Holidays

Magazine Paper Flowers and Gift Wrapping

I've posted about these upcycled paper flowers before, but I thought I would take another go at the post because these are a special craft that I love to do. They actually crack me up with the portraits I find in GQ, and I love the NW flair I get from Seattle Met, and don't get me started with the incredibly yummy magazine pages from Martha Stewart. But these are special in the sense that I've been making them since I was in 4th grade, and it's the only tradition I have for the Christmas season. 

Magazine Paper Flowers and Gift Wrapping

Cinnamon Ornaments

I never made these cinnamon ornaments as a kid, but it's never too late to do what you missed out on. One day, I will own a Mr. Potato Head. 

The most notable thing about this little craft project is not how they look, but how they smell. Which is amazing in case you were wondering. Even though these ornaments are a new thing I'm doing, the smell of warm spices instantly equals Christmas for me. 

Cinnamon Ornaments

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

This is one of those dishes you don't need to reserve for the holidays. It's a perfect companion to the Thanksgiving table because it's a satisfying hug in a dish. But really, these flavors are perfect for any gray day - every day here in Seattle minus two weeks - so I like to make this year round. 

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

Seafood Charcuterie

It's time to kiss 2015 goodbye and hope that 2016 treats us well. 

Charcuterie plates, traditionally with slices of prosciutto and the like, are my favorite way to feed a group of folks that want a little variety. The possibilities are endless to what you end up putting on the platter, but I usually stick to some briny items, creamy cheese, flavorful meats and a thin cracker that doesn't get in the way. All the extra bits just make everything even more special. 

In true Northwest fashion, I thought I'd do some switching around and add seafood to the platter. These particular clams and salmon are smoked, and the best part about them are they are ready to go right out the package. Fanciness on a budget and short deadline.

Seafood Charcuterie

Cranberry Relish

No, the cranberry dish isn't just decoration on the Thanksgiving table. 

This tart relish is an annual staple for me. It's the soprano of the choir. The Screech in a high school clique. But most importantly, it's the taste that cuts through all of the heavy food. And the best part is, it's freaking easy to make. 

Ok, real talk. I make this for the actual holiday, but I honestly love it the day after. When you're making that turkey sandwich and it needs a little zing. Because we all know the leftovers are the best part. 

Cranberry Relish

Vegetarian Gravy

Ahhh, the gravy. The bow that ties everything together in a meal. 

Usually, you see this made with all of the bits from roasted meats or the odds and ends of whatever animal of choice. Although delicious, that's not an option for the vegetarian husband of mine. Heck, we could just not make it. Creamy mashed potatoes stand on their own ground as far as I'm concerned. 

But if you're a lover of gravy, the absence of it will be greatly noticed. So, I give you here the gravy that is vegetarian and honestly great for anyone sitting at the table. 

Vegetarian Gravy

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Stuffing is delightful, the bird is yummy too, but creamy mashed potatoes are my favorite dish at the Thanksgiving table. 

There is an unfair advantage, with 2 heads of roasted garlic dotted into these savory clouds. But it makes me feel anchored when I'm building my plate. I also make this during the year when I'm wanting another option other than rice. Blasphemy, I know. 

Some like gravy to be the star of this dynamic duo, but the flavorful potatoes are the winner for me. It's easy to make with only five ingredients, being the least burdensome on the menu.    

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sage, Celery, and Walnut Stuffing

Stuffing. The second most important thing - arguably the first - on the table during the day of thanks. Unfortunately, the pressure to be a star can make this dish fall short. Too dry? No thank you. Too mushy? Bleck. The biggest offense? Bland.

So how are we going to get full flavor when this dish is vegetarian. That's right. No animal meat. Even in the broth. We're going to flavor said broth with some umami and use large chunks of veggies and herbs so you can see the ingredients you're eating. 

I always end up using a fresh loaf and dry the bread pieces in the oven. This recipe is still perfect for those of us that remember not to toss the loaf that's a couple days old. 

Sage, Celery, and Walnut Stuffing

Spicy Citrus Whole Roasted Chicken

Chicken can be just as fancy as a turkey. Especially when it's roasted whole. Throw in a dutch oven, and your main attraction is about to bring your meal to another level. 

Sometimes, during this holiday season, we rely on comfort bringing flavors that tuck you into a food coma. With this spicy rub and citrus combo, I'm keeping you off the couch with adrenaline from one million fans at a boy band concert. 

Frankly, the dutch oven makes basting unnecessary. The chicken is juicy, without the fuss and stress that usually comes with a special occasion. 

Spicy Citrus Whole Roasted Chicken

My Thanksgiving Menu

We are less than three weeks away from Thanksgiving.

Today, I wanted to show you what is on my menu for an intimate version of the day of feasting. Growing up, there used to be an average of twenty people in my home on this holiday and we would eat a collection of dishes that ranged from Korean to Thai to the classic American. Now, the quantity of people is smaller but my sentiment for the holiday is still the same. So this particular meal below is catered for me and my husband, with a smaller bird and the rest of the dishes being vegetarian. 

Yes, this is a whole lot of food for two people - the serving sizes are four to six - but I have to say that what I look forward to most is eating the leftovers the next day while watching some Charlie Brown cartoons. The older classic animations of course. 

My Thanksgiving Menu

Mac and Cheese

This is by far, completely, one-hundred percent, the husband's favorite dish I make for him. Birthdays. Celebrations. Holidays. I know what's a must on the menu. A little friendly heads up that the reason this dish is limited to special occasions, you can guess, is because it takes a few months to work off the caloric intake. 

Meh. Live a little. 

When roux is involved, there is an expectation of difficulty. But, really. It's just melted butter and flour. And I use rice flour because it doesn't usually make clumps. So this recipe's steps are really, make a cheese sauce, put it on cooked pasta, top it with something crunchy and crisp it under the broiler. Easy peasy.  

Mac and Cheese

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Like myself, most people have a love-hate relationship with deviled eggs. Each delectable bite casts a spell that morphs all your logic, making you forget that - no - you do not need to eat the whole tray. 

Then there's the peeling of the shell, that can lead to yelling curses out of frustration. Thank goodness Epicurious shows some tips on the best way to get a smooth egg every time. 

But let's go back to how delicious they are. And how adding some Northwest flavoring with smoked salmon elevates this classic dish to a heavenly level. It almost validates how many you ate when no one was looking. 

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs