Thanksgiving Day, and I have an extra bunch of celery after making the stuffing, what to do with it? We were having a small dinner party, and I think it’s nice to have a little appetizer with your wine whilst waiting for the big attraction, the turkey.
I wanted to make something that would stick with the theme of the dinner. Usually, I stuff celery with blue cheese and cream cheese, but this time, I wanted something different. Stalk the pantry, and there, in the front, is a bag of dried cranberries. Perfect!
This was a real hit at our gathering. Thankfully, as chef, I made one for myself to taste test. Good thing, because I didn’t get one when I set the tray out – it was gone in minutes. My guests really liked them!
When you make this, please use the hearts of celery. If you cannot get hearts, then at least remove the tough strings. There is nothing more embarrassing than biting into a piece of celery and having strings hanging out of your mouth! Just take a knife, start at either end of the stalk, and pull the strings out. That’s better!
We just moved into our new apartment this week, and we had to have a celebratory dinner. We still don’t have a refrigerator, that’s coming tomorrow, so I was a little hindered in exactly what I could make.
Because we don’t have a refrigerator, and I’m limited in what I can make, I went to the local small store near my office and bought 2 lovely chicken breast halves. I already had Parmesan and garlic, so I made Nancy’s Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken and I wanted something fun and interesting to go with it. Couscous is a favorite of ours, and they had a nice box there at the store just as I was going crazy trying to find the perfect side dish for my chicken.
If you have never made couscous, it couldn’t be simpler. Couscous is a fine-grained pasta that can have any number of extra ingredients to make it tasty. I chose onions and cranberries.
It was so cold and windy today that even with the windows closed I could still feel the wind! These are insulated windows, too. In Glendale, California, where we live, the wind sometimes whips up a storm as it comes across the valley. and then gets caught in our little bowl surrounded by Griffith Park in the west, Eaglerock in the south, the San Gabriels in the east, and the Verdugo Mountains in the north. As the wind squeezes itself out to Pasadena, it can start howling and really whirl itself into a frenzy.
That’s okay! It means that the oven can go on and have something to do. I know I’ve talked about this in the past, and I’ll say it again. I just don’t feel right lighting a heater on the wall when it does nothing but heat the room and dry out the air. At least an oven produces something for its efforts.
I wanted something a little healthy, and we have dried cranberries, organic chocolate and Blueberry Muesli from Trader Joe’s. I thought using that for cookies would a) make them better for you, and b) taste/feel similar to oatmeal cookies. I don’t like oatmeal, so I never have it on hand. I wouldn’t even have the little packets around, as those are GMO. Yes, you heard it right, Quaker Oats from General Mills are genetically modified. I think if that nice Quaker gentleman on the box knew about that he’d jump straight off the container.
As the Christmas Holiday rapidly approaches, it’s time to get into the kitchen and make some Christmas memories. I have been making fudge for Christmas presents for years, but this time, I wanted to do something a little different. Spane really likes Eggnog, and I do, too. We were invited to a potluck Christmas party at Entrepreneurs and Professions, and I decided to make Jambalaya, Hot Dogs with Bacon appetizers, and wow everyone with the Eggnog Fudge.
Recipe: Eggnog Fudge
Summary: A perfect treat for the Holiday season.
Mis En Place Eggnog Fudge
3 cups Sugar
1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 tablespoons Butter
1 12-oz package good quality white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon brandy flavoring
Dried cranberries for garnish (optional)
Line a 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper.
Mix sugar, sweetened condensed milk and butter together and cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring frequently.
Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Make sure to stir all the way to the bottom to avoid hot spots and burning.
Remove from heat and add the nutmeg and brandy flavoring. Stir in white chocolate chips and marshmallow creme.
Stir ingredients until mixture is creamy and smooth. (An electric mixer may be used).
Pour into the pan and cool until room temperature. Put in the refrigerator until completely set.
Eggnog Fudge cooling
Remove the parchment paper with fudge from the pan.
Cut the fudge into squares. Top each one with a dried cranberry. Push the cranberry down a little so it will still to the fudge.
Return to the refrigerator, then remove about 1 hour before serving time.
I suggest using flavoring instead of real liquor because the flavoring is more intense. Liquor, because of the temperature of the hot candy, could also cause a flare-up.
Sometimes, you need a little Christmas, right this very minute. That’s why we love ham steaks, because you satisfy your craving for a good piece of ham, without having to cook a whole ham. If you’re lucky, you even get to have the bone with the luscious marrow.
When I make a whole ham, I usually make a glaze of Russian mustard and Sour Cherry preserves. It’s sweet and a little hot, and definitely wakes up the ham. One of the traditional gravies for ham steak is Red Eye gravy, which has, you guessed it, coffee in it. I wanted to incorporate both.
Since The Good Plate is all about deconstructing packaged foods, and one everyone likes a lot is Rice-a-Roni. Rice-a-Roni is rice pilaf, but with way too much salt and other preservatives. There’s no need to use the box, just get the ingredients together and make it from scratch – you know what’s going in it, and you can add whatever you want.
Over the weekend, I made a salad with a new dressing. It was fresh dill and lime, and Amber absolutely loved it. She asked for it again tonight, so I’m including the recipe for it here.
Remember, if you’re having a ham steak, and you don’t want your bone, just give it to me!
I lucked out this year and got a free range goose! I was so happy when I found it that I was jumping up and down. It was going to be a Dickens’ Christmas after all!
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness1, were the themes of universal admiration….
In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
`A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us.’
Which all the family re-echoed. `God bless us every one.’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.