The kitchen is ready for the next two weeks of tearing it apart, using every square inch of unused space, splats, spills, glops, and gigantic mounds of dirty dishes. It is very rare for my kitchen not to look as if it has been turned upside down. I do a lot of cooking, and like most cooks I know, I loathe the aftermath. I can tell you I can sleep quite well with a mountain of dishes in the sink and knowing there is not one clean cup to pour my juice in when I wake up, but it's all worth it, because we eat very well.
Today, though, I am one step ahead. My kitchen is clean, for the most part. Wiped down, fridge cleaned out, recipes prepped for the marathon that is about to start: Homemade individual chicken pot pies for Christmas dinner. A pear and Roquefort salad to go with it. Savory Coeur a la creme along with marinated olives and sweet spicy rosemary roasted nuts with our homemade sweet blackberry wine for an appetizer. Homemade granola. Peanut butter buckeyes. Rice crispy treat Popsicles dipped in white chocolate. Gingerbread people. Sun dried tomato and basil cream cheese spread. New York Cheesecake with an apple and cranberry puree dessert sauce. Homemade Framboise that has been curing since September. Spicy homemade grainy mustard. Cherry pecan streusel loaves. Fleur de sel Caramels. These are all on my list clipped to my recipe station on the counter guaranteed to make a disaster out of my clean-ish kitchen. Sooooo let the fun begin! Here are two of my most favorite recipes. Go ahead, make them for yourself, or package them up to give away if you can part with it. : )
This is my homemade granola. I eat this for breakfast over yogurt 80% of the year and never tire of it. In the summer I omit the dried fruit and add fresh berries instead. When the calendar flips to September, I add cinnamon and nutmeg to the oil and honey mixture and add only dried apples, and throw in some pecans too, for some fall flair. You can change up the nuts or the dried fruit to your liking. Keep the chocolate chips or not, but make sure you add it along with the dried fruit after the granola has cooled completely so it won't get gloppy. I store my cooled granola with all the mixin's in a plastic resealable gallon bag in the freezer so it will stay as fresh as possible. If gift giving, pour into jam jars, make a cute tag, attach with a ribbon and make someone happy.
4 Cups Quaker Oats (not quick cooking)
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 Cup Sliced or Slivered Almonds
1/2 Cup Roasted Salted Cashews
1/4 Cup Shredded sweetened Coconut
Just shy of a half cup of Canola oil (eyeball it)
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dried Fruit ( cranberries, apples, apricots, etc...)
Generous Handful of Mini Chocolate Chips
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together oats, sunflower seeds, nuts, and coconut. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat mix the oil, honey, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until the honey and sugar have dissolved, then take off heat. Do not boil.
Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir well to combine.
On a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet spread the granola out into an even layer. Pop it into the oven for 12 minutes, then take it out and give it a good stir. Your house will start to smell wonderful about now. Put back into the oven and cook for another 8-10 minutes or until it is just starting to get golden brown on the top. Granola is notorious for burning quickly, so keep close watch during the last few minutes. Let the granola cool completely, stirring every now and then to break it up. As it cools it will become chunky, so take your spatula and break it into little chunks if you like. Once it is completely cool, add in your fruit, and if you like sugar in the morning like me, the mini chocolate chips. Package it up or eat as you like, over yogurt, plain, or with milk.
Here is something that I fix all year round and usually keep a jar of it in the fridge. Grace loves them, and came home the other day from school with a frown on her face 'cause someone reached over at snack time and stole some from her. Big meanie. These keep for a long time in the fridge, but they do need to be kept refrigerated. We put them in sauces, on pizza, in omelets, in sandwiches, on salads, or just nosh on them straight up. I serve these as an appetizer quite a bit with little toothpicks. It makes for happy guests. These make great gifts in jam jars too, but keep in mind they do need to be kept cold. They get better with age and do need to be started at least two days before eating, so plan ahead if you are planning on partying with these bad boys.
2 6oz. Cans of good quality Medium Olives, drained well
1/2 Cup Vegetable or Canola oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1/2- 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (depending on how spicy you like)
3 large Garlic Cloves pressed through a garlic press
Put the drained olives in a large glass jar or Tupperware dish. In a small bowl mix together all the other ingredients. Pour the oil mixture over the olives making sure most of the olives are submerged in the marinade. Cover with a lid and gently shake. Put them in the fridge for at least two days before eating them to allow the marinade to do it's work, stirring or shaking occasionally. Easy cheesy.
Hope you enjoy these recipes. They are a staple in our kitchen and I am happy to pass them along. Happy Cooking!! Merry Christmas-ing!
Father Christmas wishing Gracie a very Merry Christmas