"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Well I went through my recipes today and found what I'll need for Christmas dinner. I seriously need to go through all my recipes and organize everything so it's easier to find. Since I'm only cooking for two people, the menu will be scaled down as I must have adequate room for storing all the leftovers. So we picked out what to us are the foods we would really miss and include just those. Decide for yourself what those foods are when planning out your own menu if you are doing all the cooking and storing at your home.

This is also pretty much my menu for Thanksgiving when we are at home and not in the process of moving!! So if I get lazy and don't get my recipes all organized in the coming year, then I can just check my blog for them.

Christmas Dinner Menu

Special Roast Turkey with gravy

Cornbread-Bacon-Walnut Dressing

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Loaves O' Gold


Traditional Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream

Please note that these recipes have been collected and sometimes adapted from various recipes over the years. If I know the original source I will tell you and show you where I do something different. Now onto the recipes!

Special Roast Turkey- this is from the cooking magazine Taste of Home

1 12-14 pound turkey
2 cups water
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups orange juice- divided
4 Tablespoons soy sauce- divided
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon granules- divided
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Orange Giblet Gravy
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place turkey on a greased rack in a roasting pan. Add water, giblets, and neck to pan. Combine 1 1/4 cups broth, 3/4 cup orange juice, and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce; pour over turkey. Combine bouillon, onion and garlic powder; sprinkle over turkey. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 3 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes. When turkey begins to brown, cover lightly with foil. Remove giblets and neck when tender; set aside for gravy. Combine remaining broth, orange juice, and soy sauce. Remove foil from turkey; pour broth mixture over turkey. Bake 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. For gravy, remove meat from neck and discard the bones. Chop giblets and neck meat; set aside. In a sauce pan, combine 2 cups pan juices, broth, orange juice, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Stir in thyme, sugar, and pepper. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Whisk into broth mixture; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in reserved giblets and neck meat. Carve turkey, serve with gravy.
****I used to baste the turkey as directed but I don't anymore.
Also, I used to just cook the turkey according to time instead of temperature which is obviously not the best way . The recipe calls for cooking the turkey to 180F which is considered overkill from what I've read. This is the first year I had one of those cool meat thermometers that you can use in the oven and run the cord out the door. I inserted the probe into the breast and roasted the bird till it reached 170F . Then, I pulled off the foil I had used to cover the bird after it started to brown and let it roast another 20 minutes or so uncovered to finish browning the skin. Next, I removed the turkey from the oven and let it rest while I baked the dressing and made the gravy. Letting it sit and rest for that half-hour is something that happened accidentally one year and I was pleased with the results, so I have continued to let it rest like that. I don't put the giblets or neck meat in the gravy and if I'm afraid I'll run low on gravy, I *gasp* make up a packet of turkey gravy mix according to directions, and mix it in with the gravy I've just made. I'm usually not a fan of powdered gravy mixes, but when made up and mixed with good homemade gravy, I think they are an okay way to stretch the gravy.

Here's the plan for Christmas 2009:
I'll roast the turkey until it starts to brown and then cover it with foil as the recipe says. Next, I'll take off the foil when it hits 160F, roast uncovered till the temperature hits 165, then remove from the oven and let it rest for a half-hour.

Here's the recipe I adapted my dressing recipe from with my changes after the recipe. The original recipe is from
"Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook" by Betty Groff

Cornbread-Bacon Stuffing
6 slices
1/2 cup chopped
1 cup chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups cornbread, cut into cubes

Fry the bacon in a large, heavy skillet until crisp. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels, and crumble. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Saute the onion, celery and parsley in the fat over medium heat until the onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, cornbread cubes, and crumbled bacon, mix thoroughly. Pour into a buttered baking pan and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 35 minutes or until it pulls away from the sides of the baking pan.

**** Mr Hairball dislikes chopped onion so I either have to use onion powder, or chopped shallots or garlic instead. He really loves garlic! My family always puts pecans in their dressing. Walnuts are cheaper for me so I frequently use walnuts instead of pecans. So with that in mind I altered the above recipe to work with what I had on hand and came up with...****

Cornbread-Bacon-Walnut Dressing

6 slices bacon
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken broth ( use more if you like a wetter dressing)
One nine inch pan or skillet of your favorite cornbread recipe made in advance and crumbled up

Fry the bacon in a large skillet till crisp. Remove bacon from pan, drain on paper towels, and crumble when it is cool enough to handle. While bacon is cooling, saute the chopped garlic, celery, dried parsley, and walnuts in the bacon grease over medium heat until the garlic is a very light golden brown. Now, if your skillet big enough to hold everything, add the broth, cornbread, and bacon and mix well. If you don't have a big enough skillet then just put the crumbled cornbread and bacon in a large bowl and pour the garlic- broth mixture over it and mix it up well with a big spoon. Put the dressing in a buttered casserole dish and bake it uncovered at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Can also be cooked in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours if you are running out of oven space. Please note that if you cook it in the crockpot, the walnuts will turn very dark but, will still taste the same.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce- I got this at the Food Network's website. It's Tyler Florence's recipe.

2 (8-ounce) packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, zest cut into strips and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
**** You may need to adjust the amount of sugar. Add your sugar slowly and be sure and taste it until you have the sweet/tart balance that works for you.****

Loaves O'Gold

This is a recipe clipped out of a newspaper that I found while going through my late grandmother's recipes.Whoever sent it to her wrote this at the top: "You can make these into rolls too- Everyone here is wild about them". I don't know exactly how old the recipe is, but on the back of it, there's an ad for disposable diapers for $ 1.39! I haven't made this before but I am bravely going to try it for Christmas dinner. Be sure and read over this one carefully as you need to start this the day before.

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup enriched yellow corn meal
4 1/2- 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water

Dissolve yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Set aside. Scald milk and pour over sugar, salt, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Add cornmeal, 1 cup of the flour, and the softened yeast . Cover; place in a warm place ( about 80 degrees) about 16 hours to ferment.

Stir in 1 cup of the flour and the remaining 1 cup lukewarm water. Cover; let stand an additional 2 hours in warm place.

Add enough additional flour to form a soft dough. Knead on floured board or canvas until smooth, about ten minutes. Divide into 6 parts. Shape each to form a small loaf of bread. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Cover; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until nearly double in size. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie - This was on a can of Kroger brand canned pumpkin puree.

1 (15 oz) can Kroger Pumpkin
1 (14 oz) can Kroger Sweetened Condensed milk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Whipped topping and nuts optional
1 (9") unbaked refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients, mixing well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425 F. Reduce oven tempurature to 350 F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting. Garnish with whipped topping and nuts, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.
*** The only thing I do differently is instead of using the can of sweetened condensed milk, I add the following :

1 cup dry milk powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Mix well so that you don't have bits of undissolved powdered milk in your pie.

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