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Tag Archives: holiday cooking

christmas meal

Easy Christmas Cooking that is Sure to Please

christmas meal

hotblack via morguefile.com

Christmas is a hectic time of year. (Now there’s an understatement!) Many families find that they barely have time to breathe much less cook dishes to bring for this or that function. In fact, a Christmas tradition that is developing for many is going out for Chinese! Grocery stores have gotten on the “help you have a happy holiday” bandwagon and offer “cheat” dishes that can be purchased and prepared for the occasions with very few people becoming the wiser. Though Christmas may be about being with friends and family it is not about broadcasting a possible lack of talent in the kitchen, time on hand, or a shortage of attention span that is required in order to prepare a stellar dish for your Christmas needs.

Of course, you could begin preparing and freezing large casserole favorites as early as August for the Christmas season. In this instance you could freeze all your family favorites and have great dishes not only for family functions that require a pitch-in dish, but also for those nights when you are far too busy to be bothered with something as demanding on your limited time as actually preparing a home cooked meal. If you prepare casseroles and similar dishes that work well with a holiday theme throughout the year be sure to double your efforts next time and freeze half for busier months such as November and December.
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sneaking a santa cookie

Fun Christmas Cooking for Everyone

sneaking a santa cookie

snowbear via morguefile.com

It’s great to have friends and family over for Christmas, but if you’re the one stuck in the kitchen doing all the cooking every year, that’s not so much fun. One way to avoid this is by rotating locations for the festivities from one year to the next. Another way — a much simpler way — is to delegate items of contribution from all guests in attendance each year so that the cooking and meal preparation duties are shared among them all.

Of course this isn’t a perfect plan. Pot lucks can often lack the flavor compliments that a meal prepared by one individual may have. So, another great plan is to prepare pieces and parts of your Christmas dinner well ahead of time. With careful planning there are recipes that can be prepared as much as a few weeks ahead of the big day and stored either in air tight containers at room temperature or frozen for heating or baking on the big day for best results. Any of the prep work that can be taken care of before the big day is one less thing to be taken care of when the time comes and that takes a load off your mind.
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Making my first cookie

Cooking Christmas Cookies with the Kids

Making my first cookie

Making my first cookie

Christmas cookies are as much a part of the Christmas tradition for many as a visit from Old St. Nick himself. As I’ve probably mentioned before, Christmas is almost synonymous with cookies for me. My grandmother made all kinds — Spanish roscos, sugar cookies, Corn Flakes clusters, jam filled cookies, the list goes on and on.

Christmas cookies are often prepared in hopes of Santa’s pending arrival by children who are as excited as they can possibly be. Their little heads are filled with all sorts of visions of great things to come as they dance around house. Preparing cookies during the holidays can be a great time of bonding with your little ones, but can also be a trying time if you don’t follow a few of the tips and hints list below.

If you want to make baking Christmas cookies with your little ones the very best experience for you all, make sure you do it on a day when this is the only thing on your calendar. You do not want to rush through this time of bonding with your child locking in a few precious memories of great times spent together. This is one thing that you want your children to look back on at Christmas with fondness.
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christmas feast

Traditional Christmas Cooking

christmas feast

Kakisky via MorgueFile.com

Christmas is a time of year when families around the world gather together and observe traditions that are the same for them year after year and yet vastly different from those that other families share around the block. There are very few universal Christmas traditions any more and there is nothing wrong with that. In America however, there are some recipes that many people consider traditional holiday cooking and there is little that will be done to dissuade these opinions. The truth is that many of these traditional holiday foods are largely traditional in specific regions rather than the United States having one nation-wide traditional Christmas dinner.

For example, my family usually served turkey and ham. Appetizers always included black olives and a relish made with pepperoccini. Many families are like mine and serve both ham and turkey. While others answer quite quickly that it is neither. One of the best all-American Christmas cooking ideas I’ve ever seen was lasagna. There are no right or wrong traditions — only those traditions that work well for you and your family. If you feel the need to change a long-standing tradition for a large extended family, by all means discuss it with everyone involved. Otherwise it is your tradition and you should feel free to make it your own.
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cornucopia

Some Thoughts About Thanksgiving

cornucopia

Morano Vincent via Flickr

Each year America has a holiday in November that has taken on almost a religious reverence. It happens tomorrow and we call it Thanksgiving. We give this holiday so much honor that it ranks with us along with Christmas and Easter as an important holiday in the hearts of family and as a nation. But this holiday, so rich with tradition, has it origins in the earliest days of the founding of this nation.

For me, I’ve always associated Thanksgiving with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, pumpkin pie and large gatherings of family and friends. It is a time of abundance and being thankful for the richness of life. But, the early years of the explorers who came to the American continent were difficult ones indeed. Those explorers, the Pilgrims, faced harsh weather, unpredictable relations with the natives, disease and other challenges as they carved out homes from the wilderness they found here. Because their earliest homesteads were in the northeast, the winters were harsh. Their ability to build houses that could keep them warm, as well as their ability to find sufficient food, was a constant worry to the men and women trying to raise families in America.
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sugar skulls

Cooking for the Day of the Dead

Dia de los Muertos

Adriano Snel via FreeImages.com

I bet you’ve seen plenty of booklets and magazine articles extolling their brand of Halloween cooking ideas. But have you seen any that talk about what to prepare for the following day?

The Day of the Dead or La Dia de los Muertos is an important holiday in Mexican culture. It is actually a three-day celebration, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. It is an opportunity to honor those who have left us behind and a very healthy approach to death that many other cultures would do well to adopt. This is a family event and as such there is typically a good deal of great food involved.

If this is your first celebration of the Day of the Dead you are not alone. Most Americans never adopt this custom and those that are interested enough to try out some of the cuisine of this important day in Mexican society are very rarely versed in the tradition, which makes it difficult.
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