JENNIFER MUELLERSometimes the Nutcracker really is a Prince in disguise! Tara Barbour hasn’t had the easiest time since her husband died, but all that’s about to change when a secret admirer starts signing, the Nutcracker. The only real question is will she wake up come morning and find it all a dream, just like Clara did?


Tara gets a surprise Christmas dinner from her nutcracker Prince you can make it too.


Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese

1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter

6 (5 to 6-ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese


Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.


Green Beans with Fresh Herbs and Walnuts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds green beans

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large onions, sliced thin

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped


Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a big pinch of salt and the green beans. Cook for about 5 minutes, the beans should still be crisp, they will be cooked more in the oven. Drain them and set aside.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onions caramelize, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add the thyme, rosemary and chives, and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the green beans and walnuts, and stir well. Season, to taste.



Crunchy Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

6 to 8 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large chunks

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

6 strips bacon, fried and crumbled

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


Put the potatoes onto a baking sheet. Roughly tear the rosemary and scatter it over the potatoes; season them with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the potatoes well to mix all the flavors and put them in the oven. Remove them after 30 minutes and toss them again. Continue to roast them until they are browned and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes more. While hot, top with crumbed bacon, Parmesan and pine nuts. Serve immediately.


TequilaLime Tart

For the crust:

10 ounces vanilla wafers

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup butter, melted

For the filling:

2 egg whites

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

4 egg yolks

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Add wafers and pine nuts to food processor, pulse until well ground up. Pour into bowl and add melted butter. Mix by hand, with a wooden spoon, and press into 10-inch tart pan. (reserve 4 tablespoons of crumbs to sprinkle on top when done baking.) Place tart pan in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.


For the filling:

In a mixing bowl add egg whites and sugar, beat until there are soft peaks.

In another mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into tart shell and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Let cool before cutting and serve with fresh whipped cream.


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