My Favorite Holiday Recipes!
For me, the best part about the holiday season is slapping on my old Gap sweatshirt from high school, stealing all my mom's expensive face lotions, and waddling down to the kitchen where I eat leftovers with my hands. But to get there, you gotta cook first.
I do a lot of the cooking for (The War On) Christmas dinner alongside my mom, because a) I'm a control freak and b) everybody else is completely wrong and doesn't know how to do it my way. Anyone gets handsy with the whole milk and it's all "I Am The Captain Now," Captain Phillips style. While this does produce good meals and slight knife wounds to the fleshier parts of people who tell me that I should add more salt to something, it also produces a variety of (The War On) Christmas (Is Imaginary) recipes I know work well. So if you're wondering, "what should I cook or bring to my holiday dinner" and also, "I'd love to get that advice from a poor and tiny Bobby Flay imitation" here's a list of the ones I always go to first:
Baked Cheese Straws: I will probably use sharp cheddar and possibly gruyere as well this year! Let's see what Trader Joe's is loaded up with, shall we?
Baked Brie: This is stupid easy, but I make it harder by heating up the honey in a separate saucepan with a sprig of rosemary and some black pepper, then drizzling it over the brie with some balsamic vinegar. Better!
Hummus: After Smitten Kitchen told me to peel the chickpeas, I've never looked back. And I make my own damn recipe. Peel two cans of chickpeas (which takes forever but watch tv! I love menial food work so this does not bother me at all) and add it to a food processor with the juice of a lemon, a grated garlic clove, and 1/4 cup of tahini. Blend until it is a chunky paste, about a minute or two. Then drizzle in olive oil as you are still blending until it becomes smooth AF. Season to taste. Serve with pita and olives, and with a pinch of paprika/ drizzled olive oil on top.
Note: We usually make ham, but I don't make the ham and IMHO, side dishes are 1000% better than the main dish. Who caressss about ham.
My Winter Salad: Cube Butternut Squash into very small cubes, toss with olive oil, finely chopped rosemary, garlic powder and salt. Roast at 425 degrees until crispy, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Toss arugula with olive oil, balsamic, and S&P. Add toasted (in a low pan for five minute) and chopped hazelnuts, the squash, a handful of dried cranberries, and goat cheese.
Green Bean Casserole: I never had green bean casserole, because my mom thinks it's a lunatic dish and she's scared of canned cream things. This has no mushrooms, no fried onions, and no canned cream soup, so I dig it. I also tweak the shit out of this dish. I usually take out the bacon, sub roasted red peppers for pimientos (and add more) and do 3 cups of whole milk with no 1/2 and 1/2. But don't worry. I understand how substitutions work and this recipe is still delicious, so I don't leave weird comments on food websites like 'this recipe sux, I subbed the cheddar for my old dog."
Dijon-Braised Brussels Sprouts: I love The Smitten Kitchen a fierce amount, and everything she does is perfect, and I wish my skills and book sales were up to par with hers. But! They are not. If you don't want to make these, go with my other option. Shave about 3 cups of brussels sprouts on a cheese grater (yes) until they are shredded. Cook cubed pancetta in a saucepan and then when they are fatty and crisp, add two cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Toss in the brussels shreds when the garlic is fragrant. Sauté for a few minutes until everything is beginning to cook but is still crunchy, adding more fat via olive oil if needed. Add the juice of half of a lemon and some shaved parm, as well as salt and pepper. Can't go wrong!
Vegan Pumpkin Ravioli: If you want a hearty dish on Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner, you cannot go wrong with this one. Also! If you are vegan, mashed potatoes are just as good with Earth Balance and almond milk DUH.
Latkes: I. Love. Latkes. I've made them a few times. This is the best recipe out there. If you want to branch out, try subbing sweet potatoes/adding some cayenne pepper or throwing a shredded beet or two into the batch of regular potatoes. But WHO NEEDS SUBS THESE ARE PERFECT.
My Mashed Potatoes: Everybody in my family requests that I make mashed potatoes because I'm just your run-of-the-mill Internet Feminist who had a body-image Renaissance and now adds a barrage of fats to her potatoes because we only live once. Here's what you need to really know--I use about a half lb of Russet Potatoes per person (about two large potatoes = one lb) This means I usually just buy a 5llb bag and call it leftovers. Peel them. Boil them in very salted water until they are fork tender. Run them through a RICER. Add a stick of butter, then inundate them with whole milk and salt. Finally, add 1/4 cup of whipped cream cheese. Add in pepper last. You can't taste the cream cheese. It's good.
We also usually serve my grandmother's recipe for rice and beans along with some tostones, but that deserves a whole CHAPTER of credit. So instead, I just ask that you serve an old recipe from someone you love or miss or love and miss.
Saltine Toffee: This is a) easy b) dope c) can be made ahead so is a great thing to bring to people. I use milk chocolate chips and top it with chopped and salted almonds as well as coarse sea salt.
Rainbow Cookies: Make 'em every year. They are infuriating to make. Why do I do it? Takes too long. Want you to get in on the torture, though. So I'll post.
I leave my other family members to the pies and cookies, mostly, because I have the patience of someone who has been put on hold by Delta Airlines for 6 hours. And because I hate following directions. So here's a picture of a cookie I made last year. It's Donald Trump, when that was FUNNY and not a NIGHTMARE.
Anyway! Happy Food Holidays and don't be afraid to send me your favorite recipes, too.