Christmas Chronicles, part II

By now the stockings have been hung, merry has been made, and that fun feeling of accomplishment following Christmas is welcome like a friend at the door!  I hope you and yours had a wonderful time together filled with fun, family, friends, and good food.  I feel like I have been cooking “all the way” and here is the second edition of Christmas Chronicles for you, as you hopefully relax today.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 23

Croissants, sausage links, fruit

“Elves special take out”

Turkey & Dumplings Dinner

Croissants, sausage links, fruitvery little to elaborate on here, a simple breakfast but I love for the days before a Holiday to be a celebration, too.  I buy the petite croissants only a few times a year, so they are special and enjoyed by all, and with sausage links and fruit make for an easy breakfast. 

Lunch- we had many last minute errands to do, so the elves in my back seat were begging to stop at Chic-Fil-A.  Despite knowing how much food we had at home, I caved.  I caved, we had a car picnic, and boy was I glad not to prepare or wash anything in the kitchen I will be happy to admit! 

Turkey & Dumplings-  After running errands I made a large pot of turkey stock with the leftovers from our Sunday Christmas Eve Eve Eve dinner.  I love making homemade stock, and the richness of this turkey stock simply can not be bought in the same way.  I wanted a simple dinner though, so I decided on Turkey & Dumplings.  It reminds me of my grandmother, who often had Chicken & Dumplings at our Sunday Dinners.  I loved them as a child and still do as an adult, especially that soft dough cooked in the rich ingredients and transformed into a little pillow of yum.   As I said, this reminds me of my grandmother so I did it “ruby style”, using a can of flaky biscuits for the dumplings.  If you decide to experiment with your turkey leftovers, in a nutshell here is a quick summary of what to do: make a good stock, sautee some onions and carrots, make a roux then add stock to desired consistency, finish with cream and leftover turkey meat.  Then for the dumplings pull biscuit dough apart into about 1″ pieces.  Add biscuit bits one by one to your pot, then cover and let cook covered– without peeking (very important)– for 15 minutes.  Your end result should be soft tender dumplings in a hearty stew.  I like to serve mine in large mugs by Christmas tree! 

The day of Christmas Eve

Cinnamon Cake, Grapefruit, leftover sausage links

Family Dinner, menu below

Christmas Chili with toppings and Ham Delights

Cinnamon Cake, Grapefruit, leftover sausage links–  One of my good friends often makes a yummy cinnamon cake  when we travel together, and my kids love it!  She put the recipe in our garden club cookbook, “Doggone Good”, and I am reprinting the recipe with her permission so you can enjoy it.  Easy to make and simple, we have enjoyed it for days.

Jamie’s Cinnamon Cake Recipe

Ingredients: 1 pkg. Duncan Hines Golden Cake mix- 1 pkg. Vanilla Instant pudding mix-8 oz. sour cream- 1 stick melted butter- 3 eggs- 1/2 c. sugar- 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mix together cake mix, vanilla pudding, sour cream. melted butter, and eggs with a mixer for 4 minutes.  In a separate small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon together.  Pour 1/2 cake mix into greased Bundt pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mix on top, add second 1/2 of cake mix on top.  Bake 45 minute to one hour.

*Julia’s notes- I add a tiny amount of hot water, maybe 1/4 cup max, to the batter to make it easier to spread, but just enough so it isn’t as thick.

Christmas Eve Family Dinner at my mom’s: Fried Chicken, Low Country Sausage & Cheese Grits, Deviled Eggs, Fruit Salad, Sliced Ham, Pumpkin Roll- A simple and easy menu for all!  I made the grits, my sister bought some fried chicken, and our mom did the deviled eggs, fruit and pumpkin roll.  As the kids opened gifts from their cousins the grits were baking, then a fun lunch was had before everyone scurried away to church services, luminary making and more!

Chili Dinner- I like to keep Christmas Eve Dinner simple and easy.  I find we are busy setting up luminaries after church, making reindeer food, and just having fun so it needs to be quick and easy.  We all like chili and it’s easy to make fun with toppings to choose from, so it if often what we do.  I had a package of Ham Delights in the freezer, and put out Christmas Sugar cookies we had made earlier, and called it done!

at long last…Christmas Day

Moravian Sugar Cake, Bacon & Eggs, Fresh OJ, Coffee

Lefotver lunch!

One of the most wonderful meals of the year- Christmas dinner, menu below…

After we check out what Santa has left at the tree, nothing is better then our tradition of sugar cake, bacon and eggs.  By this time I have had my 2 (or three) cups of coffee, so fresh squeezed oj is perfect and everyone is hungry.  Then for lunch, I simply put out leftovers from the past two days for everyone to have when they feel like it- a cup of chili, a ham biscuits, sandwich or more- holiday leftovers galore!

Christmas Dinner-one of our more extravagant dinners, and my favorite part is having the rib roast leftover…but these details will follow in the last edition of my chronicles.  But here is the menu and a few pictures to go with it:

Standing Rib Roast with Caramelized Shallot & Mushroom Demi

Parmesan Potato Gratin

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Crispy Prosciutto

Hearts of Romaine with Classic Vinaigrette

Yeast Rolls

 Egg Nog Ice Cream

Wow- I’m still full after feasting for days!  Pictured below is our rib roast, and Holiday Cheer, just before going in the oven, simply done with salt, pepper and a few herbs.

holiday cheer roast

Here are a few pictures of putting together the potato gratin.  Slicing the potatoes is best done using a mandolin, as it really is important to have uniform slices.  Decadent, delicious, and probably not as daunting as they seem, my husband requests them every year.

Potatoes sliced, rinsed and drying….

Gratin step 1 gratin step 2

gratin step 3 gratin step 4

Layer them neatly over each other in a circle, topping each layer with salt and pepper, fresh parmesan then topping with cream before baking uncovered for an hour at 350.  I do mine earlier in the day, then reheat after the roast comes out of the oven.

Paired with Brussel sprouts, a crisp salad, and a nice bottle of wine, this dinner is a gift in itself.  We sat by the fire for a while before having egg nog ice cream from Trader Joe’s for a sweet ending, it is delicious and especially good topped with candied cinnamon pecans or crumbled toffee.  After an exciting day, a warm fire, wine and a nice dinner…we all had a good nights sleep!  This morning as I sit typing, the kids are content with new gifts, and I am looking forward to the next few days of Holiday break, too.  It won’t be long before I am restless to be back at work, but in the meantime I’ll be cooking at home and enjoying this time off.  Thank you for being a part of it. The fun of what I do is sharing it afterwards.  Enjoy, the best of food and life, and quiet days or rest after busy entertaining.

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