Hosting a dinner is stressful any time of year, let alone during the holidays when you want to impress. You might think that you have to spend hours cooking a meal, or, spend a whole lot of money to make the perfect menu. But the truth is, you can make a perfect dinner for friends and family for under $50! Teresa Strasser sat down with Chef Teresa Hansen to get the lowdown on how you can make a fantastically easy dinner for 6, for just 50 bucks.
1. Butternut Bruschetta with Cranberry Goat Cheese
The secret to saving with this recipe is using day old bread for your bruschetta. It still toasts up perfectly and is often sold for cheap at your local grocery store. Plus, topping your bruschetta with pre-packaged cranberry goat cheese gives your guests the chance to eat a fancy appetizer, without you having to spend hours in the kitchen to make it.
Make it Yourself:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted or olive oil 1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups finely diced butternut squash, 1⁄4 in dice
1 baguette, thinly sliced
4 ounces cranberry goat cheese, room temperature Fennel fronds, for garnish
*Leave goat cheese on counter at room temperature 1-2 hours prior to serving so that it easily spreads on baguette.
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Mix together butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and salt. Evenly coat butternut squash with butter mixture then spread on a greased baking sheet
3. Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. Brush sliced baguettes with melted butter or olive oil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.
5. Spread about 2-3 teaspoons of goat cheese on each baguette, top with 1 tablespoon butternut squash and garnish with fennel fronds
6. Serve immediately
2. Fennel Herb Stuffed Pork Loin
The cool thing about this dish - you probably have everything you need to make it already in your pantry. And if you don't the ingredients won't cost you a wing and a leg. Even your pork loin is cheaper than an alternative prime rib or fancily dressed turkey.
Make it Yourself:
3 ounces baguette, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, about 8 ounces, core removed + cut into 1 inch pieces 1⁄2 granny smith apple, cored + cut into 1 inch pieces
1⁄2 medium yellow onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
6 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped sage leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 3 pounds boneless pork loin roast
1 cup apple cider
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 tablespoons flour
1⁄2 cup apple cider
1 1/2 cups pan drippings Kosher salt
1. Place the bread in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse into fine crumbs, about 15 (1-second) pulses. Remove to a large bowl and set aside
2. Place the fennel, apple, and onion in the food processor and pulse into fine pieces no larger than a grain of rice, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 20 (1-second) pulses; set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the processed fennel mixture and the rosemary, minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and add to bowl with the breadcrumbs. Stir until combined and the bread is evenly moistened. Stir in chopped fresh sage. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and cut 6 (18-inch) lengths of kitchen twine; set the baking sheet and twine aside.
6. For the pork: Mix the salt, brown sugar and pepper in a small bowl until combined; set aside.
7. To butterfly the pork, place it on a cutting board with one end pointing toward you. Slice lengthwise down the center, almost but not quite cutting through the pork, leaving about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness of meat intact.
8. Open the pork up like a book and push on it to flatten.
9. Starting on the left side, with the blade of the knife parallel to the cutting board and the blade facing left, slice down the length of the seam, maintaining the 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.
10. Pull the meat open and press down to flatten. Continue cutting and flattening until the entire left half is 1/2- to 3/4-inch thickness.
11. Rotate the pork and repeat on the other half. Evenly spread the reserved stuffing over the pork, leaving a 1-1/2-inch border.
12. Starting on the right side, roll the pork in a tight cylinder. Tie the pieces of twine around the pork, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart and trimming off any excess.
13. Rub the oil evenly over the outside of the pork, then rub the roast with the sugar- salt and pepper mix.
14. Place the roast seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
15. Roast until the pork is light golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, rotate the baking sheet and pour in 1 cup apple cider.
16. Roast until an internal temperature into the center of the pork registers 145°F, about 25 to 35 minutes more. Let the roast rest on the baking sheet loosely tented with foil for 20 minutes before slicing.
17. Make Gravy: Remove 1 1/2 cups drippings/liquid from the roasting pan. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter then stir in the flour and cook until light brown, about 1 minute.
18. Whisk in the pan drippings and apple cider, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Continue whisking and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Get Smart with Your Sides
Sometimes the sides of a meal can take the most time to put together, but you can take a few smart steps to make your meal prep even easier. If you love to make mashed potatoes, but hate to spend all that time peeling and chopping, Chef Teresa says use baby potatoes - you don't have to peel them. And use clever food gadgets like a food mill to make prep time go faster.
And don't think that a simple side won't impress. Roasting veggies in the oven with your favorite seasonings is an easy way to please, without keeping you in the kitchen for hours.
Make it Yourself:
Mashed Potato Ingredients:
2 pounds baby potatoes, washed but not peeled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cover potatoes with water in a large pot and add 2 teaspoons of salt to water
2. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
3. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes
4. Drain and place potatoes back in pot. Mash with a potato masher or use a potato ricer.
5. Add butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Continue to mash until smooth
6. Keep covered until ready to serve
Simple French Style Green Beans Ingredients:
2 pounds green beans, blanched
2 table spoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Add olive oil and pepper to blanched green beans, toss with your hands and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet
3. Roast green beans at 400 F for 8 minutes, just long enough to reheat. Remove from oven and serve
4. Cheesecake Mousse Dessert
You don't have to be a gourmet chef to make tasty desserts at home. All you need are the right simple ingredients that come together to make something sweet, and delicious.
Make it Yourself:
1 pound cream cheese, room temp
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pie Crumble Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons flour
Pinch of kosher salt
Apple Compote Ingredients:
2 Fuji apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of Kosher salt
Salted Caramel Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Whipped Cream Ingredients:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Add cream cheese, sour cream and sugar to a large electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle.
2. Mix on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Make Pie Crumble: Combine butter, brown sugar, flour and salt until crumble is formed. Spread evenly on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350 F for 8 minutes until golden. Set aside.
4. Make Apple Compote: Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
5. Cook until apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
6. Make Salted Caramel: Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in saucepan, stirring often, until bubbling and straw colored, about 3-4 minutes
7. Off heat, whisk in heavy cream, corn syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Add sautéed apples to caramel and cool.
8. Load cheesecake batter in piping bag.
* 1 hour before serving: Whip heavy cream and sugar together until you start to see fluffy peaks
9. Serving Directions: Layer 1 heaping teaspoon of crust topping into bottom of short glass
10. Pipe cheesecake batter into shot glass until glass is almost full. Top with 1-2 tablespoons compote.
11. Pipe whipped cream on top of compote and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.
WEB BONUS: Looking to spice up dinner with a fancier side than green beans and mashed potatoes? Check out these bonus recipes from Chef Teresa's for delicious dinner rolls and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Bundles!
Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
3/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup 2% milk
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1. Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved. Add mashed sweet potatoes, milk, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt.
2. Stir until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add flour, stirring until a sticky dough is formed.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment until doubled in bulk, at least 2 hours. The dough can be used immediately, but it's easier to work with if you can refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can also be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
4. When ready to shape the rolls, sprinkle surface with a little flour and turn the dough out on top. Sprinkle a little more flour on top and press the dough into a thick disk.
5. Use a bench scraper of knife to divide the dough into 24 pieces. Shape into balls and place about 5 inches apart on a parchment-lned baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise until the rolls are roughly doubled in size, about 45 minutes in a warm kitchen.
6. About 20 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, preheat the oven to 400 F.
7. Remove the cover and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they rise and are lightly golden. Serve warm.
8. To make the mashed sweet potatoes, roast a medium sized (roughly 9-ounce) sweet potato in a 400 F oven until completely soft. Remove skin and mash.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Bundles
2 pounds medium-size asparagus, stems removed
6 slices of Italian prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
2. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. Immerse the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and put them immediately into a large bowl of ice water to set the bright green color. Allow to chill for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and pat asparagus dry
3. Place 6 to 8 asparagus spears into a bundle with the tips together, wrap a slice of prosciutto down the middle. Repeat to make 6 bundles.
4. Place the bundles seam side down in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Do you like to cook dinner for your family and friends or do you like to let someone else do the work? Tell us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.
Special thanks to Chef Teresa for her recipes - you can find more of her tasty meals at her website, www.chefhansen.com