Christopher Ranch

  (Gilroy, California)
Gilroy's finest. Family owned since 1956
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Jingle Bulbs, Jingle Bulbs, Garlic All The Way!

One of my favorite maxims, “a day without garlic… tasteless!” is especially true for the holly days. What would Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Boxing Day (please forgive me if I’ve forgotten one – and, no, Festivus does not count) be like without garlic to sweeten – as in enhance – your favorite holiday fare? Hold the garlic and we’re talking mundane roast beef, weak salsa, lifeless vegetables and ordinary mashed potatoes. Your menu would be, in Garlicia terms, humdrum with no yum.

Well, bah, humdrum! In the coming days, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite party foods, liberally laced with garlic, to help make your holidays jingle with flavor. Today’s recipes are “snackers” to keep guests occupied until the main event/dish commences. Best served with a chorus of carols and a carafe of wine…

ROASTED GARLIC STUFFED MEATBALLS

30         Christopher Ranch Roasted Garlic Cloves

2            lbs. hamburger

1            lb. Italian sausage

1/3        cup seasoned bread crumbs

1            tbls. catsup

1            tbls. Worcestershire sauce

1/2        tsp. each salt & pepper

1            tbls. Italian seasoning

1            tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of chile flakes

1/4        cup Parmesan cheese

2            eggs

Take Italian sausage out of casing. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except garlic cloves until very well blended. Take 1 to 2 tbls. of mixture and start to form into a ball. Press thumb into ball and put one garlic clove in center, then seal mixture around it to form a 1” meatball. Brown meatballs lightly in small amount of oil, transfer to a baking dish sprayed with Pam. Bake at 375º for 20 minutes. To serve: place in warming dish with a favorite sauce, i.e. marinara, barbecue, if desired or offer sauces on the side. Makes about 30 meatballs.

NUTS FOR GARLIC

1            tbls. vegetable oil or 2 tbls. butter

2             cups raw pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds or a combination your favorites

6             or more cloves Christopher Ranch California Garlic – minced

1            tsp. soy sauce

Heat oil or butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and lightly sauté for a few seconds before adding nuts. Add nuts, stir and continue stirring until most of the nuts are golden. Remove from heat and add a light sprinkle of salt if desired. Wait a couple of minutes and add soy sauce and blend. Serve warm or store in a zip lock bag or a container with a tight lid.

 
 

'Tis the Season to be Merry - Clark Griswold Style

“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the happ’, happ’ happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny (explicative) Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat, white (explicative) down that chimney tonight, he’s going to find the jolliest bunch of (explicative) this side of the nut house….”

Ahh, yes…one of Clark Griswold’s most classic lines from Christmas Vacation, which is always a must see this time of year, and a movie that touches a dysfunctional sentimental chord in my heart.

I finally got around to watching Christmas Vacation last night, and my annual viewing consistently marks the official beginning to my holiday season. Sure, the lights and tree have been up for a while, and I’ve been listening to Christmas tunes since June, but until I see Cousin Eddy depositing his mobile toilet waste into the sewer (see above), I can’t fully embrace the Christmas spirit.

Why, exactly, does Christmas Vacation wage such a tremendous influence over me? Not sure. Maybe I can relate…I’m a fan of the turkey neck, too, Eddy.

Therefore, since my holiday fever has finally been ignited, it’s now time to squeeze my remaining Christmas activities into the next four days.

To do:
1.) Christmas shopping – thank goodness for eBay.
2.) Ice skating – preferably with Bailey’s & hot chocolate.
3.) Caroling – does singing Nat King Cole karaoke count?
4.) Cooking – yikes. We’re hosting both Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners this year, and we’ve yet to begin executing meals that begin in 72 hours.

Now, when I say “we’re” hosting these meals, by “we,” I really mean my parents – they’re doing the bulk of the labor. However, this year, I’ve been tapped with planning the meals because, and I quote, my mom “is sick of her ungrateful family complaining that we eat the same thing every year on Christmas.” Now, I love a good challenge and do feel guilty that mom has to annually slave in the kitchen, so I rose to the occasion.

Therefore, while I chuckled throughout Christmas Vacation last night (“is the house on fire, Clark?”), I also began coordinating my menu. Since we’re doing it my way this year, and I’m a fan of appetizers, small plates and fresh garlic, the traditional sit-down dinner is turning into more of a cocktail party. Sorry, mom.

Note – if your mom also has challenged your menu-planning skills, feel free to use.

Drum roll, please (albeit, my lineup is not nearly as exciting as Clark Griswold’s exquisite display of exterior illumination)…

Bombay Sliders With Garlic Curry Sauce

Asian Lettuce Cups

Garlic-Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

Fig-And-Prosciutto Flatbread

Tapas-Style Garlic Prawns & Chorizo

Grilled Zucchini Bruschetta With Roasted Garlic

Creamed Mushrooms On Chive Butter Toast

Maine Lobster Cappuccino

Garlicky Spinach Balls

Lamb With Black Olives

So, “if all of this food tastes half as good as it looks, we’re in for a treat.” Thanks, Clark.

Happy Holidays and a very Merry New Year from Christopher Ranch!

 
 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year-Turkey Time

Delicious Garlic-Infused TurkeyWe are about to embark on the most wonderful time of the year.

You know, that glorious time, when loved ones gather near, chestnuts begin roasting on that open fire, and the halls are being decked with boughs of holly.

Christmas, right?

Close……

To me, Christmas is not the MOST wonderful time of year…a near second, though. I’m talking about Christmas’ little sister, the embarkation to the holiday season, the day when the Pilgrims threw a festivus at Plymouth Rock – Thanksgiving. Hands down, my favorite holiday of the year.

Thanksgiving is the seemingly more casual, happy-go-lucky holiday, where people genuinely gather ’round for good food, good company – in my family, good adult beverages – and good football. There are no presents and no expectations, and the day is always lighthearted and prone for chaotic fun.

Here are a few traditions in my family circle – which I’m sure many can relate to in some capacity – that might provide a better understanding of my infatuation for the holiday:
- There will be a physical fight (usually just a little shoving and hair pulling) over how much butter and milk should be added to the mashed potatoes. Butter and milk usually win.
- Dad will give the classic Clark Griswold toast from Christmas Vacation, albeit Thanksgiving style….”We’re going to have the happ, happ, happiest Thanksgiving since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f-ing Kay…” You get the idea. The majority of those in attendance will have no clue what he’s talking about.
- Grandma and Great Aunt Bev, sister-in-laws by marriage, will get in a verbal altercation over how Bev didn’t babysit my grandma’s kids (my dad and his siblings) enough in the early 1960s.
- Somebody will overserve themselves and lead a full rendition of the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album.
- Everyone will be passed out on the couch by 9 – at the latest – thanks to overindulgence in turkey and others.

At the end of the day, however, we all love each other, everyone ultimately gets along and, if all else fails – the food is always fantastic.

The consistently scrumptious Thanksgiving meal can be attributed to mom and her uncanny ability to do two things exceptionally well:
1.) Cook – mom’s a ridiculously good cook by nature.
2.) Plan – she’s probably been planning this year’s dinner since Thanksgiving 2009.

These are two concepts I would not understand, as the closest I’ve come to preparing Thanksgiving dinner is stirring the gravy – and that’s a major upgrade from water pourer.

So, for my mom – and all those planners – who are beginning to organize their Thanksgiving menus, here are a few recipes, which provide an innovative and garlic-laden spin to the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Sure to provide a memorable day, if the relatives don’t do their part.

Lemon-Herb Turkey With Lemon-Garlic Gravy

Pimenton & Fennel Roast Turkey With Onion Gravy

Corn Bread Stuffing With Shrimp & Andouille

Savory Spinach & Artichoke Stuffing

Whipped Potatoes WIth Garlic & Cheese

Roasted Broccoli With Ancho Butter

Brussel Sprouts With Shallots & Wild Mushrooms

Creamed Pearl Onions – We offer pearl onions in gold, red and white!

Sweet Potato & Sage Gratin

Pumpkin Pie – No garlic – I love garlic in most things, but typically not my pumpkin pie.

Sweet-Potato Pie With Gingersnap Pecan Crust – Ditto with the sweet-potato pie.

 
 
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