armadillas


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Holiday category.

Lights

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a joyous and safe holiday. I know I had a good time, though after 10:30 I was struggling to stay up til midnight. Hopefully you guys had better luck than I did. Anyway, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for following my little blog here. I know it’s nothing fancy yet and I’m not the best at updating, but I still appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading!

 

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Mistletoe

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It’s Christmas Eve! I can hardly believe it. I don’t know what it is about this year, but it does n’t really feel all that much like Christmas to me. Perhaps it’s the crazy Virginia weather we have. 70 degrees one day, 35 the next. It’ll throw a person for a loop! Oh, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a little snow? For the most part, it snows once or twice a year around these parts. Sure, it melts almost as soon as it comes, but even one day of a winter wonderland is a magical, wondrous thing. Last year the magic didn’t come. I think we had an hour tops of flurries and not a spec of it showed up on the ground. I suppose I better stick some mittens under my pillow to invoke some winter chill. I remember doing that as a little girl. I don’t recall who taught this ritual to me, but every year I would pull out my mittens or even some gloves if mittens couldn’t be found and I would whisper some Christmas prayer in hopes to wake up the next morning to a frosted window. Believe it or not, it worked…though that’s likely due to the fact I usually did it on nights that were already calling for snow. Magic or no, it’s a tradition I always enjoyed. Like the elves knocking on our door every Christmas Eve and leaving pajamas. I still can’t figure out how those “elves” managed to ring the door bell every year without getting caught. Oh, the joys of Christmas.

But this year I don’t quite have the Spirit that I usually do. I just chuck it up to all the recent changes in my life. There’s just too much stimulation to sit down and really enjoy the nog, which goes completely against my last post about Indian Time. Plus, all my friends are spread out across the continents this year and things are just not the same. But that’s okay. I’ll still relish a feast of beasts tonight along with a little Christmas mass. And let’s not forget the presents either! We finally finished up the last of our presents last night and I’m rather satisfied with everything. Now I just need to get some boxes to start shipping a few things out to those too far away to visit (sorry guys…you won’t be getting anything until after the holidays).

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Christmas aside, I did promise to finish up my Thanksgiving posts and true to nature I’m cutting it right down to the wire. But my first recipe is for a lovely blackberry-cranberry sauce that would be just perfect for Christmas dinner. See, I’m not late. I’m just making the recipe better accessible for holiday chefs.

Now I’ll admit that this recipe is not completely my own. It’s a hodge podge of at least three different ones I found while browsing the web. Here are the links in case you’re interested to draw some inspiration of your own:

Spinach Tiger’s Cranberry Blackberry Sauce and Syrup

Joy of Baking Cran Raspberry Sauce

Fake Food Free Blackberry Cranberry Sauce with Cinnamon

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 package fresh blackberries (I used the large pack)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon

I promise is super easy, much easier than the last recipe I posted. The first thing you want to do is rinse off your cranberries and blackberries, then dump them into a decent size pot/sauce pan. We’re making sauce after all!

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Add a 1/2 cup of sugar…

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And a 1/2 cup of lemon juice (or however much your taste buds desire!). If you’re feeling real adventurous, throw in some zest too. I prefer lemon juice, but you could totally substitute orange juice. Be creative

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Now for the cinnamon and honey. This step is completely optional and completely to taste. I really enjoy both cinnamon and honey, so I was a little generous with my shakes and tablespoons

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Stir stir stir and set your heat to medium high

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Watch it bet bubbly!

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Did you know sitting a wooden spoon over your pot helps prevent it from boiling over? I wish I had known this years ago. It would’ve saved me a lot of clean up and certainly is a lifesaver nowadays. Stir occasionally as your sauce boils, about 10 minutes or so. You’ll hear the cranberries popping away.

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After 10 minutes of boiling and your berries are all popped, turn the heat down low to simmer. This is where you should taste taste taste to see if your sauce is too bitter, too sweet, not cinnamony enough. Adjust accordingly. This is YOUR sauce! Also, as your sauce simmers, it will thicken

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Of course, you can remove your sauce from the heat if you want to skip the simmering bit. Either way, it will thicken. I just like to simmer for another 10 minutes because it makes me feel important and sophisticated. When you have enough sophistication in your life, turn off the heat. Once the sauce is cool, you can put it in a pretty mason jar!

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Yum yum, if this doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit (whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas), I don’t know what will

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Be warned! This sauce may be a little too tart for your friends who insist on buying the sugary sweet store bought stuff in a can. That just means there’s more for you! But seriously, if you aren’t big on tartness just bump up the amount of sugar in the beginning. But I embrace the tartness! Ah, isn’t is just beautiful?

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Happy (late) Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Now, where can I find some mistletoe…


Airports and airways

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Let’s talk about Christmas cheer. As you can see, Toby is ready for Christmas. We’re only 10 days away folks…which of course means only 15 days until my birthday! I really can’t believe how quickly this year blew by. I remember how time seemed to move like molasses when I was a little girl. It took forever for Christmas and my birthday to roll around, which sucked anyway because they were only five days apart. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoy the fact that my birthday falls on the 30th, but come on- what kid wants to split presents like that? But now that I’m all grown up I feel like my years are getting shorter and shorter. Seriously, in 15 days I will be 24. Isn’t that a strange thought! It seems like yesterday I was 13 counting down the years before I could drive. I think the only age milestone I have left is being able to rent a car. So here’s to one more year of “adolescence” if you will.

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Oh yeah, we were supposed to be talking about Christmas cheer and not silly things like turning 24. I love Christmas. Absolutely love love love it! I may be biased since I’m almost a Christmas baby and do love my birthday (if you haven’t figured that out yet!), but there’s something about wintertime and Christmas that just sends thrills down my spine. It’s just such a happy time. I used to be one of those bitter people that complained about hearing Christmas music all the time, but it’s really not that bad if you take the time to just slow down and enjoy it. I think that’s the problem with everything nowadays. Everyone is always running around to get somewhere. To do this, to do that. Rush rush rush. I myself fall victim to the  hustle and bustle of life. Before you know it, Christmas is over, it’s the new year, and you missed all that music you were complaining about. I really do believe the reason time flies by so fast is because we never stop to appreciate the time we have. Our concept of time can be so rigid. Time is money, right?

That’s why I try my hardest to work on Indian time. Do you know what that is? Well, I’ll tell you! Indian time means that things will happen when they happen. You’ll arrive when you’re supposed to arrive. Etc, etc. A good example of this is when I hosted Thanksgiving. I told everyone to be hear at 2 but gave myself until 3 to have food on the table (though I think we actually ate at 2:30). Anyway, my point is that Indian time is just a more relaxed worldview I guess you could say and it’s so much less stressful than constantly worrying about deadlines and appointments and time in general. Things will happen when they happen and the way they’re supposed to happen. And that’s that!

So in celebration of Christmas spirit, holiday cheer, birthday extravaganzas, and not letting time pass us by…let’s enjoy a cup of eggnog. Mmm I love eggnog. It’s just so sweet from the sugar and cream yet spicy from the bourbon and rum. It’s quite pleasant really, though as with most things I didn’t discover this until recently. I’m sure my mother had something to do with that. I’d bet money as soon as she warned me of the evils of drinking raw eggs I was turned off of the stuff forever. Fortunately, I grew out of that picky stage and forever is a rather relative term.

This recipe is supposedly the one used by my sous chef’s grandmother (though it looks suspiciously like something i ran across on the Food Network). I tripled the ingredients to fill a large serving dispenser, but feel free to make less generous amounts.

And I promise to post my Thanksgiving entries soon. The goal is hopefully before Christmas. I told you time likes to get away from you! Oops…

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Ingredients:

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 3 pints whole milk (6 cups)
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces spiced rum
  • 4 ounces bourbon (1/2 cup)
  • 12 egg whites
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

You could do this in a stand mixer if you have one handy. I don’t so we have to improvise a little bit. But that’s part of the fun! In the largest bowl you have, beat the egg yolks until they begin to lighten in color

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Gradually add the cup of sugar

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Slowly add in the milk, cream, and liquor. I just measured it all into a large pitcher and dumped it in

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Sprinkle in some nutmeg and cinnamon. The recipe called for a tablespoon, but I like to go by taste. Stir to combine

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Now for the egg whites! In another large bowl, though not your largest, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. We’ve done this before with our waffles. Unless that’s one of the entries I haven’t posted yet. Either way, you just keep beating away until your egg white take more of a solid shape. In my opinion, they will end up looking like whipped cream

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Add in the 3 tablespoons of sugar

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Now listen carefully. Because we tripled the recipe and are beating together 12 egg whites…your arm might get a little tired even using an electric beater. Don’t give up. After so long you may begin to think your whites just aren’t going to fluff up. They will. Patience is a virtue when it comes to anything worth waiting for. See?

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Of course, you can skip that whole step and omit the egg whites. But I like a little egg foam in my nog. Once all is said and done and your whites have turned into peaks, fold the “foam” into the milk and yolk mixture

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There you go folks. Quick and easy homemade eggnog. Admire your work!

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Serve in a lovely drink dispenser you received last year for Christmas. with some extra cinnamon and nutmeg for those that like things really spiced up.  Actually, this stiff is kinda thick so I recommend serving it in a punch bowl with a lovely ladle

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But make due with what you have

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Yum. Now go sit back and listen to some darn tootin carols and let the scrooges mind themselves. Cheers!

Tijuana


Heat of the moment

So. Much. Cranberry sauce! I honestly don’t know what to do with it all. But…it was a hit at the luncheon. I’m so happy. I was really nervous there for a second. I kept thinking they aren’t going to like it. It’s too tart and is going to end up back in my kitchen again. Thankfully, that was not the case. Someone even took some of the leftovers home with them. Hallelujah! That certainly made my day. But I still have more sauce left in my fridge than I would care to have in there. So I was thinking. Why not cook it up with some pork. It’s holiday season and I always see magazines at all the sores with lovely photos of pork loin served with cranberry sauce. I could totally do that! Of course, I didn’t have a pork loin on hand, but I’ve always been one for improvisation and a couple thick cut boneless pork chops will serve the same purpose. It’s like a pork loin cut in half… right guys?

Anyway, my dinner tonight was inspired by The Pioneer Woman. I like how that woman handles here meat! She provided her own recipe for cranberry sauce, but for obvious reasons I just used the one I already had handy. But by all means, use her method. Looks pretty good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick cut pork chops, boneless
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Cranberry sauce

First, wash your meat! Pat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Lots of pepper. In a castiron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is nice and hot, we are going to sear our pork chops. Mmm mmm mmm. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera was back in business until this moment. Oops

 

Once it’s nice and brown on both sides (the color here does not do it justice), pop the whole thing, pan included, into a 425 degree oven

 

Meanwhile, reheat the cranberry sauce in a small pan

 

On a whim, I added some honey

 

After ten minutes, check your chops with a meat thermometer if you’re a little on the paranoid side like me sometimes

 

I seriously think my meter is broken. Either way, your meat should read 155-160ish.  Just look at that color!

 

Yum yum yum. Serve with a good glob of cranberry sauce on top. Perfect. just perfect!

 

It tastes especially good sliced and piled up on a dinner roll. Enjoy!

Tijuana


Endings

Last night I was asked to whip together a homemade cranberry sauce for some Thanksgiving luncheon today. Cranberry sauce? No problem! Actually, before last night I had never made cranberry sauce before. For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever tried homemade cranberry sauce either. As with a lot of things, cranberry sauce is a new love of mine discovered a year or two ago. Can you blame me? The stuff does not look that appetizing. Jiggly red stuff out of a can…no thanks. But then one thing led to another and I tasted it and it was surprisingly yummy. If the canned stuffed is so good, imagine what the fresh stuff will taste like. So I tackled the challenge!

I didn’t follow any one particular recipe. I looked at a few recipes online and read the back of the cranberry bag and what I came up with is just a hodgepodge recipe of things thrown together. It really was not that bad for my first try. It’s tart to be sure, but we are working with cranberries. I suppose that’s to be expected.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh cranberries
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice (or any citrus of your liking)
  • Cinnamon

Okay, I know I didn’t give you any measurements, but I have a good reason so don’t yell at me yet. See, a certain someone decided they wanted to buy 32 ounces worth of cranberries…and you really don’t need that much in my opinion. My bulk sauce took a lot longer to cook than your average run of the mill sauce so I’m going to attempt to scale it down for you guys! The way I see it, the most common method is boiling a cup of water with a cup of sugar and then adding your 12 oz bag of cranberries and simmering the whole thing together until the berries burst open and become real tender.

Well, according to this method I needed three cups of water. To play around with flavor, I did two and half cups of water and half a cup of lemon juice. I took a similar approach with the sugar; 2 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup honey. But I didn’t add the honey until after I added the cranberries. Then I just kept adding cinnamon to taste. So basically, this is how it went down:

  1. Boil 3/4 cups of water and 1/4 cup lemon juice with 3/4 cups of sugar.
  2. Add 12 ounces of cranberries and bring back to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Pour honey into cranberry mixture and stir. Sprinkle in a dash or two of cinnamon and stir some more.
  4. Allow mixture to simmer until all the berries pop and you’re cranberry sauce begins to take on the consistency of jelly, about 10 minutes
  5. Remove from heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

My sauce took maybe 30 minutes to finally break down,which made me nervous because I read you’re not suppose to cook cranberries for more than 15 minutes, but it turned out fine. Besides, I had three times as many berries as I needed so it makes sense that it would take longer to cook. Overall, I was happy with my finished product and hopefully it will be a hit at the luncheon. Guess we’ll find out!

Also, if you neglected to notice…my camera is working again! At least temporarily. I just hope it holds up through Thanksgiving because I’m going to have lots of recipes to post and it’s just not the same without pictures.


Tijuana


Radios

I’m so excited! Every year my friends and I gather together for a pre-Thanksgiving meal. It’s been a tradition since freshman year of college. It’s one of my favorite things to do every year. As it happens, our dinner is planned for next Sunday, which I think is appropriate because it will be the end of my first week on the new job and it’s also a few days away from Sarah Beth’s birthday. Needless to say, there will be lots to celebrate the end of that week! Did I mention I’m excited? I’m really really really uber excited to see all my friends!

(Oh the kitchens of college kids)

So far, I’ve always been in charge of the turkey. Last year I tried to do some crazy spin off a turducken…but all I ended up doing was wrapping the thing in bacon. I won’t sit here and say it was a HUGE success, but regardless of looks it was tasty and the whole idea of it was fun anyway.

This year, I’m going to fry the turkey. I’ve only ever had fried turkey once and I was too young to really remember if it was as divine as everyone claims. Which of course means that I have never fried a turkey before and I’m a little nervous about the whole ordeal. Gallons of hot oil does not sound all that fun to me, but hey- after I give the bird a good rub down it’s going outside with the guys anyway and I won’t have to mess with it at all if I don’t want to. And it’s going to be delicious. Plus, that means free oven space. Win-win all across the board in my opinion.

Since I’m thinking about not being in charge of the actual frying of the turkey, I get to play around with other recipes this year. Like a cranberry-blackberry sauce. And homemade baked mac n cheese with white cheddar and gruyere and crispy bacon sprinkled on top. Oh, and let’s not forget the sweet potato souffle. Mmm with pecans and gooey marshmallows and no coconut in sight. I can’t wait to see what everyone else is bringing (hopefully some dessert!). I’m sure it’s going to be a blast. I just wish everyone could make it. We were short a few faces last year and will be short a couple this year. Guess that’s what happens when you grow up and start moving away.

But clearly, we always have a good time!