Sunday, December 18, 2011

Salty + Sweet : Kale + Shortbread

Hi friends! Can you believe Christmas is in SIX DAYS?!?!?! I'm freaking out and SO excited! My parents are on their WAY to come celebrate with us in Australia and I'm SO ready for the party! Food frenzy, family, church and a party for Jesus... what could be better? (besides having jord, brent and lulu here too) :( ANYWAYS, its gonna be great and I hope you guys are every bit as excited as I am about the holidays! There's no better time to enjoy family and food than RIGHT NOW, so let's seize the day!! :D

Today I'm just going to share with you two REALLY SIMPLE but great recipes to add to your Christmas dinner meal... if you're running short on side dishes and dessert ideas, try these out. They're easy easy easy and a sure success with pretty much everybody! So here goes...

Salty: simple, fresh Kale salad!

  • Wash and finely chop 1 bunch of kale. Usually 1 bunch is around 0.7 lbs. I chop vertically, then horizontally.
  • Lightly toss the chopped kale leaves with a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
  • Sprinkle in grated or flaked parmesan reggiano cheese. We like quite a bit to balance out the tart lemon.
  • Generously sea salt and pepper the kale. (for taste and for looks) ;)
  • Add in 1 clove of freshly minced garlic. (optional... but SO good with it)
  • Toss it and serve with ANYTHING!

Kale is a really great switch up to a "normal" side salad for your Christmas meal. It's great along side fish, roast chicken, beef, whatever... and another benefit is that it's light so it won't overpower any other dishes you're serving... just a really good addition.

Sweet: Shortbread!
This recipe is SO easy and it's unbelievably delicious and "moorish," as my mother in-law says. :) (meaning, you always want more... get it? Love you, Judy!) I spotted the original recipe from a Williams- Sonoma cookbook and just tweaked a few things so I can't really call it my own, but I do think my tweaks make it great. :)
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened.
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 granulated sugar, plus an extra 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 1 & 1/2 cup all- purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. With your electric mixer, whip the butter until it forms little soft peaks.
Add in both of the sugars and blend REALLY well, for about 2 minutes. (until the mixture is pretty smooth and not gritty when you rub your fingers together)
Add in the first cup of flour and blend well. Now mix together the other 1/2 cup of flour and salt before adding it to the batter. Once blended, mix it into the batter really well. The batter will start to form little balls, that's normal. Keep blending! You may have to scrape the batter out of the beaters to mix well at this point because it'll be getting a little thicker.
Now blend in the vanilla extract. Press the dough into a 9 inch square baking pan. (ungreased) I highly suggest flouring your fingertips! Also it helps to press with your palms to make sure it's all evenly distributed throughout the pan.
Now sprinkle that extra tablespoon of sugar all over the top.
Bake for about an hour, or until it starts to turn golden on the edges. (now eat the left over dough on the beaters!)
When I use my own oven, it takes an hour, always. But I just made it here in Australia in Judy's oven and it only took 40 minutes so just be sure to take a look every 20 minutes or so.
When you take it out of the oven, cut vertically in 1 inch increments, then horizontally in 3 inch increments to make the individual shortbreads. Then take a fork to each shortbread biscuit and decorate a little design in it! That's it!
These things are GREAT straight out of the oven or a couple days later. So whether you're having a small Christmas dinner or a massive one, you can make them the night of or way in advance. Both ways will be delightful, so no worries!

I hope this post has been helpful and maybe given you some good, quick options to make your holidays a little different and even tastier than they already will be! It feels good to be giving you RECIPES! Like I've mentioned recently before, I will continue to give you some restaurant reviews while I'm here because I'm not in the kitchen as much but I will ALSO be giving you recipes so stay tuned! :) Have the best next couple of days in preparation for the GREATEST holiday in the world!!!

Love you guys! What's everyone making for Christmas dinner?? :)

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