This really is SUPER easy topic and category for someone who loves to cook and bake. The one thing I am noticing as I type each entry is that by doing this, I am remembering so many silly stories and anecdotes about aunts, uncles, cousins and such that keep bringing smiles to my face. These memories are part of what this season is all about to me.
I’d like to say that our table always looked just like the one in the picture. Well Christmas day was usually pretty close, but Christmas Eve was ALWAYS much more casual. One of my earlier memories is of a very warm Christmas Day, a backed up sink/garbage disposal (I don’t think we ever had a holiday in that house where the garbage disposal didn’t have an issue of some sort) and then having to transport all the prepared food from my parent’s house to my grandparent’s house via my grandmother’s RED (kind of like a Christmas sleigh) Chevy station wagon (remember those?) while my uncle and I sat in the back keeping the food from toppling over.
CHRISTMAS EVE – Served Buffet style since this was the night we did most of the present opening and the adults didn’t want to spend all their time in the kitchen – in later years we would have it catered (so to speak – they prepared the food, we picked it up and displayed it) from Rattler’s BBQ. We also began to use “FINE CHINA” as hubs calls it aka decorated paper plates, bowls and napkins.
- Sandwich makings – roast beef, ham, cheeses
- Potato Salad
- See’s Candy boxes
- Wintergreen ribbon candy
- Chocolate covered cherries
CHRISTMAS DAY – This is where we dug out the REAL fine china and crystal as well as the silver and cloth napkins. I loved setting the table for this meal. There were always enough people that we had a KID’S table too. When I was younger I hated the kid’s table – all the good stuff was sitting at the grown-up’s table!
- Roast Turkey, Baked Ham or Roast Beef
- Daddy’s Stuffing – now recreated from scratch to taste virtually the same as my Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing
- Mashed Potatoes ALWAYS from scratch – it was those potato peels that were one of the biggest garbage disposal problems
- Giblet Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce – my family always used Ocean Spray from a can but nowadays we make my homemade sauce ALWAYS (though our oldest prefers canned sauce LOL 😀 and if he’s here I but a can just for him) Cranberry Sauce
- Baked Ham – in later years it was always HONEYBAKED HAM and I loved making Split Pea soup with the left over ham bone.
- Glazed Carrots
- Green Bean Casserole (THEN) Brussels Sprouts Casserole (NOW) 😀
- Gran’s cranberry salad – she’d make two, one for mom and aunt Liz and one for everyone else.
- Rolls and butter
- Traditional pies like pumpkin, Cherry and as well as Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake.
- See’s Candies
When we go to my SIL’s family for Christmas (or any other big family get together) we do Hor’deouvres. The family is so big now that over the years we have found that if each person brings an hor’deouvre to feed 10+ people that we can make a HUGE feast. We just serve it buffet style (skipping the sit down meal) and mingle and play – it is ALWAYS the best time.
Here are a couple recipes that have been added to the MUST have during the holiday season pile over the years.
CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- Line cupcake tins with papers.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
- Whisk eggs for about 1 minute. They will become frothy and lightened in color.
- Add oil and whisk again until combined.
- Add sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Add sour cream to the batter, whisking until combined
- Now add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk gently. Whisk batter until JUST until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
- Make the Cinnamon Swirl: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Set aside.
- Now start by pouring about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on the bottom of each cupcake tin.
- Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
- Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
- Now, sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Swirl mixture over batter.
- Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
- Using a toothpick, swirl the batter a few times to create a swirl effect.
- Top already swirled cupcakes with one final 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking halfway to rotate pans.
- Remove from the oven once cupcakes are lightly golden brown and puffed.
- Cool 10 minutes.
+/- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
+/- 2 tablespoons milk
- Mix powdered sugar and milk together.
NOTES: There are many factors that will affect your glaze consistency. The brand of sugar you use, whether you use a scale or a measuring cup… If your glaze is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar and test for consistency again. If the glaze is too thick and not spreading, add a very, very small amount (1 teaspoon) of milk at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)
- In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
- Remove from heat; cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
- Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
- Stir in vanilla.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
- Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
- Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
- Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
- Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
- Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
- Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
- Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
- Beat in creme-de-menthe.
- Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
- In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
- Remove from heat.
- Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
- Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
- Cool for 15 minutes.
- Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.
NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.
These days with the popularity of charcuterie boards they have been added to the greatest meal category on a busy holiday eve. A charcuterie board to graze on while you work is a truly wonderful thing.
This time of year can be stressful and super busy so to make things easier we have gone to making charcuterie boards on the “eve” nights of holidays. The word charcuterie sounds a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Charcuterie Boards are suddenly all the rage, but the culinary art of preparing charcuterie boards dates back to the 15th century. The person who prepares the charcuterie board is a charcutier which literally means “Pork Butcher” in French. The original process/meaning was intended as a way to preserve meat before the invention of refrigeration, especially pork products.
The revived comeback of the charcuterie board brings it front and center to our tables and has been born out of the necessity of our busy lives as well as our love for farm to table and deli style meals that are also quick and easy.
Since the original meaning dealt with preserved meats, adding fermented, farm to table, home canned and prepared foods just falls into place along side the meats.
One of the best things about serving a charcuterie board at your own party is that there are NO RULES! It’s yours for the making – make it as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. One of the greatest aspects of a charcuterie board is that you can mix it all up to fit EVERYONE’S taste.
You can make these as simple or as sophisticated as YOU like. For us it is ALL about favorites and yummy satisfying and filling “bites” of food. Below is a list of some suggestions for building your own charcuterie board for your next party.
Last year I said I was going to do a “DESSERT” charcuterie board for a girlfriends party instead of a cookie exchange, but sadly that isn’t this year, but I have high hope for next year.
- Breads & Crackers – Crostini with toppings, Artisan Breads, Crackers, Fruitcake
- Spreads – Jams, Chutneys, Dips, Flavored Mustards, Sauces, Dressings, Flavored Honeys, Flavored Horseradishes
- Fermented/Pickled – Stuffed Olives, Pickles, Green Olives, Giardiniera, Peperoncinis, Pickled Carrots, Baby Corn
- Cheeses – Cheddar, Havarti, Brie, Baby Swiss, Gouda, Pimiento Cheese, Manchego, Bleu Cheese
- Meats – Salami, Roast Beef, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Pepperoni, Ham
- Nuts & Seeds – Pistachios, Walnuts, Pecans, Macadamias, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Chocolate covered raisins
- Dried fruits – Dates, Prunes, Apricots, Golden Raisins
- Fresh fruits – Grapes, Oranges, Berries, Apple slices, Pears, Grape tomatoes, Kiwi, Starfruit
- Decorations – sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme or Basil
Here are some of my FAVORITE RECIPE LINKS to make for a crowd. They make some pretty impressive foods and drinks for a buffet table.