Monday, November 17, 2008

From Thy Bounty Fair: Holiday Foods and Feasts!

As the autumn starts to fade so comes the long winter. Around here, in Southern Oregon, we get a blanket of fog every morning to remind us of the cold season ahead. I used to live up north in Washington state and every year we would drive down here for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Those long drives speckled with hazardous road conditions were always an adventure, but ultimately worth it.

There is nothing better than being surrounded by family, some of which you may not have seen since the last holiday gathering. It is a time of joy and expectation. A time of sharing family news and reflecting on the blessings God has gifted us with over the year.

But there is more to the holiday season than simply gathering together… there is, of course... food.

Holidays are not just any meal or any feast. They are a trip down memory lane. A time to remember those that have passed away, like great-grandma as you bite into her famous pumpkin pie or Uncle Ben as you sample his recipe for stuffed mushrooms.

These feasts are more like a family album of memories, both good and comic. Remember that time grandma forgot to pit the cherries before she made that cherry pie?

For every family there are usually a few recipes in particular that simply mean holidays. They are the dish you only make once, maybe twice a year. It is the only time that you get all the best ingredients and work your best magic in the kitchen.

For my family there are many which are always served at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of which is broccoli casserole. Most people make a funny face when this dish is mentioned. Even those who think broccoli is simply "ok" think this sounds odd. Trust me, this is the best holiday dish and one way to get the kids to eat broccoli. It is also super easy to make!

Broccoli Casserole:
2 Packages frozen broccoli (cooked slightly)
2 Cans cream of mushroom soup
3 Cup of fresh mushrooms or 2 small can of mushrooms
2 Cups of grated cheddar cheese
2 Beaten eggs
1 Small package of slivered almonds
2 Cubes of butter or margarine
2 Cups of pulverized Ritz crackers

Melt butter and mix with crackers. Mix rest of ingredients and pour into 9X13 inch dish (maybe larger!! I can’t remember). Top by sprinkling with Ritz and butter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

I was never a fan of cranberry sauce as a kid. The gelatinous mess that came from a can looked about as appealing as cat food to me. One year, however, I ended up with a ton of fresh cranberries and thought… what the hey! So I looked up a bunch of recipes on All Recipies and Food Network before making up my own concoction. Warning! I did end up having to can a lot of it (I think I doubled this recipe)… but then you can give it away as gifts for Christmas.

Amy’s Cranberry Sauce
4 cups cranberries
2 cups orange juice
5 whole cloves in tea strainer
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3 cups sugar
Place fresh cranberries and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add spices and cloves in tea strainer. Cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard spice bag. Chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.

The last dish I am going to share with you is an old family recipe for pumpkin pie. I just buy the canned pumpkin, but if you are brave, go for the gusto and make it like my great-grandma did 100 years ago, with the real deal.

Grandma Norcross’s Pumpkin Pie:
½ cup pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 ½ cup milk
½ cup cream (or evaporated milk)
Mix together. Before pouring into pie crust, prick all over with fork and brush with a little cream (or evaporated milk). Pour filing into crust and bake at 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

These are staples at my holiday table, what about yours?

Jessica over at Shower of Roses shared some great recipes for Chicken Satay Spring Rolls, Triple Layer Brownies (I am so for that!), and Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake on her post entitled Party Time Favorites. Also, make sure you check out her great idea for making little turkey treats with your little ones: Gobble, Gobble. Jessica also shared this absolutely yummy looking dessert, just right for the coffee lover in us all: Cappuccino Mousse Trifle.

Sarah, over at Sarah’s Musings, shared a bunch links and a recipe for whole wheat cinnamon buns on her post Holiday Traditions.

Don’t forget to check out Jamie’s cooking blog Kitchen Blessings! She has a ton of recipes sure to become new family favorites. I have my eye on that pumpkin swirl cheesecake! She has some other great recipes like: Company salad, lazy cheesecake salad, and Cornucopia snack!

Another great holiday treat was submitted by Gloria in the comments section at Catholic Cuisine.

"Candied" Sweet Potatoes
*6 cups of steaming hot, mashed, sweet potatoes, you would add
*1/4 cup butter,
*3/4-1 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2-3/4 cup Cinnamon Imperials (Red Hots)
*Marshmallows on top (optional)
*All ingredients more or less according to taste.

Set in hot oven after the turkey/ham is removed, to brown the marshmallows about 5-10 minutes.

Other fabulous places to find holiday goodies are staples like Food Network and All Recipes. Food Network hosts a email newsletter coming soon with recipes for Christmas cookies (I don’t see a link up yet for this year, but keep your eyes peeled. It is definitely worth it). They make great gifts in a basket with some of that cranberry sauce!

Don’t forget to also keep an eye on the Pioneer Woman. Last year she posted just about everything you could dream of for a fabulous and gourmet holiday meal. Here is the link to her Holiday Foods, which include: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Valentine’s Day!

Of course, the big guy, our dear turkey friend, needs some love and attention. Check out these articles from All Recipes on making the perfect turkey (Pioneer Woman also has a great recipe for turkey up there).

So forget about that diet, that is what January is for, and enjoy some of these fabulous holiday meals. Remember the holiday is not just about the food but about sharing that food and memories with those you love.

I hope that you all have a blessed and wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends, and great food!

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  1. Amy, you did such a wonderful job with this Fair!! I REALLY enjoyed reading every bit of it! I can't wait to check out all the links and start working on our shopping list for Thanksgiving! :)

  2. Amy- You did a super job on this fair!! I can't wait to check out ALL the recipes!

    Thank you for doing this!

  3. Amy, thank you for hosting. Such a lovely job! I'm sorry I wasn't able to contribute, but I'm definitely inspired!

  4. I am trying to get a hold of Amy from knt2together. Could you make sure she gets this comment. The e-mail on it is good. Thank you!

  5. Woow, me encantaron tus páginas, estan increíbles, felicidades!!! que hermosa familia!! y que gran mujer. Un abrazo y Dios los bendiga. Saludos desde México!