You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘holiday recipes’ tag.

I’m a late with my St. Patty’s Day post, but my excuse is that we actually didn’t even make this “traditional” meal until Saturday. I know…what were we thinking? Something that takes three to four hours to cook just isn’t practical on a week day, but we were determined to give this Americanized meal a try this year, so we indulged ourselves a few days late. The only complaint I have about our corned beef and cabbage is that we didn’t corn our own beef. There’s always next year though, right? Right.

While corned beef and cabbage is in fact an Irish meal, it most definitely isn’t a St. Patty’s Day (or any other day, for that matter) tradition in Ireland. (As noted in one of many interesting articles we found while researching recipes last week.) After reading about Ireland’s “foremost cooking authority,” according to Epicurious, we decided to go with Darina Allen’s recipe with a few Martin twists. Traditional or not, it certainly was delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Serves: 6 to 8
– 4 lb corned beef brisket
– 6 onions, quartered
– 1 tsp dry English mustard
– 1 large sprig of thyme and 3 parsley stalks, tied together
– 3 to 4 large carrots, cut into large-ish chunks
– 1 head cabbage, cut into 6 to 8 wedges
– 2 to 3 russet potatoes, quartered
– salt and pepper

As far as one pot meals go, this is a winner. It takes little to no prep work, makes the house smell absolutely fantastic and the end results are worth the time it takes to cook. In a large Dutch oven, put the brisket with the onions, herbs and mustard and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer (covered) for two hours. During this time, you don’t need to do anything to the brisket, just let it simmer away over low heat.

After the brisket has been simmering for two hours, remove the lid and add the carrots, cabbage and potatoes. Make sure everything is submerged in liquid, then return the lid to the pan. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, until all the veggies are nice and tender. Remove the brisket from the pot and let it rest before slicing it. Serve the meat and vegetables with lots of cooking liquid, some good bread and spicy mustard.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes and Carrots

I happen to love corned beef and cabbage, so I had pretty high expectations for our first attempt at it. The results of three hours of simmering on our stove was delicious. The brisket picked up all the flavors from the mustard (though, I would put more next time) and herbs and the veggies picked up all the delicious flavors from the cooking liquid. Everything was perfectly tender, and the meat pretty much just fell apart. Billy made a delicious Irish soda bread (more on that later) to go along with it, and was absolutely perfect for soaking up all the juices.

I think probably the only thing I would do differently next time is actually corning our own beef. I’ve heard this takes like 10 days, so next year I’ll have to remember that before it’s too late! Luckily, a lot of recipes called for prepared brisket or said it was an okay substitute if corning your own wasn’t possible.

Darina’s original recipe can be found on Epicurious.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I can’t explain how awesome it feels to actually feel good about a challenge! This month was so hectic for us, but I couldn’t wait to bake and assemble this house! It took two tries to get the dough right, but in the end it was worth the extra effort.

We used Anna’s recipe, which came from Good Housekeeping. The first time we made it, it came out very dry — so dry that we couldn’t even roll it out — and cracked apart. We ended up tossing it and starting from scratch (18 cups of flour later), making a few changes based on the comments from other Daring Bakers’ (thanks guys!).

Dry Gingerbread Dough

The new batch of dough came out much better. We chilled it, rolled it out, cut out the pieces using a haunted Halloween template and baked it off. They came out perfect. They were a good texture — not too hard, not too soft. Some of the pieces expanded during baking, but nothing we couldn’t work with during assembly.

Gingerbread Pieces, Pre-Baking

After a day of baking, we left the pieces overnight and assembled and decorated the next day. Even though it was stressful putting the house together (I was terrified it was going to fall apart!), it was such a blast! We’re totally doing this every year from now on!

The House Coming Together

The House, Pre-Decorated

Without Billy’s help, I probably would have failed miserably at this. Maybe in a prior lifetime he was a contractor or something, but he rocked at putting this thing together and piping the royal icing! It was a total blast building and decorating the house from start to finish, and I think it will be a family tradition from now on. Plus, I think for our first ever shot at a gingerbread house we did a pretty good job!

Our House!

Decoration Detail

Decoration Detail (Again)

Recipe Link: Spicy Gingerbread

Last year Billy and I hosted our first holiday. I was determined to find the perfect bread/roll recipe since it’s such an important part of every holiday table (especially with a bunch of hungry Italians). I can’t even remember where I found the recipe for these honey rolls, but we won’t ever go another holiday without them.

Here’s what you’ll need: (for three dozen rolls)
– 3 packages active dry yeast
– 2 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
– 1/4 cup honey
– 2 tbsp canola oil
– 1 tbsp salt
– 2 eggs, plus 1 egg, separated
– about 8 cups bread flour
– 1/2 tsp cold water

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), dissolve yeast in warm water. Once all the yeast has dissolved and the mixture has become frothy, about two minutes, add the honey, oil, salt, two eggs, the yolk of the separated egg, and five cups of the bread flour. Mix on low to medium speed until smooth. The dough will still be pretty sticky at this point, but you’re just trying to get everything combined. Begin adding the remainder of the flour, one half-cup at a time, until a stiff dough is formed. You may not end up using the entire eight cups of flour, but just base it on how the dough looks and feels. When you poke it, it should hold the form of your finger but shouldn’t be sticky enough to stick to your fingers.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about six to eight minutes. You’ll know when the dough is ready based on the way it looks and feels — you’ll also notice a difference from the time you took it out of the mixing bowl and the time you started kneading. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a large greased bowl, turning once to cover the entire surface of the dough with grease. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

Punch the dough down (it’s perfectly normal to picture someone’s head while doing this :)) and begin dividing and forming the dough into desired sizes and shapes — we usually form 2-inch balls since the dough will rise again before baking. Place on a greased baking sheet, one to two inches apart, and cover. Let the divided pieces rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the white of the separated egg with the 1/2 teaspoon of cold water and brush over dough. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

Honey Rolls

Sorry for the horrible picture…but it’s the best I could get in the midst of all the Thanksgiving madness. Regardless, I guarantee these will be some of the best rolls you’ve ever had. They’re perfectly fluffy (yet substantial) on the inside and have a nice firm crust. The hint of honey really makes these rolls stand out in comparison to a regular bread dough, but it definitely doesn’t give them an overwhelmingly sweetness. They’re full of flavor, with or without butter, and they make a great Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich. This is most definitely our go-to recipe for rolls, any time of the year (and it should be yours, too!).

This is the first holiday season that I’ve actually been excited about baking. I’ve never been much of a baker, and for the most part I still leave most of the baking up to Billy, but the results are always so darn tasty that it’s hard to resist. And what better time to bake and try new recipes than the holidays, right?

I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie (I know what you’re thinking…who doesn’t love pumpkin pie?) and Billy doesn’t eat it at all. So this year I decided I’d find a new pumpkin-related dessert and give it a shot. Turns out it only took one try to find a success — Better Homes and Garden’s pumpkin-chocolate cheesecake bars were a huge hit at both families Thanksgivings. They’re definitely worth the time they take, so I encourage you to give them a try for Christmas or keep them in mind for next year!

Here’s what you’ll need:
Crust
– 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 1/3 cup butter, melted
Pumpkin
– 2 (8 oz.) packs cream cheese
– 1 3/4 cups sugar
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup canned pumpkin
– 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, cloves and ginger)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla
– 1/4 tsp salt
Chocolate
– 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
– 2 tbsp butter
Topping
– 1 1/4 cup sour cream
– 1/4 sugar
– chocolate pieces and nutmeg (for garnish)

This recipe is done in phases, so at first glance it seems like its going to be a beast. In actuality it’s really pretty easy, it just takes time and there’s a lot of waiting in between steps. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

The first step in the process is to make the “crust.” In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the first 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter and press evenly into a greased 13×9 pan. Set aside.

Next, combine the cream cheese and 1 3/4 cups sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on low speed until completely combined before adding the next egg. Once combined, add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and salt. Beat on low speed until completely combined. Remove 1 1/4 cups of the mixture and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Over low heat, stir constantly until completely melted. Whisk the 1 1/4 cups of the pumpkin mixture into the melted chocolate and butter. Once combined, pour over the graham cracker crust and spread evenly across. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the remainder of the pumpkin mixture over the baked chocolate layer. Return to the oven and bake (still at 325) for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin has puffed up and the center has set. Remove from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Finally, combine the sour cream and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Carefully spread over the pumpkin layer and continue to cool. Once the bars are completely cool, cover and refrigerate for at least three hours before serving. Cut into bars (24 to 36, depending on size) and garnish with chocolate pieces and ground nutmeg.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

I will probably get yelled at by some people for saying this, but these bars were way better than pumpkin pie. Every single day since Thanksgiving I’ve been craving these stupid bars. They’ve got so many different layers of flavor and texture, but they all work together to form an overall great dessert. The texture of the pumpkin and cream cheese layer is so smooth and creamy and the graham cracker and chocolate layers give it a little crunch. Pumpkin is definitely the star of the show here, but each layer really adds to the flavor of the bars. These bars will most definitely be a Martin family tradition from now on!

I got this recipe from the 2009 Holiday Recipe Collection edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere online. Hopefully you can trust my rendition enough to try them anyway. :)