Winter Solstice Dinner



Remember the Autumnal Equinox dinner? Well, the time had come to do our Winter Solstice Dinner, and we had a good time. It was an up and down day with plans changing throughout. We went to the store knowing what we wanted and not finding what we wanted, we had to change plans as we went. Then when we got home and got making the food, we found we had forgotten to get a few ingredients. No problem, we thought...we'll make it completely from scratch, we thought...only to find we were out of shortening. After a minor melt down and some frustration, it all pulled together wonderfully and gave us some yummy leftovers for the next day. Mmmm.

Here's what we had (click on the food name to go to the post containing that recipe):







































Cajun Pork Loin (this I'm not doing a post of because we just bought it from the store pre-seasoned. We just cooked it).


























Roasted Potatoes and Carrots (I'm not posting this either. It's just potatoes and carrots with a little bit of herbed olive oil baked in the oven).













And to drink we had Raspberry Creme Soda (the 2 liter $0.79 stuff from Food Basket....this stuff is amazing).

For the table decorations we used the chimney from a oil lamp as a vase for a bouquet of fake Poinsettias we already had around the house, 5 small tea light candles in these awesome shot-glass style containers given to us by a friend (they were coated with colored foil and gave off the most awesome light). Then we used a light mustardy colored table cloth with a longer piece of maroon fabric in a stripe down the middle of the table. Super easy, but it made the settings look a little nicer than they really were. We pulled out our fun plates and cups from the Equinox dinner to finish it all off.

Bacon Cheese Cream Puffs

This was our experiment for the Winter Solstice Dinner. These weren't supposed to be cream puffs. They were supposed to be bacon cheese treats wrapped with crescent rolls, but we forgot to buy crescent roll dough at the store, and we couldn't find a recipe at home for crescent rolls either. So I was going to make biscuit dough and use that, but I found we were out of shortening. So after some searching I found something we could use. I made cream puffs to put the bacon cheese filling in and it turned out fantastic.

Cream Puff Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar bacon bits (or you can just make the bacon yourself and crumble it...that's what we did)
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced onion

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
  4. When the shells are cool, cut the tops off and scoop out the middles with your finger.
  5. While the shells are baking...In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, bacon bits, pepper and onion.
  6. Once the shells are done and hollowed, spoon the mixture into the puff.
  7. I placed the filled puffs back in the oven for about 3-4 minutes to warm up the cheese filling.


Here's how the bacon cheese treats were supposed to work (we still want to try them):

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar bacon bits
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent roll dough

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, bacon bits, pepper and onion.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, unroll the crescent rolls lengthwise and form into a long rectangle. Thinly spread the cream cheese mixture on the dough. Starting with the long edge of the rectangle, roll the dough into a long, thin roll. Slice the roll into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until brown.

Deviled Eggs

I LOVE deviled eggs. Love love love them. Love them so much we had them as a part of our Winter Solstice Dinner. Here's my recipe for 12 deviled eggs (1 egg half counts as 1 deviled egg), but you're going to hate this...I don't measure.

Ingredients:
6 eggs
miracle whip or mayo
mustard (I used dried mustard, but you can use regular sandwich mustard out of a bottle)
Onion Powder
Garlic Salt
Other spices as desired (this time I added cajun seasoning)
Paprika

Method:

  1. Boil the eggs until they are hard boiled. A hard boiled egg will spin easily when placed on the counter and...spun. A fresh egg will not spin well.
  2. After the eggs have mostly cooled, peel them and cut them in half length-wise.
  3. Remove the yolks, placing them in a bowl to the side. I find it easiest to slightly bend the egg white just enough to loosen the yolk, and then the yolk slips out.
  4. To the yolks add about 2 or 3 big spoonfuls (just a normal dinner spoon) of Mayo/Miracle Whip, a good squirt of mustard (if you're using sandwich mustard) or about 1 tsp. dry mustard, a small sprinkle of garlic salt, a sprinkle of onion powder and your other optional seasonings if doing so.
  5. Mix the yolk mixture together with a fork, then spoon into the egg whites.
  6. Sprinkle paprika over the eggs.
  7. Refrigerate until time to eat.

Roasted Garlic Spread

This was a spread we made for our Winter Solstice Dinner.
This looks gross...especially with the oils coming out, but it really is quite good and quite simple. The flavor is surprising if you've never had this. There is a sweetness you don't anticipate, even if someone tells you you'll be able to taste a sweetness. Sweet from garlic? Yes! The roasting process caramelizes the garlic. I know it sounds weird, but it's pretty good! Serve this with crackers, toasted bread, meat, etc.

Ingredients:
Minced garlic (as much or as little as you want)
Olive Oil
Roasted Red Pepper (this is found with all the other seasonings at the grocery store)-optional

Method:
  1. You can either use just plain garlic or you can mix some roasted red pepper in. In the photo, the garlic in front has the red pepper and the garlic in the back is just plain garlic.
  2. Spread your garlic over the bottom of your cooking pan about in a layer about 1/4-1/2" thick. We used a mini bread pan because it was the right size for the amount we made.
  3. Pour some olive oil in with the garlic. Our recipe says to just cover the garlic, but as you can see, it was a lot of oil. You could try using less oil, you'll just need to experiment a little bit.
  4. Place uncovered in the oven (400 degrees) and roast for about 20 minutes.
  5. The oils from the garlic are great for making garlic toast or just for dipping toast in.

Cheese-ball with Rye Toast

After making the Cream Puffs for the Winter Solstice Dinner, we had 2 oz of leftover cream cheese, so Cameron made up a cheese ball!

Ingredients
2 oz cream cheese
sharp cheddar cheese crumbs (a tablespoon or two or four. You know how he is.)
Ground coriander
3/4-1 T. Worcestershire sauce (He just poured some in. Like usual.)
Chopped pecans

Loaf of Rye bread
Olive Oil
Herbs of Choice (i.e. parsley, basil, oregeno, etc)


Method:
  1. Mix everything together except for the pecans.
  2. Roll into a ball.
  3. Roll in pecans.
  4. Mix some olive oil and the herbs together on a baking pan (Cameron used a cookie sheet).
  5. Cut the rye bread into 2-3 inch pieces (slightly larger than bite size...about 2 bites per piece size should work).
  6. Place the bread pieces on the pan, making sure to turn each piece so the oil is on both sides of the bread.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until toasted to your preference.
  8. Eat!

Cinnamon Pecans

I love these. This Christmas was the first I had ever had them and I fell in love with them. They are sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet like most candy. They are super simple to make too. Don't be scared by the fact that these need to be cooked to the soft ball stage. That scared me at first but it was really easy. I promise. All I did was I went to the wonderful world of Walmart, bought a $4.5o candy thermometer and then just cooked the glaze until the little temperature line hit the soft ball stage line. That easy. Nothing to it. You can do it. Don't be afraid. You'll be so proud of yourself afterward too. I was. And then you won't be able to quit eating these...but they're pecans...so it's healthy. :)

Ingredients
1 c. white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 c. water
2 c. pecan halves (or pieces)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

  1. Before you do anything else, prepare a flat surface to pour the nuts onto. For one batch I put wax paper on a cookie sheet, and another batch I just put the wax paper on the counter. Both worked fine.
  2. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cream of tartar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage, stirring to keep from scorching.
  4. Quickly pour in the vanilla and then the pecans. Stir quickly to coat the nuts.
  5. Spread the nuts onto a hard surface (as prepared in step #1) and quickly separate with a fork before they harden (and stick together).
  6. Let cool and then enjoy!


Egg Nog Cookies

Looking for a cookie that is easy and tastes great, but that isn't uber sweet? This is it! They taste great.



  1. 1Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. 2Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. 3Cream sugar and butter until light.
  4. 4Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth.
  5. 5Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
  6. 6Do not overmix. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. 7Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
  8. 8Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. (Instead of doing this, I sprinkled them with colored sugar crystals)
  9. 9The recipe says to bake 20 to 23 minutes until bottoms turn light brown, but I only baked them about 8-12 minutes and they were done.

Root Beer Float Cookies

I found this recipe and was way excited to try it. I ended up tweaking the recipe just a little, and it was fantastic.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup finely crushed root beer-flavored hard candies (about 10 candies)---I didn't have these, so I didn't use them and the cookies still turned out great
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2-1 tsp of Root Beer Extract -this is my addition, the recipe didn't call for it but it tastes great!

  • Root Beer Glaze (below)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 4-6 teaspoons of milk
  • 1 tsp. Root Beer Extract
  • Additional finely crushed root beer-flavored hard candies, if desired (again, I didn't have these)

Directions

  1. 1Heat oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheet with shortening. Beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except Root Beer Glaze and additional candies.
  2. 2Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.
  3. 3Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched in center and edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  4. 4To Make Root Beer Glaze: Mix together confectioner's sugar, Root Beer extract, and milk. Stir until smooth. To make it thicker, add more sugar, to make it thinner, add more milk.
  5. 5Drizzle Root Beer Glaze over cookies. Sprinkle with additional candies.

Autumn Harvest Punch || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Beverage

This was the main beverage for the A.E. Dinner. We started serving it during course #2. I LOVED this punch. It is so yummy.

Ingredients:

3 cups apple cider (or apple juice) -I got to use my mothers homemade apple juice, which tastes just like really good cider
1 can frozen orange juice (6 oz.)
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups club soda
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces)
1-2 tsp. whole cloves
Orange slices (for garnish)
Cranberries (for garnish) (these were nowhere to be found in our corner of SW NM and SE AZ)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except club soda, orange slices and cranberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard spices. Allow to cool. Pour into large punchbowl or pitcher. Add chilled club soda just before serving and stir. Garnish punch with orange slices and fresh cranberries (float them on top). Serve over crushed ice.

Double Decker Pumpkin Pie || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 7

This was the dessert and final course of the A.E. Dinner. It was amazing. I absolutely love this recipe. There was not pumpkin pie filling to be found in Silver City, so I ended up making this completely from scratch. I got the recipe to make the pumpkin pie filling from scratch here. It made GREAT pie filling and it was fun to say that I made this starting with the pumpkin itself.
I know this pie is not pretty, but it sure tastes good!

Ingredients for crust:
2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2/3 c. white sugar
2/3 c. butter/margarine

Ingredients for Pie Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk or half and half
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups whipped cream topping
1 graham cracker crust
1 cup cold milk or half and half
2 small vanilla flavored instant pudding packages
1 can pumpkin pie filling (16 oz) (I used 16 oz -which is 2 cups- of my homemade pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves

(If you make your own pie filling from scratch, you don't need the last 4 ingredients...it's in the pie filling!)

Method:

1. To make the crust, melt the butter and then add 2/3 c. sugar and the graham cracker crumbs. Press into a pie pan (preferably one of the large glass ones, not the little tin ones which aren't quite big enough).

2.To make the pie:
Beat cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and sugar with wire whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the whipped cream topping. Spread on bottom of graham cracker crust. Pour 1 cup milk into bowl, add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk for one to two minutes--mixture will be thick. Stir in pumpkin and spices with wire whisk. Mix well. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate four hours, or until set.

Tuscan Style Pork Ribs with Balsamic Glaze || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 6

This was course #6, and the main entrée, for my A.E. Dinner. I know it looks like I burned it, but I didn't. The spice rub and the glaze are very dark and you broil it at the end to make it the outer layer crispy. We served this with boiled red potatoes from my brother's garden (my mom brought the potatoes already boiled, we didn't prepare them).

Tuscan-Style Pork Ribs with Balsamic Glaze

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Standing (or Chilling) Time: 2-8 hours
Baking Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes


Serves about 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, or 1-1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional, depending on how much heat you like
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
6 pounds pork ribs
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, salt, fennel seeds, pepper, sage, thyme, paprika, red pepper, coriander, and allspice.

2. Rub spice paste all over ribs and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight (we refrigerated overnight).


3. Preheat oven to 325 F.

4. Arrange ribs on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, meaty side up.

5. Roast ribs uncovered for 2 hours or until tender.


6. Preheat broiler. Brush meaty side of ribs with balsamic vinegar and broil 6 inches from heat until browned, about 2 minutes.


7. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between ribs, or serve in slabs.

Tip: You can use this glaze on pork chops, lamb chops, and cuts of chicken.

Lemon-Lime Sorbet || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 5

Course #5 and the palate cleanser in the A.E. Dinner. The only sorbet I could find in Silver City was in a tiny case and it was expensive (and it would have been even more expensive to buy enough for everyone). So, I found a recipe and made it myself. This one was probably the most time consuming of the courses, but it was fairly easy. This serving looks tiny, but this stuff is intense. Don't take a big bite, this one is for nibbling on.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed juice from lemons/limes (I could only find medium sized lemons and slightly smaller than medium limes, so it took me about 6 lemons and 7 limes to do a double recipe. You can use the bottled juice and just get a few lemons for the zest and bowls)
2 teaspoons fine lemon zest

METHOD


1. If you are not juicing your own fruit, skip this step and go to step 2.
Cut the lemons/limes in half. If you are using the lemon peel as a bowl, you will need to cut it in half lengthwise, otherwise the fruit juices easier if it is cut in half width-wise (how do you say not lengthwise?). Juice the fruit.

2. In a small saucepan on medium high heat, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in the lemon juice and zest. Chill, either in the refrigerator, or by placing in a metal bowl over an ice bath.

3. Once the mixture has thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker (we didn't), you may freeze it in a tall canister. Freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and stir with a whisk. Return to the freezer and stir about once every hour for about 4 hours. The more times you stir, the more air will be incorporated, resulting in a lighter finished product. After 4 hours of stirring every 1/2 hour, put the sorbet in the blender and blend it on high until smooth (not too long or you will melt all your hard work).

4. Place sorbet in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

5. In the mean time, between stirrings or whenever, scoop out the insides of the lemon halves and put in the freezer. When it is time to serve the sorbet (or an hour or two before serving time), scoop out the sorbet and fill the lemon half. You will have to mold the sorbet either with your hands or the spoon. I put on rubber gloves to do this so my hands wouldn't be as cold or as sticky.