Happy Holidays from OinK!


So it’s the day after Christmas!  Actually it’s almost the day after the day after Christmas because it’s almost 11 on December 26th so I’m getting dangerously close to missing the “Christmas post” window… or maybe I already have…who know’s I’m new to the blogosphere.  Anyway, I had a really wonderful Christmas and I hope that you all did as well (or a happy hanukkah or whatever your celebration of choice may be!)  I truly hope it was a happy one filled with laughter and family.

Family is what Christmas is all about to me.  This year was a completely different Christmas than we are used to.  It was our first Christmas without our beloved Mimi, who always reminded us what the true spirit of Christmas was all about.  This was also the first Christmas in I don’t even know how long that our whole family has not been able to be together for the holidays.  We had planned to go to West Virginia to see the whole family, as we did for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately sometimes life does not permit those things to happen.

My Uncle J, with whom I’m very close, has been battling cancer since 2006.  He’s a stubborn man though and he’s been fighting the fight so well.  He’s still doing okay but had to be admitted to Johns Hopkins last week, and so, the family would be split up for Christmas…half of us in NC and half of us in MD.  We still spoke on the phone and we are going to have a January “Christmas” once everything calms down, but we are all certainly hoping that next Christmas we will get to be together again.


As I have mentioned before, my Aunt Beth is a phenomenal cook… she gets that from Mimi, for sure!  Normally she makes the holiday meals….beef tenderloin for Christmas eve and lasagna on Christmas.  And we always have a big holiday breakfast on Christmas morning after we open the gifts.  But since Chef Beth would be in MD and we would have to fend for ourselves, I gladly took the role as the Chef de Cuisine in our house in Charlotte.  I figured, why mess with something perfect? And so I stuck with Beth’s menu of tenderloin then lasagna.  I put together a little holiday menu and sent the grocery list on to my pop, who loves going to the store… it’s kind of humorous actually.

I won’t burden you with all the recipes, but I’ll give you the links to the recipes that I based my menu around, making changes here and there, and will provide you with pictures, and let the pictures tell the story.  I will post a separate post with my holiday cookies!  I hope you all had a blessed holiday and that the new year is filled with beautiful things!

Wedge Salad — appetizer for Christmas Eve
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchenwedge salad wedge salad wedge salad

Beef Tenderloin for Christmas Eve
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom ReductionBeef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom ReductionBeef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom ReductionBeef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom ReductionBeef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

After slicing the meat, we layered the potatoes on the bottom of the platter, steak on top, and mushroom shallot wine reduction over top–scrumptious!

potatoesBeef Tenderloin with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Balsamic- Glazed Caramelized Onions


Brussels Sprouts — Side dish for Christmas Eve
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Sous-Chef Series (in stores)

I can’t find the recipe online but here is the basic idea:
I took the pan with the bacon fat that I had left over from making the bacon for the wedge salad (above) and added onion slices from one whole onion.  Caramelize the onions on low heat for about 30-45 minutes and add in about an ounce of prosciutto.  Cook for another 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, blanch your brussels sprouts (one bag’s worth from the store) in a very large pot of boiling water with salt.  You want your pot to be very large and full of water because you want to maintain the boil when you add in the vegetables that you are blanching, you do not want the temperature to decrease significantly.  Blanch for about 6 minutes.

Remove the onion and pancetta from the pan and slice the brussels sprouts in half.  Sear the brussels sprouts open-side down, for a few minutes each, until they brown.  Work in batches as to not overcrowd your pan.  After each batch, put the browned brussels sprouts into a large bowl.  When finished, add the onion and pancetta mixture, toss, and season with salt (and pepper if you’d like)

Sidenote: my mom, who has been a lifetime hater of brussels sprouts, liked them for the first time in her life!  I’ll take that up as a win!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Balsamic- Glazed Caramelized Onions


Christmas Breakfast– Cooked by Matt
He makes the fluffiest scrambled eggs!


Plus he looks so cute doing it: 3680950_orig

Especially when he cooks the eggs while mom does the bacon…mmm Bacon!



And what would Christmas breakfast be without a delicious cappuccino??





Matt likes to drink his out of a mug that he found with my 7 year old “mug” on it that my mom apparently thought was a good idea to keep.  Totally mortified ;)






Christmas Day!1914743
Just some fun by the tree!
From left to right:
Dad, my sister, Matt and Christine!










Arugula Salad for Christmas Dinner (appetizer)
1 package of arugula
Drizzle enough olive oil to coat (but don’t douse!)
Juice from one half a lemon
Sprinkle of fleur de sel (pepper is unnecessary, as arugula already has a peppery quality)
Few sprinklings of grated parmesan cheese




Lasagna–Christmas Dinner2436436
Recipe adapted (barely) from Joy of Cooking
What you will need:
One batch (or two depending upon size of your lasagna) of my Italian Meat Sauce
3/4 lb Ricotta cheese
1/3 lb sliced or shredded Mozzarella
1/2 lb. Parmesan grated

Make Italian meat sauce (do this ahead as it is better for the sauce to simmer for at least one hour).
Cook one half box of lasagna noodles.
Take a baking dish and scoop some of the meat sauce on to it, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish, top with some of each cheese and then a layer of noodles.  Continue with this layering in the same order until you are out of meat sauce.  The top layer should be meat sauce topped with cheese.5205058


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