HI! I’m so excited to have my sister Brit as my guest writer today! My sister Lili contributed last November with a Happiness Post and now I’m pumped to have Brit write a post on some recipes. Both of my sisters are unique and talented in their own ways. Among her talents, Brit has a gift for cooking and baking and creating.
Below she has listed three recipes along with the story for when she (and her partner chefs) made them! :) Enjoy!
Our dad, Jeff, who you may have read about in Meg’s thoughtful post on him, is one of the toughest people to get gifts for. He only buys things for himself if he really needs it, and that thing better last for the next thirty years or it’s not worth buying. So any time you get him something, despite his polite (though genuine) appreciation, you know he’s thinking about how much you spent on it. Therefore, he is all about coupons for back massages, grocery runs, and hand massages.
This year, to step up our game a little bit, Lili, Joe and I decided to make him dinner for his Christmas gift. When we’re home and our parents are cooking, they always appreciate when one or two of us take care of the sides, or dishes, or whatever we can offer. So we thought making the whole dinner, grocery shopping, apps and dessert included, would be extra special. As we already had Christmas dinner plans, we decided to give Dad a coupon for dinner to be served on New Year’s Day. We picked an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert (and let Dad supply the wine). As Dad is the grill-master of the household and we didn’t want him in the kitchen, I picked an entree that only required an oven (brother Sam is also a grill-master, but he was not in town :( ).
Let’s start with Joe’s selected appetizer – he found this on Tasty, a great app within Facebook that demonstrates recipes via short videos and makes everything look super easy. Joe wanted to make the Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bread Boat. We kind of made up the amounts based on what we observed in the video, and it came out well! Having watched a lot of football this weekend, I think it’d be a perfect Super Bowl snack.
Pear Winter Salad (serves 8)
6 cups spinach/mixed greens
2-3 pears diced
1-2 avocados diced
1/2 red onion diced
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 0z (small container) crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots minced
1-2 cloves garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
This is my go-to basic fall/winter salad. I use whatever fruit I’m craving (often pear in winter, apple in fall) and whatever greens I have (chopped kale works well too). I give a range for pears/avocados because I like to include the upper end, but you don’t need three pears and two avocados…I guess. But I think the more, the merrier with these goodies. As for the nuts, you can really use whatever you have – almonds, walnuts, you name it. Pecans just seem more wintery to me.
The dressing is simple enough – just throw all but the olive oil together in a salad shaker, shake it up, and then slowly add the olive oil. Keep shaking until well blended.
Next up, the entree!
This recipe claims you can do it in 45 minutes. As we tripled the recipe, I can’t speak to the validity of that claim…but making three of these took close to two hours! It was fun though – “easy” for how many new (to us) things were involved.
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 pears (2 cups diced)
2 medium shallots (1 cup sliced)
1 tbsp Salted Butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 1/2 feet of butcher’s twine
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
This recipe was pretty involved, and I don’t think I can put it better than the original author, so see the link above for preparation details. I will say that when you triple it, using the dutch oven does not work. What we did to modify the recipe was we seared each tenderloin individually in the dutch oven, and then put all three together on a large roasting pan in the oven (rather than putting the dutch oven itself in the oven). If you are cooking for 2, you should totally try this recipe. If you are cooking for more, you might want to find something that is easier to extend to a larger group of people!
Here is what the full plate ended up looking like :):
You might notice another side on that plate – Eric, ever the contributor, decided to join in and make roasted sweet potato, a simple yet delicious dish (basically dice sweet potato, coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven at 375 F for 45 minutes). Eric also added bacon wrapped dates to our apps list last minute – as you’ve probably read, he does always go above and beyond!
Last, but certainly not least: dessert! We used another Tasty treat for this. One that is so easy but looks super complicated and elegant:
Chocolate Almond Braid (serves 4)
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of our lovely dessert – it was devoured almost instantaneously. Twice. But it did look like the above picture. Fancy, right? Though I think the recipe calls for pastry dough (based on the video), we used a Pillsbury dough sheet, which made it extra buttery and delicious.
1 Pillsbury dough sheet (or pastry dough)
1 chocolate bar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
For directions, just watch the video. You’ll learn much more easily from those visuals than from what I can say in words! The braid is so fun. Make sure you follow the baking directions on the dough packaging rather than the video – our dough took less time than the video indicated.
We made two of these (to cover 7 people) – once with 60% dark chocolate, and once with 72%. I highly recommend using 60% or lower for this dessert. Even though I LOVE dark chocolate, usually 70% up to 90% dark, I thought it was too much for this treat. But this was SO easy and I guarantee guests will be impressed!
I don’t know about you guys, but these are not my every day meals, nor are they my parents’ every day meals. They require way too much time to be an every day possibility in the Schneiders household. That’s what makes them such thoughtful and exciting gifts, especially for those who insist they don’t need anything, and are stressed by receiving things (cough, Dad). My boyfriend, Jared, often does this for special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, our anniversary – it is indeed a tough gift to beat!
Cheers! Thanks for reading, always. Thanks for writing Brita!