Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Meals

Well, puppy peeps, I think I am all "cooked out" - I've been "slaving"* over a stove and oven for an entire week.  Holidays are fun, but as we all know, the cooking part can be a bit of a drag when you want out of the kitchen and in on the fun!  At least I found someone else to do the dishes most of the time!!  Hope you did, too!!

*just kidding - you all know I like to cook!!

So here's my list of accomplishments on my Florida "vaycay":

Christmas cookies (for eating and for gifts)

Springerle (traditional German cookie - fabulous dunked in coffee or tea)
Chocolate Chip
White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
Apricot Thumbprints
Soft Molasses Gingersnaps

Christmas Eve Dinner with the Neighbors

Cocktail hour - byob drinks
Kathy's Fabulous Cheeseball and crackers
Nina's Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Dinner Buffet:
Cranberry meatballs*
Roasted vegetables*
Stuffed shells
Chicken salad with cranberries, celery, grapes, and pecans*
Quiche Lorraine*

Assorted Christmas cookies, coffee, more drinks and Secret Santa Swap

Christmas Day Breakfast with the Friends

Eggs Benedict
Orange Juice

Christmas Day Dinner with the Florida Family

Cousin Frank's Baked Ham 
Suzanne's Twice-baked Potatoes
Rolls and Butter
Glazed Carrots
Mom's Southern-style Green Beans*
More chicken salad
Ambrosia salad*

Cookies and Linda's Cinnamon Bundt Cake

Nina's Birthday Celebration

Christmas Tree Pesto Appetizer*



Cranberry Meatballs

I made my own meatballs (1 lb turkey, 1 lb beef, chopped onion, S/P, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, garlic, 1 T soy sauce) and baked them on a large rimmed sheet. (Do ahead!)

The day of the party, I dumped them in the slow cooker with 1 1/2 c spicy ketchup (you could use chili sauce or barbecue sauce, also), 4 T lemon juice, 2 T brown sugar and a can of whole berry cranberry sauce. Done!

Roasted Vegetables

Toss prepared vegetables (I did broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) with a HEAPING tablespoon of minced garlic and 4-5 T of olive oil.  Spread them out on a large baking sheet and roast them at 400° until they "stiick" tender with a sharp knife and the edges are beginning to brown.  
Best way to get kids to eat vegetable!!

Chicken salad with cranberries, celery, grapes, and pecans

3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 cup sliced celery
1 - 2 c red grapes
1 cup pecans
1/2 c dried cranberries

toss with this dressing that has been mixed together:
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups mayo
1/2 - 1 cup fresh dill, snipped

Let sit at least two hours in fridge for flavor to develop.

Garnish with dill sprigs.

Excellent plain, or as a sandwich filling.

Seriously - I've never had a complaint about this salad!!

Quiche Lorraine

1 pie shell
4 oz shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cooked, diced bacon
1/2 cup onion, sauteed in 1 T bacon grease until carmelized
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pint half and half
pinch nutmeg
Preheat over to 375°

Layer into the pie shell:  cheese, topped by bacon, topped by onion
Mix together:  eggs, half and half, seasonings

Place the pie shell into the oven, then pour the filling slowly over the onions.  Slide the rack of the oven carefully back (NO WAVES!!)
Bake 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 325° and bake until the filling is just set (knife comes out clean in center) - about 35ish minutes.

(You may need to place a pie shield over the crust to keep it from burning.)

I couldn't believe it - ALL the guys at our table LOVE quiche!!!  REAL men!!!

Mom's Southern-style Green Beans

4 cups green beans, washed, trimmed, and cut into pieces
1/2 cup cooked ham (or a small hambone)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 can red kidney beans

Prep all of the above
Place in saucepan with 1-2 cups of water
Simmer, covered, for an hour - the green beans should be soft and kind of mushy

Normally I like beans crisp and BRIGHT green - but the flavor of these takes me back to Mom's holiday dinners - she cooked vegetables SOFT!!! I really like recreating those memories for myself.

Ambrosia Salad

1 scant cup sour cream
1 cup coconut, grated
1 cup drained mandarin oranges
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup mini marshmallows

Mix all of the above an hour before serving.
Excellent with baked ham.
Or as a dessert.
Or just for whatever.

When my dad was in computer school back in the 60s, there were two Australian fellows from Sydney in his class.  We adopted them for the term.  They came to a picnic with us every Sunday for an entire summer.  And every week, this is what they brought - I think it might have been the only thing they knew how to prepare!!  But we didn't care.  Liked it then.  Like it now.

Christmas Tree Pesto Appetizer

one package puff pastry dough (thaw for 45 min)
one small jar pesto

Unfold one sheet of dough and spread it out on a sheet of parchment paper.

Spread the dough with the jar of pesto.
Top with the other sheet of dough.

Outline a Christmas tree shape on the dough,

then make several horizontal cuts through the dough (don't slice across the middle)

twist each of those cut pieces and press the ends down on the parchment.

(I  cut the other parts of dough that were not part of the tree into strips 
and twisted and baked those, too!)

I sprinkled mine with paprika and grated parmesan before baking.
Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

Olive tapenade is another filling you can use.

You can also spread this with Nutella if you want a sweet version instead of savory.

This was wicked fast to make and VERY good with cocktails while sitting on the beautiful porch at Nina and Bear's house with good friends Kathy and Tom and my aunt.  We watched boats cruise in from the canal while celebrating Nina's birthday - a very special evening - best part of the whole week!!  (Of course, the fact there were two dogs to play with didn't hurt...)


Happy Holidays to all of my wonderful SDP 
and WCC friends!!!

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