Christmas Cooking


Christmas Cooking

  • I keep Christmas very simple.  I basically use the same menu plan each year, as I only use this plan once a year.   I do it pot-luck, where I get the other relatives that are coming to bring the dish they are good at.  One brings the potatoes, one the appetizers, one a vegetable casserole and one a salad. My kids make the cookies. I make homemade breads and cinnamon rolls a week ahead and freeze them and that goes out for breakfast on Christmas morning with a fruit tray and whip cream. Dianne W.
  • The way I make meals simple during Christmas day so I have time to make the supper great…..and they are ready for a big meal! We put the little boxed cereals (you know the ones that you can pour milk right into) along with a huge apple or orange into their stockings. This covers breakfast. When I prepare my turkey I put the giblets and neck into a pot with celery stalks, whole carrots, onion cut in half and lots of savory. Fill pot with water and boil for 45 minutes. Remove all contents except liquid. (reserve meat if anyone likes it) Add one cup uncooked rice, 2 packets chicken stock, diced carrots, celery, onion, peas and more savory. Salt and pepper to taste. Ready when rice is cooked. This, along with bread and butter, is our lunch. Theresa B.
  • Instead of sewing, tying or skewering the open ends of stuffed chickens or turkey just place the crust or a day old piece of bread that has been rubbed with garlic or onion into or onto the open cavity–whichever works best for you. Ellen D.
  • We host Christmas brunch and everything is cooked and frozen ahead of time: the sausages, cinnamon buns, welsh cakes and I even have a cook ahead egg dish made the day before. So Christmas morning after mass, gift and tidy up, the food just has to be heated up, the champagne added to orange juice and we are ready to enjoy our guests and the meal. Paddy D.
  • I wanted the ‘just perfect’ and it took me a while to realize that my pretty decorations would just be destroyed by the toddlers, the candles were a danger and the small gifts were more trouble than they were worth and no one was interested in washing the good dishes. (I do put a few out for those who refuse to eat a lovely meal off a paper plate, like myself-but we are the ones washing them afterwards.) I have white lights outside that stay up all year and we might just add some stars to the trees for outdoor decorations so that’s easy. And the best thing that I ever did, and it took years to really embrace it, is a change in attitude about the entire  holiday. We now have a big Christmas dinner where everyone who comes contributes in some way according to means and ability. The people attending would be my sister and her family, sometimes my nephews, sometimes their friends and my husbands brothers and sisters, their children and their children’s children, sometimes an in-law or two and the grandmas. We have had friends of any of the above as well so ages are infants to 80’s. Numbers are always a guess but usually 30-40. One year we had over 40 but I try not to think about that. A list is distributed around Thanksgiving, everything down to napkins, butter, cream and cranberries is included. So if you don’t have a big budget to work with, your contribution might be a can of cranberries or a bag of chips! If you make a special dish, you’ll probably get nailed to make it! Big and small contribute in some way, the older folks take turns doing big jobs like turkey, gravy,ham, potatoes, pies, salads, the younger folks contribute desserts, rolls, butter, veggie munchies for before, potato chips or marshmallows for after, the small ones might help older siblings with their contribution or be in charge of the prayer or photographs or little table decorations.  It is so wonderful to see everyone contributing their specialty, everyone seems proud to bring something (even though they might grumble a bit when THE LIST comes out! The host sends the list based on who did what the year before ( and how well it turned out!) We used to do small gifts, but don’t really bother anymore.If you are bringing more than your family, you’d better bring more food-its an unwritten rule, fortunately we always have lots to wrap up for those who couldn’t make it. I also learned not to put it all away because usually one or two families stay and we pull it all out again around 7 (our meal is 1pm so people can head off to work or the other side of the family if they want.)So recent years have seen us focus on some outdoor activities for excited children, evening walks with the mom’s who are ready to get OUT and a highlight that happened by accident one year. The little ones were really getting out of sorts so I filled the tub (fortunately we have a big one), we took turns supervising and it so funny to see the toddlers all together in the bubbles. Now the mom’s plan for it and bring the pajamas for after, I also try to have a quiet time movie for couch snuggles after the meal. We have someone bring small kids furniture in like those plastic picnic tables and set it up for them and that eliminates the mom’s feeding their kid’s on the sofa! To get around the decoration thing, the school aged children are to bring something that they have made and we put these up. I do still wish at times for the good china, some candles, some music that can be heard but that is not going to happen any time soon! I used to stress about how things would turn out but we’ve had great laughs over the years about burned turkeys (these folks are off turkey now!) forgotten rolls, weird dressings etc. I’m not so sure this helps but my biggest tip is if you are stressed, change the attitude (not easy though, takes years) Karen M.
  • Instead of one large turkey, I cook two small turkeys at the same time. Not only does that cut the cooking time in half, it gives me 4 drums, 4 breasts, 4, wings and two carcasses to make soup with later. Everyone is happier as a result. Irene F.
  • I make an extensive list of food I want to prepare for the time before, during Christmas, and through New Years.  I work through my cooking list all Dec,  preparing some food for freezing- or breaking down the tasks into smaller jobs.. I try to freeze meal components in advance of when they are needed.   I try to plan no-brainer meals for the week before Christmas- so you are freer to tackle all the other jobs. Chris M.
  • With or without children at home, I like to (before end of November if possible) do a complete schedule of day and food (Dec 23-Jan 3). If the food is organized, people eat well without a lot of junk food, and everything else falls into place. The entertaining list makes it easy (a) to do the shopping for the ingredients, (b) identify what can be made ahead and plan when to do (c) what is left to the last few days when things get a little hairy (d) the list I put on the fridge, so if I’m not home, or if there are others who have free time, they know what is the plan. We always plan to completely STOP at 4:00 pm Dec 24. My husband & I sit down to have a glass of wine together. Whatever is not done, is left not done. It is now time to mentally and physically get ready for what the season is really all about, to rest, be calm and enjoy family and friends. Madeline G.
  • When growing up, we had to have all trimmings done by 4 pm Christmas Eve, as that was the time at which my grandparents had gotten married and continued to raise a glass and discuss the wonders of the previous year. We now do this with our kids. However, we do popcorn and milk shakes (candy cane ice cream) and for each family or individual blessing, we put straw in Jesus’ crib. Kari G.
  • Meatballs are a great thing to have on hand for the holidays, whether for a sauce, a soup, a pasta dish or as appetizers. Seasoning the meat is certainly up to the person. Just a basic meatball recipe of breadcrumbs or oatmeal, herbs, onion, garlic, whatever you want as taste unless you are following a specific recipe. Roll into a ball and drop into boiling water or broth. As for cooking, that depends on the size of the balls. Perhaps cocktail size would be about 3 to 5 minutes and bigger meatballs would definitely be about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain the balls and if freezing, it is always best to freeze on a cookie sheet and remove and place in a bag. You can take out as many as you would like. It’s such a time saver. Rita F.
  • As far as cooking dinner, the last few times we had a big crowd for dinner, I peeled potatoes, carrots, and all the vegetables the day before.  I always have the dressing ready but I keep the wet onions separate until morning.  Of course the pies are always done sometime in the week prior.  On the day everything goes as clock work.  Mary O.
  • Stains on “the table cloth” may be hidden with silk flower blooms or fancy doilies that are held in place by double sided tape or ordinary tape that is rolled on itself sticky side up.  Place seasonal decorations etc. on doilies.  Flowers can be pinned onto the hanging sides of the cloth as well. -Pressed for a long table cloth, use a sheet and if your table cloth or sheet hangs too much tie the hanging corners around the legs with festive seasonal ribbon or if the table has legs too far in or is a pedestal gather the corners with an elastic and then cover it with ribbon.  At Christmas I have stuck a poinsettia into the bow. Ellen D.


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