Monday, December 14, 2009

December 2009--Cowboy Christmas (Amber & Heather)

Here's a little sneak peak of the Cowboy Christmas!
(And yes, it was as amazing and delicious as it looks!)
Recipes and more photos to come!

Here are a few pictures of the Save-The-Date. It was a cute brown paper bag, topped with bandana tissue paper. Inside was full of all sorts of Cowboy goodies for us to "Bring & Wear"--a gun, s'mores kit, bandana, and a sheriff's badge.

And as if the Save-The-Dates weren't good enough, we also got the cutest invites in the mail, complete with a wanted poster with all our faces(with mustaches!). After my husband saw these invitations, he said, "How do you compete with that?" To which I replied, "We don't!"
It's impossible... :)
Love this!


When we first came in, there were these cute brown felt pillows in a circle around the "campfire" (fireplace), so we could circle up and eat our appetizers. I'm hoping someone took a picture so I can post...


The place setting


All the extras!






This might have been my favorite thing. At each place setting, they had a pack of playing cards, which is where the menu was found. Such a cute idea. And I'm in love with this candy-cane shoestring. At each place setting, we also found little wanted posters, with made up cowboy names for all of us. Sunny was wanted for shootin' her cousin. We were all jealous, since she was worth the most--$10,000!



Sausage Skewers

Lemon Chicken

with Neely's BBQ Sauce & Balsamic BBQ Sauce

Homemade Mac-N-Cheese

Crusty Bread with Jalapeno Jelly


Homemade Cream Soda

Mint Lemonade

Hot Cranberry Drink


Mama's Homemade Chili & Star Puffs

Main Course

Rolled Flank Steak

Fluffy New Potatoes

Green Beans with Frizzled Prosciutto

Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread (in a can!) with Honey Butter


Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

And the recipes...

Sausage Skewers

12 ounces fully cooked Italian-style poultry sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained, rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2/3 cup fresh tomatoes (can use sundried), cut into 1 inch pieces

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

(For Gourmet Club, we swapped out the red peppers with mozzarella cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces)

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; mist with cooking spray. Add the sausage; cook, turning 2 or 3

times, until warmed through and browned, about 8 minutes. (We grilled the sausage)

Thread 1 small or 1/2 large basil leaf onto a small wooden skewer (or toothpick). Add a piece of pepper, tomato, artichoke and sausage. Repeat. Makes about two dozen skewers.

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger for Food Network Magazine.

Homemade Mac’n’Cheese

1 box (1 pound) penne rigate (we used Barilla mini penne)

3/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese (we used regular cheddar and monterey jack)

1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded

1/2 cup shredded Parmesean Cheese (can use asiago)

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (can eliminate if making for kids)

Heat oven to 350. Coat a 2 quart broiler safe oval baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add penne, cook, for 6 minutes, then drain. In large bowl, toss together cheeses. Set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and slightly bubbly.

In a thin stream, whisk in milk. Stir in onion powder, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 2 1/2 cups of cheese mixture.

In pasta pot, stir together the cooked penne and the cheese sauce. Pour half into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with a cup of the cheese. Spoon remaining penne into dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil and cook 3 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 12 side-dish servings. Recipe courtesy of Family Circle Magazine

Neely’s BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

5 tbsp light brown sugar

5 tbsp sugar

1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp ground mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook

uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Recipe courtesy The Neely’s

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all inredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 - 20 minutes. Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Green Beans with Frizzled Prosciutto

3 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp minced shallots

Salt and pepper as needed

7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed (use fresh, try romano for an even richer taste)

1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced

1/4 lb Gruyere cheese cut into sticks

(prosciutto and gruyere found at Albertsons)

Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk

in 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until bright green adn just barely tender to the bite, about 3 minutes. Drain the green beans and rinse with cold water until they feel cool. Drain well.

Toss the green beans and the dressing together and let them marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat the remaining olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the prosciutto to the hot oil and cook until it “frizzles,” about 2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and the Gruyere. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America Vegetables cookbook.

Jalapeno Jelly

3 Jalapenos

4 Bell Peppers

1 cup white vinegar

3 drops Green Food Coloring

5 Cups Sugar

1 box Liquid Pectin (2 pouches)


Remove the seeds from the Jalapenos and Bell Peppers. Mix Jalapenos, Peppers, vinegar, Food Coloring, and sugar in a blender. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Add Pectin, boil all together hard for 1 minute. Put in bottles and process for 5 minutes. 1 batch makes 3 pints. Do not double the recipe.

Lemon Chicken Marinade

2/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chile powder

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk together and add chicken to marinate.Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home - Picnics, Potlucks & Barbecues 2009 magazine

Homemade Cream Soda

1 cup Syrup Flavor (Vanilla, Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Almond, Hazelnut or Caramel) (we used vanilla)

1/2 cup Half & Half

2 1/2 cups Club Soda

Ice (as needed)

Whipped cream (if desired)

Mix ingredients and serve over ice. Add a whipped cream garnish to make it more special! The syrups are about $5 at Orson Gygi.

Recipe courtesy of

Mint Lemonade

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup fresh orange juice (we used concentrate)

1 3/4 cups fresh lemon juice (we used juice from 8 lemons (for 1 cup) and lemon juice concentrate for the rest)

1 cup fresh mint leaves, firmly packed

Mix sugar and water in a saucepan and cook for 5 minutes; cool. Stir in orange and lemon juice and pour over mint leaves. Let stand for 1 hour, then strain into jar and refrigerate. Use 1/2 cup syrup for each glass. Fill with ice and water (or try mixing with sparkling water for some fizz).

(the first time I made it, I just combined the ingredients without heating them and it was still delicious!)

Recipe courtesy of Favorites cookbook

Hot Cranberry Drink

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

1 quart cranberry juice

1 quart water

2 cups orange juice

2 tbsp lemon juice

Simmer water, sugar and cinnamon sticks for 10 minutes. Stir in rest of ingredients. Simmer, without boiling, for 30 minutes. Serves 12. Recipe courtesy of Favorites cookbook

Roasted Corn Salad

4 ears corn on cob with husks still attached

Salt, as needed

6 cups mesclun lettuce mix, rinsed and dried (we used romaine too)

3 red beefsteak tomatoes, sliced

2 avocados, cut into slices

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

1 cup small-diced aged Cheddar Cheese (we used Swiss)

3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cook corn on grill or in the oven. If in oven, preheat to 400. Roast the unhusked ears of corn until tender, about 45 minutes. Check their doneness after about 30 - 45 minutes; pull the husk partially away from the biggest ear. If you can pierce a kernel easily with a fork, it is done. Remove from the oven and cool.

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Place corn kernels in a mixing bowl and toss with 1 tsp of the salt. Keep the corn at room temperature if you are making the salad right away, or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Prepare lettuce. Add tomatoes, avocados and onion. Sprinkle with cheese and corn. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America, Vegetables cookbook

Star Puffs

Cut a sheet of puff pastry with a star shaped cookie cutter. Arrange the stars on a parchment lined baking sheet; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until puffed and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Mama’s Homemade Chili

Serves 6

½ pound ground beef

1 c. chopped yellow onion

1 c. chopped green pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 cans tomato soup

1 can rinsed red beans

1 ½ tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 can stewed tomatoes (chop tomatoes, keep liquid)

Sour cream and sliced green onions for garnish

In a Teflon coated pot, saute meat, onion, green pepper and garlic until meat is browned and veggies are tender, stirring occasionally to break up meat. Pour off fat.

Stir in tomato soup, beans, and it’s liquid.

Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups whole milk

3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add the shortening and mix. Add the milk and egg and mix only until all the ingredients are well combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into a greased 8x8-inch pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Let cool slightly before slicing. Recipe courtesy of

Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup marshmallow cream

1/4 cup honey

Mix all together. Recipe courtesy of Heather’s mother-in-law

Fluffy New Potatoes

9 or 10 medium to large new potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 garlic clove, pressed

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and dry the potatoes, then place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and massage to coat. And don’t get too attached—you know how this will end. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Set aside for 15 minutes. Place the sour cream, cream cheese, Monterey Jack, chives, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. With a spoon or melon baller, scoop out inside of the potatoes, leaving a very thin rim of potato inside the skin. Add the potato pulp to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Using a potato masher or fork, gently mash the ingredients together until fluffy and smooth.

(Regular twice-baked potatoes are more chunky and lumpy) Taste and adjust the seasoning—be sure to salt it adequately. Spoon the mixture back into the potato shells. Now, what I do at this point (unless it’s dinnertime already) is flash freeze the potatoes: I stick the pan in the freezer, uncovered, and allow them to harden on the outside for about twenty minutes or so. Then I simply throw them into a couple of large Ziploc bags, seal them tightly, and freeze them until I need them.

When you’re ready, bake the potatoes in a 375 degree oven until thoroughly warmed through. The potatoes will soften, “melt”, and fill the potato shells as they bake. Top with desired toppings.

Recipe courtesy of www.thepioneerw

Rolled Flank Steak

1 1/2 pounds flank steak

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, (1/2 cup)

4 scallions, sliced (1/3 cup) (we used 1/3 cup red onion)

2 ounces (1/4 cup) roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

(We added 1/2 cup artichoke hearts)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in center. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound steak to 1/2-inch thickness with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Using a sharp knife, score the steak on one side in a cross-hatched pattern. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove steak from marinade. Lay steak on cutting board, scored side down, with a short end facing edge of work surface. Cover steak with cheese, scallions, and peppers, leaving 1/2-inch border on the long sides and 2-inch border at the far short end. Season with salt and pepper. Starting from closest side, roll up tightly. Using kitchen twine, tie steak crosswise. Season with salt and pepper.

Place, seam side down in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until juices run clear, 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare. Let rest 10 minutes, and remove string before slicing. Serves 4.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake

1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1/8 cup grated orange zest (2 large oranges)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 ounces buttermilk at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the syrup:

1/4 cup sugar

1 /4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the ganache:

4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream


If you cook it in a bundt cake to cook it at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. For mini molds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 6 individual serving baking molds, such as the flexible non-stick 100 percent silicone molds. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the orange zest.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 1 tablespoon flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the molds on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pans, put them on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cakes. Allow the cakes to cool completely. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cakes.

Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa