Category Archives: Thanksgiving & Christmas

Merry Christmas

Cute Kitteh even Cuter1sMerry Christmas from our house to yours

 

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Dear Santa…One Last Thing

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Bixby Update: Merry Christmas Eve

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I’m a horrible pet person. I don’t remember my pets birthdays or when they arrived. I don’t buy them Christmas presents or dress them in cute outfits. Occasionally I throw embarrassing reindeer antlers on the dogs. As you can see Bixby is not amused.

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This is where he spends his days – right next to my desk, snoozing. It’s hard to believe this is his second Christmas (even harder to believe it’s Zander’s third). I was looking at photos from last year and he was pretty big then, even though he was only  6 months old. But nothing like now. He’s almost 160 lbs, and 35″ at his shoulders. His head is pretty much as big as he was at 8 weeks when I picked him up.

He was standing next to me the other day and I reached my hand down to pet him and wondered why anyone would have a “regular” sized dog. I guess I’m just a Giant Breed kinda person.

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Between snow storms we had a nice play date at our friends’ property. It was bittersweet because they just lost their dog and Bixby would periodically go to the backdoor and look for him.

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Bixby is an awesome dog, but not an easy dog. He never eats cat food (even though it is easily accessible), never takes food off the counters, he’s been good about the chewing – other than a few pairs of flip-flops – and is pretty good  with boundaries. He LOVES people, he adores his cats and still cannot understand why they are indifferent to him (after all he is an AWESOME dog) and is pretty good with other dogs.

But Bixby is also a very alpha dog. Every day begins anew, I remind him he is the low rung on the ladder in the household and he gives me the “maybe” look. And many times during the day I must remind him that he is not in charge. I should have known within thirty minutes after I picked him up that he was going to be a challenge. He made it clear he was not one to be bossed, even then.

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It’s constant and sometimes exhausting, but I swear to you I would not have it any other way. He has such a big spirit, such joy. He makes me laugh, even when he’s turned his big body into granite so I can’t move him and he won’t listen to anything. He does test my patience when he decides to drag me down the street to see some new friend. But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey finishSometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

I tryout various new methods a few days before the big day, just to spice things up and make sure there are leftovers in my frig. This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free. My brother is going to prep one of his two turkeys similarly, but smoke it instead.

I put it together today so I could get the recipe up in time for your holiday.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara

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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.

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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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