Last week, my gal-pal LAFF group got together for our annual Christmas dinner, hosted by my friend Carolyn Mueller and assisted by yours truly. This is the second year that I’ve been involved and I must say that I enjoy the preparation as much as the actual event, because it allows for some quality one-on-one time with a fellow foodie trying out recipes that we might not normally do on our own.
This year’s menu included:
- Crown Roast of Pork
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Green beans
- Layered Cranberry Salad
- Fresh bread
- Light Plum Pudding
Neither of us had done a crown roast and we were looking forward to it. Carolyn pre-ordered the meat from the butcher at our local Kroger’s store and it was a beauty. They even gave us the little white “caps” for the rib ends. The dressing was made with raisin bread and apples and beautifully complimented the pork. The pork was cooked to perfection — moist and tender. I definitely would make this again. A lot easier than Beoff Bourguignon that we made from Julia Child’s cookbook.
The Sweet Potatoes with Sherry and Walnuts were a hit also. We made them from fresh sweet potatoes. I cut them up in small pieces (still with the skins on) and boiled them until they were soft. When done, I drained the water and let them cool to the touch and then proceeded to peel away the skins — so easy to do that you hardly need a knife. This recipe is so easy to make — everyone has these ingredients in their pantry and it is very healthy too — no added fat.
Sweet Potatoes with Sherry and Walnuts
- 8 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 6 medium)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Chopped walnuts
Combine sweet potatoes, eggs, brown sugar, sherry, and salt; blend well. Spoon into a greased 2 1/2-quart casserole. Sprinkle chopped walnuts around outside edges of casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Yield: 10 – 12 servings.
For dessert, we made Light Plum Pudding. We had no idea what it would taste like or whether it would even turn out right. But we were ready for adventure! This recipe calls for steaming the pudding in a large container for 3 hours! I am the first to admit that there was some anticipation when we inverted the pan to see what it would be like, but it looked beautiful — it retained its shape from the bundt pan we used. Our only disappointment was that it did not look like the photo in the cookbook — our mistake was that our bundt pan was bigger than the recipe called for.
Light Plum Pudding
- 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (not vanilla)
- 1 2/3 cups raisins
- 1 1/2 cups currants
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground mace
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 Tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 egg whites
- Vegetable cooking spray
- Special Hard Sauce
- Strip of orange rind (optional)
Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Combine egg yolk, brandy, orange juice concentrate, and oil; stir into fruit mixture.
Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff peaks form; fold into fruit mixture. Spoon into an 8-cup mold coated with cooking spray. Cover mold tightly with aluminum foil.
Place mold on a shallow rack in a large deep kettle with enough boiling water to come halfway up sides of mold. Cover kettle; steam pudding 3 hours in continuously boiling water (add additional water as needed). Unmold and serve warm with Special Hard Sauce. Garnish with orange rind, if desired. Yield: 16 servings (aboug 194 calories per slice plus 21 calories per 2 teaspoons Hard Sauce).
NOTE: To store, cover and chill. Serve at room temperature.
Special Hard Sauce
- 4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
- 3 Tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon brandy
Combine first 2 ingredients, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add brandy; beat until fluffy. Chill. Yield: 3/4 cup.
This year I took some more photos of our gal-pal group. Enjoy.