Considering the news reports about possible food shortages, your holiday meal might not include everything it has in the past. However, with a little creativity, your family will never notice.
Begin by planning your menu as early as possible, and list the ingredients you’ll need for each dish. Find out what days the stores get deliveries, so you can make sure to shop that day. Don’t delay in getting to the store for sought-after items such as turkeys, ham and even canned vegetables.
No matter if you serve your family and friends turkey with all the fixings, or pigs in a blanket with candy for dessert, enjoy the fact that you can celebrate together. The meal is just the bonus.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa everyone!
Speaking of turkey, if you can’t find one, use a chicken instead. It can be prepared in much the same way as a turkey.
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken or Turkey
• 1 whole chicken, thawed and patted dry
• 1 stick butter, softened
• 1 stick butter, melted
• 3-4 carrots, peeled
• 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
• 2 red or golden delicious apples, cored and quartered
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• 1 tablespoon seasoned salt, or more to taste
• 1 cup chicken stock
In a small bowl, combine softened butter with 1 tablespoon seasoned salt. Mix well, and set aside. Remove any pieces inside the chicken, and trim excess skin. Using your hands, smear seasoned butter under the skin, across the breast. Sprinkle the top of the skin with additional seasoned salt to taste. Fill the cavity with the onion and apple pieces, topped with the sprig of rosemary. Place carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker, and the chicken on top. Dredge a couple pieces of cheesecloth in melted butter, and spread over the chicken breast, overlapping as needed. Place leftover vegetables in the slow cooker, and pour the broth around the chicken. Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours, or 5-6 hours on high, or until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the cheesecloth before cutting.
Pork loin is another turkey replacement, and those leftovers also are great on a sandwich with cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard. To make pork loin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the meat in a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Rub with your favorite chai tea mix. (An alternative coating for the pork is to melt canned cranberry sauce with 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire. Whisk until smooth, and brush on the pork.) Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then an additional 30 minutes uncovered.
Vegetables can be the star of the meal, or a great complement. If you need canned green beans, peas or corn but grocery store shelves are empty, check the frozen section. Additionally, chain drug stores, and dollar stores, have canned vegetable options.
If you find the ingredients you need, but not enough to feed the crowd you expect, prepare lots of appetizers. A simple block of cream cheese topped with your favorite jelly, marmalade or pumpkin or apple butter pairs great with crackers. You can make a quick dip with sour cream or Greek yogurt and your favorite dry seasoning (think Italian, ranch, even taco). Once combined, the dip needs to sit for only 30 minutes before serving. Pimiento cheese is another great appetizer that uses ingredients that are easy to find. Plus, it’s fantastic on leftover chicken or turkey sandwiches!
Best Ever Pimiento Cheese
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
• 1 cup shredded Swiss or colby jack
• 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
• 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or more for desired consistency)
• 4-ounce jar diced pimientos
• dash ground red pepper
• dash garlic powder
In a medium bowl, combine the first five ingredients with a hand mixer. If too thick, add mayonnaise. Add pimientos with juice, and mix in ground red pepper and garlic.
There are a variety of beans, canned or dried, that can enhance your meal. Easy baked beans can be made with four cans of your favorite legumes.
Four Bean Bake
• 1 can pork and beans
• 1 can pinto beans
• 1 can dark red kidney beans
• 1 can lima beans
• ¾ cup ketchup
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 small onion, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, then transfer to a 9-by-13-inch
dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour.
Potatoes are a holiday staple that are easy to find. Mashed potatoes can be made with a 2½-pound bag of potatoes. Cut them into pieces, place in a stock pot, and cover with water. Add chicken broth or dried bouillon to the water. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Place potatoes in a large bowl, salt to taste, then mash. Add ½ stick butter, ¾ cup heavy cream or buttermilk and 1 tablespoon dried ranch seasoning. Mix with a spoon or hand mixer until desired consistency is achieved.
No holiday meal is complete without dessert. Fortunately, there are many options, even if some ingredients are hard to source. You can make cakes from scratch, but it is simpler to make one that uses cake mix in the recipe.
German Chocolate Upside Down Cake
• 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
• 1 cup shredded coconut
• 1 box German chocolate cake mix (and ingredients needed to make)
• 1 cup chocolate chips
• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 16 ounces confectioner’s sugar
• 1 stick butter, softened
Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan. Spread nuts and coconut across the bottom of the pan. In a separate bowl, prepare the cake according to package directions, stir in chocolate chips and spread batter over nuts and coconut. In a different bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and butter with a hand mixer until soft, then spoon over batter. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve by flipping slices over so that nuts and coconut are on top.
– Tiffany Hughes is an Acworth resident and works for the Booth Western Art Museum. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.