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Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Recipes & Tips

Most cooks have their tips and secrets, and certain recipes they do better than others. For me, it's my stuffing and gravy that my family raves about. My secret? Lemon juice and white wine. 

Photo courtesy
Stuffing/Dressing: Sauté the chopped celery and onion in a small amount of butter until they caramelize a bit, then add seasonings, a splash of white wine (and add a little bit to the cook while you're at it), a few squeezes of lemon juice, more butter, chicken stock, and some water as needed, and then mix in the bread cubes/crumbs. This is the best way I've found to make a moist, delicious stuffing. (You may notice that I don't mention measurements. That's because I don't have any patience. LOL I prefer to eyeball it and if I make a mistake, I claim artistic license. *wink*) But that touch of citrus is key and seems to make the rest of the flavors sing. 

I do the same thing for gravy, adding lemon and white wine for a bit of enhanced flavor.

Marcelle Dube shared a recipe for a traditional French-Canadian dish that her mother would make every Christmas. Of course, it always tasted better reheated the next day! The quantities will vary according to the size of pot you have. Use a heavy pot with a lid. This dish is easy and delicious, but definitely not for vegetarians.


You will need:

Chicken, veal, pork, rabbit, moose (any kind of meat you prefer) cut into one-inch cubes NOTE: you will be limited by the size of your pot
Peeled and sliced potatoes to a ¼-inch thickness
Peeled and sliced onions to a ¼-inch thickness
Salt, pepper, spices to taste
Chicken or beef broth (your preference)
Pastry to cover the top; also sliced in one-inch strips (I use the ready-made stuff from the store)

Ready? Okay. Now, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of your pot, followed by a layer of onions, then a layer beef (or chicken, or veal…). Season with salt and pepper and any herbs or spices you favour. Then add one-inch-wide strips of pastry in a criss-cross pattern. Repeat the layers with a different kind of meat until you are near the top of your pot. Don’t forget to season as you go along. When you’re close to the top, pour in about a cup of broth. Then cover everything with pastry, with slits for venting. Cover with the lid.

Cook at 250°F for about five hours. Check every hour or so.


Another favorite of my family's is snowball cookies (also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, and they have other names as well). They're easy and fun to make (and delicious!):

Photo courtesy

1/2 lb. butter
2 1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. walnuts or pecans
2-3 tsp vanilla
about 2 c. powdered sugar and/or sprinkles

Cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla. Add the flour gradually, then the nuts. Form into balls about 1-2 inches in diameter (using the palms of your hands to roll them gently). On ungreased cookie sheet, bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but do not brown. While the baked cookies are still hot, roll them in powdered sugar (and sprinkles if desired). Roll in powdered sugar again once cool.


Any holiday traditional recipes that you'd care to share? (Christmas is the season for sharing!) Got a good recipe for egg nog? Your secret family recipe? Or just some tips in general for saving time or creating flavor?


Rita said...

Man, these look good. But why o why does everything that is good have grain in it?
Thanks for sharing guys.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Ah, good point, Rita! I'm sure someone has recipes without grain. If you do, please share!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, I just remembered one of our favorite things to do for appetizers... Can you have cheese? Stuff a date with an almond and some goat cheese, wrap it in bacon, use a toothpick to hold in place, and bake/broil to melt cheese and cook the bacon. It's SO yummy.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Yum, yum, yum!

Cathy Perkins said...

Oh man, you had to post Snowball cookies!

@AnneMarie Variation on the date appetizer: Soak the dates in a mixture of bourbon and honey. I think we use feta cheese (it's been a while; must find the recipe!), wrap in bacon and bake/broil. Yummy!!!

@Rita - Roasted root vegies? Our family loves them.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Great ideas, Cathy! I love the idea of bourbon-and-honey soaked dates!

Sandy Parks said...

Love the snowball cookies. We call them Sandies in our family. One of my favorites. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

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