A Happy Christmas 
Episode of 
What I Have Been Up To
In My Kitchen

Before I get into the good things I have been up to in my kitchen, a Christmas episode, I want to apologize for my absence!  Thank You all SO MUCH for hanging in there with me.  If you do not know, I am a teacher, I truly love my job and have been dedicated to my class.  They are an eager, fantastic group of learners and I have been working very hard to keep the learning environment stimulating and moving and grooving.  Therefore, my time has been happily consumed between that and taking care of things at my mom's; tasks I call "OMC", aka "OhMommaCare".  Yeah, a play on words.  It's what I do.  And, as we all know, I also cook!  

The most interesting part of this Christmas is, that for the first time in more than 54 years, Christmas was not spent at either my mom's or my aunt's house.  It was at mine.  My mom, aunt, sister and my youngest son all came for the day.  For the menu, I prepped a delicious menu of stuffed pork loin roast, my citrus and berry salad with baslamic drizzle, my whipped creamy cheesy potatoes, Italian Sausage Dressing with homemade garlic and cheese croutons and, the most delicious yet, Chef Vincenzo's Lasagna Bianca.  My aunt made her famous pecan and walnut pies, and my "bestest" former roomie, Miss J, who has a recipe posted on my humble blog, made us an amazingly delicious apple pie.  She is famous for her delectable pumpkin and apple pies. 

Now that introductions are out of the way, here is a visual essay and brief recipes of my Christmas meal.  Hope you enjoy!

Pork Loin Roast, stuffed with veg.  Now, when I was shopping, the stores did not have their pre-trestled pork loin roasts, so I purchased four half roasts and trestled them. Before tying them up, I stuffed them with leftover dressing veggies:  onion, garlic, the leafy tops of celery stalks, flat-leaf Italian parsley and shredded carrot. Of course, I had seasoned them with salt and pepper on every side.  Once tied, i sprinkled the roasts with Herb de Provence.  Love Herb de Provence and its floral, herbal aroma!  Makes poultry and pork amazing!  

This is a side view. This was my first time tying up roasts, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well they stayed together once the twine had been removed!

Next, while I do not have a photo of my Citrus Berry Salad from Christmas Day, I previously blogged it.  Please see the previous blog for photos and directions, which is very simple and extremely tasty!

Whipped Creamy Cheesy Potatoes.  For this dish, I cut up two pounds of washed Yukon Gold potatoes (not baby Yukons) and chopped them into as equal parts as possible for even cooking.  I placed the potatoes in a large pot, covered them with water and salted the water.  Due to sodium restrictions, this was the only time I added salt to this dish, but, next time, I will make it differently.  More on that later. I boiled the potatoes about fifteen minutes over medium-high heat, until the potato chunks were fork soft.  I drained them, added two tabs of butter to the large pot the heat off.  I added back the potatoes and tossed them in the butter.  I then removed the potatoes and placed them in a large metal bowl.  Actually, it was a mixing bowl.  I added two-thirds cup of buttermilk, a cup of Mexican Crema, black pepper and two cloves garlic, grated.  I used my KitchenAidTM hand mixer and whipped the potatoes until it was extremely light and creamy. Before finishing, I added, a little at a time, a half cup of finely grated mozzarella cheese.  I finally added the mixture to a pan treated with non-stick Extra Virgin Olive Oil spray.  I topped it with shaved parmesan cheese and a bit more mozzarella cheese, sprinkled it with smoked paprika and sprinkled fresh thyme leaves atop it.  

 Before and After!

Next, my Italian Sausage, veggie and crouton dressing.  I caramelized a pound of mild Italian sausage, added two cloves garlic, grated, half a yellow onion, finely chopped, two stalks of celery with the leaves attached, finely chopped, flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped and grated carrot, also chopped a bit more. I added only a pinch of salt, due to my aunt's sodium restriction, and a splash of Worchestershire sauce and black pepper.  For a final bite of flavor, I added a tablespoon of dijon mustard.  Finally, I added my homemade garlic, cheesy croutons.  For those, I chopped up nearly stale bread; one loaf was french baguette and one was sourdough.  I melted a stick of butter, added three cloves grated garlic, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning.  I mixed them all together once the butter had melted and drizzled it over the bread cubes I'd spread over a baking sheet.  I baked them at 350 degrees for eighteen minutes, until they were golden brown.  Delish!  Once baked golden brown, I added the entire dressing mix to a large bowl and added that to a square baking dish also treated with non-stick spray.  Here is a serving of my dressing and a couple of shots of the croutons in action. 

 Now, on to the best dish of the night!  Chef Vincenzo's "Lasanga Bianca"!  I have made this amazing dish before and it is on my blog, as per Chef's permission, and it is here again!  I did change it up, only using broccoli, rather than broccoli and zucchini.  For the full recipe, please check my previous blog posts for March or April.  It is originally called Easter Lasagna. In the meantime, here are my before and after baking photos.  

Delicioso, yeah???

Now, I decided to not go with a traditional post-Christmas leftovers makeover meal on Friday.  Instead, I went a whole other direction.  I made nachos.  And not just any nachos.  I tossed small bits of pork belly in grape seed oil with my Mexican spice mix and seared the pork belly crispy and topped nachos with the pork belly and baked it.  I sprinkled torn cilantro atop that when the cheese had thoroughly baked.  Delicioso, again! 

I hope you have enjoyed this Christmas Edition of "What I Have Been Up To In My Kitchen".  Thanks for viewing and reading!!!

***You can follow Chef Vincenzo on Twitter at @vincenzosplate and on Facebook, Instagram and Google.  


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