“The essence of Christmas Day in Italy is family, love and food, la famiglia, l'amore e il cibo.”
Hey all! How’s your week treating you? Can you believe it’s the last week of the year? I am still working on coming up with a New Year’s Resolution, so I’ll be sure to share it when I do!
If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, you know my family is mostly all Italian. My grandma’s parents came straight from Italy, and I still have relatives over there. (A good excuse to visit I'd say!) I’ve always been a big lover of all things Italian, especially the food! I am still deciding if Italian or Mexican cuisine is my favorite, but I am leaning towards the Italian side. I mean really, who can pass up baked ziti, fresh baked breadsticks, and all other things smothered in homemade marinara sauce? I didn’t think you’d argue! :-)
So when coming up with a menu for this Christmas back in November, somehow all the recipes I had in a folder were Italian-inspired. So I thought, “Hey, why not have an official Italian themed Christmas dinner?” Nobody obliged, so that was that, and our Italian meal was planned, prepped, cooked, and eaten(the best part obviously)and enjoyed by everyone!
The meal was compliments of the two family chefs:
Grandpa and myself
My grandpa prepared the roasted chicken cattiatore & the wild rice stuffing.
I prepared everything else! To say my Christmas day was spent cooking and baking would be an understatement! ;-)
Tossed Italian Salad—mixed greens, sliced cucumber, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, Italian dressing. Toss & enjoy!
Roasted Chicken Cattiatore
- 1 chicken (6-8 lbs)
- 1/2 c fresh chopped basil leaves
- 4 garlic gloves, peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 jar roasted red bell peppers
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
- 1 c chicken broth
Remove giblets from chicken and reserve for other uses.
Pull off and discard lumps of fat.
Rinse bird well inside and out; pat dry.
If desired, fold wing tips under first joint.
Set bird breast up on a V-shaped rack in an 11- by 17-inch pan.
Push 1/3 of the basil under skin and spread evenly over breast.
Place garlic cloves in body cavity.
Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.
Distribute peppers, and tomatoes around chicken in pan; spread level.
Roast in a 425 degree regular or convection oven until vegetables begin to brown and a thermometer inserted through thickest part of breast to bone reaches 170 degrees, or 180 degrees through thickest part of thigh at joint, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours.
Insert a carving fork into chicken cavity, piercing carcass.
Lift bird and tilt to drain juices into pan.
Set chicken on a rimmed platter; let rest in a warm place about 15 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a shallow bowl; keep warm.
Skim and discard fat from pan; add vinegar, broth, and remaining herbs.
Stir often over high heat, scraping browned bits free, until reduced to 3/4 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.
Pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher or bowl.
Carve chicken and serve with vegetables.
Add pan juices and salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe courtesy of my grandpa
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
Serves 6 (1/2 c)
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 large)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sugar; cook 20 minutes or until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally.
2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper; beat until blended. Spoon into a bowl; top with shallots, and drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples
- 1/2 cup diced apple
- 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 2 tablespoons apple cider
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine apple and Brussels sprouts in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish. Add apple cider, olive oil, minced fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; toss well. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender.
Italian Focaccia Bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- In bread machine pan, place the first 11 ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
- When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a greased baking sheet and punch down (dough will be sticky). With lightly oiled hands, pat dough into a 9-in. circle. Brush with oil; sprinkle with the cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges; serve warm. Yield: 1 loaf (1-1/2 pounds, 16 slices).
Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
Serves: 14-16 servings
- 12 ounces creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, broken into pieces
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 3-8 oz pounds cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1 fat free, 1 reduced-fat, and one regular)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream (fat-free works fine)
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bag Hershey’s peppermint kisses
- 1 tub of Cool Whip
1. Place cookies in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour into a buttered 9-inch round springform pan and pour melted butter over crumbs; mix to coat, then press evenly over bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake in a 300° oven until crust is slightly darker and looks a bit dry, about 10 minutes (leave oven on).
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in flour, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan over baked crust.
3. Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Place pan on a wire rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Run a knife around rim again, then release rim. If any liquid has pooled on surface of cheesecake, blot dry gently with a paper towel.
4. Decorate top of cake with candy cane kisses and dollops of Cool Whip—I piped it using a Wilton pastry bag/tip.
Recipe by me
What was your favorite dish you ate or made this Christmas?