With the shopping all done and the tree ornaments hung, the next thing to think about for your holiday festivities is what to serve your loved ones as you celebrate the holidays.
While Christmas is a holiday that is all about tradition and familiarity, if you are looking to debut something new on your dinner table this season or if you are hosting a major meal at your house for the first time, why not try out one of our tried, tested and adored holiday recipes?
From sumptuous stuffings to sensational sweet things, Christmas is all about having the occasional delicious indulgence and so if you are going to indulge, why not go with something special from our recipe collection?
STUFFING THE FOWL
Whether you are cooking turkey or goose for the holiday meal, the one and only thing that ever really manages to upstage the fowl centerpiece of the holiday table is what is often cooked within it – the stuffing.
The following two recipes are for stuffings that we have wowed our own guests with. Our goose-stuffing recipe was one that we found on the internet by chance but became an instant classic after serving it with a goose to a table full of hungry Montreal journalists, all of whom were impressed.
The second is a turkey-stuffing recipe that my mother has used since before I was born and has appeared on every Christmas and Thanksgiving table in our house my entire life.
Wild Rice and Hazelnut Goose Stuffing
4 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & cubed
½ cup onion, minced
2 teaspoon dried savory
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons flour
If you would like to give this stuffing a nuttier taste, toast the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet in the oven or toaster oven for a few minutes on low heat prior to combining the other ingredients. Toasting any kind of nut will enhance its taste but be careful as nuts can burn very quickly. Nuts are toasted when they just begin to brown slightly. Allow to cool before using.
1) Mix together the wild rice, nuts, apples, onion, herbs, salt and pepper to taste
2) Stuff into goose
3) Skewer goose closed
4) Cook goose
5) Remove stuffing from cooked goose
Judi’s Sausage Stuffing
2 packages of Maple Leaf bulk sausage meat
1 loaf of white bread crumbed in the blender
2 cups of chopped celery, small dice
1 large Bermuda onion, chopped, small dice
4 eggs slightly beaten with a half cup of milk
½ cup of chopped parsley
Sage – teaspoon or to taste
Savory – teaspoon or to taste
Thyme – teaspoon or to taste
Salt and pepper
1) Remove the sausage from its package and fry, crumbled in a large skillet, drain excess liquid and set aside in a large mixing bowl
2) Fry the onions and celery together until sufficiently sweated
3) Add vegetables to meat and also add crumbed bread
4) Add herbs and seasonings to taste
5) Add egg-and-milk mixture and mix all ingredients thoroughly
6) Put stuffing mixture into a well-greased casserole dish and cook for 40 minutes at 325º
*Note: we used to cook this recipe within the turkey, however in recent years there have been many warnings about the kinds of bacteria that can develop within a turkey if it is not cooked thoroughly enough. This is why it is best to cook the stuffing outside of a turkey and if you want it to taste a bit more like bird, drizzle the stuffing with a few tablespoons of turkey drippings as it is cooking.
What is Christmas without a little something sweet to nibble on or something special for the kids to leave out with a glass of milk for Santa?
The following three recipes are standards that my family has served every holiday for years. As a young girl, these pecan squares were my absolute favourite.
For the crust
1¼ cups of graham crumbs
¼ cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of melted butter
Follow the instructions on the graham crumbs package, butter and line a 8-x-8 square pan with parchment paper, press the mixture firmly into the pan, bake 8 minutes at 375º, turn oven down to 350º while cooling the crust.
When the crust is cooled, top with the following in order:
1 cup of flaked coconut
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of halved pecans
Top with one can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, evenly drizzled over top of the pecans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350º and cool on a rack before cutting.
Spicy Ginger Crinkle Cookies
¾ cup of shortening
1 cup of packed brown sugar
¼ cup of molasses
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ of sugar for rolling the balls in
1) In a large bowl, beat the shortening with the brown sugar
2) Beat in the egg, molasses and vanilla
3) In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, clove and salt
4) Combine everything together
5) Roll into 1 tablespoon balls, roll in sugar, place 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
6) Bake at 350º for 12 minutes and then cool on a rack
½ cup of cornstarch
½ cup of icing sugar
1 cup of flour
¾ cup of softened butter
1) Sift together cornstarch, icing sugar and flour
2) Blend in butter
3) Work the dough until a soft dough forms
4) Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes
5) Roll out dough to a half inch in width
6) Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters or a knife
7) Decorate with candied cherries
8) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
9) Bake at 300º for 20 minutes
10) Cool on rack
Whether you like to have the occasional liquor-based cocktail around the holidays or you celebrate sans alcohol, special drinks to toast with are part of the holiday spirit and part of the fun. Why not try out some of these classics and fun concoctions at your next holiday bash?
If you can’t find the stuff in a carton or want to go it old school, use this recipe for homemade eggnog.
5 egg yolks
¾ cup of sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
2 cups of homogenized milk
1¼ cups of whiskey or cognac
¼ cup spiced rum
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of nutmeg and then extra for garnish (fresh grated if available is always best)
1) Whisk yolks with sugar until creamy and sugar begins to dissolve
2) Add cream, milk, bourbon and rum and stir to combine
3) Stir in nutmeg and vanilla and chill well
4) Serve chilled on the rocks with a sprinkle of nutmeg if desired
This recipe can also be done without any alcohol if so desired. Simply swap out the booze for an additional ¾ cup of whole milk, an additional ¾ cups of cream and add 1-2 teaspoons of rum extract.
Please note that because this recipe does contain raw eggs, it is necessary to use the freshest eggs possible to avoid salmonella contamination. Wash the shells before cracking to ensure nothing gets into the egg once they are removed from the shell. Also note that while everyone is susceptible to salmonella, those who are immune-compromised, like young children, the elderly and the ill, should never consume anything with raw eggs.
Festive & Fruity Holiday Punch
This non-alcoholic fruit punch is always a delight at parties and is fine for everyone to enjoy.
1/3 of a cup of white sugar
1 litre of cranberry juice
2 cups of 100% pure pineapple juice
3 tablespoons of almond extract
1 2-litre bottle of ginger ale
Frozen cranberries to garnish
1) Mix together the first four ingredients and refrigerate overnight so that the flavours meld
2) Add the ginger ale just prior to serving
3) Add frozen cranberries if desired to decorate
Chocolate Chip Martini
1¼ ounces of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1¼ ounces of vodka
¼ ounce of Crème de cacao (optional)
1) Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a cup of ice cubes
2) Strain and pour into a martini class
3) Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you happen to have one on hand
The Candy Cane
Crushed candy canes to rim the glasses and extra canes for garnish
1 ounce of vodka
¼ ounce of peppermint schnapps
½ ounce of white chocolate liqueur
2 ounces of half-and-half cream
1) Crush a few candy canes and rim your glass with them firs by dipping the edge of the glass into hot water and then into your candy cane mixture
2) Pour the remaining ingredients into a glass with ice cubes and garnish with a candy cane as a stir stick
Festive & colourful Mimosa
1) Blood-orange juice
2) Chilled sparkling white wine
While traditionally this beverage has always been served as a mix of champagne and orange juice, you can add some holiday flare to it by substituting blood-orange juice which is sometimes available in grocery stores with the fresh squeezed type of juices. Alternately you can also make a poinsettia by mixing white wine with cranberry juice. We suggest that you use sparkling white wine or mousseux instead of actual champagne, which is usually expensive and should be drunk on its own.
The holidays are supposed to be all about having fun and spreading good cheer which is why moderation is an important thing to remember both when it comes to drinking and indulging in festive treats while celebrating the holidays and so enjoy responsibly.
On behalf of the Nation, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!