Tag Archives: Christmas

20-day diet prep plan: Day 10 — Make a plan for Christmas!

Eating well is a form of self-respect.

Christmas is only two days away!

Decide NOW which sweets and carbs are most important to you, and commit to eating ONLY those. I encourage you to write this out, post it on Facebook, or tell a friend, to really crystallize it in your mind, and commit to it.

The idea is to hit a line somewhere between “I can’t have any sweets or treats,” and “I’ll eat whatever I want!” Plan on skipping the things that you don’t love so much, but enjoy and really savor the things you do! Maybe your friend can help you sort out what those things are.

Here’s a message I put on my calendar a few years ago; I set it to reappear every December 20:

Christmas sugar reminder

This is a gift you’re giving yourself, so that you’ll feel better afterwards! Remember…

Eating well is a form of self-respect.

 

 

But if you do “slip up” or “mess up,” think about this…

Saying I messed up so I may as well eat crap is like saying i dropped my phone so i may as well smash it.

 

But more importantly: lest we get too wrapped up in food and other material stuff, let’s also remember that Christmas is about something much more important…

Peace on earth, good will to men

A peaceful Christmas to you and yours;

may you recognize and thoroughly enjoy every blessing that is yours!

(See you here on the 26th.)

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{ Christmas calligraphy by Anderson Inkwell }

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Best Thanksgiving leftovers ever! – homemade turkey pot pie

turkey pot pie

Here’s our family’s favorite thing to eat the day after Thanksgiving: homemade turkey pot pie!

If my daughter’s home, we’re treated to a homemade crust. If she’s not, I usually rely on Pillsbury ready-made crust. (The photo above is from Pillsbury’s website.) To make this gluten-free or Paleo, substitute a mashed-potato or mashed cauliflower topping for the crust.

I didn’t get to host Thanksgiving this year, so I don’t have turkey leftovers to make it with, SO unfortunately I can’t give you how-to shots, but here’s the recipe.

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

5-1/4 c. chicken broth (3 14-oz. cans)

3 carrots, pared (or 12 “baby” carrots), cut into bite-size pieces, ~ 1/2”

1 small white or yellow onion, diced

1/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced (or one 4-ish oz. jar of sliced ‘shrooms)

2/3 to 1 c. frozen peas

3/4 c. butter

2/3 c. all-purpose flour or gluten-free substitute

salt and pepper to taste

4 c. cooked turkey, cut into bite-size pieces

 

(My baking dish is 9” in diameter and about 2.5” tall, with straight sides.)

Bring chicken broth to boil in a 3-quart or larger sauce pan. Add carrots and onion and cook until almost tender. Add mushrooms and peas; cook 3-5 minutes more.

Remove vegetables from broth and set both aside. You should have about 4 c. of broth.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In same or larger saucepan, melt butter; whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly till bubbly and a little golden. Gradually whisk in reserved hot chicken broth. Cook until mixture thickens and bubbles 1 minute. Season to taste w/ salt and pepper.

Add the vegetables and the turkey to the saucepan; stir gently and cook till turkey is heated through. Turn the mixture into the baking dish. You may refrigerate it at this point for later baking, if desired.

Prepare one pie crust. Cut an opening in the center and a few small holes around it (to vent steam; not just for decoration). Fit dough over filled baking dish; press dough down all around edge. Trim if necessary, leaving 3/4” or so to drape down the side of the dish.

Bake 40 minutes or until crust is nicely browned and filling is bubbly.
Adapted from Food Editors Favorites, 1983.

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Thinking about cutting down on carbs after the holidays? Here’s help.

Subscribe to my monthly email, and get a free gift…

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20 Cranberry Sauce Recipes

roasted-cranberries-2

A variety of cranberry sauce recipes, for Thanksgiving or Christmas…

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: OurFamilyEats

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Roasted or Baked Cranberry Sauce

Simple Roasted Cranberries (Gluten Free, Grain Free, and Paleo) from OurFamilyEats. I love that this one really is simple, and that it uses maple syrup for the sweetener.

Bobby Flay’s Baked Cranberry Sauce, which calls for finishing it off with a quarter cup of bourbon. Some reviewers substituted other liquor or liquers (orange being a popular flavor). 41 reviews, and every one of them 4-star!

Roasted Cranberry Sauce with Herbed Candied Walnuts, from Bon Appetit. Lots of sugar in this one!

Boozy and Baked Cranberry Sauce. Even though it has “boozy” in the name, its alcohol content is much less than Mr. Flay’s. Also looks easy: just four ingredients.
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Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: The Vintage Mixer
And another “sugar-free” cranberry sauce recipe, but it uses honey. You could sub maple syrup or your preferred sweetener. It also includes crushed pineapple; interesting!
And another. This one calls for Equal, but a couple commenters said they used Splenda and it worked well.
Paleo-friendly cranberry sauce; uses apple juice and maple syrup for sweetener. (Listed as

Paleo/GF/DF/EF/SF/NF)

Another Paleo cranberry sauce, from nomnompaleo, using sweet cherries and apple juice.

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Traditional Stove-Top Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Cranberry Sauce Recipes
image: Simply Recipes
Every recipe I’ve ever tried from Elise at SimplyRecipes has been great. Here’s her traditional recipe. But she also suggest various add-ins. I might try blueberry!
(And her recipe is the same as the most popular cranberry sauce at AllRecipes; more than 1200 reviews, and still five stars!)
Another classic cranberry sauce recipe; this one from Pioneer Woman. Similar to the others, but uses maple syrup in place of sugar, and orange juice in place of white sugar.
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Unique Cranberry Sauce Recipes

This page at Fun & Food Cafe features five different cranberry sauce recipes, with unusual ingredients. I like the sound of the second one, which has raspberries and walnuts!
Ginger Cranberry Sauce, via RecipeLion.
Another from the same source: Cranberry Sauce with Apples (and Mandarin oranges, and pineapple).
How about Cranberry Sauce with Jalapenos? I think that would be a big hit with smoked turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Please, sir: May I have some more pudding?

lemon-pudding-cake-bread-pudding-montage-550x270

Because it’s the day before Christmas, and I still have TONS to do, I’m going to make this post short.

My daughter and my BFF and I got together yesterday and made some yummy, yummy recipes. First time we’d ever made these, and they both get three enthusiastic, sugar-high thumbs up!

Warm Lemon Pudding Cakes, via Seasons & Suppers. As the three of us tasted our first bites, we were all rendered speechless, except for satisfied, “mmmm’s, all around. As it bakes, the mixture separates into two layers: a creamy layer on the bottom that’s similar in taste and texture to a very tart lemon curd, topped by a thin layer of super-light fluffy cake.
We made these in 4 oz. Mason jars. (Everything’s better in a jar!) Super cute, and — PLEASE NOTE: in these small jars, they only take about 15 minutes to bake. We still used the hot water bath method called for in the recipe.

Bread Pudding Cupcakes, by Sugar Derby. We left out the raisins, subbed pecans, and didn’t bother with the cream cheese frosting. Either plain, or topped with a bit of the neighbor’s homemade salted caramel sauce, they were fabulous!

These will both definitely be part of our best desserts list now. Should be in yours, too.

Merry Christmas to all!

Timetable for roasting vegetables

roasted vegetables
I have previously posted this in recipe form, but since I work out a detailed timing schedule for all of my cooking on Thanksgiving and keep it in a file on my computer,* I thought I’d share my schedule for making a large batch of roasted vegetables for a crowd.

This schedule assumes you’ll be serving the meal at about 12:30. Adjust as needed.
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Roasted vegetables cooking schedule

earlier** – chop carrots, onions, peppers and zucchini
10:30 – preheat oven to 400 F; cut potatoes
10:50 – put carrots and potatoes in oven; snap the asparagus
11:10 – turn carrots and potatoes
11:35 – take carrots and potatoes out; put onions and peppers in
11:45 – turn onions and peppers
11:55 – take onions & peppers out; put zucchini in
12:05 – add asparagus to zucchini; toss; put back in
12:15 – take veg’s out of oven

The full recipe.

Make-ahead tip: The vegetables can be roasted and kept at room temperature up to 2 hours in advance or refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. Reheat from room temperature at 350° F to 400° F. Do they taste as amazing as roasted veggies fresh out of the oven? Not quite, but still delicious!

*This makes me sound super organized in the kitchen. Ha! The REASON I spell all this out carefully and keep record of it is because, while I can (and do) get by with winging-it in the kitchen for daily cooking, holidays and parties require more organizing than I can do in my head. And I find that the less info I try to store in my head, the less wigged-out I get trying to stay on top of it all!

**For all the veggies except the potatoes, you can chop them earlier that morning, or do them the day before and store in the fridge, grouped according to what goes into the oven together.

Bread pudding: the ultimate Christmas dessert!

Challah-Bread-Pudding-520x400
photo by The Shiksa in the Kitchen

So, I’m fixing dinner, Christmas Eve night, and my husband says, “What are we having for dessert?” Oh my gosh — dessert?! How on earth did I forget dessert? (I’ll tell you how: I was thinking of the waffles and cinnamon rolls we were going to be having for brunch the next day!)

Then my brilliant husband goes on to say, “How about bread pudding?”

Now, if you’re  not a bread pudding fan, let me tell you — neither was I, until a couple years ago when we ordered lemon bread pudding at Carrabba’s. I love anything lemon, but I’m telling you, this was heaven on a plate! Warm, sweet but with a little lemon tang, and custard-y… yum!

So a more traditional bread pudding — simply flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and for those who like them, raisins — seems like the perfect Christmas dessert.

And it was!

It’s quick and easy to throw together, and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. We used this bread pudding recipe from All Recipes, and topped it with the Kahlua cream sauce recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. (A plain vanilla cream sauce would be good, too. Orange or maple might be nice for a breakfast/brunch version.)

With these slight changes:
– Used a demi-loaf of French bread; fresh, not day-old.
– Used a 9×9″ pan (rather than 8×8″)
– Used brown sugar, not white.
– Left out the raisins.
– Added a little fresh-grated nutmeg with the cinnamon.
– Skipped the melted butter, but drizzled a little heavy cream over it (after pouring on the egg mixture, but before baking’ I didn’t measure, but probably about 3 Tablespoons.)
– Sprinkled some pecans on top. (Next time I’ll use more and mix ’em in.)
– Baked for 35 minutes.

Mmmm… Imagine the warm, sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a texture I can only describe as a tender, custardy cake. If this isn’t Christmas on a plate, I don’t know what is! But it would be just as good at any autumn or winter dinner — or brunch!

I might just make it again for New Year’s Eve!

12 homemade Christmas treats that aren’t sweets

allpurpose-spice-rub
If you LOVE to make homemade food gifts, but have some giftees who are diabetic, gone paleo, eating low carb, or just not sweet lovers, here are some DIY food options for them:

treats that aren't sweets - sugar-free dry rub
A sugar-free dry rub for rotisserie-style chicken — highly rated on AllRecipes.com.
Garlic hummus (from yours truly). I suggest gifting this with some homemade seasoned pita chips.
My buttermilk ranch dressing: No nasty chemicals, no sugar, made with yogurt.
Personalized coffee blend, from Martha Stewart. This page includes a downloadable printable for the label. Of course!
I’m not a fan of olives (so don’t make this for me), but for those who do like them: olives with fennel seeds and orange, from Martha Stewart.
Fajita marinade for steak or chicken, using Pioneer Woman’s “Beef Fajita Nachos” recipe.
Giada’s marinara. Gift it with a package of cheese tortellini and/or homemade garlic bread. (Not low carb or paleo, I know. But better than store-bought!)

Pickled red onions. These make a beautiful jarred gift. They’re a delicious addition to salads and sandwiches. Fancy-up your green beans or sweet peas instantly. Some folks like them atop a hamburger or roast.
And when the onions are gone, you’re left with a lovely pink vinegar to use in slaw or salad dressings.
Feel free to improvise on the sugar and spices. I’d use half this much sugar, and just a few generous pinches of thyme and some fresh-ground black pepper.
(A note to diabetics and low-carb-ers: This is one recipe where I’d go with sugar, honey or maple syrup over artificial sweeteners. Splenda doesn’t always work well with vinegar, and if you’re using these as a condiment, the amount of sugar actually ingested is very minimal.)

Homemade taco seasoning. No sugar, no MSG, no gluten, no cornmeal filler.
And for a baker’s dozen, the last item is a sweet, but it’s sugar-free, and not very sweet-tasting: sugar-free chocolate bark with your choice of toppings.