We’ve had a busy and fun Christmas season with family and friends and did lots of cooking and entertaining at our house. We also enjoyed being hosted at many family and friend events too. The thing I love most about this season is the sharing of time with the important people in our lives, the sharing of laughter, love and great food. I love that it’s expected that everyone just gets together and visits. It reminds me of the weekly Sunday visiting we used to do when we were kids – long before Sunday shopping became a thing! When we get together during the Christmas season, it’s always fun to enjoy the traditional dishes we love that our family and friends prepare, as well as the new things they share with us. I love getting recipe ideas from others! So, today’s blog is going to feature some things that we made and some things that we enjoyed made by our family and friends.
We had a number of fun events with ‘our peeps’ that involved wonderful dishes. We hosted a pot-luck for a large crowd and had Chicken Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmigiana, a melt-in-your-mouth homemade lasagna created by my sister-in-law, L, and her Mom, a delicious and beautiful green bean side dish with bacon and mushrooms made by sister-in-law, G, and yummy salad and desserts. It was a fun night and everyone liked being part of sharing their dishes with one another.
Our family also does a sing-a-long every year that became a Christmas tradition somewhere around 2008 or 2009. It started casually one year at my sister’s house with me playing piano and the kids and a few adults singing Christmas songs. We had lots of fun and wondered why we hadn’t done that before! When Christmas was approaching the next year, one of my young nephews asked when we were going to do “the annual sing-a-long”. And with that comment, he created a tradition we’ve been enjoying ever since. For the last number of years we’ve been doing the sing-a-long at my brother, M, and sister in law, D’s place. It’s great fun with lots of laughs! We created our family songbook and also use some Karaoke versions on the ipad to jazz up my mediocre piano playing! Every year we try to get better at “Baby, it’s Cold Outside”, but it’s trickier to perform than it sounds! M and D are great hosts! We always enjoy delicious food and great conversation in a lovely setting. D has a real knack for decorating! I love how she uses the elements in this bowl.
Up to this point, the sing-a-long has always been in the evening, but this year M and D turned it into a lovely brunch. It enabled the now teenage kids to also be free for the evening with friends. For the main dish, M and D made our Mom’s famous French Toast with a tasty apple raisin maple topping. My Mom uses thick sliced Italian bread for her French Toast and it tastes and looks supremely wonderful. Mom switched to making French toast this way since about 1987 and my brother reminded us that she created this recipe especially for a breakfast she and our Dad hosted for M and his friends after their high school graduation Prom. She wanted to feed a crowd of hungry teenagers with something they would enjoy that was also different from the everyday.
We rang in the New Year at my sister B and brother-in-law, R’s house on New Year’s Eve with family and friends. It was a lovely night with great food and lots of laughs.
We had some beautiful appetizers and a delicious dinner of Portuguese chicken and Bacalhau a Brás made by my sister. Bacalhau a Brás is a hearty and tasty dish using salt cod, potatoes, eggs, and black olives. R is Portuguese so we have fun including dishes from his childhood in our get-togethers also.
The star of the appetizers was a Salmon Tartare made by my 20-year-old niece, A. She has developed a strong interest in cooking and she and I often share recipes. I’ll feature some of her creations on this blog and tell you a bit more about how her interest in cooking developed in future blog entries. This tartare was raved about and eaten up quickly by all!
Two other appetizers that were also a hit were “Vegetable Shooters” and “Prosciutto and Asparagus Rolls”. I learned about making the vegetable shooters from Tim, a local chef we know and love! You simply put some dip or hummus in the bottom of a shooter glass and stand some vegetables up in the glass. Every time we’ve done this, all the veggies get eaten – unlike when you put them on platters. I guess people like having their own little glass to hold and dip as they continue chatting with others! The “Prosciutto and Asparagus Rolls” disappeared too. I got this recipe from our friends C & G who also enjoy good food and hosting. Thanks to my hubby for assembling these!
The Prosciutto and Asparagus Rolls are pretty quick to make and it’s always nice to have some appetizers that don’t involve crackers or bread. Here’s how you make them:
- Rinse and dry marinated asparagus
- Slice goat cheese into a strip that is almost the length of the short side of your prosciutto slice
- Add a couple of marinated asparagus spears
- Roll the prosciutto around the goat cheese and asparagus
They should stay together on their own without needing toothpicks. You could also use fresh asparagus if you prefer, but you would need to steam them and let them cool before assembling the dish.
You might be wondering about desserts at this point! My Mom’s baking is legendary….It’s always been the star of our Christmases. She starts weeks ahead and makes so many wonderful things! There’s always enough to fill trays when people pop in or when we need to go to someone else’s house. Here’s a picture of our desserts for our family New Year’s Day get together. This is a scaled-down version of the Christmas Day tray and has a couple of things I made on it. Next year, I’ll post the pic of the Christmas Day tray, along with a list of all the desserts Mom makes. It’s so impressive and there are too many to mention in this post!
It was a busy, but joyous holiday season filled with love, laughs and great memories with those we love. I’m going to end off with a little vignette from my sister’s house. She has a knack for finding cute things that everyone likes or needs. The picture below was created with wall decals that remove easily. It was a great backdrop for our get-togethers! I hope you all enjoyed a happy holiday season with those you love and I wish you all the best for a great year to come! Happy cooking from the Every Day Gourmet and friends!