Christmas

Roast Chicken with a Pomegranate Molasses and Apricot Glaze

The first time I made a whole roast chicken was all due to a happy accident. Vehicle-less and not wanting to lug groceries on the T, my college roommates and I decided to test out Peapod online grocery delivery service. After the roommates and I added all our items, Matt added a couple of his own before completing the order. When it arrived a couple days later I pulled out an entire ten pound chicken. What college student buys a ten pound chicken? Especially in an apartment where we were living on grilled cheeses, frittatas and pasta! Turns out in his haste Matt accidentally ordered a whole chicken instead of chicken breasts. So we stuck it in the freezer until we could work up the courage to tackle the bird.

But when we finally did and took the first bite out of our labor of love we had seasoned, buttered and basted for hours, it was absolutely glorious. There is something so delicious about a roast chicken. It could be that the anticipation goes to your head while you’re waiting for it to cook. It might be that you get overwhelmed by a sense of accomplishment at having completed such a monumental task.

But if I was to really try and put my finger on it I’d have to keep it simple: from the juicy white meat to the tender thighs to the crispy skin a whole roast chicken is just damn tasty. This pomegranate molasses and apricot roast chicken is certainly no exception. The meat is moist, flavorful and fragrant, while the exterior is sweet and sticky. Finger-lickin’ great chicken.

You will wish you had five ovens so you could whip up a whole bunch of these bad boys at once. If you have never made roast chicken before don’t be shy! I promise you that if a couple of grilled cheese making college kids can do it then so can you. And if you have made a whole roast chicken before then you will regret not giving this one a shot. So go ahead, use some of that precious pomegranate molasses and tackle that bird.

Roast Chicken with a Pomegranate Molasses and Apricot Glaze
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 4-6 pound chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 orange, cut in slices
  • 1 lemon, cut in slices
  • ½ onion, cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the chicken inside and out and dry thoroughly.
  3. Salt and pepper then inside of the chicken the stuff the cavity with the orange slices, lemon slices, onion pieces and garlic cloves.
  4. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together, tucking the wings under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken breast-side down on the roasting rack in a deep roasting pan.
  5. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes. Use the melted butter to baste the chicken allover. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and continue to cook for 45 minutes. After 20 minutes baste the chicken again with butter.
  6. While the chicken is in the oven make the glaze. Whisk together the pomegranate molasses, orange juice, apricot jam and lemon juice until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. After the 45 minutes are up flip the chicken so the breasts are up then coat allover with the glaze. Cook for 30 minutes, basting with the glaze again after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or when the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.

Recipe adapted from The Global Jewish Kitchen.

Egg Nog Ice Cream

There are some flavors we really only see around the holiday season like gingerbread and pumpkin. Another one of those flavors is egg nog. Now I think I could really enjoy a moist spiced gingerbread loaf or some smooth pumpkin hummus anytime during the cooler months, but it takes a special time of the year to be in the mood for egg nog.

The first time I had egg nog was in the form of a dining hall carton that we spiked with Captain Morgan’s in a college dorm room. I have definitely come a long way since then. This egg nog ice cream is spiced and sophisticated. But one thing hasn’t changed- this ice cream is boozy. An adult-table-only-make-you-go-woah kind of treat. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Especially on days when your whole family is together from sun-up to sun-down and you’re starting to find yourself going a little kooky. One bite of this ice cream will slap your tastebuds back to reality. Best served to adults alongside a warm slice of gingerbread cake or a pumpkin bread pudding to add a little liquored up sophistication to your holiday desserts.

Egg Nog Ice Cream
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl and place a mesh strainer on top.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm the milk, sugar and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks. Whisking constantly carefully pour the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks then pour the mixture with the egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir constantly over medium heat, making sure to scrap the bottom, until the mixture is thick enough that it coats the spatula.
  5. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool for a couple minutes. Then pour the mixture through the mesh strainer into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine then add the nutmeg, brandy, rum and vanilla.
  6. Stir until cool over an ice bath then chill the mixture completely in the refrigerator. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

S’mores Fudge

Gooey charred marshmallows sandwiched between subtly spiced crunchy graham crackers with rich milk chocolate oozing out of the middle. The crackling fire is warm on your back as you pierce another marshmallow and lick sticky remnants from your lips. It’s s’mores time folks.

Except it’s December and the fire is in your living room fireplace. The delightful sandwich held between your fingers is not a sandwich at all, but a piece of rich creamy s’mores fudge. With a base layer of buttery spiced graham crackers, a smooth and gooey center of chocolate and fluff topped with extra miniature marshmallows you will be transported to a mid-July nighttime fire pit s’mores session. And just like a traditional s’more you will be wanting more of this addictive fudge.

It may look complex, but just like the original recipe it is certainly not time consuming. Also when there are chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker supplies laying around the fudge is almost as delicious to make as it is to eat. Enjoy!

S'mores Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs, about 15 squares
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ounce Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One 14 ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup miniature marshmallows
Directions
  1. Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper and set aside.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and salt until well mixed then press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Melt butter and the baking chocolate square in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour in half the bag of chocolate chips and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula to help melt. Once partially melted add the rest of the bag of chocolate chips and stir until fully melted.
  5. Carefully stir in the condensed milk to combine and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and marshmallow fluff.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Top with the miniature marshmallows and lightly press into the fudge.
  7. Refrigerate until the fudge is set. To toast the marshmallows place under a broiler or heat with a kitchen torch for a couple minutes.
Notes
There is ½ a teaspoon of salt in the graham cracker crust because I enjoy the sweet-salty combination. Feel free to reduce the salt to ¼ of a teaspoon.

 

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

It is time for the big reveal. Ever since I mentioned fudge variations you have been waiting patiently for the chocolate decadence to continue. I’ve been holding you in suspense trying to distract you with crab dip and brussels sprouts. I should have known vegetables would only stall you for so long before the chocolate craving from within you started to take over. Just in time for this chocolate peppermint fudge.

People tend to be either mint lovers or haters. Until a year ago I used to fall into the later category. Lauren used to not like something? Huge shocker, I know you’re all gasping in disbelief. While I can’t say I’ll be whipping up mint chip ice cream anytime soon, the chocolate-mint flavor pairing has won my heart, granted that the chocolate to mint ratio is at least 3:1.

Adding mint to chocolate provides a fresh finish and refreshing break from the richness of the cocoa. This fudge has all the creamy and decadent qualities of the original recipe with a cool aftertaste and added crushed peppermint for texture. Plus how gorgeous does it look?

Perfect for gifting this holiday season.

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce Baker's unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • One 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One 14 ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1-2 candy canes, crushed
Directions
  1. Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and the baking chocolate square in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in half the bag of chocolate chips and stir with a heatproof rubber spatula to help melt. Once partially melted add the rest of the bag of chocolate chips and stir until fully melted.
  4. Carefully stir in the condensed milk to combine and remove from the heat. Stir in the peppermint extract.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Sprinkle the crushed candy cane pieces over the top of the fudge and lightly press on the pieces so they set into the fudge.
  6. Refrigerate until the fudge is set then cut into bite size pieces.
Notes
Although I usually promote eating fudge straight from the fridge the candy cane pieces seem to not like it in there. I had this in the fridge for a couple days and the candy cane pieces got melty and lost their crunch so I would advise you to store this unrefrigerated.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla Pecan Butter

I was not always a fan of brussels sprouts. Let’s face it, they can be bitter, every children’s cartoon depicts them as a the grossest food there is and when you eat one you’re basically eating a miniature head of cabbage. If you have previously had a bad brussels experience and written them out of your meal repertoire then these pomegranate molasses brussels sprouts will make you a believer. A full-blown brussels believer.

That’s my gift to you and your families this holiday season. The best gifts are those you didn’t know you needed. I bet you didn’t list “the love of brussels sprouts” on your holiday wish list, but you are going to taste these and say, “Wow, best gift of the season. No one can top this.” You’re welcome.

The tenderness of the brussels sprouts pairs perfectly with the crunchy pomegranate seeds. The lime and orange zests perk the dish up and help provide a nice contrast to the sweetness from the vanilla pecan butter. Speaking of the vanilla pecan butter, now this stuff is tasty. Mixing a couple tablespoons of it into the roasted brussels sprouts adds sweetness from the vanilla, texture from the toasted pecans and richness from the butter.

You will have leftover vanilla pecan butter from this recipe and you will definitely be happy about that once you spread it on some warm pumpkin pancakes. Don’t forget about the brussels sprouts in all your excitement though! Serve this festive side dish this holiday season and everyone at your table will be asking for seconds of the brussels sprouts. Now who thought that would ever happen?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla Pecan Butter
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced in thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds, about ⅓ of a pomegranate
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 1 tablespoons orange zest
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Evenly spread the pecans on a baking sheet and place in the oven until toasted, about 5 minutes. Once toasted, remove from the oven then chop once cool.
  3. In a small bowl combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds then add the pecans. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the vanilla pecan butter until ready to serve the brussels sprouts.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Line a medium roasting pan with aluminum foil. Add the brussels sprouts then toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  6. While the brussels sprouts are in the oven heat a small skillet over medium heat. Sauté the shallot until caramelized. Set aside.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven then pour the pomegranate molasses over the brussels sprouts. Stir to combine then return the pan to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until tender.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven. Move the brussels sprouts with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl then add the pomegranate seeds, sautéed shallots, lime zest and orange zest. Top with a tablespoon or two of the vanilla pecan butter before serving.
Notes
*Store the extra vanilla pecan butter in the fridge. Perfect on pancakes or other yummy treats I will share later this season.
*To trim the brussels sprouts peel off the few outer dark leaves then carefully trim the stem. Be sure not to trim it too much or the sprouts will fall apart.

Recipe slightly adapted from Bobby Flay.