Merry Christmas everyone. I hope that all those who celebrate have had a safe and restful holiday with loved ones.
I must admit that until Christmas Eve I was feeling a bit Scrooge-ish.
It caught me by surprise as this is normally not my holiday persona. Typically I relish the stretch of days between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. I adore decorating, shopping and baking. I love reflecting on what’s happened all year and taking some time to pause and be in the moment. I even I adore tearing up (just a little) while watching the extra sentimental commercials that debut around the holidays (Hallmark commercials anyone?).
But a particularly busy stretch at work put a wrench in my holiday plans. The moments spent not working were relegated to taking care of necessary day to day tasks like cleaning, errands and laundry. Sadly it made what holiday preparation I could fit in feel like “have to do’s” and not “want to do’s.”
By the time my trip home for the holidays rolled around my holiday spirit felt dull and a little sad. Thankfully, the kitchen came to the rescue. I was appointed to plan and make a large portion of my family’s Christmas Eve menu.
And somewhere between kneading dough for Parker House Rolls…
…and slathering prime rib in mustard and peppercorns for Mustard-Crusted Roast Prime Rib of Beef…
…and frying up bacon for Bacon Creamed Spinach…
…I found myself feeling much, much better. My shoulders softened. My mind felt mellow and at peace. I could finally be in the moment and enjoy the holiday, and just in time to spend it with my extended family. Proof that the kitchen can work wonders. And it didn’t hurt that the resulting holiday meal was fabulous.
So much so that my camera could hardly do it justice. Above is my plate with the aforementioned items as well as some delicious Cheddar Garlic Stuffed Potatoes and Citrus Green Beans with Pine Nuts, which I also prepared. The lesson in all of this, as always I am reminded that, at least for me, a surefire cure for a ho hum mood is a pink apron, family, and delicious food. Happy holidays everyone.
Adapted from Paula Deen via The Food Network
-3 slices applewood-smoked bacon
-1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
-1 tablespoon all purpose flour
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-1/2 cup half and half
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-Salt and pepper to taste
-12 ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed tightly to remove any excess moisture
In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Add the onion and flour and cook, stirring, until onion has softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the cream, half and half, garlic powder, nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until the flour is well distributed and the mixture has thickened slightly. Add the spinach and stir well. Transfer the creamed spinach to a serving bowl, crumble the bacon over the spinach, stir, and serve.
Adapted from Food Network and our butcher’s instructions
-Kosher or sea salt
-1 (12 pound) whole prime rib roast of beef
-1/4 cup smooth Dijon mustard
-1/4 cup grainy mustard
-3 tablespoons coarsely ground mixed peppercorns
Remove the meat from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. (For a 12 pound roast, our butcher recommended 4 hours, so you will need to plan ahead.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place your prime rib, fat side up in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Liberally salt the meat.
In a small bowl, mix together the two mustards and spread over the whole top. Add cracked pepper over the top.
Place the roast in the center of the oven. Cook for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F. Continue to cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, or preferred level of doneness.
What about you? Have you ever found yourself lacking in holiday spirit? If so, how did you regain it?