Coming Out of the Christmas Haze: Favorite Recipes from the Season

Hey, Friends!
My apologies for being out of touch for so long. Cooking, dinners, parties, family, friends, more food, more cooking, and a few church services here and there, all filled my past month to overflowing in the best of ways. I have several essays in the works  but, for now, want to share with you our favorite recipes from the Christmas season. Below are links to the ones we loved with my notes.
I hope you’re either enjoying your kitchen or spending plenty of time with someone who does. The winter months have me craving comfort food and wishing I could hibernate with the bears. This fall I made two large batches of Brunswick stew with leftover barbequed pork and roasted chicken. The containers in the freezer will soon call my name, demanding to be warmed in the crock pot and eaten with fresh cornbread.
Speaking of cornbread, at one of our holiday dinner parties, a guest brought cornbread Madeleines. She used a recipe for slightly sweet cornbread and baked it in a Madeleine pan instead of a round cast iron pan. They were wonderful! It reminded me of cornbread baked in pans with hollows shaped like little corn cobs. But the Madeleines had the perfect depth and light crunch to them, unlike the little corn shaped pieces. I haven’t tried this trick yet myself, but you better believe it’s on my list.
Now to the recipes!

Alton Brown’s City Ham: We have made this one several times over the years and seem to come back to it again and again. The mustard and ginger snaps give it the most wonderful flavor and the pan drippings are delicious! Even though I’m a fan of whiskey and bourbon, I don’t find that it adds much to this recipe, so leave it off if you like or don’t have any around.
A note about kitchen hardware: A couple of Christmases ago, I asked Derek for a counter top roaster. It was when we were living in a smaller house and I still was working in my “two butt” kitchen (see the old post on my blog). I have used the heck out of the thing! It cooks this ham perfectly and roasted chickens and turkeys come out beautifully. It’s more efficient than my regular oven and keeps my oven free for side dishes and bread. Sometimes new hardware gets used once and then is forgotten, but this one has been a great addition to our kitchen. Here’s the one we own:
Spritz Cookies: There are two recipes that I have to make or it doesn’t feel like Christmas: Spritz cookies and crock pot candy (recipe below). You have to have a cookie press to make these. I have the one my lovely mother-in-law handed down to me as well as a newer one that uses a trigger rather than the traditional screw mechanism to press the dough through the plates and onto the cookie sheet. The great thing is that these cookies last for weeks in the cookie jar. The kids can sprinkle the colored sugar or Christmas jimmies on top.
Crock Pot Candy: My family would revolt if I didn’t make at least two batches of this candy over the holidays. I received the recipe from our former neighbor after she gave us some and I then begged her for it. It is very easy and very tasty.
1 jar salted dry roasted peanuts (I buy the store brand. No need to be too fancy)
1 bag chocolate chips (I do get the Nestle’s here because they melt well)
1 block white almond bark
1 block German chocolate in the green wrapper
Dump all ingredients in your crock pot in the above order. Turn crock pot on low and let cook for about two hours, until the chocolate is melted but not burned. Remove the lid from the crock pot, turn it off, and stir everything very well. Cover your counters with wax paper (you may want to put kitchen towels under the wax paper to make a barrier between the paper and your counter; the chocolate will be hot). Drop the mix by the spoonful on the paper and allow to cool and harden before peeling  from the paper and storing. Some people like to drop clumps into little papers. It looks nice this way but we tend to like the dropped pieces better. You’ll end up with some larger and some smaller pieces. I tend to go for the thinner pieces with fewer peanuts. Somehow the salt from the peanuts collects in the chocolate of this small shards

Mashed Turnips with Crispy Shallots: I wasn’t sure about this recipe when I chose it but I was looking for a comforting yet different side for a dinner. The hardest part of this recipe was getting the shallots crispy. The rest of it was a piece of cake and I was surprised how much people loved it! Another bonus was that it kept well. I made it several hours ahead of time and then warmed it before dinner. I like an easy side that is tasty and convenient. I’m keeping this one for future meals.
Chocolate Pavlova: If you have stayed with me to this point, you will not be disappointed! I made this for Christmas Eve and it was out of this world, a nice counter part to the walnut cake I had bought from my cake lady (And if you don’t have a cake lady, get you one! Tory at Victoria’s Sweet Treats in Toccoa GA is my go-to.). I traded out the raspberries for fresh pomegranate seeds because I like pomegranate better and it felt more festive. Another slight change I made was using dark chocolate balsamic vinegar from Leaning Ladder in Woodstock GA. They have fantastic infused oils and vinegars and you can order from them online ( My friend Nicole introduce the store to me and I don’t know whether to love or hate her for it. I’m hooked on their flavors and the quality of their products.
And can we pause for a moment to wonder at Nigella Lawson’s writing? The recipe is worth reading simply for the pleasure of her words, like, “you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers,” which she uses to describe the feel when you know the pavlova is done. 
When you bite into this dish, first you feel the fluffy creaminess of the whipped cream, then your teeth sink into the crispy crunch followed by the chewy center of the pavlova, before you finally bite down on an exploding pomegranate seed. This dessert is about as festive as you can get.
Feel free to send me your favorite holiday recipes! I’d love to add to my “play list,” as it were.

I hope you’re all having a marvelous start to your new year.


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