Joyce Cooks: Christmas Eve Edition

Hi everyone!  I know it’s been over a month and a half since my last blog post, but I figured since this would be my 100th, I’d want to write about something super special.  Also, before I forget, I’d like to make a shout out to all my readers out there, without which I would have much less inspiration to blog!

Now for this post, I’d like to share a meal I made myself, rather than one I recently ate.  Since I had some time off from work — and school — during the last two weeks of December, I was actually feeling inspired to cook dinner instead of just plopping into an immobilized state on the couch.

May I present… attempt #1!

The Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Dip with Water Crackers

Firstly, if you’re wondering… no, I did not smoke the salmon myself!  That would’ve just been way too impressive.  I bought it from the local Publix supermarket — and I was even super lazy and bought the version with cracked pepper on top, so I didn’t have to season the fish myself.  I like to call this #efficiency.  I also bought a cup of Greek yogurt as an alternative to sour cream and cream cheese, along with a lemon.


To make the dip, I mashed two to three ounces of the salmon into tiny pieces, and mixed into 2/3 cup of Greek yogurt, half a teaspoon of lemon juice, a small pinch of salt, and a large pinch of sugar.  I only made a couple spoonfuls of the dip — because I was only cooking for two — but learned that a little salmon goes a long way, since those prepackaged items pack a lot of flavor, read: sodium!  Add some crackers on the side, and viola… done and done!

Soup & Salad: Cream of Chicken & Mushroom (with Extra Mushrooms) & Iceberg Salad

20151231_creamofchickenmushroomI popped open a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken & Mushroom soup, added a can of water (as the directions on the back said to) and also a can of mushrooms.  Heated everything up in a pot, stirring occasionally.  Then spooned out into bowls and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.

I followed up the soup with a simple iceberg salad, with sliced tomato and hard-boiled egg.  Nothing complicated here…


The Main Course: Roasted Chicken Thighs and Spaghetti Tossed in Olive Oil and Garlic/Onion

I roasted some de-skinned chicken thighs — dark meat ftw! — on a bed of carrots, celery, and onions.  To soften the veggies before they went into the oven along with the meat, I chopped them 20151231_roastedchickenall into chunks and simmered in a can of Swanson chicken broth with several sprigs of sage, rosemary, and thyme for 20-25 minutes on low heat.  Then, I cranked up the heat to low-medium and threw the chicken in the pot for 10 minutes.  In the meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  Now, I’ve heard that chicken’s optimal inner temperature is 165 degrees, but without a meat thermometer, I had to make an educated guess to bake the meat and veggies for an additional 20-25 minutes.  In the end, the chicken came out juicy on the inside, so I’d call that a #win!

I simultaneously prepared the pasta, spaghetti al dente tossed in olive oil, garlic, and green onion.  I first boiled the pasta in water (with added salt) for 10 minutes, then drained it and set it aside while I heated up my olive oil.  I knew the sauce was ready when I could smell the onion, so I then turned down the heat and threw in the pasta to give it a swirl in the pot and coat it in the concoction.  I also added a few drops of lemon juice for a contrasting flavor.

Dessert: Santa Hats Out of Amaretto Cookies & Strawberries

An attempt to be festive for the holiday season… !  Mini amaretto cookies (from Italy!), topped with think layers of whipped cream, and strawberries.  These probably don’t look very much like Santa hats though, since the only strawberries available at the supermarket were shaped a bit longer (and not as plump) as usual.  They were still good though… the cookies were pretty sweet, but the strawberries not so much, so they complimented each other.


The entire meal took me nearly two and a half hours to make — hey, it was my first time making an entire multi-course meal, and I’m not the fastest cook in the kitchen anyway — so I don’t think I’ll be attempting it again for a while, but I had fun both making and eating it.  Hope you enjoyed my last post for 2015!

And hope you all have a happy and safe new year!  Until then… #keeponeating


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