Posts Tagged ‘Candlelight Dinner’

Hola peeps!  Hope everyone is super fantastic.  I was able to do some catching up on my reading this morning and so many of you have been bombarded by snow … either where you live or where you are traveling.  Who woulda thunk that Vegas would have a record snowfall?!  Freaky freak.

I wish we could see some of the white stuff here … all we are getting is nasty rain.  It has rained just about every day for the past week.  I’m done with it.

Ok, so last night we hosted our first Candlelight Christmas Dinner for Devin’s parents.  It was tres successful, which left me tres happy.  Sad mix of languages, I know.  About all I can remember from my school days.


To give you a little history lesson …

For the past several years, my in-law’s have taken us out to their country club’s Candlelight Christmas dinner that is offered on two separate nights during the month of December.  The menus for both nights are different and are always posted in the monthly newsletter.  We looked over the menus at Thanksgiving, trying to decide which night we wanted to go.  We ended up deciding that neither menu sounded too appealing and that we should just skip it altogether this year.

I knew that my MIL was probably a bit disappointed since she always enjoyed this special night out, so Devin and I decided to host an even more special dinner for them at our house. 


Here’s our fabulous evening in pictures …












To keep this from being a marathon post, feel free to let me know if you would like any of these recipes.  I can vouch for it all … everything was wonderful!  Very tasty and, for the most part, pretty easy to put together. 

I wasn’t able to take another “dressed” picture of the Curried Butternut Squash soup that we served.  I topped each bowl with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and crumbled applewood smoked bacon.  I actually didn’t even get to sit down and enjoy a bowl with our dinner … while the rest of the crew was relishing its’ deliciousness, I ducked back into the kitchen to quickly plate up our pork and mini gratins. 

I must say, the soup received the most compliments … even Devin, who turned his nose up to it in the beginning since it contained the word “curried”, said it was one of the best soups he’s had.  We had it again for lunch today and I agree … it’s pretty fantastic.  Ellie does it again.  I just love her!!

After dinner we played the game, Taboo.  Fun, fun!  It was the first-time for my in-law’s and they loved it as well.  My FIL was really getting into it … he was fun to watch as he was shouting out clues to my MIL. 😉

By the time the night was over, I was slap worn out.  I took a quick soak in the tub, crawled into bed and quickly fell sound asleep.  Ahh …


Devin and I have been finishing up our Christmas shopping for the family today.  We are just about set with everyone.  Not too shabby for waiting until the last minute, eh?! 

Tonight’s plans … well, the ‘boys are playing the Ravens (to clarify:  ‘boys = Dallas Cowboys = Devin’s other luv) and in order for him to see the game, we have to step out of the hizzouse and into a sports bar.  It’s not playing on network TV.  At least I get to order my din din off a menu tonight, which I am looking forward to after last night’s feast.  I’m feelin’ a night off … a nice, cool cocktail sounds pretty tasty as well! 😀


** Have a great night, lovebugs **


Edited to add the recipes for the items above:


Peppercorn Pork with a Red Wine Sauce

(Original recipe found here)


  • 1 3/4 lb. pork loin roast
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. cracked peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth


The original recipe called for pork tenderloin, prepared in a skillet.  Since I was using a different cut of meat, I decided it would be better if roasted in the oven …

Slather both sides of  the meat with the Dijon mustard and then rub/press the peppercorns all around.  Place pork on a roasting rack and into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until pork reaches 160 degrees.

For the red wine sauce – in a small saucepan, combine the red wine and chicken broth.  Cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8-10 minutes. 

If you have a sauce guy, like I do, you may want to double this recipe.  I ended pulling out my homemade cranberry sauce to serve as a substitute since the red wine sauce recipe made just enough for a drizzle on each piece.


 Gruyere Potato Gratins

(Original recipe found here)


  • 6 small Yukon potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 lb. Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • S+P
  • Milk


In a large bowl, combine the potato slices, onion, cheese (reserving 1/4 cup), oil, salt and pepper; stir until well combined.  After spraying a muffin tin, fill each cup with the potato mixture.  To each cup, add ~2 tbsp. milk, then top with a sprinkle of remaining cheese.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking for another 25 – 30 minutes, until browned and all liquid is absorbed.

I used two 6-cup muffin tins, plus I filled another small baking dish with leftover potatoes.  If you have an 18-cup muffin tin, that would be the way to go.


Whole Wheat Poppy Seed Rolls


  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • Zest of one orange, optional


This recipe is also found on my “Recipes” page as Whole Wheat Two-Seed Bread, but modified to include the poppy seeds and orange zest, eliminating the flax and sunflower seeds.

So, I cheat when I make bread or rolls and use our bread machine for the dough making/rising process.  Please just modify your process accordingly if you are using your beautiful hands vs. a machine to do the work …

For bread machine dough-making:  Place all ingredients in the order listed in the bread machine’s pan and select the dough cycle.  When cycle is finished, remove dough from the pan, shape into individual rolls and allow to rise for second time.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

I added the orange zest at the last minute and was so glad I did!  It really added an extra special treat to each bite.


Poached Pears with a Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce

(Original recipes found here and here)


Poached Pears:

  • 4 firm, ripe pears (preferably with stems still attached)
  • ~3 cups red wine (I used TJ’s brand cabernet)
  • Scant 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 strip of orange zest, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves

Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce:

  • 1 cup red wine (used the TJ’s cabernet for this as well)
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 sachet Mulling Spice Blend or you can buy pre-mixed mulling spice in the store
  • 1/2 unsweetened cocoa
  • ~1/2 light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Poached pears – Peel the pears, leaving the stem intact, and slice about 1/4 inch off the bottom to create a flat bottom for them to stand upright after cooked.  (Trick – to smooth the peel lines, use a newgreen scrubbie pad and rub pears gently until lines fade.)  If you choose, core the pears from the bottom, creating a space for a creamy filling (see below.)

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients (except pears) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Gently lay the pears down in the poaching liquid, cover and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until they are cooked, but still firm.  Turn the pears gently every 5 minutes or so for even coloring.

Optional – after cooking, transfer the pears to a baking dish, laying on their side and pour poaching liquid over top.  This will further increase the color intensity of the pears.  Just continue to turn every 20-25 minutes or so.  Since I prepared these on Thursday, I had plenty of time to play with the color.  You can even leave them in the liquid overnight, but I was afraid they might start to get mushy, so I took them out of the liquid and stored upright in a sealed container in the fridge.

Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce – combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes.  Discard sachet.  Add cocoa and corn syrup, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Simmer 2 minutes; remove from heat.  Add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts.  Cool to room temperature.

Since I was feeling a little frisky, I also made a creamy filling to go in the hollowed out space left by coring the pears …

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. ff ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Beat until desired consistency is reached.  Pipe filling into the hollowed out pears.

I still have the poaching liquid in the fridge plus a ton of leftover chocolate sauce.  I’m thinking of a good way to incorporate these two into our brunch menu.  If you think of anything, let me know and if I think of anything, I will let you know.  😉

We are definitely have a large bowl of fresh fruit and I’m thinking the chocolate sauce would be an absolutely diving pairing!

Ok, I think that’s everything?!  If I missed something or if you have any questions, feel free to let me know!  Cheers!


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