap 2008

I love December for the simple fact that it’s the month I host my annual Holiday Cookie Swap. This year was full of amazing cookies! Here’s what everyone brought with links to the recipes…

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
(recipe forthcoming)

Holiday Cookie Swap 2008 Menu

Today I hosted my annual Holiday Cookie Swap with friends. It was an awesome event full of great cookies to share. Aside from the cookies we all indulged in, I prepared some things for my guests to enjoy. Here’s my Holiday Cookie Swap party menu:

Rondele Garlic & Herb Cheese Platter
with crackers and vegetable crudite
Layered Jalapeno Dip

with tortilla chips

Spicy Cheese Quesadillas

Apple, Brie & Onion Pizza Squares

Holiday Chicken, Cranberry & Gorgonzola Pizza Squares

Roast Beef, Pepper & Onion Mini Paninis

Turtle Pecan Trifle

Cranberry Prosecco Punch

Holiday Food Gifts!

Every year I take some time out to make a few holiday treats to share with friends and neighbors. This year, I made the following treats for friends… although these packaged goodies are only half of the items packaged up! Click on the links below for recipes…