Friday, December 26, 2008

Holidays in a nutshell.

Santa came! Of course he did, how could he resist this sweetness?

The Boss was so overjoyed. So were her parents. This was a ridiculously fun holiday. The play kitchen was so spot on for her age, too. Keep that in mind if your babe will be nearly two or so next year! She had been playing with her kitchen very quietly while I was cooking and I went in to find this:
She swiped a real cookie and put it in her oven! And like any good cook, tasted it for quality control.

Then Uncle Joe swooped in with her new set of wheels later in the day. She just needs another inch or so to reach the pedals. So close!The handknit gifts were very well received and I felt even happier giving them. I don't think I've ever anticipated giving gifts as much as I did this year. But the gift giving and unwrapping happened in such a flurry that I didn't get to photograph them with the exception of my mother-in-law's scarflet. She wore it the entire time she was at our house which I took to be a good sign!

Apparently, unwrapping gifts does not wait for blogging when it comes family, but my brother Steve's scarf was a big hit, so much so that Hank was even hinting he'd like one just like it.

All the food turned out great. We basically hosted three meals: Christmas eve with parents and siblings, Christmas brunch with Hank's parents, and then a very casual 'eat wherever you want in the house' Christmas dinner with my whole family. In an effort to go absolutely nowhere for Christmas, we have everyone here and I love it. It was really a ballet of just popping things in and out of the oven.

In addition, we had some fare that the guys deemed tradition a few years ago. Apparently someone mentioned that the meal would have been perfect with....sigh....I can't say it....ok, I will.....nachos. So, all the men folk vowed to include this in our Christmas spread and while they can't seem to remember anything any other day of the year, they certainly remember that nachos are on the menu.

If nachos are not a holiday food for you (and I promise to not tell the men in your family that they are a possibility), here are a few noteworthy recipes that were in one of the three holiday meals we hosted.

Hashbrown quiche (previously blogged). How can you go wrong with a hashbrown crust? This has many filling possibilities and I want to make it again and again and I will!

Pioneer Woman's shrimp I kept out the tabasco since my family doesn't appreciate our love for heat, used peeled shrimp, and just cut back on the amount of black pepper. I was swatting away hands as it came out of the oven.

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
We had this in the restaurant a few years ago and the next day I was searching for the recipe. This was hardly the first time I made this--Hank and my brothers made sure it was on the menu. I barely had any left to send home to a friend that had to work on Christmas eve! Make this for your next family dinner-people will love you for it! Oh and you can cut the butter in the potato mixture (not the crust) in half with no problem.

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 stick butter, melted

Sweet potato mixture:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick of butter, melted (I used only half a stick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine brown sugar, flour, pecans and melted butter. Set aside.

Mix mashed sweet potatoes with white sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter. Pour into a baking dish. Cover the potato mixture with topping and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Cooking Light's Orange Brined Pork Loin-I needed to do something other than ham for Christmas eve since I was baking a ham the next day. This was so, so good. So good that my brother Joe almost didn't even need ketchup and that's saying a lot. Went great with the sweet potato casserole, too.

3 cups water, divided
1 1/2 TBSP grated orange rind
4 cups orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups ice cubes
1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed

Combine 1 cup water and rind in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Add remaining 2 cups water, 4 cups juice, salt, sugar and soy sauce. Pour mixture into a 2 gallon bag and add ice and pork. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat over to 450 degrees. Remove pork from bag and discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Place pork on a roasting pan coated in cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes adn then reduce overm temperature to 325; bake an additional 45 minutes or until thickest portion of pork registers to 155. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

I hope your holidays were full of smiles and good eats!


Emmy said...

That first picture made my heart melt.

Hope you had a great Christmas!

K,S,M and R M said...

I agree with Emmy -- that first picture is adorable! I am already thinking about a kitchen for M. Glad to read that you had such a lovely Christmas.

DrDrama said...

The kitchen was a big hit in our house as well. The Kid pretends to get us cups of water from the faucet to drink. And once again, the pork loin and sweet potatoes were awesome!