(recipes follow)



Christmas time at our house is quiet and very, very lovely. Christmas Eve is spent with my husband’s father, who is my ally (no matter what the other says, the ally will confirm it! LOL) and Dad’s sister, Aunt Virginia, a true Southern Belle in every sense of the word, who travel from Virginia to be with us.

They are now in their 80s and, although Dad is still quite active, we try to keep it simple and full of traditional Christmas values.

Christmas Eve Morning is when I make my most elaborate breakfast. This changes from year to year. This Christmas Eve we will enjoy Emeril Legasse’s “Breakfast Casserole.” It looks very easy to make and I have never had one of his recipes fail! I will serve it with fresh fruit and plenty of hot coffee.

After breakfast Christopher, our 13 year old, and GrandDad take a walk around the lake and feed the ducks and geese. Chris loves this time with his grandfather and gets the lion’s share of his attention. Mark takes this time to finally wrap his gifts to me while I sit with Aunt Virginia and discuss her favorite topic - poetry.

Lunch is casual. I usually make a home made soup a couple of days before and serve it with a crisp green salad and iced tea - a southern favorite.  This year it will be Harvest Soup. I came up with this particular dish after having it at a restaurant which is now closed. It’s real comfort food!


Christmas Eve we sit down to our traditional dinner of Crown Roast of Pork, dilled peas with walnuts, Potatoes Debra and Caesar Salad. Dessert is usually a store-bought pie. (I’m not a baker. LOL)

After dinner, we go to the Columbus Zoo for their Christmas display. This year won’t be quite the same as Chris has discovered that there is no Santa. :-( Knowing Chris, however, I strongly suspect that Santa will get a visit, a shake of the hand and ‘Good work!” from my monkey.



Christmas Day I rise before everyone else and get coffee going. I make a delicious version of scrambled eggs that is so easy. To make sure they are light and fluffy, I mix them in a blender. Served with sausage, bacon and fresh fruit, it’s a quick and delicious start to a very special day.

Around 9:00, Mark puts on Christmas CDs and we sit down to enjoy our presents. Although Chris gets gifts from his aunts, uncles, cousins and some of our neighbors, they have always been respectful of our wishes and chosen educational gifts such as books, science project kits, etc. For instance, “Aunt” Gayle down the street usually gets him something to add to his rock collection and “Pawpaw Bill and Noni,” also neighbors, bought him a rock polisher last year. GrandDad and Aunt Virginia have me choose for them and, because it’s them, I choose something fun like a video game. Chris is very much into “Flight Simulator.” I allow him more time on this game than usual because I discovered that while flying in and out of airports around the world, he was learning geography! GrandDad and Aunt Virginia usually “give him” the upgrade or an add on to this “game.”

From Mama and Daddy, Chris gets 3 gifts. Three and no more. Why? The Christ Child only received three. Chris is great about this and we try to make sure that they are also fun gifts. That is, no clothes unless he asks for them.

Gifts are opened and we spend the rest of the morning relaxing, enjoying each other’s company and watching Chris explore his gifts. Lunch is simple, usually the left over soup, salad and fruit, we make calls to family members to wish them a Merry Christmas and I begin the preparation of dinner.

When we are exceptionally fortunate, it is snowing. We had the walls cut out of our dining room and large floor to ceiling windows which wrap around two walls put in because the dining room overlooks the lake. It’s truly magical with the moon on the water and snow falling. I set the table with our special Christmas dishes which are adorned with poinsettias, my birth flower. The house is filled with my special flower, the lights are low, the trees are lit (we have one in the family room and one in the living room) and tall plants are lit with white Christmas or "Fairy" lights. We light candles and we sit down to a long, leisurely dinner.

Dinner is the same every year: Standing Rib Roast, scalloped oysters, my special green beans, braised radishes, Yorkshire Pudding and Chris bread (made the day before), a traditional Greek Christmas bread. For dessert, this wonderful cheese cake I get from 1800flowers every year. Plenty of coffee, a nice wine, and sparkling cider for Chris.

We look forward to this every year! We feel that we are giving Chris some wonderful memories and we are enjoying being with Aunt Virginia and Dad as much as possible. I am so looking forward to this year!


Breakfast Casserole

(Courtesy of www.foodtv.com)

 

6 eggs
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
Butter to grease pan
6 slices of Texas Toast (thick cut, crusty white bread)
1 pound spicy pork sausage, cooked and drained of fat
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

In a small bowl, beat the eggs until they loosen up. Add the half and half, and green onions. Mix well, highly season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Butter a 12 by 10-inch baking pan. Line the pan with the bread, cutting and rearranging, if needed. Sprinkle the bread with the cooked sausage and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the entire pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook covered for 25 to 30 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.




Scrambled Eggs

(Inspired by "Paula's Home Cooking on www.foodtv.com)

10 eggs
4 heaping tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a medium size bowl, beat eggs, sour cream, water, and salt and pepper until fluffy. Using a nonstick frying pan, melt butter and cook eggs over low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheese. Cook until you reach desired consistency.
Serve hot with country ham and biscuits.


Harvest Soup

(a twist on Mulligatawny with a little addition of my own)

3 medium-size carrots, pared and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked diced chicken
1 large onion
1/4 cup (½ stick) butter or margarine
1 box Stouffer’s Harvest Apples - prepared by package directions
5 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 box Stouffer’s Harvest Apples - prepared by package directions.

Cook carrots and celery in 1 cup stock in a medium-sized saucepan 20 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken, heat just until hot; cover, keep warm.

Sauté onion until soft in butter or margarine in Dutch oven; stir in apples, curry powder and salt; sauté 5 minutes longer; add flour. Gradually stir in remaining chicken stock; heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat; cover; simmer 15 minutes.

Add vegetables and chicken with the stock they were cooked in; bring jut to boiling. Stir in lemon juice.

Garnish with parsley.

Crown Roast of Pork
(My cousin and I made this one up together)


1 crown roast of pork (10 chops, about 5-6 pounds)
½ teaspoon Seasoned Salt

Mushroom Stuffing:

1 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms or 1 sliced cooking apple
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup butter or margarine
3 cup day-old bread cubes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 Tbsp. Dried
¼ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper
½ cup low sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup apricot preserves
extra apples

Tell your butcher that you will be stuffing your crown roast so he will not bind the top portion too tightly.
Place roast, rib ends up, in a shallow roasting pan; sprinkle with Seasoned Salt. Cover rib ends with foil. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 ½ hour. Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms or apples and celery in butter until tender. Stir in bread cubes, rosemary, salt, pepper and chicken stock. Spoon into the center of the roast. Any remaining stuffing can go into a casserole dish. Slice extra apples and arrange around bottom of roast. Brush sides of roast, top of dressing in dish and apples with apricot preserves. Pour some or all of extra on top of dressing stuffed in roast.
Bake 1 hour longer or until a meat thermometer inserted into meat between ribs reads 160 degrees; remove foil. Transfer roast to a serving platter.
Serves 10
 


Dilled Peas with Walnuts
(Good ol' Emeril, never lets you down!)


2 cups fresh shelled peas or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Cook the peas in lightly salted boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan heat butter, and add the onion, and sauté until tender and golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain the peas.
Place the hot, blanched peas into the pan with the onions. Toss in the dill, season with salt and pepper, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss in the walnuts, and serve.


Potatoes Debra
(I made this up before I learned how to cook. 

They sure made me look good! LOL)


Mashed potatoes
Neufchatel cream cheese
Fines Herbs
Paprika
Butter
Salt and Pepper

These can be made with homemade mashed potatoes or instant. I use instant.

Prepare potatoes according to package directions.
Add one ounce of Neufchatel cream cheese per serving. Add Fines Herbs, salt and pepper to taste. (You may need to add a little more milk or cream.) Place in casserole dish sprayed with Pam and dot with butter. Sprinkle with paprika. Broil until golden brown on top.

Tip: You can take a cookie sheet and cover it with foil. Spray with Pam and pipe potatoes onto foil with a pastry bag using whichever tip you prefer. Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika. Broil until golden on top. This makes a very elegant presentation.



Eggless Caesar Salad
(Thank you, Sara Moulton!)


8 cups loosely packed, torn, washed and spun dry romaine lettuce
7 to 8 tablespoons Caesar salad dressing, recipe follows
1 cup of 1/2- inch Croutons, recipe follows
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Dressing: (can be made a few day ahead)

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 anchovies, soaked in milk for 15 minutes and drained
2 teaspoons Worchestershire
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Croutons:

Cut sliced country style bread cut into 3/4 inch cubes
In a large bowl, toss together well all of the ingredients.
To make the dressing: in a blender, puree all ingredients except oil and water until smooth. With the motor running, add the oil slowly in a stream, and then blend in the water. (This dressing keeps for one week, covered and chilled).
To make croutons: bake cubed bread in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until they are crisp (they will shrink in size).


Scalloped Oysters
(My sister-in-law's mother invented this in the 30's)


1 pint oysters
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup cracker crumbs (coarse)
½ cup margarine or butter melted
¾ cup cream
1/4 teaspoon Lea and Perrins
Oyster liqueur
½ teaspoon salt

Remove crust from bread. Place in food processor and pulse until crumb
consistency is achieved. Do the same with the crackers (box should say unsalted tops),
until each equals 1 cup. Combine bread and cracker crumbs with melted butter.
Divide into thirds. Spread 1/3 of mixture on greased 9x13 inch pan. Place ½ oysters
on top. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with second third of crumb mixture and top with last
half of oysters. Sprinkle with pepper. Mix cream, Lea and Perrins and oyster liqueur
from pint of oysters. Pour over casserole. Add pepper and salt and spread with last
third of crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Note: I have made these with salted crackers and with milk instead of cream and it is
still delicious.

Special Note: This dish can be made a few hours ahead and cooked later. It is also
very good if completely prepared ahead and reheated.


Special Green Beans
(Inspired by Biba Caggiano, these are truly

special.  Trust me, no one will know there are

anchovies in the recipe.)


1 pound fresh green beans
1 can anchovies, it's oil and 2 anchovies


Steam green beans to desired doneness. Submerge immediately in
ice bath to stop the cooking and retain the green color.

Lay out on towels to dry. (This can be done earlier in the day.)

Preheat a skillet. Pour the oil from the anchovies into the skillet and add
two anchovies. Stir until fish fall apart.

Add green beans. Toss until reheated. Serve.


Christopsomo Bread
(Chris Bread)

I make this bread for Christmas Dinner and it is a wonderful addition.
I changed the recipe around some and dubbed it "Christopher Bread"
after my son.

2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup margarine or butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
4 unshelled walnuts
1 beaten egg
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame seed
1/2 cup snipped dried apricots or light raisins (I left these out and instead added
1/4 cup honey)

In a small mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside.
In a medium saucepan heat and stir milk, margarine or butter, sugar and salt
just till warm (120 to 130 degrees) and margarine or butter is almost melted.
Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add the first egg. Beat with an electric mixer
on low speed 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly.

Beat on high speed for 3 minutes more. Using a spoon, stir in apricots or raisins
(or honey), walnuts, lemon peel and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining
flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes).
Shape dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease the surface.
Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds.
Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Remove one-third of the dough; divide into 8 pieces.
Roll 4 pieces to four 14-inch-long ropes; roll 4 pieces to four 12-inch-long ropes.
Twist together two ropes of the same length; repeat with remaining ropes, making
4 twisted ropes total.

Shape the 2 remaining portions of dough into one ball; flatten to a 6 inch round
loaf. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Wrap 2 long twisted ropes around
the base, one on each side, pinching ends together to seal. Lay the two shorter
twisted ropes across the top to form a cross. Press on unshelled walnut at the
four points where the ends of the cross meet the base of the bread. Cover; let
rise in warm place till nearly double (30 to 45 minutes).

Brush the dough with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and water. Sprinkle with sesame
seed. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the bread sounds
hollow when tapped. Cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes to prevent over-
browning, if necessary. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf.



Standing Rib Roast
(A wonderful friend gave me this recipe)


8 branches Rosemary, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
kosher salt to taste
cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 7 to 8 pound rib roast, bone in
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
pinch sugar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove Rosemary leaves from stalks by pulling them off backward. (Save the
stalks. When cooking pasta, throw one of them in the water.) Chop. Mix Rosemary
with crushed garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Rub this mixture over entire roast.

Place roast, fat up, on backing rack. Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Reduce
heat to 350 degrees and roast approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours or approximately 20 minutes per pound
or until a thermometer inserted in middle of roast reads 130 degrees (medium-rare).

If roast is done too early, simply lower oven to 150 degrees to keep it warm.

Remove roast from oven and allow to rest 20 minutes before carving.

Pour the pan juices into a fat separator so you can use the broth for the au jus and
save the fat for Yorkshire pudding. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat.
Add the cabernet and scrape up the brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Add sugar,
water/beef drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the wine is
reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the solids
before serving.



Yorkshire Pudding
(Don't be intimidated. Easy and so good!)


2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup reserved beef drippings or melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a popover or large muffin pan in the preheated
oven for 10 minutes to heat it up. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy and light.
Whisk in the milk until combined. Add the flour, salt and pepper, beat just until the batter
is smooth. Pour the beef drippings in the bottom of the hot pan. Then pour in the batter
and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue
baking for 15 to 20 minutes more until puffy and brown. Serve immediately, it deflates
rapidly.



Braised Red Radishes
(Colorful and delicious from www.foodtv.com)

2 tablespoons butter
1 scallion, diced
1 teaspoon basil, chopped
10 large radishes, scrubbed and halved
2 to 3 cups vegetable stock, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small sauté pan, melt butter. Sauté the scallion and basil for 1 minute. Add the radishes, and vegetable stock to cover. Bring the stock to a simmer and cook until radishes are tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the radishes and reduce the cooking liquid 50 percent. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle liquid over radishes before serving.



Beef Burgundy
(This is so good!  Another great recipe from www.foodtv.com)


This is a dish we enjoy with the leftovers of the Christmas Rib Roast

3 slices bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
16 white mushrooms, medium in size, wiped with damp cloth to clean, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen pearl onions, defrosted and drained
2 pounds lean sirloin (or left-over rib roast), 1-inch thick, trimmed and cubed into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup burgundy wine
1 1/2 cups store bought beef stock
Bouquet of 3 or 4 sprigs each sage and fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string

Herb Egg Noodles:

12 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, 2 handfuls
12 blades fresh chives, snipped or finely chopped

Heat a large deep skillet with a heavy bottom and a lid over medium high heat. Add bacon to the pan and brown. Remove crisp bacon bits with slotted spoon. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons butter to the pan and melt into bacon drippings. Add mushrooms to the pan and turn to coat evenly with butter and bacon drippings. Season the mushroom slices with salt and pepper. Sauté mushrooms 2 to 3 minutes and add onions to the pan. Continue cooking onions and mushrooms 2 to 3 minutes longer, then transfer to a plate and return pan to the heat. Add remaining butter to the pan and melt it, then add meat to the very hot pan and brown evenly on all sides, keeping the meat moving. Add flour to browned meat in the pan and cook the flour 2 minutes. Add wine to the pan slowly while stirring. When the wine comes up to a bubble and you have scraped up the pan drippings, add the stock and bouquet of fresh sage and thyme sprigs to the pot. Cover the pan. When the liquid boils, reduce heat to medium. Cook covered 5 minutes, remove lid and add mushrooms, onions and bacon back to the pot. Simmer with the cover off until sauce thickens a bit. Adjust seasoning and remove herb bouquet.
Toss hot egg noodles with butter and herbs. Place a bed of noodles in a shallow bowl and pour beef burgundy over the noodles and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

 

       

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