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December menus.

Seasonal excitements inevitably make this month one of the year's busiest. Holidays, school breaks, frenzied shopping, travel plans, and special meals all compete for our time.

Hearty meals featuring robust flavors and plenty of make-ahead steps are not only appealing, they're essential. Take a warm break on a snow hike with an easy-to-carry meal of hot sausage and vegetable sandwiches. Turn meat from leftover roasts into tempting hash. And be ready for drop-in guests with flaky fila-wrapped chicken packets to bake.


Italian Sausage and Vegetable Sandwiches with Tomato-Porcini Sauce Tiny Bonbel Cheeses Red and Green Grapes and Apples Zinfandel Boxed Fruit Juices Giant Cookies

Up to three days before outing, make sauce. The day before, roast sausage and vegetables. Reheat and assemble sandwiches just before you depart.

Bake or buy cookies that are 4 or 5 inches wide.

Italian Sausage and Vegetable Sandwiches with Tomato-Porcini Sauce

4 (about 1 lb. total) mild Italian sausages

2 large (about 1 1/2 lb. total) onions, cut into eighths

2 large (about 1 1/4 lb. total) yellow or red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 sourdough French rolls (each about 3 by 5 in.)

Tomato-porcini sauce (recipe follows)

Place sausages, onions, and peppers in a 12- by 17-inch pan; pierce meat all over. Bake in a 425|degrees~ oven until vegetables' edges look almost charred but aren't burned, about 1 hour; stir occasionally. Use hot, or cool, cover, and chill up to 1 day. Reheat a 350|degrees~ oven for about 10 minutes.

Cut 1/2 inch off top of each roll. Pull bread from roll base and top to make a shell 1/4 inch thick; reserve scraps for another use.

Set roll pieces, cut sides up, on a 12-by 15-inch baking sheet. Bake in a 400|degrees~ oven until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Place 1 sausage and 1/4 of the vegetables in each roll. Top with roll lid.

If transporting, seal each roll in foil, then wrap in several thicknesses of newspaper to insulate; tie securely and carry in an insulated pack. Serve within 2 hours.

At picnic, untie packets. Spoon sauce into the sandwiches. Serves 4.

Per serving: 713 cal. (56 percent from fat); 24 g protein; 44 g fat (14 g sat.); 54 g carbo.; 1,166 mg sodium; 88 mg chol.

Tomato-porcini sauce. In a small bowl, soak 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 cup) in 1 cup hot water until soft, about 20 minutes. Lift mushrooms from water and squeeze dry; chop finely and set aside. Without disturbing sediment in bottom of bowl, pour soaking liquid into a measuring cup. Discard remainder.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan on medium-high heat, cook 1/4 pound finely chopped pancetta or bacon until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes; stir often. Finely chop 1 small onion (about 1/4 lb.), 1 small carrot (2 to 3 oz.), and 1 large (about 12-in.-long) stalk celery; add to pan. Stir in 1 clove minced garlic and 2 tablespoons minced parsley.

Stir often until vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 can (8 oz.) chopped or pureed tomatoes, 1 cup regular-strength beef broth, the chopped mushrooms, and reserved soaking liquid. Bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. If making ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days; reheat to use. Add salt to taste.

To pack, pour sauce into a preheated wide-mouth 1-pint to 1-quart thermos (sauce keeps hot up to 2 hours).

Per tablespoon: 25 cal. (72 percent from fat); 0.5 g protein; 2 g fat (0.8 g sat.); 1.2 g carbo.; 38 mg sodium; 2.4 mg chol.


Holiday Hash Toasted English Muffins Pineapple Wedges with Warm Cranberry Coulis Sparkling Cranapple Cider

While hash ingredients are browning, cut up the pineapple and heat the cranberry sauce. Be sure to offer some of the sauce with the hash, too.

Holiday Hash

3 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced 1 large (about 1/2 lb.) onion, chopped 1/2 pound each cooked ham and roast beef (or all of 1 kind), finely diced 1/4 cup minced parsley 3 large eggs, slightly beaten Freshly ground pepper Parsley sprigs Salt

In a 12- to 14-inch nonstick frying pan on medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add potatoes; stir often until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

To pan, add remaining butter, onion, meats, and minced parsley. Stir often until onion and meats begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes.

Return the potatoes to the pan; stir to heat, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and stir just until eggs are softly set, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper.

Serve hash from frying pan, garnished with parsley sprigs; add salt to taste. Makes 6 servings.--Gail A. Reiss, Mendocino, California

Per serving: 351 cal. (38 percent from fat); 26 g protein; 15 g fat (6.4 g sat.); 28 g carbo.; 695 mg sodium; 175 mg chol.

Pineapple Wedges with Warm Cranberry Coulis

1 small (about 2 lb.) pineapple 1 can (1 lb.) whole cranberry sauce

Cut pineapple into 6 lengthwise wedges; leave leaves or discard, as desired.

In a small, microwave-save bowl, heat 1 can whole cranberry sauce, uncovered, on full power (100 percent) until warm. (Or stir sauce in a 1- to 1 1/2-qt. pan over medium-high heat.)

Spoon sauce over pineapple. Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 146 cal. (2.5 percent from fat); 0.4 g protein; 0.4 g fat (0 g sat.); 37 g carbo.; 21 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.


Tricolor Winter Salad Chicken Fila Packets with Dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Prosciutto Peas with Toasted Hazelnuts Pinot Grigio Sparkling Water Grasshopper Sundaes

Fila packets can be made a month ahead and stored in the freezer. They thaw in 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, but keep them well wrapped so fila doesn't dry out.

While chicken bakes, make salad. Dress up the peas with chopped hazelnuts; to toast the nuts quickly, stir them in a frying pan over medium heat until they are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.

For an easy, elegant dessert, drizzle scoops of vanilla ice cream with equal parts creme de menthe and white creme de cacao liqueurs; tuck a chocolate wafer into each serving of ice cream.

Tricolor Winter Salad

2 small oranges or tangerines, about 1/4 pound total 3 cups radicchio leaves, rinsed and crisped 6 cups butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper

Using a sharp knife, cut peel and membrane from oranges. Cut between membranes to separate into segments; discard seeds. Put fruit in a wide bowl, squeezing any membrane juice over fruit. Add radicchio and lettuce leaves. In a small bowl, mix mustard, vinegar, and olive oil; pour over salad and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6.

Per serving: 61 cal. (71 percent from fat); 1.1 g protein; 4.8 g fat (0.6 g sat.); 4.2 g carbo.; 55 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Chicken Fila Packets with Dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Prosciutto

3 whole chicken breasts (about 1 lb. each) skinned, boned, and split 3/4 cup mayonnaise 3 tablespoons drained and finely chopped dried tomatoes packed in oil 2 tablespoons minced fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves 1/8 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted 12 sheets fila dough (thawed if frozen), each about 11 by 17 inches 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry.

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, tomatoes, basil, prosciutto, 2 cloves garlic, and parmesan cheese.

Stir remaining garlic into butter.

To make each packet, lay 1 fila sheet flat; brush lightly with butter. (Keep remaining fila covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying.)

Top buttered fila with another fila sheet; brush lightly with butter. Lightly sprinkle pepper on 1 side of each chicken piece, then spread 1 side of the chicken with about 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture.

Lay chicken, coated side down, on 1 corner of fila. Spread top of chicken with 1 1/2 more tablespoons mayonnaise mixture. Lift corner of fila over chicken; roll chicken with fila over once. Fold 1 side of fila over chicken and roll again. Fold opposite side of fila over chicken, then roll to use all the fila. Place packets seam side down. Repeat steps to wrap remaining pieces of chicken in the remaining fila.

Brush packets with remaining butter. (At this point, you can arrange packets in a single layer in a container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw completely, covered, before baking.)

To bake, arrange fila packets at least 2 inches apart in a rimmed 12- by 17-inch pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 375|degrees~ oven until packets are golden brown on all sides, 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 673 cal. (55 percent from fat); 45 g protein; 41 g fat (13 g sat.); 30 g carbo.; 905 mg sodium; 145 mg chol.

To use our nutrition information

Sunset recipes contain nutrition information based on the most current data available from the USDA for calorie count; grams of protein, total fat (including saturated fat), and carbohydrate; and milligrams of sodium and cholesterol.

This analysis is usually given for a single serving, based on the largest number of servings listed for the recipe. Or it's for a specific amount, such as per tablespoon (for sauces), or by a unit, as per cookie.

The nutrition analysis does not include optional ingredients or those for which no specific amount is stated (salt added to taste, for example). If an ingredient is listed with an alternative--such as unflavored yogurt or sour cream--the figures are calculated using the first choice. Likewise, if a range is given for the amount of an ingredient (such as 1/2 to 1 cup butter), values are figured on the first, lower amount.

Recipes using regular-strength chicken broth are based on the sodium content of salt-free homemade or canned broth. If you use canned salted chicken broth, the sodium content will be higher.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Author:Freschet, Paula Smith
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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