This year for Christmas, we didn’t do the traditional sit down dinner. Instead, it was a very casual gathering at the farm. Cold Cut Platters, home baked sweet and little “nibbles” of goodness. It wasn’t so much what we ate, but that we had gathered together. Two of my sisters were absent – spending the holidays with their circle of families in other towns – I missed them very much. Brother Dear joined us in spirit with the hat I wear in honor of him. It was his, and wearing it makes me miss him a little less. The great thing about a casual Christmas is that people can come and go, wandering about the farm, visiting with the animals and playing a game or two of catch with the little guys without interfering with “meal time”. It was a day of continual grazing – and boy did we graze!
My contributions to the assorted “smorgasbord” were a few trusted favorites from the past and a few new recipes that were delicious. While I realize this little post is a bit late for the holiday feasting this year, with any luck you might get some inspiration for next year.
Deviled Eggs seems to be my signature “thing”. From the first time I made Deviled Eggs for my parents’ New Years Eve Bash 1965 (oh my!) to today, whenever invited to a party, the one request I receive the most is for Deviled Eggs. A great assortment of variations can be found on The Deviled Egg You Say!
For Christmas, I chose to garnish my eggs with two different caviers, some capers, chives, dill fonts and green onion “blossoms”. The green onion blossoms are easy to make. Simpy cut the root from a few green onions, then form the blossoms from the lower 1 1/2″ of the onion. Leave the top 1/2-inch in tact, slicing the remaining inch length-wise into little slivers. Spread open and pop the blossoms into whatever you like. These give the deviled eggs height. I love the presentation of “fancy” deviled eggs. By placing the gourmet garnishings on top, people who want “plain” eggs can simply knock off the fancy stuff before popping the delicious, creamy eggs into their mouths. Believe me, people will do just that – and in my opinion, they don’t know what they are missing!
Our cheese spread was a joint effort. Kiddo made the spread, I “decorated” it to create a pretty Christmas Package. The recipe can be had at Christmas Package Cheese Spread with Crackers. This year I used two different colors of bell peppers – red and yellow. The bow was formed using the bottom of a red pepper, cut to resemble a Christmas Bow. I tucked some parsley around the “package” for added color to the plate. It was as delicious as it was pretty.
While we never did get around to putting up a Christmas Tree this year, we had one anyway – although be it small. Who said you can’t have your tree and eat it too? Oh wait – that’s cake! There really isn’t a recipe for this pretty centerpiece you can eat. Broccoli is the key. How much depends upon the size “cone” you select. A few tips – for the broccoli, start at the bottom of the cone with the larger pieces of broccoli, and work your way up. Leave spots for whatever else you have elected to use to decorate the tree. I used baby carrots cut in half, assorted small tomatoes and green olives. You can create a pattern, alternating the “ornaments” or be a free-spirit and stick them wherever you like. For the tomatoes, place the toothpick into the cone first, then the tomato onto the pick. With the carrots, stick it into the cut end of the carrot first, then into the cone. Be sure to wrap your cone in plastic wrap before beginning, and place on a small plate. I cut a star from the larger end of a yellow neck squash and served the finished “tree” with ranch dip.
Little Apple-Spice Bites
1 Box Spice Cake
1 Can Apple Pie Filling
2 Cans Vanilla Frosting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush a jelly-roll pan with Wilton’s Cake Release (I love this stuff – flour and butter in a bottle – just shake, squeeze and brush).
Mix cake mix according to directions. Spread cake mix evenly in the pan. Bake in a preheated oven until done (about 20 minutes).
Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto cutting board and let cake cool completely.
While cake is cooling, place apple pie filling into a food processor fitted with a blade. Process filling to create an apple sauce like spread. Set aside until ready to use.
When the cake is completely cooled, cut in half width-wise. To half of the cake, spread a thin layer of apple filling. Top with remaining half. Cut cake into 2-inch squares.
Place a rack over a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Using 1 can of frosting at a time, micro wave frosting for about a minute to create a pour-able “glaze”. Place a few cake squares on the rack, glaze with frosting. Allow cake to “dry” for a few minutes, then carefully transfer to a cutting board lined with parchment paper. Repeat until half of the cake is “glazed” using the first can of frosting.
Heat second can of frosting in the micro wave and continue until the remaining cakes are glazed. Let sit overnight uncovered for the glaze to dry.
Transfer little cakes to a serving platter. Decorate as desired and serve.
One of my fondest memories was Mom’s Banana Pudding with sliced Bananas, layers of vanilla wafer cookies and a nice topping of roasted marshmallows. Yum! The moment I tasted this Christmas Trifle, I was carried back to that wonderful memory of Christmas Gatherings gone-by. It was amazing, since the only common ingredient was banana. Yet this dish has all the flavors of that old classic. Dad wrinkled his nose at the dish, saying he had hoped for the Banana Pudding dish, but gave it a try anyway. Dad loved it so much he asked if he could keep the leftover Trifle after everyone had had their fill. I was thrilled, since Dad has become picky in his old age. One word of warning – this Christmas Trifle is very rich. A small helping packs a lot of creamy goodness.
2 Packages French Vanilla Pudding Mix (small boxes)
4 Cups Eggnog, well chilled
1 can (8 oz) Crushed Pineapple
3 medium Bananas, sliced
1 prepared angel food cake (8 to 10 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Jar Red Maraschino Cherries
1 Jar Green Maraschino Cherries
1 Package Prepared Angel Food Cake (about 8 oz)
1 1/2 Tubs Cool Whip
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts
Empty contents of Vanilla pudding and eggnog into a mixing bowl. Whip for about 2 minutes. Place in refrigerator to chill well until ready to use.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a small bowl. Drain pineapple, pushing down to remove as much of the juice as possible, reserving juice.
Dip bananas in juice; and place on a paper towel to soak up excess juice.
Cut angel food cake into 1 inch pieces. Line the bottom of a 4-quart trifle dish with some cake.
Place half of the eggnog pudding over the cake. Place a layer of bananas and cherries over the pudding. Sprinkle half of the pineapples over the fruit, then spread 1/2 of the cool whip on top.
Layer again with cake, eggnog pudding, bananas, cherries and pineapple. Top with remaining cool whip.
Garnish with sliced bananas, cherries and walnuts as desired.
Chill well before serving.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. My New Year’s resolution is to cook more. What about you?