Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cookin' it up at Christmastime

It's Christmas Eve! And after a brief warm spell, I woke up to find SNOW on the ground this morning! All is right with the world.

I love Christmas cooking. I love cooking in general, but cooking at Christmas is especially lovely. I know it's late, but I thought I would share the recipes I'll be making over the next couple of days.

First, dinner tonight. We have to leave for church before dinnertime, and we won't be home until bedtime... so I decided to make a big pot of soup that the kids can have before we go, and then we can keep it on warm during church so that maybe they can grab another bowl while we read before bed tonight.

I'm making this for Christmas Eve, but if you're going to have ham in the next couple of days, this is a fabulous thing to make with the leftovers. And my kids LOVE it! In fact, Lamb just hugged me and thanked me because she could smell it cooking! Oh, and it is SUPER easy, which is always helpful at a busy time of year.

Ham & Bean Soup, Zookeeper Style

1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1-2 stalks of celery, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3 cans (15 1/2 oz each) Great Northern Beans
2 cups cooked ham, diced
1 can chicken broth
1 bay leaf
salt and white pepper to taste

Cut up veggies. Melt butter in large saucepan, add veggies and sauté until tender-crisp. Rinse beans. Mash 1 can, keep the rest whole. Add beans, ham, and broth to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; add bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Simmer until heated through (or until ready to eat).

See? Simple. And so, so, so good. Tonight I am serving it with French bread, but I often make corn bread to go with it. Mmmmmmmmm... I'm hungry.

Next up: Christmas morning. For this, I am making two recipes I found online. They are both recipes I have made before, and they are BIG HITS! The eggs nests were a little intimidating to me at first--it seemed like an odd mix of ingredients--but trust me, the flavors come together AMAZINGLY.

In an effort to save a little time (because there are about a thousand other things I'm supposed to be doing right now), I'm just going to post the links here. PLEASE take the time to check them out. They are delish.

Brunch Egg Nests
Breakfast Casserole

And for Christmas night, our newest "tradition." (We've made this the last two years, and Lamb insisted that we make it again... ON Christmas night... AT my mother-in-law's house. She is adamant that this is tradition and we can't change it!) We will be at my mother-in-law's, and she will handle dinner, but this is a fun little dessert. The green gel and the smashed candy canes (I use strawberry) make it sophisticated-looking, which the kids (and grown-ups) love.

North Pole Strawberry Smoothies

So those are my big dishes for the next few days. What's on your menu???

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