Category Archives: Thanksgiving & Christmas

Christmas Music: Avalon, Good News

Christmas Music: Silent Night, Jennifer Hudson

 

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Christmas Eve Recipes: Smashed Potatoes

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JeffreyW luckily made some Smashed Potatoes and took a great photo. 

Everything is ready to go, all I have to do is pop the Cornish Game Hens into the oven. Once they are done, I’ll up the temperature to 450 degrees and finish up the potatoes while the chickens rest.

I boiled the potatoes this morning and let drain completely and then refrigerated them until it’s time to crisp them up.

Smashed Potatoes

  • 2 lbs of small red or gold potatoes, no more than 2″ in diameter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

saucepan, baking sheet

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain completely.

Drizzle olive oil on baking sheet – use plenty so the potatoes don’t stick – and arrange potatoes on the pan, leaving room between each so they can crisp up. Using a a potato masher or heavy glass, smash each potato flat. With a basting brush, generously brush oil over each potato. Salt and pepper to taste and garish with fresh rosemary or pieces of minced garlic.

Bake in a 450 degree oven until potatoes are crisped. 15-20 minutes.

See the full Christmas Eve menu here.

festive-holiday-wreaths

 

Christmas Music: The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping (Bonus Light Show)

It’s really not Christmas until I hear a couple of songs, this is one of them:

 

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Eartha Kitt: Nuttin for Christmas

Love this as only Eartha can sing it.

Christmas Music: 12 Pains of Christmas, Bob Rivers

It’s just not Christmas until I hear this song. I’m in the kitchen putting together what I can for dinner tomorrow night. House is clean (-ish) and I’ll have to get some actual office work done tonight, but it’s all falling together.

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Christmas Eve Recipes: Roasted Cornish Game Hens

I’ve roasted my share of Cornish Game Hens, but I went looking for something a little different and found it here.

You MUST click the link to see the fun video.

From Patrick and Gina Neeley:

Photo from FoodNetwork.com

Photo from FoodNetwork.com

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon-pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each, rinsed and dried thoroughly
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 stalks celery, large dice
1 onion, large dice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the full recipe and great video, follow the link.

See the full Christmas Eve menu here.

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Christmas Eve Dinner: The Menu

Reindeer Games

I got to meet some of Santa’s reindeer last year

I finished all my shopping today and unless I missed something, I shouldn’t have to cross the threshold of a grocery store between now and Christmas. I’ll put up photos and recipes as I go. My kitchen is painfully small and I like to spend time with my guests, so the menu is pretty simple and I can do a lot ahead of time. This makes sure we have a great meal, I can spend time with my guests and keeps my stress level lower.

On the board:

  1. Roasted Cornish Game Hens UPDATED with recipe here
  2. Smashed PotatoesUPDATED with recipe here.
  3. Cranberry Chutney UPDATED with recipe here.
  4. Spinach Salad
  5. Sundae Bar
  6. Christmas Cookies

The spinach salad works well to provide a nice, fresh vegetable without having to worry about cooking something at the last minute (so it’s fresh and not overcooked). And everyone likes spinach, so it was an easy choice.

I’ll make the Cranberry Chutney tomorrow, since it’s the type of dish that tastes better the next day. It’s a new, untried recipe and this will give me time to make regular cranberry relish if it turns out badly.

I’ll prep the hens the night before and refrigerate, then toss in the oven late afternoon on Wednesday.

The smashed potatoes have to be boiled first, so I think I will do that in the morning, refrigerate them and then do the final stage in the oven while the chickens are resting. And that’s it, dinner is served.

Look what Bixby has to look forward to, these are my three loves (3 of my 4 rescued Danes):

Christmas Dogs 2004 Shelby Einstein Duncan

I tried to get Bixby in a Santa Hat or Reindeer Antlers, but he is still too much of a puppy. I can barely get a photo of him on a normal day, he’ll have none of this “dress me up” nonsense. 90 lbs of WILL right now.

Updates as I do the prep and can get some photos. – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Holiday Sweet Treats

 

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Lots of cooking going on. And look what Santa dropped off early:

Mystery Machine

Just in time to hold the assortment of cookies I made this week. Most of them are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner.

Let’s get right to it. Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Not pictured because I still have to make them, Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies, recipe here. I love these because you’d never know they were flourless and they taste like brownie bites.

Looking for side dishes for your holiday dinner? You can click here for a lot of different types. And for the pet lovers, Bixby posted an update here and here is photo evidence of how the cats torment him, try not to laugh, it hurts his feelings.

How about you, what’s on your menu for the holidays? Share your holiday traditions, both edible and otherwise.

Mexican Russian Pecan Cookies

Tonight’s featured recipe had a bit of a serendipitous beginning. I was having lunch with friend LFern and told her I was still working on what type of cookies I was going to make for my gift boxes. LFern mentioned she really liked Russian Tea Cakes. I’d never heard of them, so I googled, figuring I’d surprise her with them in her gift box. Turns out they are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies. Next day I was visiting friends Larilyn and Alton (not that one) and what do they bring out to go with the coffee? Mexican Wedding Cookies. Turns out Al calls them Mom’s Pecan Cookies and he shared his mom’s recipe with me. So no matter what you call them, they are tasty.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts pecans
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

Preaheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. At this point, I mixed by hand until the dough stuck together and was smooth.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough, roll into shape and place on baking sheet

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in the sugar until coated. Place on a rack covered with wax paper (keeps the sugar mess to a minimum) to cool.

You have to roll them in powdered sugar while they are still hot, which hurts like hell for the first two, but after that, your fingers are coated in powdered sugar and it acts like a heat shield and you’ll be fine. Look, holiday gift baking isn’t for wussies. It’s an extreme sport.

After they cooled, I coated them with more powdered sugar for a festive look.

That’s it for…this year. We won’t have another recipe exchange until January. But I will be posting the recipes for Christmas Eve dinner between now and Christmas. The menu is: Roasted Cornish Game Hens, Smashed Potatoes, Cranberry Chutney, Spinach Salad, and an Ice Cream Sundae Bar.

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Thanks for coming along for the ride – TaMara

Christmas balls

 

Holiday Gifts Ideas: Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

I love spritz butter cookies. They’re tiny little, melt-in-your-mouth bites that go great with a cup of coffee. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make. It helped that a friend of a friend loaned me her all metal, ratchet handled press. These are not easy to come by any more, at least not when I went looking. Most of the new ones are partially plastic and received tepid reviews, especially for durability and ease of use.

Speaking of reviews, I was reading the reviews when JLB posted her favorite recipe along with her review at Amazon. That ended up being the recipe I decided to use and it worked beautifully.

Although my Christmas trees kind of look like trilobites, they taste great.

If I make these again, I might divide the dough into thirds and make one plain and then make one with lime zest and another with lemon zest and dust with citrus powdered sugar.

Spritz Raw

Here is JLB’s perfect recipe (with my thanks!):

Spritz Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened/room temp – set on counter for about 15 minutes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla mixing well. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk.

Add dry ingredients slowly to the butter and sugar and mix until the dough is in small to medium sized clumps. Now mix with your hands to form dough into a ball. (Should have a consistency similar to Play Dough, but not dry.) If your dough is sticky, add flour; a tablespoon at a time. If it seems dry, add softened butter; a tablespoon at a time. (TaMara’s Note: I gently kneaded the dough for about a minute to get the right consistency)

Load dough into press. Top with colored sugars or other sprinkles. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8 – 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets before removing and placing on cooling racks.
Makes about 5 – 6 dozen.

Me again. A few tips on using the cookie press. Put your baking sheets in the freezer, this makes the cookie dough stick when you press them on the sheets. Like putting your tongue on a frozen light pole. :-) I put them out on the patio to cool in between batches before pressing more cookies.

Fill the cookie press 3/4 full, that seems to be the easiest to handle.

I pulled mine from the oven while they were still light colored. One batch got a little golden. It definitely changes the flavor and I preferred the light colored ones, but experiment, you might the golden ones better.

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