Happy Holidays
December 28, 2011


Since we were having people over on Christmas day, we decided to put up our little silver tinsel tree. Just for the day. Any longer and it would have been destroyed by the cats. We figured there would be enough people around to keep them from being too interested in the New Thing in the living room, and we were right. They pretty much left it alone, and if they did start to gnaw on anything, someone was always ready with the squirt bottle.

Having people over meant I cooked dinner! Which was a bit of a challenge due to multiple food issues. Dinner needed to be gluten, poultry and pork free. Beef it is!

Here's what I made:

  • Onion Braised Beef Brisket (recipe from Cook's Illustrated): This recipe is awesome for a "I'm feeding the masses" meal. You're supposed to make it the day ahead, and the brisket sits overnight in it's own sauce. And let me tell you, since it took 4 hours for the meat too cook, I'm really glad I did it the day before. So on the day of, all you do is reheat everything. No smoky kitchen or oven on all day. Perfect! It was my first time making this recipe, and it was well received, so I think I'll definitely be using this one again.

  • Gluten-Free Stuffing: I really wanted stuffing. And I didn't have time to make bread, so I bought a couple loaves of Udi's gluten-free sandwich bread. I followed the recipe instructions, and the stuffing turned out...kind of meh. The flavor was good, but it was dry. Really dry. While I was making it, I had considered adding more stock (I used veggie instead of chicken), but decided to follow the recipe exactly. I ended up revamping the stuffing for leftovers the next day and added another egg yolk and 2 more cups of broth and re-baking it. That seemed to help a lot. So next time? I'm doing that from the start.

  • Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes: The same recipe I made for Thanksgiving, and one I've got to post here! Everybody loves them. I made a double recipe and between 8 people, there were hardly any leftovers.

  • Broccoli with Creamy Herb Sauce (from an issue of Cook's Illustrated Entertaining): Easy peasy tasty broccoli! Basically steam the broccoli, and toss in a mixture of goat cheese, chopped parsley, heavy cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I made this last year too, and everyone seemed to like it, so why mess with a good thing?

  • Gluten-Free Apple Crisp: I was worried about making this. Mostly worried that I wouldn't be able to find Quinoa flakes, but Whole Foods saved the day (look for them with the hot cereals). It was easy to put together and ended up being really tasty. The topping is a bit on the crumbly side, but it sort of mixes in with the apples while you're eating it so you get apples and topping in every bite. The recipe is also vegan, though I did use real butter to grease the baking pan. You could probably use real butter in the topping too, but I thought it turned out great with the coconut oil.

I so wanted to take photos of everything I made, but it just didn't happen. Though I have a feeling I'll be making that crisp again, and maybe even the potatoes. Even if it's just so I can post the recipes here! I'd happily cook and eat it all again.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday and is looking forward to the new year!



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© Whitney Brandt-Hiatt: All writing, images, and photogrpahy are the property of Whitney Brandt-Hiatt unless otherwise noted.