Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday Essentials (and 3 simple recipes)

It's way too easy to get distracted by all the potential of Christmas and never live up to it.  Crafty and culinary ambition, get thee behind me!  But there are a few simple things I personally look forward to in the food department:

What we would probably call shepherd's pottage (Christmas Eve we eat lentil soup with a little lamb in it, somehow nothing else on earth tastes so good, but when we cook the same soup another day in the year it's normal.  There's magic, I tell you...)
Homemade tomato-basil soup, like La Madeleine's in Texas
Lindt truffles
Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts

S. would include eggnog, and many people would simply list chocolate a dozen times and be done with it, but that's what floats my Christmas boat.

So, one other thing we're trying this year -- in an attempt to both save money AND time (why do those things never seem to go together??) -- is a sort of white elephant thing just among ourselves.  Except, we're not regifting to each other (though that's not a bad idea either), we're trying to sneak an object away without the owner noticing and then wrap it and put it under the tree for them to open and be reminded of how awesome it is that they already own that thing.  I'm not sure how well it will work, but I believe my parents tried it when they were newlyweds and flat broke and it was really fun.  Of course, that could just have been because everything is sort of fun when you're newlyweds...  Part of the appeal, though, is the sneaky factor; I'll have to report back after our experiment is complete.


1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
3 c. tomato juice
2. chicken broth
1 T. dried basil (or to taste)
½ c. cream
3 T. butter cut into pieces
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Combine tomatoes, juice, and broth in a large saucepan.  Simmer 30 minutes.  Add basil, then use blender to process soup until smooth.  Whisk in cream, butter, salt and pepper until butter is melted and soup is heated.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.


2 c. sugar
4 c. water
2 sticks cinnamon
8 allspice berries
10 cloves
1 piece dried ginger
4 c. orange juice
2 c. lemon juice
½ gallon apple juice

Boil sugar and water for 5 minutes, remove from heat and add spices.  Let stand 1 hour, add juices, bring quickly to boiling.  Remove from heat and serve.  *We have successfully substituted about ½ tsp. of dried/ground spices for the whole ones as necessary.


10-oz. can water chestnuts
pkg. bacon cut in thirds
¾ c. ketchup
½ c. brown sugar

Wrap with a toothpick, bake at 350 degrees until grease runs and bacon is brown (about 25 min.)  Remove from the oven, top with ketchup/sugar mixture, bake again until sticky.

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