Happy Holidays!! The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, a time of merriment, a time for reflection on the year behind us and a time to plan for the future. Alright, now it’s time to get real. The holidays can also be down right STRESSFUL and often our joy can be lost in trying to simply survive the insanity of shopping, wrapping, packing, flying, driving, and dealing with relatives… With that being said, I tossed together a few appetizer options, a scrumptious festive soup, and a decadent dessert in hopes that my little gift of recipes will help ease the stress that is often associated with this time of year. If you know you’ll be attending a party or function that likely will be laden with unhealthy options; offer to bring an appetizer or a dish to share so you will not feel deprived and can spread some paleo love along the way!
So please dear readers, keep your chin up, your stress level down, eat well, sleep when you can, hug close the ones you love the most, and give yourself the gift of health this season. Here’s hoping that you take a few minutes to slow down a bit, look around at all we are blessed with, take a few long deep breaths, and really, truly, honestly ENJOY!!!
Depending on how many people you will be feeding, you may want to double of triple the following recipes.
Merry Little Lamb Bites
1 cup dried apricots, rehydrate by soaking in hot water for 30 minutes
1 lb ground lamb
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of saffron threads
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Mix all ingredients together except for the apricots and cilantro leaves. Place the lamb mixture in fridge for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Remove the lamb from the fridge and heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the lamb mixture into small meat balls, about ½ a tablespoon size, and fry in the coconut oil for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Cover the meatballs, turn the heat down to medium low and cook another 5 minutes. While the meatballs finish cooking, remove the apricots from the water and dry with paper towels. Cut the apricots into fourths. To serve, take a meatball, top with a couple of cilantro leaves, and top with a piece of apricot. I would suggest spearing it all with a toothpick – I did not have any handy for the picture! Makes approximately 25 meatballs.
Bell Pepper Shrimp Boats
1 lb medium shrimp, cooked tails removed and finely diced
1 red, yellow, and orange bell pepper
1 cup celery, finely diced
½ cup mango, finely diced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley and Paprika for garnish
Preheat oven to 500. Cut each bell pepper into quarters and remove the seeds (see picture). Roast the bell pepper quarters on each side for 6 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the finely chopped shrimp, celery, and mango. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and spices and mix well. Fill each cooled bell pepper boat with the shrimp filling and garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley and sprinkle with paprika. Makes 16 shrimp boats.
Festive Squash Soup
1 butter nut squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
¼ cup diced yellow onion
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of black pepper
In a large soup pot add the squash, apple, onion, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add this mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the soup mixture back to the pot and add the coconut milk and spices. Bring to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Serve garnished with apple slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serves 4. This soup is AMAZING!!!
Joyful Curry Chicken Gifts
2 ½ cups finely diced cooked chicken breasts
½ cup finely diced cucumber
½ cup raisins
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons minced onions
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ cup paleo mayo
2 cucumbers, sliced or romaine lettuce leaves cut into 3″ pieces
Mix all ingredients together except for the sliced cucumbers or lettuce leaves. Spoon small amounts of the chicken mixture onto the cucumber slices or lettuce leaves and serve! Delicious! Will make about 30 cucumber slices.
And finally a dessert… I made a Zabaglione which is a light Italian custard – more like a sauce really. It is decadent and amazing and after all your cooking and entertaining, a well deserved treat!! Before I give you this final recipe, I also recommend checking out my pumpkin pie and other recipes from this post for more holiday food ideas. Another festive dessert idea is my Berry Cobbler, which also works well with sliced apples. Now, on to the Zabaglione…
6 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated lemon peel)
A sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of brandy
1/3 cup water
1 mashed banana
Fill a small sauce pan half way with water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down so that the water is just simmering. In a metal mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, lemon zest, sprinkle of cinnamon, brandy, and water. Place the bowl on top of the sauce pan with simmering water. Make sure you bowl is big enough that it does not rest down into the sauce pan and touch the water but that only the steam from the water is heating the bowl. Using a hand held mixer, beat the egg yolk mixture on low for 10 minutes. The mixture will become pale and frothy and triple in size. When it’s finished, it will be a foamy, creamy, very thin custard – not thick at all. Remove immediately from heat after 10 minutes of mixing. In a martini glass, spoon in a couple small spoonfuls of mashed banana and top with a few blueberries. Spoon in some of the Zabaglione and drizzle on a bit of honey. Add a few more blueberries, another layer of the Zabaglione, a few more blueberries, and another drizzle of honey. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve while it’s still warm. TO DIE FOR!!