Back to the Kitchen: Classic Christmas Simplified

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

I was contemplating what to write about this holiday season and again thought of how lucky I am. Not only do I have my health, my amazing daughter, but every day I get to wake up and do what I love. I am creating recipes, creating parties or writing about it. I also think about all of the amazing chefs that I have had the pleasure of cooking with, all of the diverse kitchens I have cooked in, and all of the holiday meals that I have created and co-created. I am so incredibly blessed!

When I was thinking of what recipes to share in this column I thought that the greatest gift I could give anyone is the gift of time. I have taken a few classic Christmas dishes and added a few twists, but simplified them. This means extra time to enjoy the truest holiday moments with those you love. Peace and joy to all this season and always!


Prime Rib Roast

5 pound Prime Rib roast


Place the meat, fat side up in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pre-heat oven to 450. Roast for 15 minutes then reduce oven to 325. Allow 2 hours for rare (140 degrees on a meat thermometer) 3 hours for Medium (160 on a meat thermometer) or 3 1/2 hours for well done (170 on a meat thermometer)

Yorkshire Pudding

2 eggs

Pinch salt

1cup flour

1-cup milk

1/2-cup meat drippings

Beat eggs and salt until very thick. Add flour and milk on high speed. Let stand for one hour. Using a 12-piece muffin tin place a teaspoon of drippings in each cup cake mold. Pour to 1/2 full with batter. Place in preheated 450 ovens for about 20 minutes.

Simple Horseradish Sauce

2 cups sour cream

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

3- 10 tablespoons prepared horseradish  (It is to taste. I like a lot!)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Let stand a few hours or overnight.

Green Beans with Ginger, Garlic and Red Pepper

2 pounds green beans, cleaned & trimmed

2 red peppers, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and ginger, sautéing quickly until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the red peppers and green beans and sauté until tender about 8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sweet Potato Puree

6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2-cup milk

1/2 cup orange juice

2 inches ginger, finely chopped

3-tablespoon butter

Pinch kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

In a large soup pan cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender about 30 minutes. Drain and put in food processor. Add milk, OJ, butter and ginger and puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry-Chipolte Compote

(Makes about 1 quart)

1-tablespoon olive oil

3 med. Fuji apples

3 med D’Anjou pears

(Both peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

1-pound fresh cranberries

4-oz chipolte peppers (canned in adobo) chopped fine

3-tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2-cup sugar

1/2-cup dark brown sugar

Zest from one orange

1/2-cup fresh orange juice

1-teaspoon nutmeg

1/4-cup Grand Marnier

Heat oil in medium skillet over  med- high heat. Sauté pears, apples & dried cranberries until soft. (3-5 minutes).  Add 1/4 c. Grand Marnier and deglaze pan. Add fresh cranberries, chipolatas, cinnamon, sugars, zest and O.J. Stir and simmer for 40-45 min (until it begins to thicken). Add nutmeg and 1/4 c/ Grand Marnier; mix well. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

My Sister-in-Law’s Great-Aunt’s Cranberry Salad

(Joy’s Purple Stuff)

5 packages fresh or frozen cranberries

3-20 oz. cans chunk pineapple, retain juice

2 cups walnuts

Sugar to taste (approximately 1 to 2 cups)

In a blender or food processor, first cut the cranberries into coarse pieces and place in mixing bowl.  Repeat with the pineapple and then the walnuts.  Mix. Stir in 1-cup sugar and gradually add more to taste.  You need less sugar if you are letting the salad sit for a while and more if you Ase serving within several hours.  It will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Serves 10-12

Chocolate Yule Log Cake

This is a very traditional Christmas cake usually made in Europe for Christmas Eve. Considering the lovely presentation it is pretty simple to make. Remember that butter cream is like glue so you can hide a multitude of cracks and mistakes.


6 eggs, separated

1-cup sugar, divided

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3-cup cake flour

1/4-teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup white chocolate, chopped

1/4-cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:

1-cup butter, softened

1-cup coco powder

4 egg yolks

3-4 cups powder sugar

2-teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

For Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-inch x 9-inch jellyroll pan with Baker’s Joy and then line it with parchment paper and spray again.

Beat the egg yolks and 1/2-cup sugar in a bowl and beat until it thickens enough to leave a trail. Then whisk the cocoa, flour and salt and gradually fold into the egg yolks.

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add thee cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. . Add one-fourth to the egg yolks and fold in, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in carefully.

Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly all over the pan, right up to the edges and into the corners.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch and the cake springs back when pressed.

Turn the cake out on to a linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.


Break up the chocolate in to small pieces then put it and 1/4-cup cream into a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring continuously until the chocolate melts. Put it to one side to cool to room temperature.

Whip the remaining cream and vanilla until it reaches the soft peaks stage then fold it into the cooled chocolate mixture. Chill. Unroll cooled cake and Spread over cake to 1/2 inch of each side. Re-roll cake. Be gentle, but don’t worry if it cracks…that’s why we have butter cream frosting!

Butter Cream Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl mix all of frosting ingredients together. Frost cake. Using a fork make lines to imitate tree bark.

Pumpkin Buche de Noel

3 eggs

1-cup sugar

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

Juice of one lemon

3/4-cup flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans


1 cup powdered sugar

1-cup cream cheese

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the cake:

Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes. Add sugar gradually. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. Set aside. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread on greased and floured 10×15 sheet cake pan. Top with pecans. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Turn out on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Roll and let cool. Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Unroll cake; spread on filling and roll back up. Sprinkle with Powder sugar. Keep refrigerated.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.