Craving a holiday meal

13 Dec

For Alex and I, coming back from vacation was tough.  We both basically used all of our paid time off from work for this little break, so we had to get right back into the swing of things when we returned.  That meant going to work the very next day.  And the day after that.  And the day after that. Working wasn’t the tough part though, I was actually glad to kind of get back into my emails and catch up on everything I had missed. Staying awake was the biggest struggle.  Since Thailand is 12 hours ahead of us in time, it meant that we were on a completely different sleep schedule than everyone around us.  I would start to get very sleepy at like 3 p.m. and have to force myself to stay awake before finally conceding for a nap at 7 p.m. It was just awful.

But the toughest part about coming back from Thailand in late November was missing out on Thanksgiving dinner!  I was really craving some of the great comfort foods.  So, I decided to make ourselves a little holiday meal since we missed out on real Thanksgiving this year.

Roasted Chicken

roasted chicken

In order to achieve a nice and crispy oven roasted chicken, you must ensure that the skin is dried out before you cook it.  To do this, I place my whole cleaned chicken on a dish in my refrigerator uncovered for 6 hours. If you don’t have that kind of time, you can also rub your chicken with a couple of teaspoons of baking powder.  The chemicals in the baking powder help absorb the moisture in the chicken.

Then, I create a seasoning paste with salt, pepper, cayenne, and olive oil.  You can really make a seasoning paste with a variety of spices.  Alex likes to use onion or garlic powder in his.  Be sure to rub the paste all over the chicken, even underneath.

Next, cut two lemons into quarters.  Stuff the lemon quarters into the chicken.  The lemons will help keep the meat of the chicken juicy.  For a little extra flavor, I also like to throw in some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme.

Cook the chicken on a roasting pan in a 350 degree oven.  The cook time is about 20 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature hits 165 F.

Cornbread Dressing

cornbread stuffing

First, make a pan of cornbread per the package instructions.  I like to use this recipe from the back of the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal box. Let the cornbread cool completely before cutting it into 1 inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups of chicken broth with 3 large eggs.  Add 1 tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp rosemary and 1 tbsp sage to the mixture and let it stand so the flavors have time to marry.

Next chop up 1 medium onion and 4 large carrots.  Saute the veggies over medium-high heat with a little olive oil.  Season the mixture with a pinch salt to help the onions sweat.  Cook the veggies for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Mix the veggies into the egg mixture.  Then, gently fold in the cornbread cubes.  Be careful not to mix heavily because the cornbread will crumble.

Bake the cornbread dressing in a greased 9 x 13 in. pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Green Bean and Pear Salad

Green bean salad

Blanch 1 lb. of fresh green beans and let it sit in an ice bath until you are ready to use them.

Fry up 3 slices of bacon over medium heat.  When the bacon is crispy, transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil, then chop into bite-sized pieces.

Julienne 1 pear, with the skin on.

Next, combine the green beans, bacon, pears, 1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese and 1/2 cup of slivered almonds.  Dress the salad with a nice, light red wine vinaigrette.

To make your own vinaigrette (which I highly recommend because it’s so easy and it tastes better), mix together 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp Dijon mustard.

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