Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Food: It was a very good year...

The holidays...what a happy roller-coaster of tastes.

Fantasy food comes to life in the form of sugary treats.

Savory layers of depth appear in tender, herbed meats.

Consider the impact of so many bloggers and magazines and of course - food shows on t.v.!  I was so busy reading food memoirs and seeking the best ideas of the season, I didn't take the time to fill you in on 2 Hungry Travelers' favorite seasonal dishes.   Instead - I did a lot of recipe-seeking and came up with some winners!

So it's all over but the digesting, so to speak.  How about a wrap-up of some of the yummiest of the season, so we can come back here next year when it's time for pre-holiday planning?

A fried turkey was our centerpiece, so to speak.  The frying job is hard work and needs close attention...or so I'm told. It involves lawn chairs and beer. I brined it the night before with Emeril's turkey brine - I'd never done that before - it made the turkey so flavorful and extra-juicy!  Travis injected it with Italian dressing just before frying.  We used a fresh turkey from the local Amish store - I can't imagine a better Thanksgiving (or any holiday) centerpiece!

This new dressing received rave reviews!  Check it out at Pioneer Woman's website: Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples.   It's traditional dressing kicked up with sausage, apples, and delicious sautéed baby portabello mushrooms.  I'm never making 'the old kind' again; this is one you'll make more often than the holidays because you'll be missing it if you don't.
This photo was taken before baking.

See the link to Pioneer Woman's recipe for the post-baking transformation.  

Everybody makes green bean casserole at holidays.  I settled in with a few good food magazines and tried to find something a little different.  As delicious as Green Bean Lasagna from Southern Living magazine was, I'm willing to bet that everybody's favorite traditional onion-ring-topped green bean casserole might be back on our table next year.  Green Bean Lasagna will instead become a favored side for steak night - it was stand-alone delicious, no need to compete with all those other dishes!  But do take advantage of its updated onion ring topping on your traditional casserole:  toss together 1 1/2 cups crushed Ritz-like crackers, one 6 oz container french fried onions, and 3 T melted butter instead of 'just onion rings.'  The buttery goodness was a step above average!  Check out the link for a photo that will make your mouth water.

Another holiday favorite - rolls! - we can't have a family dinner without the dinner rolls.  Again, thanks to Ree Drummond - The Pioneer Woman.  Her No-Knead Dinner Rolls went over well and included quite a surprise: yeast rolls with baking soda and baking powder thrown in at the end?  What?  All I can say is - the combo worked very well and produced some wonderfully light and a little bit lumpy, let's call that "rustic," rolls.  Diverting from PW's direction, mine were made using one ball of dough per muffin cup, not three.  The dough is very sticky and it just made sense!  Try mixing 1 lb. soft butter with 1 cup finely chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup honey for the yummiest Cranberry Butter - make 1/2 of that amount if you don't want a lot; we're still happily and intentionally spreading it on everything breadlike.

In case anyone "needed" a few more bites,  I made tiny pumpkin pies in mini-muffin tins that the grandsons especially loved, and our family favorite Italian Cream Cake, and shortbread...

I'm not sure why we wait for holidays - our families love this traditional, and sometimes not-so-traditional, food.  As we welcome 2013, we're thankful for the blessing of family, joyful that Christmas is special to those we love.  We look forward to a year of more recipe tweaking and sharing with the family - and with you. We'll try to work in some hungry-traveling adventures, too!  May your new year be a peaceful one - full of great food.