Christmas Dinner and a colorful casserole

If there’s one thing that’s almost always on my mind, it’s food. I am not a very big lady, and if you saw me, you may think I don’t eat a whole bunch, but I’ve been known to pack away a tasty meal on more than one occasion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about eating like a trucker- it’s about eating really good food and knowing when to quit. And then have a cup of coffee or tasty hot tea…

So when I spent Christmas in Virginia with my sister-in-law in her brand new kitchen with amazing appliances, a huge fridge, a dishwasher (this is key), and a crowd willing to eat our creations, this is what happened…

A tasty turkey, two stuffings (really, one recipe and a debate about how dry or soggy it should be), green bean casserole, mashed vegetable casserole and pumpkin pie.

Let’s talk turkey. I will say I had nothing to do with this one. My sister-in-law and her husband handled this bad boy. I was probably in the other room drinking coffee and killing a magazine. That said, this turkey was an adventure! The new kitchen featured a convection oven, which no one present had ever used. They prepped the turkey, stuck it with the temperature probe, set the oven and headed for the shower. I took over and, at a leisurely pace began prepping the potatoes for the casserole, keeping one eye on the temperature reading for the turkey. As I peeled and chopped potatoes, the temp began rising, fast, much faster than anyone had expected. I started to feel frantic, threw the potatoes in the boiling water and enlisted my husband to wash, chop and prep the other items on the list. By the time they returned from getting ready, the turkey had finished cooking (I had pushed buttons on the robot stove to try to get it to keep the turkey warm until someone who really knew how to run the oven showed up). I declared the turkey was done. It had taken 2 hours to cook a nearly 13 pound turkey. Everyone sprang into action!

The sides: my mother in law handled the green bean casserole. Tasty stuff. My sister-in-law took over the stuffing- one recipe, two pans. We had a lively debate over dinner about the proper consistency of stuffing. We also had a lively debate on the inherent qualities (and usefulness) of the fork versus the spoon. My husband whipped up a batch of his famous fluffy biscuits and handled the spinach portion of the tasty colorful casserole: spinach, bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. I tackled the rest of the colorful casserole.

We found this recipe in a magazine. Pictures of tasty food get us every time! It’s really an easy to make, easy to bake and easy to serve pan of veggies- did I mention it’s really pretty?! The purple is a combination of purple potatoes (thanks farmer’s market) and parsnips, cooked and mashed with cream cheese/sour cream/whole milk/yogurt/butter or some combination thereof. The orange section is a roasted and mashed butternut squash with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simple and delicious. The green is a spinach bread and egg mix (made by my husband). And the white- plain old mashed potatoes, simple and creamy. I lined each section up in the dish and baked it until the eggs in the spinach reached 160 and the taters started to turn golden on top. The whole dish was a hit!

And for dessert: pumpkin pie! This was a three person effort. I baked the crust the 23rd and my sister-in-law and her husband made the filling and baked the pie Christmas eve. We served it with whipped cream and ice cream bought from the creamery at the farmer’s market…as close to homemade ice cream as one can buy from the store. I ate mine with a spoon.

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