Holiday Favorites

FullSizeRender-5

I had a lot of fun cooking up some holiday favorites this year. I love cooking traditional dishes as well as some new ones. Below are some pictures of some dishes I made.

Links to some recipes on my blog

Egg Casserole

Pork Tenderloin

Dick Clarks Corn Fritters

Cranberry Cheesecake Squares

Advertisement

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

_MG_5660

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 trimmed pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each), at room temperature

IMG_7047-2DIRECTIONS
Position a rack near the bottom of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees . Mince together the garlic, salt, sage and pepper. In a small bowl, combine with the oil. Rub all over the meat and place the tenderloins side by side but not touching in the smallest roasting pan that will hold them. Roast for 10 minutes, flip over and roast again until the internal temperature registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes more. Let rest for about 10 minutes (the internal temperature should reach 160 degrees ). Slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

_MG_5658

Cranberry Cheesecake Squares

_MG_5637.JPG

INGREDIENTS
2 cups (5 to 6 ounces) crushed chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 packages (1 pound total) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon peel

FullSizeRender-3

FullSizeRender
DIRECTIONS
Line a 9-inch square baking dish with a 14-inch-long piece of foil or parchment paper and grease the foil. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the orange juice and vanilla at medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mix at low speed until blended, then beat at medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the crumbs. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cranberries to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice. Lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries begin to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl and stir in the orange peel. Refrigerate while the cheesecake is chilling.
Holding the ends of the foil, pull the cheesecake out of the pan. Cut into 9 squares. Spoon the cranberry sauce onto the cheesecake.

_MG_5646.JPG

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Today the infamous Starbucks drink Pumpkin Spice Latte comes out. In the past, it has always come out in late September. I’m not surprised by this because I saw Halloween outfits in the stores back in July. Our world is changing and holidays are being celebrated earlier and earlier due to our lack of patience and stores capitalizing on early profits. Black Friday is now on Thursday. Christmas is being celebrated before Thanksgiving. Even though Fall is my favorite time of year, I personally want to enjoy my last month of summer before I settle into Autumn season (pus it’s still too hot!).

PSL has become so popular that it even has its own Twitter page. But what has been interesting this year is this posting below by the Food Babe. Starbucks has always been hesitant to post the ingredients to PSL because it has no actual real pumpkin in it. This will probably bode well for smaller independent coffee houses that use real ingredients in their pumpkin drinks if word continues to spread about this. I’m curious to how Starbucks responds to this. What do you think or do you care?

photo

Flagstaff

_MG_9671

DSC04773

IMG_1527

Flagstaff is this small town in northern Arizona that is home to Northern Arizona University. The infamous Route 66 also passes through the city. I love the mom and pop stores and restaurants in Flagstaff. I always regretted not attending NAU so I could have experienced living in a small town. But what Flagstaff is most popular for is Snowbowl ski resort. Students spend their weekends there and it’s only a few hours from the Valley. I skied for the first time here as a kid and have brought my boys up here many times. We came up here for a fun few days after Christmas. We skied, boarded and did some sledding in some pretty cold and snowy weather.

Christmas Party

MYA Christmas Party 2012

I love Christmas parties. It’s fun to see everyone get dressed up and celebrate the holidays together. I am blessed to be a part of a wonderful group of friends that I get to do life with and grow in my relationship with God with. We had a white elephant gift exchange and lots of great food. What a great night of fellowship!

Tamales

DSC04714

DSC04713tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa, which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. It can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables or chilies.

I’m a huge tamale lover. It’s traditional for me to pick up a dozen or two before Christmas. I get them either from some of the hispanic ladies at my work or from Aunt Chilada’s. Every year before Christmas, Food City puts on this Tamale Festival. My mother wanted to go and we hung out and ate some good tamales while soaking in the hispanic culture.

Ice Skating

IMG_1284

You can tell it’s the holidays in downtown Phoenix by all the decorations that are going up. I grabbed some coffee at 8th Day and then headed down to the art walk for First Friday. I really enjoyed seeing all the Christmas lights and the people all dressed up warm for the cold weather. One of my favorite things to watch this time of year is the ice skating rink at Cityscape. Situated next to their large Christmas tree, the ice skating rink offers some fun people watching moments. I had a blast strapping on the skates and hitting the ice.

Ice skating at Cityscape in Downtown Phoenix

Already a huge hockey fan, my fascination with outdoor ice skating started in Atlanta in 2007. I was at an event with my friend Shauna and we made a promise to each other to ice  skate at the outdoor rink in Centennial Park before we left. But because of our tight schedule, it never happened. Then I had another chance to do it there with my girlfriend Ashleigh and once again it never happened. I was determined to skate on an outdoor ice skating rink in a cold weather city. I took my kids once at the Del in San Diego, but ice skating on the beach in San Diego just wasn’t the same. So Ashleigh finally took me skating at the Rockefeller center in New York. It was kind of a childhood dream come true after years of watching scenes of people skating there on TV. It was short-lived because I had a foot injury, but worth it. I’m looking forward to finally skating in Centennial Park next month when I visit Atlanta.

Ice Skating at the Del in San Diego with my kids in ’07

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIce Skating at the Rockefeller Center in New York in ’09

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swedish Christmas Julbord

DSC04701Smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple cold dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. A julbord is a standard Christmas dinner in Sweden. I’m half Swedish and tonight I tried my first Christmas julbord at IKEA. We tried herring, poached salmon, hard-boiled eggs with shrimp, meatballs, lingonberries, ham potatoes with dill, rice pudding and assorted cheeses and desserts. It was all very interesting and I’m glad I had a chance to try something new.

IMG_1322

DSC04703

DSC04704

IKEA Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas Tree Nurseries

IMG_1312

Ok.. I have this thing for Christmas tree nurseries (or farms). I just love to walk through them and smell the trees around the holidays. The funny thing is that I have never actually bought a live Christmas tree. I still pull out my cheap little artificial tree every year. But someday I know I will invest in one. For now.. it is just a stroll through the nursery.