Christmas will be small this year, so we’re keeping the actual meals a little more simple.
This is one of the simplest of recipes, but oh so tasty!
SHREDDED EGG SALAD serves 4-6
6-7 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons FRENCH’S mustard
+/- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
It’s been a whirlwind of weather changes around here. Back at Thanksgiving I would have told you we were definitely in for a white Christmas, but sadly I think that chance has passed. 🙁 Last Friday we had a fluke warm up (65°) that only lasted the one day and then Friday night brought an unpredicted wind storm that had us scrambling to save the blow up from scurrying away despite his guide weights, but seems to have also influenced this next week. ALL the predictions from before Friday have now warmed up a bit and even the rain amounts have decreased. That said, I really don’t put much stock in the predictions anymore and take each day as it happens 😀
This recipe was originally written to serve 6 over at ALLRECIPES.com. It uses dried herbs and a can of diced tomatoes. Unfortunately, diced canned tomatoes don’t come in small enough sizes for 2 so I adapted the recipe to make my own using cherry tomatoes AND use FRESH(er) herbs. I also don’t particularly care for olive oil so I substitute avocado oil and instead of onion I substitute shallot for a little extra flavor.
BRAISED BALSAMIC CHICKEN
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
FRESH ground black pepper
garlic salt, to taste
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 large shallot, sliced
1 ¼ cup quartered cherry tomatoes
¼ cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden “squeeze” Italian herbs
1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden “squeeze” Basil
When does your family open their presents?
This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I got older.
My family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open and that carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, blended families (with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do.
Eventually Christmas eve became a much smaller event for immediate family for a small dinner and to open our gifts to each other. Christmas morning was for being at our respective home with our kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my mom and dad’s house which became our house after my dad passed away.
I found this recipe for BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE over at TrickNTreat. I love banana in any type of cake, but this recipe takes bananas to a whole other level. The caramel topping is truly the “icing” on the cake! I added a small amount of cinnamon to help enhance the flavors.
BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE Yield 8 servings
3 small VERY RIPE bananas, cut lengthwise
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
2 VERY RIPE bananas mashed
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
8 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE egg
NOTE: IF you prefer a different look, the bananas can be cut into chunks or rounds instead of lengthwise. I PREFER a lot of small rounds myself.
While I’m glad I tried this recipe and it was good, I really prefer my regular Banana Nut Bread.
I mentioned yesterday that I LOVE our tree this year. We bought all new LED lights this year so I worry a lot less about the lights getting too hot. and it’s full of all our favorite ornaments. I would still like to find a lighted star or angel that I really like. 😀
In reality how I decorate each year changes based on my mood, weather, where we are living, etc… so it will never be the same twice! But, it will at least be the same components.
This is my Snowman Family arranged from 2 different years.
We made candle yule logs for Advent craft night at church one year and they were a HUGE success and soooooooo easy to do. The decorations below are a few of my all time favorites.
The ornaments below are some of our homemade bulbs. Several years ago I made quite a few and then did them with my girl scout troop also. Hubby liked them so well that we have now donated all our store bought bulbs and made enough of these for the entire tree.
My cousin that passed away in 2014 made the ornament below for me. It will always be hung by my shooting stars in her honor even though I’m still mad at her for leaving the mess called A HOUSE FROM HELL for me to deal with.
And our handmade ornament by Design Chick Creations.
SALTY MILK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BLONDIES
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup PACKED brown sugar
1 LARGE egg
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
1 cup AP flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup KRAFT caramel balls
¾ cup toast walnut pieces
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
Christmas is full of tradition and with tradition comes a cyclic nature in how we do things year after year. Our traditions and practices though stem from our experiences. As life progresses things change and evolve over time. This year we decided to “downsize” or streamline our decorations to only those that really mean something to us. I honestly used the Feng Shui method on every decoration and ornament. I have already donated the discards so I can’t change my mind. So my ideas for 2020 are to decorate almost identically to how I decorated this year. I LOVE our tree and am going to try and quit trying to invent the wheel with changing things. There are still a few boxes to go through, but I see even more donations in the future 😀
This is a category I have given a lot of thought to OVER AND OVER, year after year, and while I no longer really want an upside down tree, I find the story of its origin very interesting.
I found several places offering background on the upside down tree. One was, ChristmasCarnivals.com which also has many other links for Christmas history to check out too.
“Christmas is associated with many traditions, of which the Christmas Tree is an inherent part. The history of the upside down Christmas Tree has its roots in the 7th century. It is during this period that St Bonafice journeyed from Devonshire, England to Germany to preach the message of God. He engaged himself in religious as well as social work and spent a lot of his time in Thuringia, a town located in Germany itself, which is the birthplace of the industry dealing with Christmas Decorations.
It is believed that St Boniface, while staying in Thuringia, took the help of the triangular fir tree to represent the Holy Trinity made up of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As a result, the converted people started to [consider] the Fir tree as God’s Tree. Then St Bonafice, using this triangular shaped tree tried to introduce to the pagan tribes the paragons of Trinity.
By the 12th century, it became a custom, especially in Europe to hang the Fir trees upside down from the ceilings to symbolize the Holy Trinity. The Upside down Christmas Trees was also considered the symbol of Christianity. However, the real history behind the hanging of the upside down Trees remains vague. Presently the trend of hanging a Christmas Tree has changed, because nowadays the tip of the Christmas Tree is made to point towards Heaven, as many think that an upside down Christmas tree is a sign of contempt.”
Ironically I’ve been a bit under the weather this past week and am no trying to play catch up on BLOGMAS.
What I CANNOT live without in winter is many, many things, but these are my top items! The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I have a sore throat, dry skin, cold feet or hands, cold food or catch a cold I am NOT happy. I drink a cup of green tea every night and try to make very balanced comfort food meals to warm up my family from the inside out. Here are a few of our favorite soups and stews links for you.
FRENCH Onion Potato Soup serves 2
3 tablespoons butter, divided 1 + 2
1 small Vidalia onion, halved root to tip and sliced thin
2 sprigs FRESH thyme, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced small
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 slices baguette, buttered
1 cup grated gruy’ere cheese
This year I already stuffed his stocking, but guarantee it will be full of ALL sorts of fun stuff again including some of his new favorite alcohol flavors!