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The Importance of a Well-Stocked Pantry December 28, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Holidays Countdown, Information.

. . . or “How to Make Christmas Dinner on the Fly.”

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’re well aware of our, well, our tendency to “be prepared.”  We like to keep our pantry – and our freezer – fairly well stocked.

So a couple of days before the holiday, the Boy let us know that not only would he be home for Christmas, he was bringing a, well, a lady friend.  Yikes!

Not to worry, though.  First, we all enjoyed an amazing Christmas Eve buffet at Mario’s, and, well, let’s  just say we were all quite happy.  And full.  And really, not terribly worried about eating again any time soon.

PhotobucketHowever, Christmas dinner – especially Christmas dinner with a special guest – is special!   We didn’t make a conscious decision to cook the holiday dinner completely from the pantry – we didn’t even realize it until later!

We’d just cleaned out (and inventoried!) the freezer, so we knew we had a small boneless rib roast that would make a great Christmas dinner for 4.

It was, indeed, tiny – about 4 pounds – so we decided to roast it in the big cast iron frying pan, browning it well first, then sticking it in a low oven.


We  gave the kids (that’s just how we referred to them, even though YES, I KNOW, they’re adults!) we gave them the veggie options of roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips, or butternut squash.

Those were the fresh veggies we had on hand.

Surprisingly, they opted for carrots and parsnips.  If I’d been betting, I’d have put money on the squash.

I knew the Brussels sprouts were going to be a non-starter, but we offered anyway.


Of course, we couldn’t even consider cooking a holiday dinner without, um, canine supervision.

After all, something might get dropped or spilled or something.  Gotta have the cleanup crew handy, right?

That, and he wasn’t leaving the kitchen.  Not for more than 30 seconds at a time, anyway.


Peeps took over responsibility for the potatoes – he opted to go with a classic potato gratin – he sliced a bunch of potatoes into a saucepan, covered them with a can of evaporated milk and some regular milk, and par-cooked them until the potato starch thickened the milk mixture, then dumped the potatoes and all into a greased casserole and covered with some shredded cheddar.

Everything’s better with cheese, right?


And of course, if we’re having roast beef – any kind of roast beef – it’s not complete without Yorkshire puddings!  The batter (a couple of eggs, some milk, salt and flour) can just rest until the roast comes out of the oven, then it gets divided among a dozen muffin cups and baked.

Definitely a nice touch – and lovely with the red wine  and rosemary pan sauce we made to go with the beef.


All in all, a delightful holiday dinner, one that we were happy to share with our guests.


I even managed to whip up a gingerbread cake – even though we forgot all about it until several hours after dinner – we really don’t do dessert much, you know!

And, now that I think of it, there was one component of the holiday meal that we had to make a special trip to the supermarket for.

I had to pick up whipped cream.

And yes, I got the canned stuff.  I figured, what with the entire meal and all, we had enough to do without having to whip cream besides.

That, and canned whipped cream is just prettier.



1. judy - December 28, 2010

That looks like a lovely dinner and I am sure it was delicious. Liked that kitchen tool used for the potatoes. Would make that job easier for sure. I am glad the food was a hit all around. Holidays should have a lot of good food!

Oh, Jude, the V-slicer is terrific! I don’t have the knife skills otherwise. 😀

2. sjbraun - December 28, 2010

Maybe it’s just this stupid 5-day-fast-forward I’m doing, but that meal looks di-vine. Absolutely.

Well, yeah, I’m sure that has something to do with it. But I will say – the gingerbread cake was fanTAStic. 🙂

3. Bee - December 29, 2010

The Yorkshire puddings look amazing! Do you care to share a recipe source? 🙂

No problem – it came from Cook’s Illustrated. Pretty much. 🙂 Right after sticking the roast in the oven, whisk together: 3 eggs and 1-1/2 cups of milk, then whisk in 7-1/2 ounces flour and 3/4 tsp. salt. Then let it rest on the counter until the roast is ready, put into greased muffin tins, and bake at about 425 for, oh, 20 minutes or so, I guess.

I didn’t really follow the actual recipe that closely. . . 😉

4. Bee - December 29, 2010

Also wanted/needed to ask, with the drippings that are supposed to be added to a normal pan (9 x 13″), HOW do you divide the drippings up into a muffin pan? REALLy want to make this for New Year’s Eve! Do you think they’d be tasty with a pork roast or does it have to be beef?

I just added a teaspoon of drippings to each muffin tin – the rest got skimmed off the sauce (I’d have used it for a roux if we’d done gravy). And Bee, of COURSE I think it’d be tasty with pork! You know we LOVE pork! 😆

5. Bee - December 29, 2010

Jeepers! I come back from the grocery store and find your inspirational posts!!!! I am so chuffed! I can hardly wait for Friday, to try this out! I looked for a recipe from allrecipes and found this one before I left for groceries: what do you think of it? http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Yorkshire-Pudding/Detail.aspx (hope the link works) And thanks for the quantity of the drippings in the muffin pan! NO ONE mentioned the ratio in any of their reviews.

Toy Lady - December 29, 2010

Bee, that looks very much like the recipe I used, ingredient-wise – only it looks like they cut the milk with water. I think, basically, this is a very forgiving type of thing – you’ll be fine! It occurs to me, though, that you may want to use non-stick muffin tins – either that or use a bit more fat and kind of swish it around to coat the tins.

Do stop back and let us know how you make out!

6. Bee - February 3, 2011

For some reason, I don’t receive notices when people post to the topics, despite the fact that I click on the link in the email mailed to you for “confirmation.” I did make this recipe, ToyLady and it turned out brilliant! It was so much fun to make and they turned out so well, that I’m going to be making them again, this weekend, Post-Blizzard. I used all the milk, rather than cutting it with water; good catch on your part, for pointing that out. Sorry it took so long to reply back to you, but as I said, I receive NO notifications when someone replies; I have to manually go back to each thread I’ve saved. 😦

Toy Lady - February 3, 2011

Do you mean you don’t receive the post when it comes up, or the comments? You should see a check-box at the very bottom of the comment box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments via email.” That should tell WordPress to send you an email whenever someone comments. I think. 😉

And I’m very glad you loved the puddings! You know, there’s probably no reason I couldn’t do them more often, too – I’ll bet they’d just as good with, oh, maybe a roast pork or a chicken. . . 😀

7. Bee - February 3, 2011

I don’t receive the new comments, ToyLady. But, of course, I received a notice of THIS comment, right? LOL And I have clicked on the box, below, and done the “Subscribe” email link click. This happens at many websites that I belong to; it’s hit or miss and I do check my JUNK box, too. I had my Yorkshire Puddings with a tasty pork roast. Oh my, it was good!

I think you have to check the box when you comment – and they tell you about future comments. Usually, I just add my responses right to your comment – THAT may be why you don’t get notice. Maybe? 😕

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