So, I talked about eating healthy for a few weeks and what do I do? I forgot to clean out the last container or potatoes and ham. I can’t let that go to waste. I warmed it up and savored that last morsel of the holidays. Thankfully, I had a whole wheat English muffin with marmalade and no added fat for breakfast. Phew!
Well, since I didn’t make a turkey for Thanksgiving but I had bought one at the store (with my Pick ‘n Save Turkey Perks reward no less!), I wanted to make the bird before I needed the space in the freezer for Christmas. Four days ago, I embarked on a path to making the bird today by putting it in the fridge to thaw. No salmonella in this house! It’s been in the oven for about two and a half hours now. The smells in the house are wonderful. To accompany the turkey, we’re having cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and dressing. I’m whipping up a turkey gravy right now using the neck and other exciting parts of the turkey. However, as Julia warned me, I will not be putting the liver inside the gravy…as it might cloud it! Sadly, every gravy I’ve ever had at family dinners definitely was cloudy. I’m not sure I’ll think it’s gravy.
To further my holiday spirits, I decided to plan my cookie baking season out today. Most of my grocery purchases were related to baking. I’m still on the hunt for crystallized ginger, orange marmalade, cardamom, hard fruit candies, and real vanilla extract. (All things I buy at places other than my main grocery store!) Can you guess what I’m baking? I’ll give you a hint: The ingredients listed aren’t all in one recipe! Christmas Cookie List 2012 is soon to follow.
I forgot to tell you about one of my favorite holiday foods…Have you ever tried Merkt's cheese? This processed cheese spread out of Bristol, Wisconsin has been a family staple for years. I tend to stay clear of things like processed cheese spreads…but you have to keep your comfort foods around at Christmas. My favorite flavor is the port wine cheese spread. It's good on just about everything. I've even had it at the Chancery, a local pub & grill chain in the Milwaukee area. What's better than a patty melt smothered in Merkt's cheese! I can say that I've only had two in my life. Each time I have it…I think I might be encouraging a spontaneous heart attack! Oh so good…
Mmmmm. I make Challah for Christmas every year. This year, I made four loaves. One for Christmas Eve and two plus for Christmas day. Thankfully, there was enough left over after Christmas day that I could make my favorite: Challah french toast. What better way to make french toast than with a semi-sweet, egg bread! I cut six 1-inch thick pieces and soaked them in a couple of eggs, 2% milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. I don't add any salt as the crust of the bread has a salt dusting on it already. The result is a wonderful breakfast with a sweet, salty, and warming spice flavor. You only need a whisper of butter and a drop of your favorite topping. Mine is plain ol' maple syrup.
Well, another set of Christmas gatherings complete. I'd say that I was glad to see them over, but I always hate to see it end. Christmas Eve was a small group this year…only 8 of us. I have to admit, had a bit of a challenge for dinner. With a small group, I figured that I could go a bit beyond the norm and have something more special. Standing rib roast it was. Rubbed with a mixture of fresh rosemary, thyme, and garlic, this crusty roast was sure to please. I made one huge mistake. The afternoon got away from me and at 1:30, I realized that I hadn't taken the roast out of the fridge. It needed to go into the oven at 2:00, so I was cutting it short. The failure came in the fact that I didn't give the roast enough time to warm up before cooking. I cooked the roast to medium well (where I stuck the probe). There was a section of roast that didn't get a chance to warm up and wound up being a bit less than rare. Oh well, mistakes happen. Fortunately, the crew with me on Christmas Eve didn't hang me for slicing and finishing off the roast on top of the stove!!! I think we'll practice a few more times before I make for a crowd again.
Christmas Day was a bit different. We had 27 people for a noon dinner!! Though I would love to do something a bit more extravagant, with that many people, you run into varying food tastes and food quirks. We wound up serving a turkey breast sliced, beef tips that I made in Bourguignon style, and a ham with an orange-clove glaze. Thankfully, we satisfied everyone's taste.
Now that Christmas has passed, I have a few leftovers to deal with…and these I love as each bite reminds me of the great time we had. Once the tasty reminders of our 2009 Christmas are gone, it will be time for me to start thinking of meal plans for future weeks….including a bit of a healthier spin to get the new year off to the right foot.
Well, we're nearing the end of the line for Christmas. I might get all but one of the cookies on my list done. I don't think that I'll have the time or patience for the linzer cookies. I'm so sad because I've always wanted to make them. Oh well, that's why I pick so many….some get placed on the side of the road. As for what I've got left, I'm going to try to make some pistachio torrone tonight. The Sicilian fig cookies will be made after dinner tonight.
I hope that you all are nearing the end of your plans for Christmas. If you're cooking, may the cooking god/goddess be behind you to avoid any disasters…If you're not cooking for anyone, bring them a nice bottle of wine. I'm sure they'll need it!! Merry Christmas!
If I haven't said it in a previous post, Christmas is my favorite time of year. At 34, I'm still a kid when it comes to the Christmas tree, Christmas treats, and family gatherings. Yesterday, I was busy working out the final details of what we're making for Thursday and Friday. (8 coming on Christmas Eve, 28 on Christmas Day ) We did a little last minute shopping and I decided to make a quick tofu stir fry for dinner. Well…I got home, turned on the oven to bake off the tofu a bit, and no go!!!!! AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!! Yes, the day before my major cooking begins, I luck out and lose my oven. The burners work, the broiler sort of works, no oven. I have 4 kinds of cookies to complete, a standing rib roast, 4-6 loaves of Challah, baked potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, and so on…
I'm not a huge fan of Lowe's based on price. However, they were the one retailer in the Milwaukee area that we could find willing to deliver a new range overnight. My old range was a GE and about 20 years old. I would love to have a Viking or Wolf or similar…but was happy with the old clunker. We had been talking about replacing the stove. This wasn't exactly my idea. Wound up convincing the store to sell me close to what I wanted off of the floor. Wish me luck…it's coming in an hour or so!!!