Holiday Cooking Highlights!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be better about blogging! I’ve done so much cooking from Thanksgiving through Christmas and have posted things on Instagram, but haven’t caught up with you on here! So here are some highlights from my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and kind of a repeat, but with other goodies on Christmas! Plus a few other fun food moments in closing out 2021…

I love roasting a great big turkey for Thanksgiving, but I’ve also gotten so fond of my smoker, so I went both ways! Roasted the big one and smoked a bunch of turkey legs and thighs! We’ll start with the roasted bird – cleaned it up and rubbed it down with my standard citrus and herbs. I stuffed the cavity with oranges, onions, rosemary, sage and thyme, and put some more herbs all over the outside with some olive oil and paprika.

I cooked it breast side down for the first hour to let the juices run into the breasts to get them extra juicy.

Then I flipped it back to breast side up, cooking it for another 4 hours with frequent basting til it was ready for prime time! You can go by the pop timer, by the inner temp, or my favorite trick – shaking hands with the drumstick, when it moves very loosely, it’s done – to know when the turkey is done.

Gorgeous crisped up skin, I let it rest for an hour and then carved it up!

And then there was the smoked turkey! I dry rubbed a bunch of thighs and drumsticks with a seasoning blend overnight and then popped them all in the smoker for about 5 hours.

I’m not sure which was the crowd favorite, but I absolutely loved the smoky version! Ok, and the roasted one. I had leftover of both, of course, since I make so much and don’t have that many guests!! I made two stews starting with the same mire poix base, then turned one into a turkey barley stew with the roasted turkey and the other into a chili with the smoked turkey.

They both came out awesome! See Instagram for more of those pics!

For Christmas dinner, I roasted a turkey again – I can’t not buy them when they go on sale at Wegmans, so I had another 20-pounder in the freezer! This time, I tried out the oven bag for the turkey. Cooks faster and it did come out pretty juicy! Only downside it that the skin isn’t quite as crispy, but it was still delicious and so juicy, fell right off the bones like a rotisserie chicken!

And I tried my hand at collard greens. My father in law brought us the most beautiful greens I’ve ever seen – fresh from the farm and absolutely delicious. I was even eating them raw when cutting them up and they were soooo good!

I rendered some pork fat in a big pot and then got the greens in. Remember how much greens cook down, so just keep adding as much as you can fit in the pot. I also chunked up more ham to add in so they were extra fun and then as the greens began reducing, I added in some chicken stock and apple cider for the “pot likker.”

I let them braise low and slow for about 3-4 hours while the turkey was cooking.

I also made a vegetable barley turkey stew/casserole kinda thing with the turkey neck and some of the smoked ham. This came out great!

I simmered all the veggies (Carrots, celery, and onions) and the turkey neck with rosemary and thyme. I tossed in the hambone from the smoked ham I used for the greens. Then I added some water, chicken stock, some salt and pepper, and let it simmer for a few hours. I added in barley to soak up the liquids, then pulled all the meat from the turkey neck and hambone and added that all back in and stewed it a bit longer. Most of the liquid soaked into the barley, so it got really thick. It was a hit!

I also roasted up some sweet potatoes and then mashed and baked them with a maple whiskey and brown sugar glaze. I whipped up a quick cranberry sauce, and ta-da! Christmas dinner!

Having so much of those beautiful greens, I had to try them other ways too! One was to cut em up and roast them like I do with kale – olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake at 375 til browned. Omg, they came out so delicious and crisp!

And of course I’ve made a few fabulous cheese boards this holiday season…

I even did a little cookie baking this year! Some yummy easy sugar cookies!

I also had some great beverages during the holidays, of course!! Beautiful wines…

And fun cocktails!! Be sure to check me out on Instagram too, it’s much faster and easier to just post as I go on there @eatdrinkandgo.

I hope you had a Holiday season filled with good eats and drinks, fun adventures, and, best of all, quality time with loved ones!! Here’s to more good food, drink, and travel in 2022! Cheers!!

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