Eighteen inches of snow in one week - it was beautiful, but I don’t see how those people get anything done. All I wanted to do was stay in the warm house. But my daughter-in-law gave me the experience of Christmas shopping in blowing snow with a 2-year-old in tow. Let me tell you, blue jeans don’t keep you warm.
We spent another day baking Christmas cookies. My idea of making cookies with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old worked out much better in my head than it did in real life. But I wouldn’t have given up that experience for anything. We also got to meet 2-month-old Samuel. It truly was the best Christmas of my life.
Our daughter-in-law, Krist-en, is a very good cook. She is also the kind who actually makes recipes she gets off the Internet. She uses lots of fresh vegetables, herbs and exotic cheeses (translation: healthy, flavorful and no Velveeta). They have more variety in their grocery stores up there and are not limited by what H-E-B only allows you to have. I wish I could have stuffed a bunch of things in my suitcase. Actually, I did bring back some bottles of barbecue sauce, but evidently that set off the machine at the airport and they searched our bag for dangerous content.
Below is the green bean dish we made Christmas Day. I was making it as Kristen read it to me off her smart phone. I was forgetting things two seconds after she told me so I “winged it.” This recipe is, therefore, definitely open to your own interpretation and adjustments.
Green Beans with
• 3 lbs. green beans, trimmed and left whole
• 3-4 tablespoons butter
• 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
• 2-3 large shallots, sliced (plus 1 small white onion, sliced or several bulb onions)
• 3-4 garlic cloves (or as much as you like)
• 2 lbs. mixed mushrooms (such as button, baby bella, cremini, shiitake; whatever kind you like or can get)
• 3 stems fresh thyme leaves, picked from stems
• 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, picked from stems and broken
• 2-3 green tops of bulb onions
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
• freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt
• Steam, boil or microwave green beans until vibrant green. They should remain crunchy since you will cook them more in oven.
• Heat the oven to 375 degrees and butter the casserole dish that you will bake in
• Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions/shallots and garlic to slightly caramelize. When they have reached your desired color, remove from pan and set aside. Add more butter and oil to the pan, if necessary, and then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are softened, about 10 minutes.
• Pour in the heavy cream, add the thyme, rosemary and onion tops and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan cheese and caramelized onions. Season with salt, if necessary, and black pepper.
• If your cooking pan isn’t large enough to hold the green beans, put them in a large bowl and mix in the sauce. Transfer the green bean mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top. Bake until everything is hot and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached.
Cook’s notes: The amounts of onions and herbs are just all suggestions. Make this sauce to your own tastes and likes. I probably added more heavy cream and cheese too.)
Sweet & Spicy
(I based this one on a recipe off Pinterest, following my goal to make something different and new. This recipe has a marinade time, so allow for that.)
• 8 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and extra skin
• 3 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
• 2 serving tsp. of adobo sauce from the can
• 1 medium yellow onion, rough chopped
• 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (I added a little more)
• 1 cup apple butter
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• Mince the garlic, chop the chipotles and rough chop the onion.
• Trim all the fat you can off the chicken along with all that skin hanging on the sides. Rinse and pat dry.
• Combine the garlic, onion, chipotles, Worcestershire, apple butter and salt in a bowl.
• Put the chicken thighs in a plastic bag in layers with the marinade. Squish the closed bag until the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, turning the bag now and again.
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
• Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray.
• Place the thighs skin-side up in the dish and cover with the marinade.
• Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
• Allow to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can go back into the meat.
Recipe review: I liked the heat and sweet of the chicken. The onions still had a bit of crunch to them, which I liked too. Next time, to make it a bit sweeter, I might add a tablespoon of honey. This chicken called out to be served with a potato or macaroni salad. I‘m putting this one in my personal cookbook to make again. If you would like to see the original recipe, go to the blog at asouthernfairytale.com.
(From Betty Cullum of Goliad who says this is her holiday specialty. This recipe makes two pans of dessert.)
• 1 box (regular size) white cake mix
• 2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
• 4 cups powdered sugar
• 1 pint whipping cream, whipped
• 2 cans (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
• Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour into two greased 9x13 baking pans. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.
• In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy; fold in the whipped cream. Spread over each cake. Top with pie filling. Chill four hours or overnight.
Cook’s notes: Betty says to make a box cake mix taste like you made it from scratch, add 4 tablespoons of sugar and substitute milk for the water called for in the directions.