This week, I was invited to celebrate the holiday’s at chef Lauren Lane’s Tuscan dream of a home. I spent my Tuesday evening surrounded by foodies, chefs, bakers, bloggers, farmers, writers — all people who just appreciate a good meal and great company. Lauren served a feast of delicious dairy-centered meals, complete with a charcuterie board appetizer and delicious Chianti to wash it all down.
One of the things I love most about this time of year is gathering with friends – new and old – and getting to spend time chatting, laughing, and sharing stories. Moments shared around the table are never moments wasted. I feel truly fulfilled!
At the dinner I met dairy farmer, Adriane Heins. Adriane lives about an hour east of Kansas City and runs a dairy farm with her husband. I learned that they produce 10% of all of Kansas City’s milk and have 650 cows on their farm – that’s a lot of milk! It was fun to learn that the milk we drink comes from a small family-farm that wasn’t so far from my own neighborhood. Most milk is produced fewer than two hours away from where you live and 95 percent of dairy farms are family owned and operated. Which makes dairy a local farm-to-table experience. Adriane chronicles her life on the farm with her husband, kids, her fluffy dogs and “the girls” (as she so lovingly refers to her cows) on her blog, Little House on the Dairy. I’ve invited myself to her farm because I’m a low-key country gal at heart. and I mean, there are COWS. BABY. COWS.
My favorite dish of the evening was a tie between Lauren’s homemade gnocchi in tomato butter sauce and Gorgonzola souffle atop a bed of arugula. DELISH! Dairy is the perfect ingredient to incorporate into dishes because it adds flavor, depth, and a wonderful consistency to our foods.
The rest of this week is filled with more celebratory meals and time spent with friends. Next week Matt and I will be making our annual trek up to Omaha to celebrate Christmas and spend time with family. We will stay at his parents house, attend Christmas parties, see old friends, and enjoy some MUCH needed downtime. Matt and I aren’t doing Christmas gifts this year and I think it’s good to pause and re-calibrate every once in awhile. Honestly the best “gift” I’m looking forward to this year is just spending all day together without our busy schedules getting in the way! *CHEESY* I know. Another one of my favorite “gifts” to give – or one of the ways I show love best – is to cook for friends and family. Cooking and feeding others is my love language.
I thought it would be fun to brainstorm some dairy-centered recipes of my own that will come in handy for our week long trip to Omaha. AND! I’m sharing them all with you! Here’s whats on the menu:
- Breakfast: A cheesy, low carb veggie breakfast bake that I can make for breakfast at Matt’s parents (its a small gesture to say thank you for letting us crash!);
- Appetizer: A lightened up Greek yogurt artichoke dip that I’ll bring to my girls night that is packed with high-protein, low-fat Greek yogurt, fiber-rich artichokes, part-skim mozzarella, Parmesan and served with veggies or any fixin’ of your choice (I have a feeling this will be popular with my fitness-enthusiast friends!); and,
- Dinner: A quick and easy store-bought rotisserie chicken (rejoice!) with a creamy leek and mushroom sauce made with heavy whipping cream for those nights after Christmas where you just don’t know what to eat – or you have guests pop over unexpectedly! (Popular for me because I get to cook AND take a shortcut. Win-win!)
Whether you travel, entertain, or keep it quaint and cozy for the holiday’s these recipes are easy to make and will definitely keep your belly happy and satisfied!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Midwest Dairy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
For the Overnight Guests:
Low-Carb Veggie + Turkey Bacon Breakfast Bake
This breakfast bake has a little something for everyone. Perfect for whether you’re the guest or you’re expecting overnight guests. It’s cheesy, creamy, packed with veggies, and stuffed with savory turkey bacon. Eat alone, or serve with a side of crispy, buttered toast – it’s delicious either way!
1 package of cheddar jack cheese (or cheese of your choice)
1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt
3-4 slices of Turkey Bacon, chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
10 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
Olive oil or cooking spray for the pan
Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder – to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F
1. Spray or oil a 9×13 inch baking dish
2. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk until all yolks are combined. The longer you whisk, the fluffier the eggs will be.
3. Add in 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and ½ the package of cheddar jack cheese into the egg mixture and whisk.
4. Mix in the turkey bacon, broccoli, mushrooms, green onion, red pepper and seasonings. I usually do a couple pinches of kosher salt, a crack of fresh pepper, and about ¼ tsp of garlic and onion powder, each.
5. Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and top with remaining cheddar jack cheese.
6. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the center of the dish is no longer “wobbly” and the edges are crispy.
7. Serve and Enjoy!
Like this recipe? Check out Midwest Dairy’s Cheddar and Mushroom Breakfast Squares here.
For the Christmas Party Appetizer:
Greek Yogurt Artichoke Dip
Artichoke dip is always everyone’s favorite appetizer. Ooey, gooey cheese and lusciously soft Greek Yogurt combine with artichokes to create the perfect party plate. This dip is a remix of the usual recipe by using Greek yogurt, two kinds of cheese (mozzarella and Parmesan), and adding a bit of crushed red pepper for a bit of heat! Serve with veggies of your choice, pretzels, or sliced up pieces of bread.
1 17 oz tub of Greek Yogurt
1 package of shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package mozzarella
1 can of artichokes, drained & chopped
1 green onion, chopped
Garlic salt, to taste (approx. 1 tsp)
Onion powder, to taste (approx. ¼ tsp)
Garlic powder, to taste (approx. ¼ tsp)
Red Pepper Chili Flakes, to taste – optional (approx. ½ tsp)
Fresh or dry parsley for garnish, to preference
Preheat oven to 375 F
- In a mixing bowl, combine: Greek yogurt, mozzarella, ½ container of Parmesan (reserve other half for top), green onion, garlic salt, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper and red pepper chili flakes. Stir until all ingredients are completely mixed.
2. Transfer mixture into dip into a square, 2 quart baking dish – pressing into the pan until smooth.
3. Top the mixture with remaining Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley
4. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
5. Remove and serve with all your favorite fixins. ENJOY!
For more inspiration on dips & spreads check out Midwest Dairy’s list here.
For the Unexpected Dinner Guests:
Rotisserie Chicken with Creamy Leek and Mushroom Sauce
My favorite part about this meal is that it involves a store-bought rotisserie chicken and the leek sauce requires minimal preparation and cook time. It is perfect when you have friends or family stopping over and you’re running short on time – or you’d like to spend more time hanging with family and sipping wine instead of slaving away in the kitchen #priorities. If you’re unsure about leeks, you can just use the roasted sweet yellow onion.
1 leek, chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, quartered and roughly sliced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup of beef broth, warmed (in stove top or microwaved)
Kosher salt, to taste
1 tsp Ground Mustard
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken (or more depending on your guests. This sauce can really be stretched to yield quite a bit if you’re feeding a crowd)
Preheat oven to 400 F
1.Create a foil pouch using aluminum paper. I lay equal lengths of foil wrap across each other like a “plus” sign to create a steady pouch.
2.Place the leeks, mushrooms, onion and peeled garlic in the center of the aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and season with kosher salt. Wrap foil around veggies and place in oven to bake for approximately 20 mins.
3.Once vegetables have cooked, transfer to a food processor or blender. Add in 1 cup of beef broth, ½ cup of heavy whipping cream, ground mustard, and a dash more of salt if it needs it. Blend until smooth.
4.Transfer the sauce into a serving dish and spoon over chicken and roasted veggies of your choice.
Dinner is served!
For more dinner inspiration check out Midwest Dairy’s dinner recipes here.
I hope these recipes give you some fun ideas for the holiday season. Spending time with friends and family is always such a special treat and it is even more special when we can gather around the table together and share a meal.
If you don’t hear from me, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Food Gal Al