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Easy Meals For Holiday Guests

'Tis the season when overnight guests are common, and it pays to be prepared with delicious meals you can make in advance, in no time, so you can relax and enjoy your company.

On The Early Show Friday, cooking teacher and cookbook author Tori Ritchie shared recipes for quick meals sure to delight your visitors.

She prepared them at the flagship store in Manhattan of specialty home furnishings retailer and Early Show partner Williams-Sonoma.

RECIPES

  • Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches and Tricolore Salad
  • Strata with Chard, Sausage and Caramelized Onions
  • 20-Minute Beef Stew
  • Rosemary Popovers

    SAUSAGE & PEPPER SANDWICHES

    A stovetop pepper roaster makes it easy to roast the bell peppers for these hearty sausage sandwiches. Our Tricolore Salad is the perfect accompaniment.

    1 coil (2 lb. 2 oz.) Fra Mani spicy Italiann sausage
    2 red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
    3 large red, yellow and/or green bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick
    6 hoagie rolls, split

    Preheat a Breville gourmet grill to high heat.

    Place the sausage on the griddle part of the grill and close the lid. Cook until the sausage is nicely grill-marked, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the sausage is firm and cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the sausage to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

    Place the onion slices on the griddle and close the lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and slightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, add the bell peppers and stir to combine.

    Remove the string and bay leaves from the sausage. Cut the sausage crosswise into 6 pieces and slice each in half lengthwise.

    Place 1 sausage piece, along with any accumulated juices, on the bottom half of each roll. Top with the onion-pepper mixture, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

    Serves 6.

    Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    TRICOLORE SALAD

    So-named because its colors reflect those of the Italian flag, this red, white and green salad is delicious paired with our Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches.

    1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 head Treviso radicchio, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
    1 head Belgian endive, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
    1 cup arugula
    1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into thin strips with a vegetable peeler

    In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until blended.

    In a large bowl, toss together the radicchio, endive and arugula. Add the vinaigrette and toss again. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Gently toss in the cheese.

    Serves 6.

    Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    STRATA WITH CHARD, SAUSAGE & CARAMELIZED ONIONS

    4 oz. French bread, cut into 1" cubes
    2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    12 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    6 cups roughly chopped Swiss chard
    8 eggs 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
    2/3 cup caramelized onions
    1 1/4 cups shredded fontina cheese
    1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

    Butter 10" nonstick braiser or a 3-quart baking dish. Place bread cubes in large bowl. In large sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add sausage; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with bread. Return pan to medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chard; cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread mixture.

    In another large bowl, whisk together eggs and half-and-half. Pour into bowl with bread mixture. Add onions, cheese, salt and pepper; stir until well blended. Transfer to prepared pan or dish. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 4-24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake strata until golden brown and cooked through, about 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    Serves 6.

    Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

    For more recipes, go to Page 2.

  • 20-MINUTE BEEF STEW

    Beef chuck is a good choice for stew meat. From the muscular shoulder section, this tough cut becomes tender and succulent when stewed. Here, we speed the process by using a pressure cooker.

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    3 lb. boneless stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    3 Tbs. olive oil
    1 1/2 cups red wine
    1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/2 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1 Tbs. tomato paste
    1 1/2 cups beef stock
    3 fresh thyme sprigs

    In a large bowl, toss the beef with the flour, salt and pepper to coat evenly. Set an electric pressure cooker to "brown" according to the manufacturer's instructions and warm the olive oil. Add half the beef and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining beef and transfer to the bowl.

    Add the wine to the pressure cooker and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the beef, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, tomato paste, stock and thyme and stir to combine. Cover and cook on "high" for 20 minutes according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    Release the pressure according to the manufacturer's instructions. If the liquid is too thin, transfer the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl, set the pressure cooker to "brown" and cook until the liquid is reduced to the desired consistency. Pour the liquid over the beef and vegetables and serve immediately.

    Serves 6.

    Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    ROSEMARY POPOVERS

    When making popovers, it's important to use a pan that absorbs heat well. The batter needs a burst of heat to convert the moisture to steam, which causes the batter to expand and "pop over" the sides. When perfectly cooked, popovers emerge with crispy brown exteriors and moist, almost hollow centers.

    2 eggs
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 cup milk
    2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 Tbs. very finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1/2 Tbs. very finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    Butter a popover pan or the wells of a 12-well muffin pan.

    In a bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and salt. Stir in the milk and butter. In another bowl, stir together the flour, rosemary and parsley. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, whisking until just blended. Do not overbeat.

    Fill each cup about half full and place the pan in a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 425ºF and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375ºF and bake until the popovers are golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. They should be crisp on the outside. Quickly pierce each popover with the tip of a small knife to release the steam. Return to the oven for 2 minutes for further crisping, then remove and serve immediately.

    Makes 12 popovers.

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