Christmas Dinner: Reloaded

As one can probably guess, I feel that the holidays are the best part of the year because of the food. Honestly this is true. I promise. There is literally nothing better than indulging in the sweet bliss of Christmas dinner (or Thanksgiving for that matter) and continuing the food quest with carefully constructed pecan pies or masterful sugar cookies. Because my favorite food combination is that of the holidays (and because Christmas is 2 days away!) I ventured 5 hours south to Jonathan’s house if only to make this revamped bonanza of herbed turkey burgers topped with goat cheese, cranberry spread and a generous side of sweet potato fries. It was SO good that we made it the next day for his parents, sister, and brother-in-law.

The flavors of this dish are completely fantastic. Simmering cranberries against sizzling rosemary and garlic is like being in the center Grandma’s dining room when the Christmas smorgasbord makes way. With a mixture of apples, dried cranberries, and lemon juice, the spread has a sweet, subtle taste that works wonders when paired with warm goat cheese. YUM.

Turkey burgers act like flavor storage bins, taking on tons of flavor from the sautéed herbs, onions, and garlic. I also love adding fresh spinach and a hint of Dijon mustard to the finished product for a good crunch and zing.

Lastly, no yuletide meal is complete without sweet potatoes and these baked fries are no exception. I think the key to the whole “crispy on the outside but soft in the middle” phenomenon is cutting fairly thin slices of sweet potato and roasting them at 450 for about 20 minutes. I’m a back-to-basics kind of gal and can’t get enough ketchup with these things but anything from leftover cranberry spread to a vinaigrette would pair nicely as well.

I think that enjoyment that comes with food creation is directly correlated with food reaction. Similar to when we were 2 and spent hours conjuring some homemade gift, there’s nothing better than seeing the smiling faces and happy tummies of those you love!

Herbed Turkey Burgers 
Yield: 4          Prep Time: 40 minutes          Cook Time: 10 minutes

1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 teaspoons oregano, minced
2 teaspoons rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 egg
4 tablespoons oats
1 pound lean ground turkey
salt and pepper, to taste

To Serve:
4 tablespoons sweet cranberry spread (see below)
4 tablespoons of goat cheese (or more to taste)
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons spinach leaves
4 whole grain hamburger buns, toasted

In a medium saucepan, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. Once onions become translucent, add oregano, rosemary, and sauté another minute. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, yogurt, oats, and cooled onion/herb mixture. Mix until combined. Divide meat into 4 sections and shape into patties. Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes to firm up.

Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle patties liberally with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Top with goat cheese, add a splash of water to the pan (1 tablespoon is good) and cover until liquid evaporates to soften the cheese. Place burgers on toasted buns with mustard, spinach, and cranberry sauce if desired (trust me, it is AWESOME).

Sweet Cranberry Spread 
Yield: 4 Servings          Prep Time: 5 minutes          Cook Time: 10 minutes

1/3 cups cranberry juice
Juice of one lemon
4.5 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
2.5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup of apple (peeled, cored, and diced)
1/3 teaspoons corn starch
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and cook until cranberries and apples are tender. Press with a potato masher until mixture is homogenous. Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator to cool and thicken. Remove a few minutes before serving to allow the spread to reach room temperature. 
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Yield: 4 Servings          Prep Time: 10 minutes          Cook Time: 20 minutes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, salt and paprika. Spread the wedges out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned and tender, about 20 minutes total. 


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