Category Archives: Thanksgiving & Christmas
I decided this year that, because Bixby and Bailey loved to rough-house, I needed a tree I could tuck away and easily block off. So I snagged a pencil tree in October when they were on sale. It was bittersweet when I put it up…
I must say though, I really like the look of it and glad I made the jump to an artificial tree.
We bought one of those pre-cooked turkeys, ordered a small Cajun fried turkey from Kroger just to see what it would look like. Got a call the day before it was due for pickup and was told they were out of those, would I like an oven roasted one? Yeah, OK. It was a pallid looking thing that may have been thoroughly cooked but it definitely needed some time in a hot oven to brown. We slowly brought it up to 150 degrees internally in a covered electric roaster with water under the rack and then transferred it to a 500 degree oven to finish – that took 20 minutes or so and improved the look. We were thinking that buying a pre-cooked bird would be easier than from raw but it wasn’t. And no giblets! They did send a quart of gravy in a boiling bag.
We ordered the Deluxe Turkey Dinner, it came with the green bean casserole, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, plus some sort of cranberry relish and a tub of Classic Dressing – we didn’t bother to open either one. We added the sweet potato dish, the corn, our own cranberry relish, and my famous Southern style cornbread dressing. Their green beans were barely OK, they needed some more time, uncovered, in the oven. The mashed potatoes were ..mashed potatoes. Sort of meh, but that’s why gravy.
We had plenty to keep us occupied. The sweet potato dish: cubed, roasted in olive oil and honey with cinnamon. The fresh cranberries were cooked with the zest of an orange and its juice, with added dried cranberries and dried blueberries.
I boned the carcass and made stock, it simmered on the stove all night. Thanks to a tiny burner on the new stove I didn’t fear leaving it on. It did make for some good looking stock. I’ll let it come to room temperature, ladle it into plastic containers, freeze those, and then vacuum seal the lot.
This was my very first (!) pie attempt.
Blueberry pie is a must at my house for Thanksgiving. This recipe is my go-to. The key is to add fresh blueberries to the cooked blueberries for the most blueberry flavor. From 2012:
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on your sweetness preference, I used 1/2 cup)
- 2-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) blueberries
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
In a saucepan, add sugar, cornstarch, water and 1 cup blueberries. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, add 3 cups of blueberries, lemon juice and lemon zest, fold in completely. Cool in refrigerator until time to put the pie together. I also chilled the bowl I mixed everything in, as well.
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup butter, very cold
- 1/2 cup ice water
Cut butter into small pieces (I actually cut frozen butter, it was easier) and place in the freezer to chill it completely. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter until it is crumbly. Drizzle in the water and mix together until it forms a loose ball (do not over mix, you want visible butter pieces). Turn out onto a floured surface, knead gently, divide into two equal pieces (I weighed them), form each into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. While I was at it, I refrigerated my marble rolling pin and marble pastry board.
To assemble pie: roll out one of the balls until it’s about 12-13 inches (depending on your pie plate size) and about 3/16” thick. To move to your pie plate, flour your rolling pin again and fold the dough over it, transfer to the plate and it should fall into place. Gently form it to the plate and let excess dough overhang the edge – you can brush the edge with water before adding the top pastry. With all the butter, this step really isn’t necessary, it quickly seals itself. Add blueberry filling. Roll out second ball to the same size and thickness. Move to the plate and adjust over the pie plate. Now you can trim the excess dough, or you can tuck it under and then pinch to flute it. Next time I’m sure I’ll experience one of those, but this time, it was pretty skimpy for me to flute.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and continue until golden brown (I had to bake another 40 minutes). You’ll probably have to tent the edges with foil to keep them from burning. I did that at the 25 minute mark. Let cool until just warm to touch for the blueberries to set if you want to serve warm.
This recipe came from Chef Michael Symon and I don’t think I’ve changed much, except I don’t use as much rosemary and thyme (about half). I’ve been using it for several years and every time it is perfect.
GARLIC & HERB CRUSTED STANDING RIB ROAST
1 standing beef rib roast (7 to 8 pounds, rack of ribs separated from roast)
4 cloves garlic (smashed and made into a paste)
2 sprigs rosemary (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)
4 sprigs thyme (leaves removed and finely chopped, plus more)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Season the roast and rack of ribs with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Remove the rib roast to room temperature 1 hour prior to roasting. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
In a medium bowl, add garlic, herbs and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to form a loose paste. Coat the roast and ribs with the herb oil and season with more cracked black pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie the roast every 2-3 inches to secure shape.
In a roasting pan, place the rack of ribs with the ends pointing up. Place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the rack. Place the roast, fat-side-up inside the rack of ribs so they act as a roasting rack. Pour the wine and beef stock in to the bottom of the pan underneath the roast.
Place in the bottom half of the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue to cook for another 1 ½- 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the roast is 125ºF for medium-rare. During the cooking process, baste the meat with the pan juices every 30 minutes. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little more stock or water.
Remove the roast to a cutting board to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Separate the ribs and thinly slice the roast. Serve with pan juices.
Tip: for ultimate flavor, season the roast and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
If you’d like some personal instruction, click here for video of Michael preparing it.
Here is part two of the dessert tray – these are all gluten-free sweets. Easy to make, never know they are anything different from the floured desserts. I’ll post a photo of the full dessert tray later.
Picking up a friend from the airport tonight – lots of delays have made for a long day. I’ll be packing a few of these cookies and hot tea for the drive home.
First up, I made a batch of these. They are melt in your mouth and so chocolaty. I love the dark chocolate cocoa powder, makes them not-too sweet.
Then I made a batch of these (pictured at top). So easy – I made a double batch, hoping they last until Christmas Eve. Just in case, there will be the traditional Ice Cream Sundae Bar to back up all the cookies.
Peanut Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 egg
Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool ON the baking sheet.
I added chocolate chips to a few after I flattened them on the baking sheet. They were good, but it did make the cookie more fragile and they broke apart as I transferred them to the plate. So second batch got peanuts instead.
For Dessert Tray pt. 1, click here.