the day after Christmas

day after Christmas apple crisp

Happy day after Christmas!

The best part of the day after Christmas? Well, there are a few things. Firstly, breakfast is leftover apple crisp with a large cup of coffee (see above). Secondly, my youngest son is happily playing with all his new toys and games, while my older kids are happily sleeping until noon. Thirdly, the house is semi-quiet and peaceful and the fridge is stocked full of yummy leftovers (including a ham and orange mustard sauce). In many ways, I’m happier on the day after Christmas than I am on Christmas day, which has turned into a stressful day, now that I’m the grown up in charge of everything (gifts and food and orchestrating happiness for everyone). But the day after, well, that day has turned out to be a lovely day.

The day after the day after (tomorrow) I will make ham & bean soup and scalloped potatoes with ham and my daughter plans to make cinnamon chocolate cupcakes, but today, the day after Christmas, is heated up leftovers from our Christmas day meal. Today started with how we ended our Christmas meal, because it is an upside down kind of day, and I’m perfectly happy about that.

Happy Christmas everyone! And happy day after Christmas to you as well!

Preparing for our Thanksgiving feast

gravy

Do you see that cool swirl from the steam off the gravy? No photoshop tricks here. I didn’t even know this happened until after I was reviewing the photos!

Here are links to the recipes I’ll be using for our Thanksgiving feast this year.

My meal will include:

turkey with gravy (for the gravy, the link will take you to the gravy I made from a roast chicken — same process for turkey gravy)

stuffing To save oven space for the bird, I now make the stuffing in a crock pot.

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vegetables

veggies

sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes

smashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

rolls

cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce

apple pie (I will post the recipe for the pie pictured below very soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted it yet!)

apple pie

pumpkin pie (I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan, though my husband and oldest son love it, so I use a can of organic pumpkin and follow the typical pumpkin pie recipe — pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.)

pumpkin pie

chocolate pie (my daughter and youngest son will not eat apple or pumpkin pie … and I don’t mind one bit adding a chocolate pie to the menu!)

chocolate pie

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Here is a link to shortcuts I take to make my Thanksgiving meal easy and less work the day of the feast.

Thanksgiving prep

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To start the day I’ll serve baked French toast. Such a holiday favorite of mine!

baked french toast

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What items are on your Thanksgiving meal menu?

pork with applesauce

I grew up watching The Brady Bunch. Way back when …. First runs in the early 70s. I’m one of six children and the blended Brady family had six children — I could relate to so many of their issues. One thing I’ll never forget about that show is that Peter Brady loved pork chops and applesauce. I’ve always been a big fan too. Peter Brady was famous for going around saying “pork chops and applesauce” in a semi-annoying way and so did I … now I am wondering if this used to get on my mom’s nerves. Yup, most likely.

My mom and grandmother both made awesome pork chops, and to my delight they made them often. For me, applesauce was a necessary side for those chops. Didn’t matter if the applesauce was from a jar or homemade. I considered the concept to be pretty simple: when making pork chops, you must serve it with applesauce.

When I was out on my own and satisfying my pork chop and applesauce cravings, I decided to save time and clean-up by making it together in the crockpot. As they cook, the apples flavor the pork and help to keep it moist.

*Note: I tend to buy pork tenderloins more often than other cuts of pork, and that’s what I use in this recipe, most of the time. But any cut of pork would work.

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Pork with Applesauce

pork tenderloin or chops or roast … you pick!

3 granny smith apples, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

*Note: The amounts of apples, maple syrup and brown sugar are intended for one tenderloin or 4 chops. Increase these amounts proportionally if using a larger amount of meat.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown all sides of the pork in a small amount of vegetable oil. Then place the meat in the crockpot.

Into the crockpot also put the cubed apples, maple syrup and brown sugar.

Cook on high for a few hours, or on low if cooking all day.

apple crisp

My go-to dessert is apple crisp. I’ve always loved apple pie, thanks to my Gram, who was the apple pie queen!  But making crusts can be time consuming. Apple crisp gives me the flavors I crave, in a fraction of the time.

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Apple Crisp

In a baking dish (tonight I used an 8×8 foil pan, since this dessert was being delivered to a friend’s house), put 1 tablespoon flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a hearty amount of cinnamon.

Peel and slice 3 granny smith apples, one at a time. As you slice each one, put the slices directly into the baking dish and gently stir to cover them with the flour/sugar/cinnamon mixture (this will prevent the apple slices from turning brown as you continue slicing the next one).

In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1/4 cup butter (make sure you don’t boil it … just get it to the soft melted stage). Stir into the butter 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats and 1 teaspoon (or more) cinnamon. Also shake in a bit of nutmeg — but not too much! Stir well to combine.

Distribute this mixture evenly to cover the sliced apples.

Bake, uncovered, at 350F for about 40 minutes. Use a fork to determine if the apples are tender. If not, return it to the oven for an additional 5-15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Be careful not to burn the topping! Place foil on top to prevent that, if extra cooking time is needed.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or without (but really, I highly suggest serving it with the vanilla ice cream … and a cup of coffee). And you know what, it’s pretty darn good cold too.