Holiday 2009: Know Thy Limit

| December 28, 2009

Now that I’m 10 pounds heavier, I hope all of you celebrated with good food wherever you were and with whomever.

I had a quiet, lovely holiday with Cake Mountain Man and our dear friend, L. Our Christmas dinner was capped by L’s Cornish Game Hens with homemade gravy and butternut squash stuffing…

…and his HOMEMADE pumpkin bread pudding…


…but let’s step back for a minute. You didn’t think this was it, did you? Join me on my holiday feast overload where I discovered two things about limits: 1) I have none when it comes to cooking for the holidays, and 2) I’m not a good baker. This entry is LONG and it tests YOUR limits and patience, but this pretty much parallels my few days of feasting so I hope you join me in reliving the limitless pleasures of eating. Enjoy!

A week before Christmas, I started out with some easy-to-make peppermint bark, using candy canes made from cane sugar. These Pure Fun Candy Canes make them delightfully sweet but not too sweet (recipe below).

I also made little ice cream sandwiches using Cake Mountain Man’s famous chocolate walnut cookies with what I discovered as one of the best vanilla ice creams out there: Green & Black’s Organic Vanilla Ice Cream. So creamy.

Christmas Eve morning, I followed ZomppaPatty’s recipe for Thyme and Parmesan Popovers. Oh my, my, my.

These were sinfully good – Cake Mountain Man and I certainly showed limitless delight for these.

Lunch was a simple pork and beef franks from Whole Foods with caramelized onions. Generally, I avoid hot dogs, but these are grass-fed AND local.

Before I started dinner, however, I received a LOVELY package from one of my idols, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen, who chose this adorable, charming apron from the Hip Hostess that I won from my dear foodie friend, Stephanie from Lick My Spoon. (my excuse for looking so dumpy is that I was wearing two sweaters!)

With my new apron in place, I prepared for Christmas Eve with Purple Sweet Potato Fries (with the potatoes I wrote about previously). (see recipe below)

I also took a twist on the traditional Standing Rib Roast…

…and did a Chinese Black Mushroom-Rubbed one (see recipe below). Cake Mountain Man and I finished it off what we couldn’t the next day in 0 time.

WAIT! Are you tired of reading yet?? I haven’t even GOTTEN to Christmas morning yet! I tried ZomppaPatty’s recipe for Cinnamon Buns, and though mine are not as pretty, that Patty sure knows how to put a recipe together. I made the dough before and did not use cake flour. Still worked!

Then for Christmas dinner, I did a Pork Wellington as one of the appetizers (recipe below)…

I also did a Southern-Eastern Firecracker Shrimp  with Foster’s Seven Pepper Jelly and wonton wrappers… (recipe below)

And of course, Christmas Kale.

I know, this list is ridiculous. I told you from the beginning, I have no limits when it comes to eating. But, as I mentioned, I realized a very important lesson. I am no baker. ZomppaPatty, as you know, is a genius baker. Me. Am. Not. I don’t think I have the right temperament. I’m not horrible – I even crushed my own almonds – but I did manage to turn what should have been an easy Clementine Cake inspired by Nigella Lawson to something that was almost good to a complete disaster.

Disaster or not, we topped off with the best sparkling apple from Kristian Regale. This was my holiday! Learning my limits and learning not to limit myself in the pleasure of friends and food. Time to detox…oh, wait, too many leftovers. There’s always next year.


Organic Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark
8 oz. semi-sweet organic chocolate
6 crushed organic candy canes
1/2 bag (4 oz.) organic white chocolate chips

1. Melt semi-sweet chocolate over double boiler
2. Spread thin on wax paper over a cookie sheet or Silpat
3. Chop candy canes in food processor and spread over warm chocolate
4. Let set in refrigerator
5. Melt white chocolate
6. Spread over hardened chocolate
7. Set in refrigerator
8. Break and enjoy!

Purple Sweet Potato Fries

Purple (or Regular!) Sweet Potato Fries
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 TB cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Peel and cut potatoes into thin strips
3. Sprinkle cinnamon, salt
4. Bake for about 30 minutes until crispy

Chinese Black Mushroom-Rubbed Standing Rib Roast

Chinese Black Mushroom-Rubbed Standing Rib Roast
3 lb. standing rib roast
10 dried Chinese Black Mushrooms

1. Rehydrate Mushrooms
2. In food processor, chop mushrooms, salt, and pepper
3. Rub over standing rib and let stand for at least 1 hour
4. Preheat oven to 450F
5. Bake for 20 minutes
6. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for about 2 hours (temperature should be about 110F)

Pork Wellington

Pork Wellington
(adapted from Recipezaar)
1 lb. pork tenderloin
6 oz. prosciutto
4 oz. boursin cheese
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg white mixed with water
Olive oil

1. Butterfly pork tenderloin the long way and stuff with cheese
2. Wrap prosciutto around it so it’s completely wrapped
3. Brown in skillet on all sides until prosciutto is crispy
4. Chill in refrigerator
5. Wrap entire tenderloin in puff pastry (decorate if so desired)
6. Brush with egg white
7. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for up to 24 hours
8. Preheat oven to 400F
9. Unwrap from plastic and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown
10. Rest, slice, and serve

Southern-Eastern Firecracker Shrimp

Southern-Eastern Firecracker Shrimp
(inspired by Steamy Kitchen)
24 medium shrimp
12 wonton wrapper
5 TB Foster’s (or other) Seven Pepper Jelly
Canola oil

1. De-shell (but leave tail) off shrimp
2. Marinate in jelly for at least 30 minutes
3. Cut wrappers in two and wrap each shrimp
4. Heat oil (I ran out and used olive oil – needs more heating time but do not let it smoke)
5. Fry

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Category: Appetizers, Dessert, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Land and Sea, Recipe Vault, Sides, Sauces, and Breads, Travel & Culture, US & Canada

About the Author (Author Profile)

With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: or more about her portfolio

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  1. Twitted by PupaKat | December 29, 2009
  1. Patty says:

    WOW! Belinda! Your holiday meals are out of this world! I am thoroughly impressed! This piece clearly demonstrates your ability to cook like a professional with a huge heart full of love. Gorgeous photos and delicious food. And DAMN! But your popovers look amazing! They are beautiful! And when is L going to invite me over for some of his home cooking? He is good too!

  2. Christine says:

    So much food! I can’t believe how skinny you are! I don’t even know where to start, I’m dying to try the firecracker shrimp, but everything looks great!

    I hope you had a fab holiday – love the apron!

  3. Jaden says:

    Hey! Glad you like the apron! Happy Holidays!

  4. Belinda says:

    Thanks, all! I’m glad you enjoyed it…happy new year!!

  5. Kat says:

    Good grief Belinda, could you have packed away anymore food? 😉 I recognize the mustard Mango sweater there from a shopping outing in West Broadway 😉

  6. yay!! the apron is too cute 🙂
    wow, what a holiday feast! that pumpkin bread pudding looks sinful.

  7. Imptomptu Diva says:

    Hi Belinda!

    Yhank you for stopping by…
    whar glorious food you have here… love your photos too!
    Here’s to a sweet life… cheers!

  8. Imptomptu Diva says:

    oppsies…sorry for the typo… I meant to say Thank you!