Weekly Menu: January 1-7, 2012
Sunday: Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Poached Eggs & Sauteed Spinach
Monday: Mushroom & Herb Potage
Tuesday: Salmon with Orange-Chili bulgar and Roasted Winter Veggies (DIY)
Wednesday: Tofu Veggie Stir Fry
Thursday: Leftovers: Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Stir Fry
Saturday: Eat Out
Happy New Year!  Time to welcome in 2012 by reintroducing veggies and other healthy foods into the diet!  I don't know about you, but these past few weeks have been super indulgent in the Henricksen household and while the holidays were fantastic, we're ready to get back on track.   So, as we always do we'll be starting off the New Year with black-eyed peas for good luck in 2012...it's a new recipe and I'm turning it into a breakfast style dinner but I think it will be yummy.  To be honest, I might use canned black-eyed peas to keep it a bit more simple :)

The soup dish for Monday is new...and while the website I've found with the recipe doesn't source properly, I originally found it in my Debrah Mayhew Soup cookbook (one of my favorites).  Yes, it has some bacon in it, but we have to ease our way back into this whole healthy thing, right?!  Tuesday and Wednesday are old stand-by DIY dishes for us...roasted winter veggies will likely be parsnips, brussels sprouts & sweet potatoes.  I hope you are as excited about stepping into this new year as we are...here's to 2012 being the best year yet!    
Weekly Menu: December 25-31, 2011
Sunday: Christmas Roast “Beast” with Mashed Potatoes & Spinach
Monday: Salmon with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes (DIY)
Tuesday: LEFTOVERS: Roast Beef Au Jus Sandwiches
Wednesday: Christian’s Posole
Thursday: LEFTOVERS: Posole
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: New Year’s Eve Osso Bucco & Cheesy Polenta
Ah, Christmas...in my household growing up that always meant a "Roast Beast," so that's what Christian and I do now.  This year I'll likely do some kind of rosemary horseradish crust (something like this one), cook it medium rare and serve it with a side of the delicious mashed potatoes that I made on Thanksgiving and some spinach sauteéd with garlic and red pepper.  For the rest of the week we'll keep it pretty simple with one of our favorite healthy fish dishes and another one of our favorites, Christian's yummy Posole soup.

For New Year's Eve we have a tradition of splurging one last time for the year and making the Italian classic, Osso Bucco.  It's one of those amazing dishes that cooks all day and makes your house smell amazing.  We go completely traditional and use veal shanks (I know, I know...judge away) but you can absolutely make this with beef shanks as well.  We serve it with a super decadent cheesy polenta and usually a dark leafy green or salad.  The kale brussels sprout salad we made for Thanksgiving would go nicely now that I think of it.

One last big Happy Holidays wish to you and yours...and if you managed to cook at home even just a bit more than usual this year, congratulations!  If not, there's always next year!  Check back here first thing in 2012 to join me as I embark on a new year of fun recipes, menus and home cooking...
Norwegian Krumkake

Ah, krumkake...the cookie that equals Christmas in Christian's family!  If you aren't familiar with krumkakes, it's a Norwegian waffle cookie that is crisp, light and delicious.  Especially with coffee or tea...but then again, I think we just like an excuse to eat cookies for breakfast.  It's similar to a delicate ice cream cone, and some even use them this way (or to fill with other delicious treats such as whip cream!).  The holiday undertone of this cookie, however, comes from the hint of cardamom.  Fabulous!

So how do you make these beauties if you don't have an adorable Norweigian grandmother cranking them out for you like a pro? Oh, how we miss Grandma Henricksen!  Well, it takes a bit of special equipment, some patience, and fingertips tough enough to handle the hot cookies (aka, Christian in my household...although even he wears heavy duty kitchen gloves).  The batter is ridiculously simple and the process is really fun...part of the holiday tradition in our household since we often make them on the living room table in front of a Holiday movie!
Weekly Menu: December 18th-24th, 2011
Sunday: Crab Season at Home!
Monday: Tortellini Soup
Tuesday: Chicken & Dumplings
Wednesday: LEFTOVERS: Tortelini Soup
Thursday: Eat Out before the Nutcracker
Friday: LEFTOVERS: Chicken & Dumplings
Saturday: Christmas Eve Fondue!
The sugar haze from Saturday's cookie party now over, it's time to forge ahead into the week before Christmas, and boy do I have some treats for you!  It is Crab Season here in San Francisco so we're going to go buy a few live crabs down in Chinatown and cook them up here at home.  We'll probably keep it simple and serve with a lemon garlic butter, crusty french bread and a nice big salad of some sort.  Monday and Tuesday we're keeping the feeling of home alive at the holidays with two old family recipes that I grew up eating...who doesn't need a bit of comfort food this time of year?  Especially when you're 3000 miles away from family!

The end of the week starts to pick back up with lots of holiday cheer.  We're going to the San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker on Thursday so we'll likely have a quick dinner out beforehand.  Then on Saturday, we have another one of our holiday traditions...Fondue on Christmas Eve, often accompanied by Lambrusco and good old-fashioned board games.  When we do Fondue we do all 3 courses...cheese, meat/seafood and chocolate.  A bit indulgent, but oh so fun with the T.V. fire crackling and the tree lit behind us.  Whatever your tradition may be, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve surrounded by loved ones and holiday cheer!    
Family Recipe: Zuccarini Cookies

I recently held a family recipe contest at the call center in Peoria, IL that I oversee as a part of my day job.  I got so many amazing contributions of recipes that sounded delicious & had a fabulous back story, but there could only be one winner...and that winner was Michelle Turchi's Family Succarini (or Zuccarini) Cookie Recipe!  Just in time for me to try out for my annual Cookie Party!



So what did I think?  They're quite yummy...and remind me a lot of biscotti, so are a great "breakfast cookie."  But making them in this particular little shape and then trying to dip them in hot bubbling sugar without burning yourself is a bit labor intensive.  So I think next time I make them I'll make them larger so they're both faster to make and easier to dip.  That probably means they wouldn't technically be Zuccarinis....but hey, they'd still taste just as good!  Kudos to Michelle for making them every year...hers were much more beautiful than mine so maybe she has some tips on how to make the process easier as well!



Michelle's lovely family backstory and recipe are below...enjoy, and of course if you have a family cookie recipe of your own please share!

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

SavoryGirl's Perfectly Cooked T-Bone

Steak...so seemingly simple and delicious.  Yet if you're anything like me, you've had a hard time getting that home-cooked steak to even remotely resemble those over-priced beauties you get out at a restaurant.  So what gives?  Are we doomed to paying $49.99 for a good steak forever?  No!  You just need to understand a few basic steps (adapted from something I originally tried from Bon Appétit about  year ago) and I promise you that your steak will come out  perfectly.  Trust me, mine even passed the discerning Husband test!   So, first things first, unfortunately cooking a great steak takes a bit of planning, meaning it's not as easy to do on a whim.  So if you plan in advance your better off since you'll have time to do the following super important prep steps.  Trust me, time & salt are the two biggest secrets...
Weekly Menu: December 11-17, 2011
Sunday: Roasted Pear & Butternut Squash Soup with Stilton
Monday: Grilled Fish & Bean Tacos with spicy sautéed spinach
Tuesday: Leftovers: Soup
Wednesday: DIY Egg Dish (Suz @ Board Meeting)
Thursday: Pot Roast Italiano
Friday: Leftovers: Pot Roast
Saturday: ANNUAL COOKIE PARTY!!
Tonight's soup is one of our all-time favorites! It's so easy and so, super delicious.  The pot roast recipe is a new one from my slow cooker cookbook, and while I wasn't always a big fan of traditional pot roast growing up this one sounds like it could change my opinion.  The recipe linked here isn't the same one I'm using (since I couldn't find it online), but it's pretty close except for the fact that mine is done in a slow cooker.

Finally, Saturday is the Henricksen Cookie Party, an annual holiday tradition that we've been doing for at least 5 years.  Christian's family did it growing up and it was so much fun that we've adopted it as one of our own traditions...everyone brings freshly made cookies to eat and swap and I provide lots of savory snacks (cheese platter!) to balance us out.  Homemade spiked apple cider and Glögg (mulled wine) are also a mandatory ingredient to the fun...love the Holiday Season!
My Favorite Cupcake…

 

We live in a city over-run with cupcakes shops.  I don’t know if this trend has taken such a strong hold across the entire country or we are unique here in San Francisco, but within less than a mile from my own house I have at least 4 cupcake devoted bakeries!  But alas, my favorite cupcake does not live in my neighborhood, but my all-time favorite cupcake is in of all places, touristy Union Square.

It’s at a little shop on O’Farrell at Powell, right in the craziness of it all, called Cāko Bakery.  This morsel of goodness is called the Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake (click the link to see how it should look since mine got a little smashed in transit!) and I honestly crave it and find myself at Cāko pretty much anytime I am in Union Square.  As I’m writing this I’m actually trying to come up with reasons why I need to go back to Union Square (or their second location in Japan Town) again today just as an excuse to get another one of these cupcakes!
Weekly Menu: December 4-10, 2011
Sunday: Cheese Souffle & Roasted Red Pepper Salad (DIY)
Monday: Orange Fennel Steamed Salmon with Roasted Winter Veggies
Tuesday: Leftovers: Souffle
Wednesday: Easy Egg Dish (DIY)
Thursday: Taco Night (DIY)
Friday: Leftovers: Tacos
Saturday: Eat Out
We didn't quite make it to our fish dish last week, but since we have all of the ingredients except for the salmon we're just going to roll it over into this week's menu...feel free to peruse the fish/seafood archives if you need to find another meal to swap in.  I'm not sure I've ever made a souffle, although Christian insists that I have. Either way I'm a a bit nervous about it falling, but I'm sure it will be yummy even if it isn't pretty. The French Chicken, on the other hand, is something we've been making for at least 8 years...really good and pretty darn easy. Of course, you know Taco Night is a favorite in the Henricksen house as well. Have a great week!