Delicious at Home Holiday Spread

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Are you the host of your circle’s annual holiday dinner, but are unsure of what to serve your guests? Yes, catering may seem like the easiest option, but sometimes cooking yourself can be more rewarding. Not only will cooking allow for more flexibility in your party budget, but also cooking always has a way of bonding people together, forging some of life’s best memories. My favorite tradition has always been helping my mother cultivate this year’s holiday menu, and figuring out new ways to top the previous one. We like to combine classic holiday favorites with eclectic dishes, for an unforgettable evening of appetizing indulgence amongst electric elation.

Check out some great recipes by my favorite cooking duo, Pat and Gina Neely, and consider adding one or all of these treats to your holiday menu!

Green Beans and Bacon:


Ingredients | Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions
Toss the green beans into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until bright green in color and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and shock in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the beans again and pat dry.

Cook the bacon in a large, heavy saute pan until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Spoon off the excess bacon grease, leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the onion to the pan and saute until soft and very tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until just fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add the reserved green beans and the pecans and cook until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes more. Return the bacon to the pan, pour in the lemon juice and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe courtesy Pat Neely for Food Network Magazine

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese:


Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 2 (8-ounce) raw lobster tails, defrosted if frozen, meat removed from shell, chopped
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.

In a large pot of boiling salted water over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.

Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce, by half, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, whisking well to remove any lumps. Add the paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and can coat a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.

Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition. Add the chopped lobster meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the panko crumbs and parsley. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with parsley.

Recipe courtesy Pat and Gina Neely and The Food Network

Spicy Cornbread Muffins:


Ingredients | Makes 12 Muffins

  • Nonstick spray
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, divided
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small red Fresno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium saute pan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter. Once the butter has melted add the onions and the peppers and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Stir in the corn and cook until heated through. Set aside to cool.

Melt the remanding butter in a small pan over low heat and once melted, remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl, add the buttermilk and the eggs. Whisk lightly until combined. Using the well method, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together until combined. Add the sauteed vegetables with the melted butter and the shredded cheese and continue to fold. The batter will be very thick.

Using a 1/2 cup measure, evenly scoop the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Recipe courtesy Pat and Gina Neely and The Food Network

Old Fashioned Glazed Ham:


Ingredients | Serves 10-12

  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (14-pound) cooked and smoked cured ham, shank end
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 20 canned pineapple rings
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put oven rack in the middle of the oven.

In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and thyme.

Put the ham in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Rub the ham with mustard glaze. Pour the pineapple juice into the bottom of the pan. Put the ham in the oven and bake for 2 hours, brushing every 20 minutes with the pineapple juice. Remove the ham from the oven.

Turn oven to 400 degrees F.

Using toothpicks, decoratively adhere the pineapple rings around the ham and put a cherry in the center of the pineapple ring. Sprinkle the pineapple rings lightly with brown sugar. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake until the pineapples turn a light golden brown. Remove from the oven to a serving platter and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Recipe courtesy Pat and Gina Neely and The Food Network

Old Fashioned Cocktail:


Ingredients

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes of bitters
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 1 small wedge orange
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • Ice, as needed
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Club soda
  • Cherries for garnish

Directions
Add the sugar cube, bitters, water, lemon zest, orange wedge and cherry to the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Use a small spoon to muddle the cube into the liquids so the sugar will begin to dissolve.

Add ice to the glass and top with bourbon and club soda and stir well. Top with a cherry.

Recipe courtesy Pat and Gina Neely and The Food Network