Thursday, December 24, 2015

All the Heavy Lifting is Done.....

.....except for the roast and dressing. That's tomorrow.

This past week, I've prepared most of the dishes for Christmas Eve, Christmas Dinner, New Year's Eve and New Year's Dinner. I've done this because I'm old, rickety and want to truly enjoy the holidays (holy days). I've wanted to get the "heavy lifting" out of the way so I could concentrate on the "reason for the season", which is the example and sacrifice of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Cheeeeeep Chicken

Chicken, these days, is among the cheeeepest meat protein we can find. When it's on sale, I buy as much as I can of it and freeze it in meal-sized portions. When whole chickens are less than a dollar a pound, I get them home and roast them all (I usually buy 4 at a time). We eat one that day, and save the rest, frozen, for later.

My Holy Day Menus

Christmas Eve

 Shrimp Egg Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Sesame Wings with 3 Sauces (Teriyaki, Peanut and BBQ)
Garlic Baguette with Hot Spinach/Artichoke Spread
Raw Veggie Tray with Pickles

Christmas Dinner

Roasted Pork Rib  
Sage Dressing
Potatoes Au Gratin
Roasted Carnival Squash
Waldorf Salad
Garlicky Green and Yellow Wax Beans
Mincemeat Pie

New Year's Eve

Pork Egg Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Jalapeno Poppers
Oriental Noodle Salad
 Garlic Butter Baguette
Veggie Tray with Pickles

New Year's Dinner

Chicken Enchiladas
Cole Slaw with Pineapple Dressing
Guacamole with Tortilla Chips
Veggie Tray with Pickles

Having roasted chicken in the freezer makes Chicken Enchiladas and Sage Dressing a whiz to make. I thaw the chicken, remove the meat from the bones, simmer the bones in water for an hour and chop the meat for the Enchiladas. I add a piece of carrot, celery and onion to the water, to make the broth. When the broth is made, strain it through a collander or finer mesh sieve; *discard the bones, etc., and let the broth cool. Pour into plastic containers and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Before using, skim the fat from the top of the broth.

Twice Boiled Broth?

*I don't always discard the bones and stuff. Sometimes, I put them in a roasting pan and roast the whole thing (minus the broth) until all is brown and crusty. Then, deglaze the pan with water and pour all into a soup pot. Simmer gently for 1/2 hour until you have good, brown, stock. Sieve the bones and stuff out and freeze the stock until needed later.

Day before yesterday, I baked two small loaves of bread for stuffing cubes. I use half whole wheat and half white all-purpose flour in the recipe. When mostly cool, I cut the two loaves into 1" cubes and put them on cookie sheets in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 6 hours. I let them cool, completely dried, then put them in a large plastic bag for Christmas Day. The bread, broth, added veggies and butter will make a pot of lovely sagey dressing to go with the meal.

Chicken Enchiladas - I baked these (350 degrees F. about 1 hour), let them cool, wrapped them up and put them in the freezer until New Year's Day.

To make Chicken Enchiladas, I mix the meat from one roasted bird with one (15 oz.) can of refried beans and about 1 cup of shredded cheese (I had cheddar and swiss on hand). I add 1/2 can of mild enchildada sauce and mix well. I wrap the flour tortillas (or corn tortillas, if you like) in about 4 paper towels and nuke them for 1 minute 30 seconds, until they're moist and warm. I put these on my work table next to the filling. On a rimmed plate, I pour enchilada sauce about 1/4" deep. I grease a large baking dish. Here's what to do: lay the tortilla in the plate, then, flip it to make sure front and back are coated with sauce. Put enough filling in to the fill the tortilla from side-to-side. Roll and place, seam side down, in the baking dish. When the dish is full, you're done. Cover the enchiladas with 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese and pour a can of Enchilada Sauce over them. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Serve immediately or let cool and freeze until ready to use.

To reheat for dinner, take them out the night before and let them thaw in the fridge. Heat them at 350 degrees F., covered with foil, for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature in 165 degrees F. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, etc.

Left-over Filling and Tortillas

I had left-over tortillas and filling, so I made three good-sized burritos with that and threw them in the freezer for another meal, some other time. We nuke these in their wax paper wrappers about 2 minutes, then fry them in a little oil or bake them on a rack in the oven, until the tortilla is crisp. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, etc.

Chirstmas Rice Pudding Breakfast

I didn't want to fuss with breakfasts during the last few days before Christmas so I made a large batch of Rice Pudding. This is just rice (Jasmin), 3 eggs, about 1 1/2 c. milk, 1/4 c. sweetener, and a handful of craisins and raisins with 1 t. Cinnamon, 1/2 t. Ginger, 1/4 t. Nutmeg and 1/8 t. Cloves (all ground). Bake it until firm in a water bath, about 1 hour at 350 degrees F. Serve hot or cold with milk and brown sugar. Usually, a small bowl of this will last us until afternoon.

Another breakfast that's quick and easy is Yogurt with Granola or Meusli. This is just 3 heaping teaspoons of plain Greek Yogurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, a handful of craisins and a handful of granola or meusli. I add a small handful of pecans, as well. Doesn't look like much, but it stays with you.

Quick Shake-n-Bake Sesame Wings  

I added Brown Sesame Seeds to the Shake-n-Bake mix and tossed the trimmed wings in it. To trim the wings, remove the tips and save for broth, later. Cut the wing at the second joint and rinse well with water. Bread and bake these about 40 minutes at 400 degrees F. until the internal temp is 165 degrees F. Save the bones from these for broth too. I put the wings in a ziplock bag in the fridge for Christmas Eve.  When ready for them, nuke them in small batches, about 4-6 minutes each until hot. Serve with your choice of sauces. We're using Teriyaki, Peanut and BBQ sauces.

Well, that's the menu, so far. Got to go bake the baguette, now and made the Spinach/Artichoke dip. Then we're ready for the Christmas Eve. We'll nibble and tell the rest of the story of the life of Christ, whose birth we celebrate and through whom, we may have Everlasting Life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds delicious and what a great idea to get it all done ahead of time! Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!


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