The best of Holiday Eats

 

I am having some serious xmas is over problems.  i actually listened to some xmas music yesterday TWO, count em two days after xmas and was not annoyed in the slightest.  Maybe thats where theres a weird buffer week in between xmas and the new year that you have new toys and less work and some eggnog still in the fridge.  im taking this week to reflect on the best of my holiday treats this year. Ive got a unique appetizer, a yummy vegan dessert, and yes, a spicy rice with turkey and chorizo. Enjoy them now or anytime and most of all Happy New Year.

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK WITH SEA SALT
I got this recipe from Bon Appetit but then turned it vegan to take to a holiday party at my yoga studio.  i was a little frazzled on whether the recipe would actually work at first but ti turned out beautifully 

1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter (I used vegan butter)
1 1/2 cup roasted almonds.  The magazine suggested Marcona almonds but I couldnt find them originally.
1 pound of quality dark chocolate finely chopped.  At least 62-70 percent cacao.  I made an investment and bought all 16oz Ghirrardelli Chocolate.  Its not cheap but its high quality and unlike Hersheys or Nestle is 100 vegan and organic. 
coarse sea salt.

Line a baking sheet with foil. At this point I always think that I have forgotten the part in the recipe where your preheat the oven,  but its such an easy dessert you need no oven and then I smile and move on.  

Combine 2 tbsps of water and the sugar in a small saucepan.  Stir over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and cook,  occasionally swirling the pan and being mindful of the sides of the pan itself.  In five minutes you ll have a dark amber caramel. Remove the caramel from the heat.  Immediately add your butter and whisk until melted in.  Add your almonds and stir.  I forgot to roast my almonds and they turned out fine.  It might have been the whole,  you dont need to preheat your oven thing.  Maybe you do need your oven.  Maybe it doesnt  matter,  this bark kicks ass anyway.  So add the almonds. I used a combination of slivered and raw ones.  I really think any almond in any form will work.  So stir the almonds in and stir until well coated.  Transfer to the baking sheet and spread them out to cool.  Separate any large clumps. Set aside a 1/4 cup of the nut mixture,  meanwhile.  Stir chocolate in a medium bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until it melts.  Remove from the heat,  add the nuts from the baking sheet and stir quickly to combine.  Spread the chocolate nut mixture back on the same baking sheet keeping the nuts in a single layer.  Top with the reserved nuts and sprinkle with the sea salt.  Chill until set,  about three hours.  Break into little pieces and store in layers between wax paper, and keep it chilled. 
 
FESTIVE CHEESE BALLS 
I found these cheese balls on a blog called "just putzing around the kitchen." loved the same and loved the recipe.

1 1/4 cup almonds.  Bake them for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. 
8oz of cream cheese.  This time I opted for the real deal.  Cheese that is.
1/3 cup of bacon.  The recipe said bacon or pepperoni and I opted fro neither.  I know, NO BACON?
jalepeno
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of grated pepper jack
salt and pepper
rosemary for the finishing touch,  or i actually used part of my wreath.  either one.

Let the cream cheese soften while you roast your almonds.  Add the cream cheese with the jack and cheddar cheeses,  the jalepeno, salt and pepper and pork if you so desire.  Let the cheese chill overnight.  Next day press the cheese into two portions and shape each like little pine cones.  Press on almonds starting at the small end and garnish with rosemary.  Serve with chickpeas crackers and figs.  Yum.

SPICY RICE WITH TURKEY AND CHORIZO
I made this once after Thanksgiving and once after massive turkey dinner on xmas.  i cant remember where i got the recipe.  I think real simple magazine. 

 I cup rice,  ive used cous cous too.  
tbsp EVOO
4oz chorizo sliced.  Ive used chicken chorizo also.
1 1/2 cups shredded turkey
and then they go and add a cup of frozen peas.  i completely ignored it,  but hey if your a pea person.
1/4 white wine,  both times i substituted stock,  and also cooked the rice in it and it was grand.
4 scallions
2 plum tomatoes.  I used a half can of san marzano but whatevers your pleasure,  chop them.
salt and pepper
the second time i added a jalapeno and it was yum

Cook the rice. Heat the oil on medium high and add the chorizo till browned. Bout 3-5 minutes.  Add the turkey ( and the stupid peas) plus the stock wine and simmer.  Stir in the scallions and the tomatoes with some salt and pepper and then stir in the rice and your done.  I love a simple leftovers recipe thats got a whole brand new taste.  Eats it up.