As of today, we are only five days away from Christmas...FIVE…Cinco….and I still have not managed to get myself into the true Christmas Spirit as in years past. The one thing that I have consistently done, seemingly on a rotational basis, is to watch Christmas movies like they are going out of style. Say what you want but I love the cheesy predictableness of a TV Christmas movie. You know the ones: Girl moves away to NY, life throws her a curve ball in which she has to move back to the hometown she hated, falls in love with an old flame, throw in a typical issue in which they resolve before ending with a kiss, then she realizes how she has everything she’s ever wanted…in her hometown. Ha! Predictable? Yes but I totally love it! The hubs has been a real trooper watching them with me even though I know he’d rather slit his wrist! lol
One movie I watched had such an amazing dinner party setting, with family and tons of people from the local town, that it just reminded me how we wont get to be with family the way we would in previous years. It saddens me but I am grateful for other ways to stay connected to them.
My Mom interrupted my movie run by calling and asking what we would be making this year for Christmas dinner. I really couldn’t answer that as I’ve not done an ounce of grocery shopping yet. This lazy slump has certainly taken over my life.
Now, I can do my thang in the kitchen, but I’m definitely not as talented as my “mama” in this area. My Mom makes Ah-ma-zing macaroni & cheese. I’ve tried to replicate it through the years to no avail. She’s given me the recipe countless times but I swear she leaves out an ingredient or two on purpose because my version never looks like hers. In the south, the mac & cheese tends to have a light brown crust, similar to a pie. My mac and cheese has noodles poking through the tops and is normally as dry as a summer’s day. I’m sure she will take that secret ingredient to the grave. Anyone reading this blog who doesn’t mind sharing their fool-proof macaroni & cheese recipe with me, please share and help a sista out.
Being that its just my small family this year, we’ve opted not to do anything to big, which works perfectly for me. Plus, it cuts down on the amount of food that will possibly go to waste days later. We are trying to combat this anyway we can. Now, I gotta say, I’m a much better baker than I am a cook so I’m uber excited about the desserts! I could spend hours talking to you about desserts as I have a HUGE sweet tooth but I digress.
I’d like to share a few of my favorite food items/recipes that will more than likely make its way to our dinner table….and maybe yours, this Christmas.
Ham – The ham champ title goes to my husband because he makes the juiciest and most flavorful ham in the world. He uses a blend of pineapple/orange juice, brown sugar, pineapple rings and cherries and it presents itself as the sweetest tastiest ham you’ve ever tasted. I LOVE sweeter hams as opposed to country hams. This year since neither of us feels like cooking too much, we’ll let Honeybaked Ham take over this chore which I’m perfectly fine with. Have you had that brown sugar crust? I mean, who can resist it? Score!
Now collard greens is another dish that I cannot replicate of my Mom’s. Sometimes my greens are good, other times not. One reason I don’t make these too often is because the prep takes forever and my patience level is at zero. God is still working on me! There’s only been a handful of times where I’ve tasted my greens and have said….yesssssssssssssss, this is it! My mom makes greens exactly the way I like it….SPICY! She is always so thoughtful in the way that she always makes my husband a spice-less batch. My grandma would put the pot liquor from the greens in a bowl and make some good old “hoecakes” or “Johnny cakes” as they’re also referred to, and all would be well at Christmastime! Y’all really tryna make me take it back to the real dirty south!!! If I need a good smoky collard green recipe to use as a substitute for my mom’s, this recipe is my go to. I’ve cooked a few of her dishes and they are always delish.
Candied Yams – Now to be fair, I’m not a huge yams girl. My Mom would make them every Sunday and that’s probably why. I hated that marshmallow topping that made it look like slime. Gross! Opposite of me, my family loves yams and requests it whenever possible. One Tuesday, I was feeling quite joyous and decided to do a quick weeknight yam dish for the fam. I disgraced my Mom by using canned yams. What was I thinking because as my husband walked through the door, he said, is this edible? I admit, they definitely didn’t look the part and for some odd reason, they clumped up like rocks. He told me to never ever put that on anyone’s table again! I normally never listen to him but he was right this time, lol. This is another go to recipe of mine when I want to feel like a queen atop my kingdom!
Desserts, Desserts, Desserts…Did I mention I love desserts? This is my favorite thing to bring to the party. I usually make a no-bake cheesecake or some type of pound cake. Last year, I made this key lime pound cake which was a hit with my family, and I’m not even a key lime fan. The taste was subtle and the result was oh so buttery. I loved the way the flavors meshed together. My family are big on cakes and pies and my 91 year old aunt still makes her beloved sweet potato pie which no one ever tries to replicate. She’s the queen, sorry Patti!
Also on the table, you’ll find pineapple cake (not upside down), which is my mom’s favorite. She warms the pineapples on the stove and ices the cake with it. Everyone in the neighborhood requests it for potlucks, birthdays, funerals, you name it. You heard me say I’m a “sweets” girl so my cake has to be slathered in some type of buttercream, not that whipped crap! We southerners are also crazy about our Banana Pudding. We leave the making of this to my Mom or cousin who makes it best. I’ve tasted numerous versions through the years but none comes quite as close to my Mom’s.
My aunt used to make a caramel cake for every function but as she got older, she would just purchase store bought cakes. I get it auntie but, No Bueno! We all loved the brown sugary taste along with the caramel. If you are searching for something similar, try out this recipe from divas can cook.
Unless I’m attending a formal dinner party, we never really have festive drinks but to jazz up our dinner, I may include these festive beverages for adults. Try these Cranberry Moscow Mules which looks adorbs. I’m not much of a coconut person but these adorable Jack Frost Cocktails deserve a try wouldn’t you say? Can’t forget the kiddos…I got you! Try this Holiday Party Sherbet that is sure to be a hit! Lastly, if you’re feeling creative, try making these Santa Belt Drinks with your kiddos. The good news is, these are just Hug drinks that you just need to “dress up”.
Christmas will feel a bit different this year, especially for those who are used to celebrating with family and friends. Covid19 has brought so much pain, suffering and grief that it’s hard to find anything to be festive about but I encourage you to practice gratitude and give thanks for the things that you do have. There are so many people that could use a smile, words of encouragement, or just a kind word that we have the ability to offer. Try not to overlook these small helpful gestures that can go a long way in this holiday season.
However you choose to “safely celebrate”, I hope you have a wonderful and memorable holiday season.
Merry Christmas & God Bless, xoxo