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December 2012

Food for Thought

Be Prepared for the Holidays
By Lorinda

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Plan ahead to enjoy delicious meals during the holidays.


Do you hear what I hear? Those are jingle bells, and that sleigh is approaching quickly! The holidays are around the corner, but I have a game plan this year—and I'll gladly share it with you.

Starting right this minute, I vow to double or triple any recipe I make. If I make a batch of spaghetti, an extra casserole will be tucked away in the freezer. If cookies are on the agenda, a freezer bag of cookie dough will be frozen for later. If I'm browning hamburger or baking chicken, I'll throw an extra pound of meat in the pan so it can be used later in a quick meal of tacos. When the moment comes (and it will come) that the holidays are looming and I have more projects than time, the few extra minutes of preparation will be time well spent.

Unexpected company, getting stuck in traffic, a sick neighbor or shut-in, or even just preferring to watch "White Christmas" instead of getting stuck in the kitchen cooking . . . these are all valid reasons to raid your frozen stockpile.


You can't have too many pot pies in the freezer

If you asked my husband what his absolute favorite meal is, he wouldn't hesitate. He loves his pot pies! When I feel inspired, I make a triple batch of pie crust dough and get the assembly line rolling, making small, individual serving-size pies and big, hearty pies for a family dinner. It satisfies my hoarding instincts to see the pies all stacked up in the freezer, and is also a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey.

If you don't want to make everything from scratch, I promise not to judge you! Even if you use pre-made pie crusts, frozen veggies, or deli chicken, the pies will still be far tastier than anything you can purchase in the frozen food section of the grocery store.


Chicken Pot Pie


Easy breakfast

Recently, my son stayed for a few weeks of hunting. The pot pies were a lifesaver when the testosterone was flying and I just wanted to escape; as long as they had a hot dinner, they were content, and I could hide in the bedroom with a good book. But even better than the pot pies were the breakfast biscuits I had frozen weeks earlier in anticipation of hunting season. It meant I didn't have to feel guilty about staying in bed while they were getting ready to creep out of the house in the freezing pre-dawn hours. I knew they were leaving with a warm breakfast in their bellies.

I made two varieties of biscuits, both filled with scrambled eggs and cheese, but one included chopped ham and the other had browned breakfast sausage. Both were rib-sticking good. And though I don't like to use a microwave, the guys nuked the biscuits for a minute on each side and said they were just right. That worked for me!


Breakfast Biscuits with Sausage and Bacon


Eggnog Bread from Baking in a Tornado

As an easy snack, potluck offering, or hostess gift, nothing beats a loaf of spiked eggnog bread. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Baking in a Tornado, and Karen kindly gave me permission to share the deliciousness with you. After baking two loaves (and, in the name of thorough research, tasting them multiple times), I can give this bread my enthusiastic approval! I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice, so I used Pumpkin Spice Eggnog and sprinkled in a little cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove. The flavor was so good I actually dipped into the batter a few times, even though I swear I heard my mom's voice saying it would make me sick. (It didn't!) I'll bet you could use brandy rather than spiced rum, and just be a little more generous with the ground spices.

Double or triple the recipe and save yourself some time, because one loaf will not be enough!


Eggnog Bread courtesy of Baking in a Tornado


For so many of us Christmas brings more than snow, good will, and hot toddies in front of the fireplace. It increases social obligations, shopping, cooking, financial struggles, longer work hours, hyper kids, and . . . did I mention shopping and cooking? Stress can make a Scrooge out of even the most devoted fans of the season.

When you can pull a delicious meal out of your hat at a moment's notice, you'll have good reason to pat yourself on the back and take a big relaxing breath—and then move on to the next thing on your list.

Just a word to the wise, though. When I said to make a double or triple batch of everything, I forgot to warn you about fudge. You do not want to have an extra pound or two of fudge lurking in the freezer. When you're up late wrapping gifts and washing dishes, you will hear its siren song and will be helpless to resist. It's true.

Don't say I didn't warn you!


Contact Lorinda at lorindamckinnon@gmail.com

Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.


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