thatmom’s favorite holiday menu of all time

Even Teddy is in awe of Christmas.  This is his first as part of the family!

Since we saw all of our family during Thanksgiving this year, there will be only five of us for Christmas. In fact, this is the smallest number of us in 31 years and I am a bit nostalgic. That being the case, I thought it would be fun to mix it up a bit and pull out some recipes I have wanted to try or have not made for a long time! We typically have brunch and then have dinner in mid-afternoon so the next few days will be spent in the kitchen, just me, the King’s College Choir, and perhaps Harry Connick Jr.!

Here is the menu and the recipes if you are in need of inspiration! Oh, and I must admit that I planned the entire menu around the quaint antique parfait glasses I picked up at the South Eden Village Antique Mall last spring. They are circa 1940’s and made their residence years ago in the old Hotel Pere Marquette restaurant in downtown Peoria. Since I first saw them on the shelf, I have pictured them filled with some sort of beautiful Christmas fruit deliciousness!

Christmas Menu ~ 2010

Toasted Walnut and Pear Salad
Roast Turkey Breast and Grandma’s Stuffing
Butter and Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Roasted and Glazed Acorn Squash Rings with Green Beans
Caramelized Onion Tarts
Cranapple~Pomegranate Fruit Slush
Best-Ever King Arthur Dinner Rolls
Bumbleberry Pie and Pecan Pie

Roast Turkey or Turkey Breast

1 turkey, thawed according to package directions. (Usually I buy a turkey that is near 20 pounds and also an extra turkey breast. This assures me that we will have plenty of white meat as well as leftovers for turkey soup and sandwiches.)

1 cup butter, not softened but cut into chunks
1 large onion, quartered
¼ cup finely minced garlic in oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned

Clean turkey, reserving neck. Place cold butter, orange sections, onion, garlic, salt and pepper inside the bird’s cavity. Place in roaster and tent with foil. Bake according to directions on poultry package. Remove foil the last hour and baste several times with pan juices. If using only a breast, fill “cavity” with this mixture and baste often with the juices.

Grandma’s Stuffing

Neck of turkey
2 packages Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix with onions and sage
3 large onions, one quartered and 2 finely minced
Celery leaves
12 chicken bouillon cubes
3 cups finely chopped celery
3 TBS. parsley flakes
3 TBS. minced garlic in oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup butter

In pot, place turkey neck, quartered onion and celery leaves. Cover with 12 cups water. Bring to boil and add bouillon cubes. Simmer for 2-3 hours over low heat. Cool and remove neck.

In skillet, melt butter and sauté chopped onion and celery. Add parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Place bread cubes in large bowl and toss together with vegetables and spices. Add enough of the simmering broth until the dressing is wet. (My grandma would often add a dozen beaten eggs at this point and everyone thought that was the secret of her wonderful dressing. But one day she told me the real secret was to be sure that the bread got really, really soggy! I never use the eggs but I always add enough broth that it looks like it was a wet mistake!) Place in crock pot or large baking dishes. In the oven, bake covered for 1 hour at 350 degrees. In the crock pot, cook on high for 1 hour and then on low for 2 more hours.

Turkey Gravy

All drippings from the roasted bird
1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet Flavoring, optional
1 cup Flour
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In large skillet, pour in all the drippings from the turkey. Stir in 1 cup flour dissolved n about a cup of cold water, Kitchen Bouquet, salt and pepper. Whisk until thick and bubbly, adding hot water if necessary to bring gravy to desired consistency.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Place 5 pounds white or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered, in large pot and cover with water. Boil until soft. Drain and place in large Kitchen-Aid Bowl. Mix on low until potatoes are broken up. Add about ½ to 1 cup hot milk, ½ stick butter, coarse salt and black pepper to taste, and 2 TBS. minced garlic in oil. Whip on high speed until perfectly fluffy. Serve with 1 TBS. butter topping the white mountain and sprinkle paprika on top of butter.

Toasted Walnut and Pear Salad

6 c. mixed greens
3 ripe red pears cored and sliced
2 ¼ c. toasted walnut halves
3 oz. crumbled blue cheese
Mix and divide between 6 chilled plates.

½ c. olive oil
¼ cup sugar
3 T. white vinegar
½ t. celery seed
¼ t. salt
Mix well and chill until ready to serve. Drizzle over salad.

Roasted and Glazed Acorn Squash Rings with Green Beans

3 acorn squashes, each about 1 ½ lb.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbs. melted butter, divided
¼ cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. finely chopped orange zest
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs
for garnish
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
5 cups fresh green beans, seasoned with salt and steamed until tender

In 400 degree oven, bake squash until soft enough to slice, about 15 minutes, being careful to not overcook. (This precooking can also be done in the microwave, one squash at a time. It takes a little more effort but you have more control over the outcome.) Remove from oven and cut into 1” slices, crosswise. Using a cutter larger than the seeded center, cut out seeds, leaving a neat circle. Dip squash in 3 TBS. melted butter and arrange slices in baking pan. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle squash with orange juice, zest, and salt and pepper to taste and return to oven for about 10 minutes. Whisk together remaining butter, maple syrup, thyme, and cranberries. Pour over squash rings and bake until done about 10 more minutes. Arrange squash rings on a platter, placing bunches of green beans in each circle. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

8 servings and delicious reheated. (adapted from William-Sonoma recipe)

Caramelized Onion Tarts

3 cups chopped onions, preferably Vidalia
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 TBS. canola oil
1/2c. water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 c. heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Dough for 2 pie crusts or 1 package ready to roll pie crust dough

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Chop and brown onion in oil and brown sugar for a few minutes over medium heat. Stir continually. Add the water and cook until the onions are tender and begin to turn golden brown.
In bowl, mix together eggs, cream, cheese, salt and pepper. When onions are cooked, cool them and stir into the egg mixture. Using a drinking glass or a 3” cookie cutter, cut pie crusts into rounds, rolling and cutting out of the scraps. Place each round into one medium muffin cup. About half way up, shaping to the sides. Spoon about 2 TBS. of the caramelized onion mixture into each pie crust cup and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes and serve or remove to cooling rack to prepare for fridge if serving the next day. To store for a day, cool completely and cover in fridge, heating before serving.
Can be frozen with great results; remove from freezer and microwave 30 sec or so each to heat. Delicious with leftover turkey sandwiches or casseroles so you might want to plan ahead and make enough to freeze!

Cranapple~Pomegranate Fruit Slush

1 small can lemonade concentrate, undiluted
2 cups cranapple juice
2 cups pomegranate juice
4 cups ginger ale
1 can crushed pineapple with juice
Thin slices of orange, unpeeled
Sugar to taste if desired

Mix together and freeze overnight in one container or individually in party cups or fancy glasses. Remove individual servings from fridge about 1 hour before meal, large container for 2 hours.

Bumbleberry Pie

Pastry for a 2 crust pie
2 cups cooking apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon tapioca
½ tsp. salt
1 TBS. butter, thinly sliced
Milk or cream for crust
granulated sugar for sprinkling on crust

Roll out pastry and line pie a deep dish pie plate. Combine sugar with flour, salt, and tapioca in bowl. Add all the fruit and toss well. Pour into pie shell and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, crimp edges, vent with fork tines to release steam. Brush with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden. (Note: This recipe calls for fresh fruit so adjustments may need to be made for frozen fruit, which is what I will be using this time of year, except for the apples. I plan to thaw the fruit and drain it before putting into the crust and I think that will be fine.)

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