Friday, November 27, 2015

Santa Landed ... Holiday Menus and Recipe Links

... as he always does, right in front of Macy's in New York City. I always get excited, like a little kid, and there is something wrong with that picture because 1. I'm not a little kid and 2. I don't celebrate Christmas. Well, maybe I do, a little. I love the happy mood of the holiday. I love that billions of Christians are celebrating the birth of a little Jewish baby.  I love Christmas carols and the Christmas windows in the big New York department stores and the tree in Rockefeller Center. I love baking cookies for Christmas. The only things I don't like about Christmas are the crass commercialism and the fact that my birthday, which is the very next day, has always gotten lost in the rest of the Christmas holiday. I think I've gotten over it ... I'll be 63 next month ... but when I was a kid, it really hurt.  My parents could be really clueless at times.

Black-and-white cat on black-and-white cow on Black Friday
Anakin says, "Black-and-white lives matter"

Today is Black Friday, and I am as far away from the Florida Mall and the Mall of Millenia as I can possibly get.  I dislike malls at the best of times, and this ain't the best of times. I've often said that the internet was invented with me in mind - yes, I can be awfully egocentric - because any shopping I wish to do can be done from the same iPad I use to create this blog.  I am in bed wearing a comfortable robe, no shoes, no bra, no dentures to pinch me, and if I wanted to shop - which I don't - I'll head over to Amazon and wave my credit card around. Let all the shopping sadists and masochists have their fun. I have declared Walmart a no-fly zone until after New Years.

Our Thanksgiving was quiet and lovely and I am truly thankful that we spent it with my in-laws.  It reminds me that Rob and I were married on October 20, 1974, and just a month later, I invited both our families over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Pretty cheeky, since I didn't know how to cook.  Back then I was fearless (read: stupid) and ploughed ahead, relying on memories of my mother's kitchen, telephone consultations with both mothers, and the only cookbook I owned at the time, The Joy of Cooking. I had a great time and I've been cooking like a madwoman ever since.

With Christmas coming up in less than a month, I wanted to share most of my Thanksgiving recipes with you because, let's face it, the menus are practically interchangeable.  I seriously recommend Ina Garten's Virginia Ham (yes, I'm Jewish. Yes, I eat ham. And bacon, pork, sausage, shrimp, lobster, clams, oysters, mussels, cheeseburgers and beef stroganoff. People who keep kosher are not better Jews than I am, especially when they think they are. Oops. Let me tuck my soapbox back into its little old corner.)

Deviled Scotch Eggs  Here are the changes: For the sausage, I used premade sausage meatballs, two meatballs to cover each extra large egg.  For breading, I switched to panko crumbs and single breaded. And instead of frying, I baked them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning them once halfway through. I am here to tell you that the baked version is better than the fried. Maybe it was the silpat. NOW - if you like, after you cut the eggs in half, remove the yolks and mash them together with your favorite deviled egg ingredients. Fill the egg halves, and finish with a stripe of Louisiana remoulade

Roast Turkey This time it was unstuffed, except for some oranges and lemon and fresh rosemary and sage. I rubbed the skin with mayonnaise (yes, mayonnaise. Hellmann's) and sprinkled with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and paprika. This 12-pound bird, unstuffed, took 3 hours and came out perfect. Surprised myself.

Stuffing  Of course I made some changes using 1 pound of Jimmy Dean's Italian sausage and a can of well-drained fruit cocktail.

Paula Deen's Sweet Potato Yams I could not find the recipe I prepared online, but if you have Paula's first cookbook you will find it there.  The link will lead you to another Paula Deen sweet potato recipe that includes bourbon. Bourbon rocks (for cooking, I don't drink the stuff).

Hot German Potato Salad I used baking potatoes this time, baking them off, letting them cool and then peeling them. Either potato works well; the petite reds make a "neat" potato salad, while the baking potatoes are a "messy" version.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans and Cranberries What can I say, except "delicious?"

Guy Fieri's Grilled Cauliflower with Bacon and Brie  I oven-roasted the cauliflower. Also, I came up a trifle short on the brie, and made up the difference with some shredded mozzarella.

Roasted Garlic Creamed Spinach

Cranberry Raspberry Orange Mini Muffins I made half the recipe, using one box of the Jiffy cake mix and one box of their raspberry muffins. I substituted chopped cranberries (mine were frozen) for the blueberries, and orange rind for the lemon. As to the liquid, I squeezed the orange, which yielded about 1/4 cup, and also 3/4 cup sour cream. I baked them in mini muffin tins, but I was so tired I seriously  overfilled the little cups.  Major muffin tops!

If I may, let me remind you that this blog contains around 500 recipes and a pretty adequate search engine. I am reasonably sure you will be able to find any number of vegetable and side dishes, breads and desserts, and even main dishes for your holiday tables. Let's all resolve to continue in the holiday spirit as we move towards Hanukkah and Christmas; to be grateful for family and friends and food on our tables; and to pray for peace.

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