Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Simple (and Relatively Healthy) Recipes for the Holidays

With only a couple weeks until Christmas, I am looking at recipes and trying to figure out what delicious contributions I can make to my family's holiday meals. In the process I realized that I have a few recipes I could share with you might make your search a little easier!


Holiday Floats

Last month I shared a couple signature drinks I have made for previous Thanksgivings. This year I created "Thanksgiving Floats" which are easily rebranded "Holiday Floats". I used Martha Stewart's Everyday Food recipe for Cranberry & Apple Cider Sorbet for these floats. I followed the recipe as it was written with the exception of doubling the recipe. This meant it froze on a different timeline and even though I forgot about it in the freezer and mashed it late, it turned out wonderfully once I put it in the food processor. The flavor is quite strong but really mellows out once made into a float.

The assembly is quite simple. In addition to the sorbet you will need sparkling wine - I personally like Prosecco as it's not too dry or too sweet. Despite what my directions say in the photos below, I think the best way to assemble the floats is as follows:

1. Pour a small amount of sparkling wine in each glass. Allow the foam to subside.

2. Put 1 or 2 (depending on taste) small scoops of sorbet in the glass. I used a melon baller to get the right sized scoop for a champagne flute.

3. Slowly and carefully top with sparkling wine. The combination of the bubbly drink and the cold sorbet really causes it to foam up!

In order to keep the sorbet frozen, I took an ice bucket, filled it with ice, and then placed the bowl of sorbet on top. If you are hosting a party and want this drink to be self-serve, I would recommend doing something similar.


Tortellini Caprese Skewers

1 package whole wheat cheese tortellini
cherry tomatoes (I used Sweet 100s from my garden)
basil, cut or torn into skewer size pieces
Trader Joe's Balsamic Glaze
olive oil
coarse sea salt

1. Cook tortellini according to package instructions. Cool. If you don't have time to allow the tortellini to cool on their own, you can prepare an ice bath (ice & water) and plunge them for a quick cool down.

2. Assemble skewers using toothpicks sandwiching the basil between the tortellini and tomato. Be sure to skewer through the "meatiest" part of the tortellini and tomato for a sturdy appetizer.

3. Arrange dipping "sauces". Balsamic Glaze (can be substituted for a balsamic reduction) in one bowl, good quality olive oil in another, and coarse sea salt in another (or via a salt grinder) with small serving spoons. While I prefer to offer the selection of classic toppings, you could also just drizzle one or the other over a platter of skewers.

Note - I actually originally made these for a picnic at the end of summer but the colors and simplicity make them a perfect appetizer for the holidays!

Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Spread
I made this delicious spread last year for Christmas and it was a huge hit! I found the recipe on the Cooking Light website. At only 100 calories for 3 tablespoons, you can feel free to indulge! The creamy cheese, caramelization of the onions and subtle saltiness of the bacon makes this dip seem much more decadent than it actually is.
Something to note - you have to cut up A LOT of onions for this recipe (this is what makes it so low cal despite all of the other delicious ingredients). If you are sensitive to the aroma, you may want to wear eye covering. I had to keep stopping because I couldn't stop crying! Also, I prepped the entire spread the day before with the exception of adding the final layer of cheese. If you are trying to get a number of items ready, just having to pop this in the oven is a big time saver. I served this spread with Trader Joe's Rye Crisps and crostinis.

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light
Side Dish/Salad
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots
This was another great find from Cooking Light! Our main dish last Christmas was a pork roast and these potatoes went wonderfully. I think this dish would go equally well with any number of proteins as the shallots and rosemary really help tame the sweetness of the potatoes.

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light
Christmas Spinach Salad
This is a salad that was inspired by one my friend brought to an event several years ago. I just love the contrast of the pomegranate seeds against the spinach leaves. Unfortunately no photos of this one but I promise it is very simple.
1 bag of pre-washed spinach leaves
feta cheese, crumbled (I like the fat free or reduced fat.)
fresh pomegranate seeds (dried can be substituted but it isn't as good)
walnuts, chopped & lightly toasted
balsamic salad dressing
1. Fill a large bowl with spinach leaves and top with the feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts - use your best judgement as to proportions. You want to garnish the salad - not have the toppings in equal proportion to the spinach.
2. Just before serving, toss with dressing or allow everyone to dress their own salads.
I hope these recipes have given you a place to start when planning your holiday meals and gatherings. The options really are endless! I am a crazy Pin-aholic so please check out my Pinterest page for lots more recipe ideas!


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