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Favorite Christmas Food Traditions

This makes me think of one year when I was about 13 or 14 I decided to start trying cook. And so at Christmas time I pulled out one of my mother's cookbooks to a recipe for bourbon balls that had crushed vanilla wafers, lots of bourbon, chocolate, and rolled in powdered sugar. I'm kind of shocked that I asked my parents for bourbon and they gave it to me (I was too innocent a kid for them to think anything of it!). And I proceeded to make those bourbons balls and was thoroughly disgusted at the alcohol taste of them! Might like them now though.

Dec 11, 2014
bblonde in General Topics

First Married Christmas

I am interested to hear too. It's my husband's and my first married Christmas as well and when his kids go off to their mother's, I'd like to have a nice dinner and reflect on just the two of us.

Dec 09, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Favorite Christmas Food Traditions

This is my first year being married and I was talking with my husband about his Christmas food traditions and shocked to find he hasn't any! Granted, Christmas isn't as much of a food holiday for us as Thanksgiving, but there are certainly some regulars, mostly in the way of candies and cookies.

Braum's eggnog (non-alcoholic)
My grandmother always makes a spiced tea drink for Christmas Eve that has orange and lemon, tea, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, etc.
There was never any alcohol at Christmas Eve until the grandkids were of age and started bringing it and even then my grandparents were none too happy. But a nice pitcher of sangria goes a long way at smoothing things over

Date balls
Aunt bill's brown candy (kind of a caramel fudge)
three layer bars (a shortbread base, a date and coconut filling, topped with a powdered sugar and lemon juice topping--my favorite!!)
occasionally throw into the mix--divinity, fudge, or peanut brittle
And my granddad always sent everyone grapefruit for Christmas so that's a very strong Christmas memory.

What are your traditional foods?

Dec 09, 2014
bblonde in General Topics

What's for Dinner #337 - the It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas & Hanukkah 2014 Edition! [through December 8, 2014]

Christmas is a lot bigger in my neck of the woods, apparently. Christmas comes early and big. Put up mom's xmas tree on Saturday, our bare tree went up Friday, DH and I did outside lights Saturday and Sunday, and we decorated the tree last night. Still a few more little things to do but everything else holiday is on hold until the conclusion of finals. Will start the merriment again promptly Dec. 13.

Until then, WFD from me will be an impressive array of uncomplicated comfort food including tonight's crockpot tamale pie. Now before you say gag, if smell is any indicator, it'll be right on the money. What's more, I didn't have to do anything more than plop and top. Now doesn't that sound appealing?!

What's for Dinner #337 - the It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas & Hanukkah 2014 Edition! [through December 8, 2014]

I think it looks beautiful.

What's for Dinner #337 - the It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas & Hanukkah 2014 Edition! [through December 8, 2014]

The last of the leftovers went into turkey noodle soup for lunch. Good day for it too as the weather is chili and studying by the fire with my cat continues.

Tonight I have an annual Christmas party to attend. It's one of those large corporatey ones but the food is good and free and by that time I'll be ready for a study break. My tree is up and I'm contemplating decorating it tonight. Depends on how far I get this afternoon.

What happens if I freeze cheesecake?

I've frozen a sweet potato cheesecake and it defrosted beautifully. I think the same would therefore apply to many types of cheesecakes, especially the pumpkin or purely cream cheese variety. The only trouble I had was once with an eggnog cheesecake but I think it was underbaked from the get-go

Dec 02, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

What's for dinner #336 -- The Thanksgiving 2014 Edition! [through 2 December 2014]

Took the easy route today since I'm busy preparing for finals and put some tenderized round steak from my side of beef in the crockpot with dry onion soup mix and cream of mushroom soup. It smells good but looks gnarly. Not sure if it'll be good. The texture looks off. Oh well I have some ziti in the freezer if all else fails.

Next year will be different: Thanksgiving

I agree entirely. My brother in law wanted the mash and plain carrots. Boring as all get out, I have those all year round, and they didn't hold up as well a day early. If he wants them, I suppose my sister can bring them. But from now on it's back to sweet potatoes this holiday.

Dec 01, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

There was a ghost residing in our house. When unloading the last drainer full of clean dishes, my sister pick up one dish, which flung another glass dish onto the floor and shattered into many tiny pieces. And with 3 little ones walking around, we hurried to get the shards all picked up before anyone got hurt.

Then, at dinner, one of the 2 year olds very slightly tapped the edge of the china cabinet--I'm talking like a kleenex tissue touching it. And my mother's Thanksgiving ceramic plate that sits up at the top of it for decoration and is held by a very heavy wrought iron book holder came crashing down, nearly missing my husband's head and scaring all the kids, and scratching up the wood floor :( So about 10 minute in to eating dinner, once again I found myself carefully vacuuming up the small pieces. No one could hear over the vaccuum. It kinda felt like mother nature was saying hahahaha to all our work.

The next day my sister and I helped our mom to put up the tree and went to get something from a cabinet, merely opened the door and a vase leapt out and shattered and cut my sister's leg. Weird stuff.

Hopefully it'll be a laughable memory. Right now it makes me really ticked we did all that work. Almost wish we had ordered in this year.

Dec 01, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking
1

Next year will be different: Thanksgiving

Normally we do 1:30, but since my sister has little kids we had to do it before they go down for nap. That 1 1/2 hours made a huge difference. It was never easy getting it done by 1:30, but doable. 12 was painful. She has another baby on the way so with 4 next year I think we do it after their afternoon nap. Plus I enjoy the parade and I didn't get to enjoy anything all morning.

Actually, I think DH's family may come in next year and with that many people I will probably outsource some of the fixins. As easy as it sounds to bake pumpkin pies day of, I think I might do them the day ahead or outsource them next year.

In previous years I have made and frozen dressing in advance. It's actually better that way imho because it's the right moistness. So maybe I'll do that next year.

Nov 30, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Next year will be different: Thanksgiving

I don't know how, but it needs to be! Nearly every dish the day before and leaving only the baking of the pies (crusts and fillings were already made, just stored individually), the oyster dressing (all veggies pre-chopped), and the turkey to prepare and everything else was a matter of pulling in an out of the oven. After all that, I was exhausted still!

Next year, I think the #1 thing I will do is NOT have dinner at 12pm. Why? I feel like I work myself to the bone and for what? Getting up at 6am with the turkey is for the birds.

Other than that I don't know. Any ideas?

Menu 2014:
brined turkey (with store-bought brine)
mashed potatoes (in advance--think I'll nix this next year. Too boring and everyday for the buffet)
sweet potato souffle with streusel topping (day ahead, topping and casserole separate)
Arkansas green beans (day ahead, bacon kept separately)
dressing (day ahead, it way dry dry)
oyster dressing (day of, veggies pre-chopped)
cranberry jello
cranberry sauce
pumpkin pies (crust and filling made day ahead, kept separately, baked day of)
mincemeat (grandmother brought)

Any ideas?

Nov 30, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

What's for dinner #336 -- The Thanksgiving 2014 Edition! [through 2 December 2014]

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone and despite having prepared nearly every dish the day before, and despite having my mom and sister to help me man the ovens, it was exhausting, the dressing was dry (I'm not much a fan of the recipe, anyway) and the turkey was very dry even after brining 24 hrs.

Today is my mom's birthday and so we all went to dinner last night to celebrate. Unfortunately they mixed up orders and my 84 year old grandmother ended up without a plate of food until almost everyone was finished. Even more unfortunate was the fact that the manager did not handle it tactfully. What happened to the customer is always right?!

DH and I hung Christmas lights this morning in the nick of time before a big cold front rolled through. An easy dinner (no turkey leftovers, thanks!) was in order so I pulled out chili from the freezer and we are now enjoying the most delicious chili dorito pie around a fire watching a Christmas movie. It can't be monday already tomorrow. Fall a day back ought to be a thing. Thanksgiving week. HOw do we make it happen? Set your clocks back to Saturday tonight :)

Freezing leftovers

Just realized I haven't frozen my pan of cornbread dressing from the meal we had last Sunday (7 days ago). I keep seeing 4 days is the time to keep or freeze with some saying if you handle it well, it should last 7-10 days. What's the verdict? I would really like to freeze this as it was quite tasty but don't want to risk it if it's unsafe.

Nov 30, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Confession: I don't like the family Thanksgiving dressing recipe

I'm baking it in 2 9x13's. Although it's fairly thick when I do. May have overcooked it yesterday in the hectic Thanksgiving schedule.

Nov 28, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking
1

Confession: I don't like the family Thanksgiving dressing recipe

Every year I think it'll change. But it doesn't. I actually, gasp, think I like variations of stovetop dressing better!

Now I won't get away with changing the family recipe for dressing or opting for a different dish. However, maybe I"m doing something wrong. I know several have this same or similar recipe and love it.

Ours involves drying out about 20 pieces of white bread. And once it's crunchy, crumble it.
9x13 pan of cornbread, crumbled
head of celery, sliced and sauteed with
4 chopped onions in
4 pats of butter
sage
6 eggs
broth

Combine. And bake. It's dry, so dry. Not matter how much broth I add. I think it goes back to our cornbread, though--I've always thought it's like sawdust (sweet cornbread is not acceptable in my household). My MIL doesn't use eggs, says it doesn't need it. Could that be my problem?

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter if I love it or not. But I wish I could make a better product for all that work, so if you have any small variations or tips, please let me know

Nov 28, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving Day Live

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I've seen these posts in previous years but did not see it today so thought I'd start.

Now that my sister has twins plus a 5 year old, it became apparent last year that it was way too hectic to expect her to bring anything not to mention a little crazy to expect me to get much of anything done when she and the gang arrived.

So my mom, other sister, and I tried to get as much done yesterday so we can enjoy this morning a little more.

Already completed:
Mom just called to say she got the turkey in the oven about an hour ago.
Giblets are cooked.
Dressing is prepared, only needs to be baked.
mashed potatoes made
sweet potatoes and topping made, but kept separately until baking
green beans made; only need to add the bacon
cranberry sauce made
We made piecrusts and pie filling yesterday; mom will combine and bake shortly

Only thing remaining to do is make the oyster dressing (veg already cut for that) and whip the cream. The rest comes down to manning the oven and dad carving the turkey!

DH and I are about to leave for my parents. Will check in later. After lunch we'll be taking a ham and pumpkin pie to DH's sister's house and have dinner there. Hope you have a great, stress-less day.

Nov 27, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving Day Live

Share your Thanksgiving story play-by play. Here's the chance to ask quick questions, celebrate victories, vent, or take a break from the cooking. So where are you in your Thanksgiving cooking marathon?

Nov 27, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #335 - Is Everyone Feeling the Chill? [through Nov. 24, 2014]

Last night we had friendsgiving, which was supposed to be our chance to make nontraditional tgiving, but it turned out being fairly traditional.

I made a cajun turkey, which was greeted with rave reviews. To go with, I made a cajun andouille cornbread dressing, which I loved but would never replace my traditional Thanksgiving dressing. A friend brought a really great broccoli gratin, another brought sweet potato fries, another a garlicky green bean casserole (I couldn't tell any difference), cranberry sauce, butternut squash and bacon penne, and cranberry walnut tart for dessert.

Tonight is my SK's choice, so it's mac and cheese, ground beef, sweet potatoes, and corn.

What's for Dinner #335 - Is Everyone Feeling the Chill? [through Nov. 24, 2014]

Tonight's dinner is stepson's choice: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas. Not terribly creative, but he sure does know how to pick the comfort food. Have the chicken brining in a buttermilk mixture now.

What's for Dinner #335 - Is Everyone Feeling the Chill? [through Nov. 24, 2014]

I absolutely love good menu planning. If I don't, I find I do much more work, have many more of those "well what do you want?" conversations, and waste more food. That being said, it never goes as planned. I've had to learn to expect a day on the menu to be open so that I can use the unused, and freeze if necessary.

Your best Thanksgiving bird (or other main if so inclined)

Yes! This is the kind of thing I'm thinking. I don't want to go too far from Thanksgiving foods because part of the excitement of this is getting to try the recipes that would never be acceptable on my very-traditional thanksgiving table. Our Thursday Thanksgiving is unchanging--turkey, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie--you get the idea.

I'm leaning towards possibly a cajun turkey and maybe an andouille dressing or a rice and pecan dressing. I've also seen mole turkey which looks inspired.

Nov 18, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

Your best Thanksgiving bird (or other main if so inclined)

I have decided to host "friendsgiving" and so therefore I will be responsible for the main. I'm leaning toward turkey because DH and I already have a turkey in the freezer, but I do want to have a more "spin on tradition" friendsgiving so that everyone isn't sick of turkey come Thursday (Friendsgiving is this Sunday). I'm open to other meats, but turkey is just so easy and obvious. For my Thursday Thanksgiving I brine turkey, giblet gravy, cornbread dressing. Therefore, the further from that for friendsgiving, the better

Nov 18, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #335 - Is Everyone Feeling the Chill? [through Nov. 24, 2014]

Tonight's dinner will be pork chops with cranberry-orange sauce, probably garlic roast broccoli, and trying to decide between baked sweet potatoes or acorn squash.

What's for Dinner #334 - the Veteran's Day Edition [Through November 17, 2014]

Tonight's dinner was beef stroganoff in the crockpot. I found a non-condensed soup version that I very much enjoyed. DH and stepson both gobbled it up so I guess that's a go! Love it when an easy hearty dinner is well received.

What's for Dinner #334 - the Veteran's Day Edition [Through November 17, 2014]

Sitting here waiting for the snow to start. Up early even after a late night because I couldn't sleep thinking about all the dishes! Arrrhhh

DH's bday party/fight night was a hit. I made 3 varieties of chili--my traditional ground beef red chili, a creamy white chicken chili, and a vegetarian sweet potato and black bean. The red was gone. DH was right, the vegetarian was nearly untouched. Have leftover white chicken chili which will be nice today. I prepped them all in the morning and then plugged in crockpots and set them out on the bar. Alongside I served fritos, doritos, saltines, and a variety of toppings including green onion, sour cream, limes, olives, jalapenos, cheese, hot sauce. I also had a crudite platter and the easy knorr spinach dip. For dessert I made a chocolate-peanut butter-banana trifle. I made a large container of beergaritas for drink and otherwise it was byob. One guest brought queso, and another brought brownies and cookies to supplement dessert. Too much food, as usual. We had nearly 30! And most importantly, my husband felt loved and had a fun time.

When the snow finally does start coming down, I think we will stay in today. I'm sure we will eat leftover white chicken chili, trifle, although not sure about tonight. Maybe spaghetti with meatsauce.

Stay warm y'all

What's for Dinner #333 - The end of Daylight Savings Time Edition [through Nov. 10, 2014]

Nothing exciting here for dinner--it was my SD's day to pick the menu so we are having the very well-rounded menu of macaroni and cheese with ground beef, baked sweet potatoes, and corn. Two things have really saved my sanity when it comes to food and avoiding tests of will: having the SK's pick one meal a week for me to cook for the family, and ketchup!

I did really enjoy my pork and chickpea stew with sweet potatoes in my lunch. Enough flavor to really keep it interesting.

What's for Dinner #333 - The end of Daylight Savings Time Edition [through Nov. 10, 2014]

I feel like I've been cooking all day.

Breakfast was pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs.

Lunch was a cider braised pork roast with carrots served with mashed potatoes.

And now dinner is stewing in the crockpot--pork and chickpea stew with sweet potatoes Looking forward to it most although still not very hungry.

Best Chilis and accompaniments

I never have much luck with the search function on here, so if you know a prior thread on the topic, please repost for me

After a very mild fall (I'm talking temps in the 90s just 3 weeks ago!), we are expected to have a big cold front move through and possibility of snow next weekend, just in time for my husband's birthday party. So I'm nixing the grilling idea and I think I'll go with a Chili setup instead. We'll probably have around 20. I want to keep the work light and will probably keep the chili(s) warm in crockpot. I want to do at least 2 chilis, possibly 3. Probably one a more traditional ground beef chili and another more unusual chili. May outsource the sides to guests (they will show up with food whether I ask them or not--I'm from the south ha!), but thinking fritos and doritos, onions and cheese for frito/dorito chili pie, either plain tortillas or cornbread. I'm always stumped on veg to accompany chili--will probably go a simple crudite platter. Any ideas to make the menu a bit more interesting would be much appreciated.

Nov 07, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking

ISO Rolled stuffed turkey breast

For Thanksgiving at SIL there won't be that many of us and it's a 1 1/2 hr. drive away. I was hoping maybe someone has a stuffed, rolled, turkey breast recipe that I could possible make ahead and would be easy to reheat?

Nov 06, 2014
bblonde in Home Cooking