Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year: Gingerbread Men

Wow, Christmas is pretty much here and so is the end of the year, and what a great year it has been too. As this is going to be my last posting for the year I wanted to spend some time talking about this year and about the next as we start onto new adventures.

This year brought on some of the biggest personal changes to my life, a move to a new country and the birth of my first child. Today is also extra special as it is my third year wedding anniversary with my best friend and partner in crime. I really couldn’t ask for a better year, and yet I am looking forward to the new and very different year ahead. One of the new challenges that I am looking forward to I will be able to share right here, weaning my daughter onto solid food. I am going to be doing baby led weaning and so I am going to be looking for and sharing recipes geared towards babies but that are also something great for parents, because for me there is nothing more stressful then having to cook two separate meals when my day is already full!

It will be a fun and at times frustrating challenge but I am determined to be creative with her foods so that it is full of flavor without relying on things like salt that aren’t good for her digestion. I am also looking to prepare her a wide variety of foods to try to help her develop a love for food that is healthy and open to trying new things. Not only is this going to be great for Morgan but also it is going to be so much better for our budget. I mean, seriously, have you seen the price they want to charge for baby food? I think it is sad that they play on a parents desire to provide what is best for their children by claiming that their food is better for your baby. A jar of sweet potato baby food is no better for your baby then a mashed up sweet potato, and in the long run you can get more for your money by buying it fresh and making it yourself. My challenge in the new year is to incorporate recipes that you can feel safe giving your little one and that you and the rest of your family can enjoy so you can say goodbye to fussing around with separate meals for everyone.

But back to this year; I just want to thank everyone for enjoying this food journey with me and I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas, an even better New Year and I will see you next year with more delicious recipes.

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Leftover Turkey Risotto

It is amazing that in four days it will be Christmas. This is my favorite season but sadly it always seems to go by so quickly. It won’t be long and we will be thinking about the New Year and packing up our Christmas decorations. What I wanted to talk about is one of my favorite problems and that is what to do with all of the turkey leftovers. Every year I try to make sure I buy an even bigger turkey then I needed to ensure lots of leftovers and each year I have tried to come up with a new recipe to use it. Last year it was my take on a healthier version of Turkey Tetrazzini and this year I am proud to say I have added this delicious creation of a creamy risotto with leftover turkey to my repertoire.

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Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

During the year I try really hard to stay away from baking a lot of cookies because lets face it I have no self-control when it comes to cookies. But Christmas is the one time of year that I let myself go a little crazy. I have been known to cook 10-12 different kinds of cookies during one Christmas season. I don’t think I could honestly say that I have one favorite but I do have a few that I can’t go through Christmas without having and one of those are Jam Thumbprint cookies. I find them so irresistible that I have to make sure to bake a large batch; otherwise I end up eating them all before anyone else has a chance to sample them.

What is one of your must have cookies during the holiday season?

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Perfect Roasted Potatoes

Growing up we always had mashed potatoes with our Christmas dinner and I was happy to continue that tradition however my husband prefers roasted potatoes, so in order to make sure that everyone is happy I try to rotate what I do each year. But I must confess that it took me a quite a while to perfect my roasted potatoes. Trying to make sure they were nice and crisp on the outside while light and fluffy on the inside proved to be a slightly bigger challenge then I thought. But after receiving some tips from my mother-in-law as well as a bit of research online I am now happy with the results of my recipe.

An essential part to having the perfect roasted potatoes is to start off with a floury potato, something like a King Edward, but this proved difficult in the US because they often don’t display what variety the potatoes are. The only bit of advice I have if you don’t have access to good roasting potatoes is stay away from Yukon for roasting, that is the potato that I used when I was in the US and it doesn’t turn out right. You want one that is floury to get the result of a nice crisp outside with a soft inside.

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Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

Green bean casserole is quite a staple during Thanksgiving and Christmas in the US. But here in the UK most people have never heard of such a dish, I struggled to even find the standard French’s fried onions. In the end I opted for a bag of fried onions we found in the Indian food section of the supermarket, which it turns out were the exact same thing.

Growing up I had only ever had it made with canned soup, but ever since I started cooking healthier I have avoided using canned soup as much as possible. So that posed a challenge for me, because the reason we use canned is because of the convenience of it. There is a lot to do on Christmas and the last thing we need is to add one more time consuming dish. So I had to come up with something that wasn’t more fuss then it was worth and I am pleased to say that I did it. This was incredibly easy to make and it took up less time in the oven, which on a day like Christmas is a huge plus.

Now if you are feeling very adventurous I am sure you could make the fried onions from scratch but for me it isn’t worth the extra time.
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