Christmas Eve Dinner! Or, Finally Catching Up on My Blog…

So even though I took the entire last week off, I spent it being alternately busy (usually in the kitchen) and entirely lazy (usually on the couch in front of Food Network). I barely even picked up my computer let alone gathered the energy to tell you about all the food I was making and all the sitting around I was doing. ;) But now it’s almost time to head back to the real world, so I figured I’d use these last moments of my vacation to catch up on my posting. So here we go!

This year, instead of doing one super, mega, stressful meal for Christmas Eve, I decided to plan for three smaller meals – Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch, and Christmas Day dinner. This worked out fairly well – I got my fill of cooking and baking but wasn’t too exhausted to enjoy the food or my time off from work. Christmas Eve we had a creamy sweet potato and chipotle soup, the famous (c. 2006) No-Knead Bread, a maple-roasted butternut squash and apple salad with a maple mustard dressing, poached pears with cinnamon cream cheese pound cake, and sparkling sangria with cranberries and oranges.

The hits were definitely the No-Knead Bread and the cinnamon cream cheese pound cake. The No-Knead bread I would definitely like to do again to see if I can perfect the process a little bit more – everything worked out and came together in the end, but I really had serious doubts and very nearly threw this dough out more than once. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because it really does work and you get this lovely, almost artisanal loaf of bread with a crispy crust and a moist interior. The cinnamon cream cheese pound cake was more of a sleeper hit – it was good when we were eating it but didn’t seem like anything special…until we found ourselves continually eating it for breakfast (well, alternating with the pies that Claire sent us – yum!).

The soup was really good, too, though my mom said it was too spicy for her – the recipe calls for you to add the chipotle after everything’s cooked so it just gets whizzed up with the other ingredients, but I really wanted the heat to infuse everything so I put it in with everything to simmer. I thought it was good!

I wish I’d saved the sangria for Christmas Day brunch – it was sweet and light and would have been similar to having a mimosa. Oh, well, I’ll know for next time!

Aesthetically, I can appreciate the salad – the flavors are nice, though I don’t think I’d cook the butternut squash quite so long – it was a bit mushier than I would have liked – but my parents and I just really aren’t big into salads. I was trying to get us to be healthy, but I think a salad is just not the right approach. The poached pears ended up being a little bland – I’ve done poached pears before and really liked them, but this recipe just missed a bit. I think there was too much poaching liquid (or I wasn’t using a big enough pan) and that the wine was diluted a little too much by the water. I also think I could have let it go a bit longer – the pears weren’t quite as soft as I’d like.

But altogether a successful, tasty, and quick (relatively speaking) meal for a holiday evening!

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