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My Post-Holiday Food Notes and a New Blog!

I originally planned on writing this post last week over the break, but time just got away from me. I don’t know what happened. It was Christmas Eve and then… BOOM!

Now it’s Monday morning, January 4, the 9-Year-Old is complaining about logging on for school, The Teen is already online, and I’m exhausted because I stayed up too late binging 11.23.66 on Hulu.

I’m in my mid-forties, and you’d think I would have learned by now that procrastinating bedtime isn’t a good idea.

Well, I procrastinated bedtime, and here we are.

Exhausted.

Anyway, I started taking notes on what I was cooking for Christmas this year in hopes of sharing and remember what I cooked and how I cooked it.

Bear with me. This post is going to be a mess!

Here’s my stovetop on Christmas Eve Eve.

Cooking on Christmas Eve - Three Pots on Stove
Cooking on Christmas Eve – Three Pots on Stove

On the left is shrimp for Shrimp Cocktail.

This tradition we inherited from my husband’s family, and I love it. Every Christmas, we make a few pounds of shrimp cocktail to munch on all week.

After years I have our system down.

I bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, I add the shrimp and cook until the water begins to boil again. Then I immediately drain and submerge the shrimp in ice water.

Shrimp Cocktail on Ice
Shrimp Cocktail on Ice

The shrimp come out flawless every time!

To the right of the shrimp (on the stove photo above) is my triple berry pie filling.

This is a new tradition for us, and I love it as well!

Last year I made my first pie from scratch, and I must say it’s way more fun than I anticipated.

I made this pie a few times now, changing it a little each time, but this last version was my favorite, so I’m glad I took specific notes.

Triple Berry Pie Filling

  • 2 heaping cups of blueberries
  • 2 heaping cups of raspberries
  • 2 heaping cups of strawberries
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch

Put everything in a pot except the cornstarch and let it cook down. Once the berries give up some liquid, ladle some off and use it to make a cornstarch slurry. Then add it back cook until everything deepens in color and thickens.

Once thick, let it cool in the fridge.

We have tried a different combo of berries, but equal parts blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are our favorite. We also use frozen fruit because it’s easier. You could use the berry mixes they have, but I found the blackberries overpower the pie.

For the crust, I go homemade, and it’s not as hard as you may think.

Homemade Butter Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (325g)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks) (230 grams)
  • ice water

First, I combine half the flour and salt by scattering butter cubes over the mixture and smashing with a dough cutter.

Making Homemade Butter Crust
Making Homemade Butter Crust

Once it looks like breadcrumbs, I add the remaining flour and work until the dough looks crumbly with small pieces like peas. Then I sprinkle a few tablespoons of ice water over the mixture, work it in, form two discs, and chill it in the fridge.

After that, it’s pretty easy. Just roll out the dough, fill with the chilled berry mixture and bake at 400-degrees for about 40 minutes.

This year The Husband helped me make a lattice pattern.

Triple Berry Pie Before Baking
Triple Berry Pie Before Baking

It came out beautiful!

Finished Triple Berry Pie
Finished Triple Berry Pie

In addition to the pie, we also made cookies for Christmas, of course!

Here’s the husband begrudgingly helping me make his favorite, chocolate chip.

The Husband Making Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
The Husband Making Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Our recipe is pretty simple.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 sticks of salted butter, soft
  • 142g light brown sugar  
  • 142g dark brown sugar 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 300g flour  
  • chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar, add the egg, vanilla, salt, and then slowly add the flour to make the dough. Add the chips, roll into balls, and baked at 375 for about 8-minutes.

The 9-Year-Old helped with the Christmas Cookies.

Rolling out Christmas Cookies
Rolling out Christmas Cookies

He was more excited to use the cutter than decorate this year, for whatever reason.

I make a variation on sugar cookies, but I converted the recipe to be small batch. I don’t need dozens of cookies around the house for weeks. Oh! And I also use whole wheat flour for all these recipes. I totally forget to specify that because it’s all I buy.

Christmas Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups flour (180g)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 cup butter (56g)
  • ⅓ cup sugar (66g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • food coloring (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients, set aside. Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the flour mixture to make the dough—Bake in a 350-degree oven.

The kids weren’t as excited to decorate this year, but we pulled together a pretty good batch.

Decorated Christmas Cookies
Decorated Christmas Cookies

Ok, way back to the first photo at the top of the post. The pot on the back-right of the stove is my homemade beef bone broth to make our traditional French Onion Soup for Christmas Eve dinner.

This is one of our first ever Christmas Eve dinner traditions. The Husband and I were obsessed with French Onion Soup in the nineties, and it just carried over. Now Christmas Eve is about the only time we enjoy it.

I’ve been making French Onion Soup homemade for nearly fifteen years now, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started making the stock homemade as well.

Beef Bone Broth (Stock)

  • beef bones
  • onion
  • carrot
  • splash of apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • Rosemary sprigs
  • whatever leftover greens/scraps I have

First, I roast the bones, and then everything goes into a large pot of water, which I simmer overnight. Then I chill the broth, remove the fat, and use it for the soup.

The soup itself is thin-sliced onion, cooked down until sweet, and then the broth, wine, a bay leaf or two, and that’s pretty much it. I don’t ever really measure anything; I just cook, taste, and adjust. That’s the best kind of “recipe” for me.

The rest of Christmas Eve dinner for us is roasted cauliflower, fried fish fillets, crab legs. Oh! And we make crab balls as a lunch/appetizer.

Crap Balls with Sriracha-Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Crap Balls with Sriracha-Yogurt Dipping Sauce

I also don’t measure anything for these. It’s two slices of bread with the crusts removed cut up into small squares and combined with a dollop of mayo, a squirt of yellow mustard, Old Bay, parsley, salt, and pepper. Then that mixture is tossed with crab meat, rolled into a ball, and put under the broiler for a few minutes.

On the side, I serve a fun dipping sauce, which is a combo of greek yogurt, sriracha, and lemon juice. That was a new addition last year, and we loved it.

I must have gotten really overwhelmed (or had too much wine) because that’s about all the photos I had on the camera for Christmas Eve food. I did snap these on my phone after the family read The Night Before Christmas…

Christmas Eve Animated Gif
Christmas Eve Animated Gif

This was my favorite single shot of the bunch.

Christmas Eve Silliness.
Christmas Eve Silliness.

We tried so hard to get Marshmellow in the photo, but he just kept trying to lick our faces.

Christmas morning, I got some photo-taking energy back.

Christmas Morning
Christmas Morning

Christmas is so different when you have older kids. It feels more relaxed and calm. After about twenty minutes of present opening, the boys all got Pokemon cards, so they decide to stop and explore them with Dad.

My boys Christmas Morning
My boys Christmas Morning

I made breakfast listening to them get excited about Ex cards and damage counts. The whole Pokemon thing is their thing. Sometimes I feel like they are speaking a whole different language when they talk about it. It’s so cute!

Anyway, that gave me enough time to make breakfast.

Christmas Morning Breakfast
Christmas Morning Breakfast

Years past, I would make store-bought cinnamon rolls, but I changed things this year because I wanted bacon and eggs. I used a plain can of crescents for the cinnamon rolls and just sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar inside and out. They were a crowd-pleaser!

After a pretty relaxing morning, I got back into the kitchen to make Christmas dinner. This year we made ham AND lamb, and I think I need to make that a tradition. I loved having all the protein leftovers in the fridge all week.

The ham was a fresh pork roast that I smothered in maple syrup, honey, and a spice combo of smashed cardamom pods, mustard seeds, nutmeg, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves.

Christmas Ham
Christmas Ham

The lamb was marinated with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mint, salt, and pepper. I also roast potatoes alongside, so they soak up all that flavor!

Christmas Lamb
Christmas Lamb

Both came out fantastic. I was also planning to make some green beans, but we had enough leftover cauliflower, so I decided to give myself a break and just serve that.

That was our Christmas through food in a nutshell. The days afterward have all been a blur. We cleaned and reorganized our bedroom, made homemade potato chips with the teen, enjoyed some Bellinis, introduced The 9-Year-Old to Bob Ross, and played a LOT of games.

Considering everything, I couldn’t have asked for a better holiday break. I feel like we were able to exit the crazy train for at least a little while. Today we reboard. Everyone is already at the desks, working away, taxing our WiFi connection with Google Meet calls and VPN access.

Oh! I almost forgot! I did post a new recipe on my new side project, JarMadeRecipes.com.

Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette onJarMadeRecipes.com
Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette onJarMadeRecipes.com

Y’all going to think I’m crazy, and that’s ok, but I enjoy having a more formal blog to experiment with SEO techniques and blogging trends. It’s what I do, and it helps me keep my skills sharp for work. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start from scratch in a blogging sense. Now I have this space to do whatever I want and that space to be a bit more formal and calculated.

Anyway, I hope the first Monday of 2021 is treating you kindly. You’ll get no resolutions or New Year New You messages from me. I’m just going to keep doing What I Can When I Can.

Ha! I didn’t even see that one coming.

Have a good one, guys.

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