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Christmas Cooking with Corey

Here at Casa Campbell, we are gearing up to hit the road in a couple of weeks for a five hour road trip north to gather with Ted’s extended family for a few days.  We have always spent Christmas with Ted’s side of the family and we rotate between all of the siblings’ houses.  The boys will be in hog heaven because there will be 12 cousins there (well, as Ryan points out, really only 10 kids because two are “just silly babies”!)  For my part, I will enjoy sitting back and sort of letting the herd discipline take over.  You mommies know what I mean – I’m not going to ignore my kids, but it will certainly be nice to enjoy the collective influence of about 20 adults.  Yippee!  For once, I won’t be playing zone defense while my spouse is traveling for work.

A few weeks ago I posted about trying out some slimmed down/healthier versions of Thanksgiving staples. I have been trying some of those same recipes out in preparation for the Campbell Clan’s big sit down Christmas lunch.   All of the Campbell women pool their culinary expertise for the big family meal.  I’ve been assigned side dishes and I didn’t want to show up with a dud recipe – in other words, some dry runs were necessary.  Here is the link to the article I originally referenced: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/thanksgiving_collection_1

First up, I tried the gourmet sounding “Cranberry, Cherry & Walnut Marmalade” http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cranberry_cherry_walnut_marmalade.html   I love canned cranberry sauce (complete with the “lines” on the sides!) but this version of my childhood favorite was really a revelation.  The cranberries burst in my mouth, the cherries were a nice complement to the other flavors, and the crunch from the walnut was pretty good.  I actually enjoy cranberry flavors all season long, not just at Thanksgiving, and think that this festive dish will work perfectly well for our Christmas lunch.  It was fast to prepare, it looked impressive on the table, and I even liked it enough to put it on the shortlist for our own New Years Day Open House.

Next up was “Green Bean Casserole. “ I tried this upscale version: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/green_bean_casserole.html   Honestly, this one wasn’t my favorite.  I expected it to taste vastly different from my go-to recipe based on condensed soup and canned beans, but the “new” taste was just not pleasing to my palate.  Also, it was labor-intensive and called for special ingredients (sherry and buttermilk powder).  Because I was trying out this recipe for the family, I didn’t want to deviate from the recipe. I bought everything required and followed the recipe precisely.  This one will not make its debut at the Campbell family Christmas lunch; I’m going to make my tried-and-true version.  I only eat this stuff about twice a year anyway, so this is not a dish where calories will be saved!

Finally, I tried out the “Cider-Glazed Roots with Cinnamon Walnuts”: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cider_glazed_roots_with_cinnamon_walnuts.html   I’m a huge fan of roasted vegetables.  (I remember the first time I saw Ina Garten roast a pan of carrots with nothing more than kosher salt and olive oil.  I was blown away.)  I already had walnuts on hand from the cranberry sauce experiment, anyway, so I gave it a whirl.  Oh my goodness – this was absolutely marvelous!  Sophisticated and elegant and E-A-S-Y.  This one is a winner!  I made this with beets, turnips and  carrots because I had all of those in our CSA box this week.  I’ll spring for parsnips when I make it for the entire clan later on Christmas day.  This is a keeper and I am going to put it into heavy rotation all winter long at our house.  The boys loved it and begged for seconds.  William later said it was “just like eating candy, Mama.”  Um, OK, whatever makes them clamor for more vegetables works for me.

I’m dying to know if you’re trying anything new this year.  Are you relying on your tried-and-true standbys or are you channeling your best Martha Stewart?  Or are you (lucky girl) invited to someone else’s house for the big Christmas meal?  Whatever you choose, may your Christmas cooking go according to plan, may you enjoy those gingerbread cookies, and may someone else do your dishes!

Travel safe,

Corey

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