WOO HOO!!! I am back from CoCo’s vet visit and dancing for joy.
This dog has had me worried this past month. She’s my best girl and is approaching 12. I’d say about 6 or so years ago she developed a small tumor on her abdomen. The vet said it was probably a fatty tumor and to keep our eye on it. It never seemed to bother her, so we left it alone. Well within the last month, it has gotten bigger and firmer, so I’m here thinking the worst. This dog has been with my boys since they were all babies! She is a part of our tribe. I don’t want that day to ever happen, though I know it’s inevitable. Anyway, we got brave and decided to have the tumor tested because it is better to just know what it is. Thank God it’s still just a fatty tumor. What a relief!
So onto those sides. Even though Thanksgiving is over, these are things you can make again at Christmas or any time you need to feed a crowd. It seems like every year I think to myself, “Will anyone notice if there’s no bread pudding? Do I really need to make noodle kugel? What if we skipped the deviled eggs? I sometimes feel like Nora in Christmas with the Kranks. I want to take a big fukitol and go on vacation but then the memories start flooding my brain. The love and effort my Grandmas and Mom put into having a holiday. I can’t deny my family of these precious moments with loved ones! (One day, I will wake up on a beach somewhere Christmas morning with a fruity umbrella drink in hand, I promise!)
So I bust out the cooking binder and make the lists. I really should just make a master list and have it ready on command. I think I will do that and save even more time next holiday.
Sometimes we do too many appetizers and everyone gets too full. So we have scaled back on the appetizers. This year I only had the salsa my coworker made in exchange for the two pumpkin pies, deviled eggs-because they remind me of my Grandma Peggy, and by surprise my dad made some outta this world turkey/cranberry meatballs that have one of my favorite ingredients in them-fresh ginger. That isn’t too much. See we live about 45 mins. from everyone, so when they get here, they need something to munch on while we are getting everything situated.
This year our menu was: Turkey, Stuffing, a small ham for the non turkey people (I personally could do without ham. It’s not my favorite and it’s the one thing I kinda suck at cooking. Probably because it’s already cooked and that messes with my mind.) (I can make pie crust from scratch, Greek Dolmades and very complicated Mousakka, but I burn frozen pizza!!) We had sweet potatoes and candy yams, real mashed potatoes and gravy, noodle kugel, bread pudding, my spin on green bean casserole, loaded cornbread, baked beans, and cranberries. Pumpkin pie and chocolate eclair cake for dessert but I would recommend sticking with vanilla pudding in the eclair cake. Chocolate pudding loses it’s pop when you have to mix it with the cool whip. Also Stella Doro cookies which make me feel like the little old Italian lady that is waiting to come out some day.
It was a feast for sure and I do it because I really love my family. Everyone loves the bread pudding, my Joe loves noodle kugel, which was my mom’s signature dish. No where else have I ever had that. My sister makes the best loaded cornbread ever. She said the loaded part comes while she’s making it. LOL!!! She’s a riot. Poor girl had foot surgery and wasn’t my usual helper. I’m sure once that foot is healed she’s gonna kick my ass with it for posting this! LOL!! Love you SISTER!!
SO how did I do all that in one day? I have learned over the years where to take shortcuts. There’s no shame in saving time for things that don’t matter. Like does it matter if I boiled and peeled the eggs for deviled eggs or am I cool with the fine people at Eggland’s Best doing my dirty work? Have at it! I trust them. Plus my house won’t stink because of it. Yep, deviled eggs in minutes. We all have mayo, mustard, and relish on hand, right? Done.
Ham, goes in the crock pot. Like I said, I suck at ham. I’ve made Puerto Rican ham before which was awesome. That’s basically a raw, unsmoked ham. See, it was raw. I had to cook it. I am really bad at just warming things up. But my ham gets a few pineapple rings, maraschino cherries, and whole cloves stuck in it, and put into the crock pot and forgotten about.
Candied yams- from a can! I made some whole sweet potatoes in the oven the night before and just warmed them up in the oven the next day. I always think of my Grandpa Nick who liked his sweet potatoes plain in the jacket he liked to say. Those were mostly for CoCo and Cino, my sister’s dog. But 2 cans of those Princella yams in a casserole dish with a little butter and brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with marshmallows at the last 10 mins, done!
The green beans- tossed them in the boiling water that was cooking the potatoes. Then I threw them in a hot skillet with a little soy sauce, sauteed some sliced mushrooms, and topped them with some blanched almonds, done. Green bean casserole without the gross soup.
Things I do take extra care with are my potatoes. I only use small golden potatoes. If I see you using a russet potato to make mashed potatoes with, I’m gonna slap some sense into you! I peel and halve them, get them boiling til they are fork tender. Remove them from the water. Then I rice my potatoes. It may seem like a pain in the ass but it is worth it. I can’t stand lumpy potatoes. You just have to focus and do it. Maybe have a shot of whiskey to make it interesting. It’s like playing barber shop Play-Doh. My grandma Elvira always warmed her milk when she mashed her potatoes. I do that, too. Butter, salt, and pepper-done. They are so light and fluffy this way. Not like sticky starch from over mixing.
Stuffing needs celery and onion sauteed and we like it really moist so I used 4 C of turkey stock plus a few cups of water to get it to where I liked it for 2 bags of herb seasoned stuffing mix. This was my first time doing it like this and I really liked the end result.
I tell you, I was stuffed before I could get through half my plate. It was all over in a matter of 30 minutes! I sent 4 people home with doggie bags and there are still leftovers. Every time one of the boys ask me what’s for dinner, I point to the fridge and say help yourself.
That’s it for now. I really should be taking down all of my Thanksgiving and fall decorations but it’s like 50 degrees here in Illinois and I am not feeling the Christmas vibe yet. How do the west coast and southern states get in the mood for Christmas? I’ve been too dependent on snow and freezing temps!
Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the weekend. It’s quiet here, no rock n roll, no dancing…..just chilling. The fun stuff is next weekend. Anniversary Weekend! 16 years married and 23 years together. Wow!! Cheers to that!
Take Care! xoxo