The greatest meal on a busy holiday eve is a charcuterie board to graze on while you work.
This time of year can be stressful and super busy (normally pre-pandemic) so to make things easier we have gone to making charcuterie boards on the “eve” nights of holidays. The word charcuterie sounds a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Charcuterie Boards are suddenly all the rage, but the culinary art of preparing charcuterie boards dates back to the 15th century. The person who prepares the charcuterie board is a charcutier which literally means “Pork Butcher” in French. The original process/meaning was intended as a way to preserve meat before the invention of refrigeration, especially pork products.
The revived comeback of the charcuterie board brings it front and center to our tables and has been born out of the necessity of our busy lives as well as our love for farm to table and deli style meals that are also quick and easy.
Since the original meaning dealt with preserved meats, adding fermented, farm to table, home canned and prepared foods just falls into place along side the meats.
One of the best things about serving a charcuterie board at your own party is that there are NO RULES! It’s yours for the making – make it as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. One of the greatest aspects of a charcuterie board is that you can mix it all up to fit EVERYONE’S taste.
You can make these as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. For us it is ALL about favorites and yummy satisfying and filling “bites” of food. Below is a list of some suggestions for building your own charcuterie board for your next party.
Next year I’m going to do a “DESSERT” charcuterie board for a girlfriends party instead of a cookie exchange.
- Breads & Crackers – Crostini with toppings, Artisan Breads, Crackers, Fruitcake
- Spreads – Jams, Chutneys, Dips, Flavored Mustards, Sauces, Dressings, Flavored Honeys, Flavored Horseradishes
- Fermented/Pickled – Stuffed Olives, Pickles, Green Olives, Giardiniera, Peperoncinis, Pickled Carrots, Baby Corn
- Cheeses – Cheddar, Havarti, Brie, Baby Swiss, Gouda, Pimiento Cheese, Manchego, Bleu Cheese
- Meats – Salami, Roast Beef, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Pepperoni, Ham
- Nuts & Seeds – Pistachios, Walnuts, Pecans, Macadamias, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Chocolate covered raisins
- Dried fruits – Dates, Prunes, Apricots, Golden Raisins
- Fresh fruits – Grapes, Oranges, Berries, Apple slices, Pears, Grape tomatoes, Kiwi, Starfruit
- Decorations – sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme or Basil
There really isn’t a recipe per se, but these are some favorite ways to use leftover turkey besides the obvious and mandatory cold turkey sandwiches while you decorate the Christmas tree and the open face hot turkey sandwiches after you’ve spent the day outside in the cold putting up the decorations.
For the casserole I start with dressing followed by small pieces of chopped turkey. Then I put a layer of mashed potatoes followed by a layer of homemade cranberry sauce. I finish it off with another layer of dressing. I bake it for 30 minutes and then serve with a ladle of hot gravy. BUT, you can be as adventurous as YOU’D like with yours. Maybe you want a layer of sweet potato casserole, marshmallows and all or green been casserole. Hubby had jalapeno cranberry sauce in his! You could even top it with another layer of crispy onions 😀
The other dish I saw on Facebook or Instagram a few years back. You start with a regular egg roll wrapper. Start with a nice thick strip of white meat turkey followed by a scoop of dressing, a SMALL spoonful of mashed potatoes drizzled with a tablespoon or so of both cranberry sauce and gravy. Roll them up like a traditional egg roll sealing the finally edge with a brush of water. Deep fry in hot oil and serve with more cranberry sauce for dipping. And then again is my tried and true Turkey Tetrazzini. 😀
When I was a kid, tetrazzini was a dish made from leftovers. In our house it could be from left over roast chicken, turkey or ham. The cheese back then was not of my liking either, usually Velveeta or American singles – YUCK!! Personally I only like it made with chicken and I prefer it with fresh seared chicken not the traditional boiled or stewed. 😀 One of the recipes I found was a much newer version that used “canned” products that I discarded immediately to lean towards the old fashioned version of scratch.
I have seen a bunch of recipes in old recipe files and brand name pamphlets for canned chicken. I even found one that must have come from a lunch lady’s files as it called for 20 cups of cooked chicken, 24 ounces of spaghetti noodles… honestly I quit reading at that point since I knew it would never for for the 2 of us and was giving me a headache to try and convert it to serve 2!
I ended up taking the parts I liked from each recipe AND my memories to make my new one!
TURKEY TETRAZZINI ala MEMORIES serves 4-6
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE stalk celery, sliced thin
1 shallot, diced
1 small (mini) red pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
3/4 cup chicken (or turkey) broth
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Cream Sherry
2-3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Mozzarella
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
- Generously season chicken pieces and sear 3-4 minutes per side in hot oil until cooked through and golden brown.
- Remove chicken and small dice OR shred. Set Aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Spray baking dish with non-stick baking spray.
- Prepare noodles per package directions.
- Add butter to skillet.
- When butter is sizzling add celery, shallots and peppers to skillet and saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add flour to skillet, stirring to coat until golden.
- Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and stir in the heavy cream, apple cider vinegar, cream sherry and thyme leaves. Simmer until starting to thicken and slightly reduced.
- Stir in cheeses, reserving a small amount for garnishing.
- Fold in spaghetti noodles and chicken pieces.
- Season to taste.
- Transfer to baking dish.
- Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake 20 minutes until heated through and all cheese is melted.
NOTE: I have been known to throw in a can of drained petite peas 😀 to make it an all in one dish.
Preparing turkey breasts instead of the whole turkey is a sure fire way to make sure everyone has the white meat they desire. It is also EASIER – no carcass or bones to mess with. AND it looks more elegant when served. No wait time while someone has to carve it is a real plus too! PLUS you still get enough drippings to make a GREAT gravy with.
I use one 3 pound breast per two people. This gives you enough for the BIG day as well as leftovers for sandwiches. I also use both a WET BRINE and a DRY BRINE.
For Thanksgiving I take the turkey out of the freezer on Monday and move it to the refrigerator. It will thaw in less than 24 hours generally. Then on Tuesday I submerge it into the wet brine. On Thursday I drain off the wet brine an hour before I want to roast it and bring it to room temperature.
3 cups WHOLE milk
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sea salt
- Whisk together until salt is dissolved.
- Place turkey breast in large ziplock bag.
- Place bag in baking dish or large bowl.
- Pour brine in bag and seal tight.
- Refrigerate 24-48 hours.
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon orange peel
- Drain wet brine for turkey breast and pat dry.
- Combine ingredients in mortar and finely grind.
- One hour before you plan to start roasting, rub turkey breast on both sides, lightly cover with cheesecloth and allow to come to room temperature.
3 pound half breast
2 carrots, washed and sliced (optional)
2 stalks celery, washed and sliced (optional)
1 SMALL onion, diced (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon COARSE Kosher salt
FRESH ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°. This will start the browning process.
- Adjust oven shelf to low position.
- Add any veggies you might be using to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using veggies I add a couple tablespoons of butter to the bottom so they don’t burn. Also if using veggies you can place the breast directly on top eliminating the roasting rack and another thing to wash!
- Top with roasting rack.
- Transfer DRAINED brined breast to a roasting rack.
- Brush turkey with melted butter. Loosen the skin and brush a little butter under there also. Make sure skin is covering as much meat as possible. This helps keep your turkey moist.
- Season with Kosher salt and FRESH ground black pepper.
- Move pan to oven.
- Reduce heat to 350° when you place turkey breast in the oven. This will slow down the cooking to keep the meat juicy. With no bones the turkey breast will cook much more quickly.
- Roast 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 165°. Check every 15 minutes – NOT to baste, but to make sure your skin is no browning too fast. If it is, lightly cover with foil for the remainder of the roasting time.
- Remove turkey to carving board, cover with foil and rest 15-20 minutes while you prepare the gravy from the drippings.
- Prepare gravy.
- Carve turkey.
NOTE: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. LOL like any leftovers will last that long! I see serious turkey sandwiches ALL weekend long!
You would think this was an easy category. Traditionally I make a pumpkin or caramel apple cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce, BUT I don’t think I’d call this my “FAVORITE”.
When I was a kid there was always at least 3 choices, almost always the same choices, apple, pumpkin and mincemeat. As a kid I ALWAYS chose apple. I’m still not a mincemeat fan, but I have acquired a liking for pumpkin.
So, I’m playing catch up. BUT, I am determined to get ALL of BLOGEMBER accomplished. Today’s prompt is to describe Thanksgiving using your five senses.
- SIGHT – For me Thanksgiving starts with the first sign of Fall. I LOVE the trees changing color as the season begins. The yellows, oranges, reds, and even the brown colors of the leaves and the season get me in the mood for pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, stuffing and turkeys. Ironically, this is the time of year here that the wild turkeys seem to be more obvious along the roadways.
- HEARING – Thanksgiving is hearing a house full of family and friends munching on appetizers, football games on the tv with armchair quarterbacking going on, cooks in the kitchen preparing the turkey and side dishes. Oh and the desserts!
- TASTE -LOL this is almost a redundant category. My mouth waters at the thought of traditional recipes being prepared for Thanksgiving like a juicy turkey, daddy’s cornbread stuffing, glazed carrots, apple pie, green bean casserole, etc…
- SMELL – Smell and taste really go hand in hand. I always have a pot of cinnamon, oranges and cloves simmering for the aroma and the moisture in the air as well as candles in fall “flavors” burning.
- FEEL – This doesn’t have to be a sensory or tactile “feel” for me. Sometimes the “feel” is what is inside – the drive to help those in need; coats and blankets for the homeless or food for the food pantry because I feel empathy or the desire to bake special recipes friends and family. Feel could also relate to the warmth of the a cozy blanket or a roaring fire.
ON THANKSGIVING, IT’S TRADITIONAL FOR MY FAMILY TO… start the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while we eat a scrumptious brunch – usually a casserole I prepared the day before while I was prepping the sides, desserts and turkey. I start the gravy base on low and let it simmer.
At some point the football games begin and the aromas start filling the house and senses triggering the mouthwatering desire to eat ourselves into a coma. These days with my health issues dinner is done in stages throughout the entire day. As the family gets farther and farther apart in miles, Thanksgiving gets smaller and smaller, which is actually okay with us.
Whenever possible we watch Miracle on 34th street after dinner to kick off the Holiday season. During the movie I begin the Christmas cards and start planning for Christmas.
The day after we avoid leaving the house like the plague! We do start the Christmas decorating and package wrapping while chomping down on turkey sandwiches with homemade cranberry relish on extra sourdough bread or leftover dressing and gravy.
There are sooooo many memories, but one of my favorite memories actually revolves around some not so fun (at the time) events.
This memory has different perceptions on the root cause of the issue, but the end event is what I remember most and cherish. 😀 I was super young so I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things. Thanksgiving was going to be at our house. Lots of prep was going on in our tiny kitchen. The table was set. The appetizers were arranged in the living room. The turkey was basting perfectly. The side dishes were baking and steaming. Desserts were ready. The grandparents, aunts and uncles were all on their way. AND then the unimaginable happened – the garbage disposal backed up! Not your every day back up, but the oozy black sludge kind that won’t go away! The kind that prevents you from using the kitchen sink until a plumber arrives. This was also before cell phones so there was no way to stop the travelers from first arriving at our house. Many were coming from long distances.
My grandparents only lived 3 blocks away. The decision was made to move the day to their house, but ALL the food was at our house. Ultimately, my grandfather brought over their station wagon and laid all the seats flat (one of the better features of an old Chevy tank). My dad put down a blanket and my uncle and I climbed in. All the food was then arranged around us so we could try and stabilize it on the ride over to grams and gramps.
I don’t remember now if anything was too cold or even too warm, but I do remember that in the end we still had a fun Thanksgiving at grams and gramps house with the whole family and there was a HUGE mess to clean up the next day at our house 😀
I came up with a new way to keep my momentum on posting regularly. Here’s my list for the first half of November. I ended up choosing BOLGEMBER because the “ember” part made me think about a burning fire and harvest colors.
This is a tough category because there are SO MANY items, but I’ll narrow it down a bit.
- BEING THANKFUL – I know it sounds cliche, but it truly is one of my favorite things about thanksgiving. For one, it’s a non-religious holiday that is the most inclusive of our culture. If you’re American, it is assumed that you celebrate Thanksgiving. Setting aside time to give thanks for one’s blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement America. While Thanksgiving as we know it has adapted to fit what we like and shows very little resemblance to the original American Thanksgiving, the reason for it still exists. It is the one holiday that is NOT really commercialized and is only about spending time with family and friends!
- FRIENDS & FAMILY – MEMORIES – When I was a kid, most things were closed on Thanksgiving. You’d find an occasional store open for last minute things like milk, bread and butter to put the finishing touches on your big dinner day, but for the most part EVERYTHING was closed and the day was spent at home with family and friends, eating yourself into comas, playing or watching football…
- FALL SEASON – Since it is primarily a harvest celebration, the timing of the season is GORGEOUS! The reds, oranges, yellows and ultimately browns of the leaves falling and the grasses dying for the season lend their “hands” to the gorgeous display of color.
- AMAZING FOOD – When I was a kid my dad would start the prep days before for the BIG day. He made the most amazing turkey and cornbread stuffing! Over the years I have recreated his stuffing to my own Sourdough Herb version and added my own homemade cranberry relish to replace the canned stuff. Personally, I’m not fond of the canned relish, but my son will eat nothing but! LOL 😀 The desserts used to be traditional pumpkin, apple and mincemeat pies, but I have adapted these also to add some homemade apple bread pudding, “regular” bread pudding (recipe below) and baked pineapple. The gravy is still dad’s recipe minus the giblets. 😀 I see I need to get a few new pictures this year to update my recipes.
- OFFICIAL START OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON – I have to start the day with the Macy’s parade while I’m bustling around the kitchen! It is a tradition I’ve never grown out of. It is also okay to officially start watching Christmas movies, though truth be told I do year round thanks to Hallmark 😀 There are also a handful of Harvest festivals and craft fairs to attend.