Tuesday, December 29, 2015

It's All About the Food

Much to Butch's chagrin! He doesn't care about food at all. But, the family certainly does. They all have their favorites. We have many choices and lots of it. The hardest part about the food is the list making, the grocery shopping and the storage of it all. I usually make 2 or 3 trips to the store to get it all. This year, with Butch's help, I was able to get by with 2 trips and 1 to Sam's. I always talk about quantities---like the 27 sticks of butter at Thanksgiving.  I didn't even count the butter this time. At one point, I had 8-16 oz. containers of sour cream and 12-8 oz. cream cheeses in the refrigerator. Sort of mind-boggling! We used it all! 

This year, since our days with Sandy and family were going to be so short, we did not have family baking day. I only made two types of cookies---chocolate chip and pecan butter balls. I always have a cookie tray that we refill every morning when everyone is here.
By the time Sandy, Stephanie and Mindy brought their "goodies" our tray looked like this. We didn't even make a dent in the cookies. We also had pumpkin spice muffins, banana bread that Morgan made and a pumpkin bread that Greg's mom made. I didn't even get out the banana bread I made. We also have a few candies around. This year, I got the personalized M&M's from a Groupon special. And then there's the petit fours I always order with Connie for Christmas Eve (we've made a tradition out of driving across town to pick them up which includes lunch). I had planned to make a cake for Christmas day, but abandoned that idea when I saw how many sweets we still had. Nor did I make a single pie. Ordinarily, it's not a problem. 14 people for nearly a week consume a lot of food.

I made 4 batches of party mix. That always goes. After 3 days, there was one little baggie full that I gave to Nicky. There's the recipe that's on the boxes of the Chex cereals and then there's my mom's recipe. Hers is the best! This would be a good time to mention that if you want any recipes of the foods I mention, I'll be happy to share them. Just leave me a comment.

We open our gifts on Christmas Eve. We eat while we open---which means all finger foods. It varies a little each year as I try a few new things. Then there is always the standard family favorites: beef tenderloin on Sister Shubert rolls with homemade horseradish cream, boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, meatballs in barbecue sauce, pickle roll-ups, mom's cheese ball, chicken almond cheeseball, hot crab spread (new this year), green onion dip, clam dip, spinach dip and all of the assorted crackers and chips to go with them. That's 10 different things. Everyone helps. I usually post a job list, but this year, since time was short, I just put all the jobs in a hat and they drew out. The most time consuming job is the pickle roll-ups. No one wants that job. There's usually a lot of trading of jobs going on. Two of the "boys" (Greg and Justin) drew "peel shrimp"---but they really lucked out. Little did I know that the shrimp I bought was already peeled!! All I had to do was cook it and chill. With everyone helping, it takes about an hour an a half to get all the food ready. It would probably only take a half hour, but you have to factor in "move around space" for 14 people in the kitchen---and mixing bowls, spoons, etc. 

We start opening gifts when we put the tenderloin in the oven to bake. When it's done, we eat and continue to  open gifts---taking breaks to clean up wrappings, refill plates and drinks (we're not even going to talk about the amount of beverages consumed---they do love their cocktails!). It's an all evening affair. We open one at a time so everyone can see what each gets. Of course, the gifts lead to stories and before you know it, we've spent 4 hours just opening, eating and hanging out. It's such a fun family time. We end Christmas Eve with cleaning up, putting the furniture back in order and a poker game. The teens/young adults were up until 3 a.m. That didn't bother me at all. I love to hear them laughing and having a good time.

The jobs also included prep work for our Christmas dinner. Peeling potatoes is another unwanted chore---nearly 10 pounds for this gang. I changed up our Christmas dinner this year. Instead of turkey, I made Chicken Wellington---for 14. Can you spell "time consuming?" Along with the Wellington, we had party potatoes, carrot casserole, green bean bundles (unbundled these days), cranberry congealed salad (or I should say Jello salad for the northerners), corn pudding, peas (for those that don't like the green beans) and 7-Up Biscuits. This was the first time I made those biscuits. It didn't start off well. I had asked Butch a couple of times in days prior if we had 7-Up. He said we did, but in reality, we had Sprite. He's in charge of beverages. Now to me, they are two completely different tastes. I was a little aggravated. After all 7-Up is in the title---not Lemon/Lime Biscuits. Butch came back with, "well, the recipe calls for Bisquick and you bought the cheap, Kroger brand." Hey, that should have been my line! I countered with, "biscuit mix is biscuit mix." Well, after all of the hullabaloo, they were EXCELLENT! They were so soft and tender. Since they were also so easy to make (Butch made them and he doesn't cook), I'll be making them again. Maybe even for our New Year's Eve dinner.
Mindy set the table. Even though it's my favorite thing to do, I let her do it. She had so much fun with it. The table favors this year were those ornaments that Butch and I made back in the early 1970's. After my post about wondering where they had all gone, my sister said she had a box full of them. She sent them to me. Neither of us can figure out how in the world she came to have them. The box even included the ones with our names on them. I can't imagine ever getting rid of them, but apparently, I took them to St. Louis and left them. Considering Jennifer doesn't celebrate Christmas, I'm so fortunate that she even kept them or remembered that she had them. Thanks, Jen!

Okay, so back to all of this food. I was so happy. When it came right down to it, we had just the right amount. There were not too many leftovers. I sent Sandy and Stephanie home with some, but there wasn't much left---well, except for the sweets. I didn't keep any of that as I don't need it around here. They didn't want the candy, so I plan to take that to bridge next week. The ladies like chocolate.

A few other food related side notes: 
While shopping, I came across these:

Short story: while in Scotland several years ago, we stopped at a tea room for lunch. I was so interesting--in some woman's home. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with pickles. When it arrived, I asked about the pickles. Well, pickles to the Scots is some sort of sweet relish that's put on the grilled cheese. It was so good that we asked about it. We stopped at a grocery store and brought Branston "pickles" home with us. Now it's in our grocery stores. I don't understand the one on the left "Bringout" as it's exactly the same as the Branston---and, no, it's not the other side of the jar. I didn't buy any---$5.79 is kind of pricey.
I had no idea that food brands have Pinterest boards. I'll need to check them out---as if I need another recipe!
I had some leftover, uncooked chicken from Christmas. I ended up making poppyseed chicken---well, I didn't have any poppyseed, so it was poppyseedless chicken---still good . I had this mix in the pantry. Almost like having a turkey dinner, except with chicken.

Okay, not really.


  1. Sprite/7UP biscuits are tasty, I wonder if they'd work with the pancake mix I have (Bisquick is expensive here).

    Bring Out is the other part of the Branston slogan. I'm hoping to visit Nashville next year and would be happy to bring you a jar :)

  2. Great post, sounds like you really enjoyed the holiday and you all were well fed to keep up your strength for the festivities. I love sweet pickles and relish, so I'll have to look for Branston at the grocery.

    I had to pop back and tell you that I made the 8 can soup - with just minor alterations. I used crushed tomatoes instead of diced to please daughter and an extra can of veggie soup as I had no diced potatoes. Hubby added a dash of red pepper and a half dash of cumin and proclaimed it a real success. It came in handy for dinner on the day we had spent out shopping and then home wrapping. I sent half home with my son. When I offered it to him he asked hesitatingly - you mean canned soup? I had to answer - no, um . . . well, yes, kinda! But when he saw it, he snapped it up and they enjoyed it. So do you want to share a recipe for pecan butter balls?

  3. Pecan Butter Balls
    2 cups chopped pecans
    2 cups flour
    1 cup margarine
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 tsp. vanilla
    1/4 tsp salt
    confectioner's sugar (powdered)

    Combine nuts with flour, margarine, sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix until blended. Shape in to 1" balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets in a preheated 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Cool slightly. Shake cookies in plastic bag with powdered sugar until covered. Makes 5 dozen.


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