Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Recipes

Do you have special recipes that you only make during the holidays?? These favorite and familiar dishes become part of our family traditions. They become centerpieces in our family's cherished memories of holiday celebrations.

One recipe that we look forward to every year is this breakfast casserole. We eat it every Christmas morning, but we don't usually make it during the year. However, I did make it and put it in the freezer to eat after my two home births, which were also very special occasions.

Christmas Morning Brunch Casserole

1 pound sausage
1 cup grits
2 TBSP butter
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs, beaten

Brown sausage and drain. Place in bottom of 9x13 baking dish sprayed with Pam.

Cook grits according to package directions. Stir in butter and grated cheddar.

Mix together milk and eggs. Add to grits and mix well.

Pour egg and grit mixture over sausage in pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.

The following recipe of my Mom's is something that we like to make whenever we have ham. It is a great accompaniment to ham, pork chops, or chicken. It is also a popular dish to take to church pot lucks. I always take home an empty dish!

Party Potatoes

2 pounds frozen hash brown potato cubes, partially thawed
2 cups sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Put into a 9x13 inch baking pan sprayed with Pam. Top with crumbled pototo chips or Ritz crackers or something similar. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

This recipe is definitely a long-time family favorite! We have it every Thanksgiving and Christmas; however, my Dad can't go that long with out his "fix," and has it about once a month throughout the year! This is the best sweet potato casserole you will ever eat!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Peel, quarter, and cook sweet potatoes until fork-tender. Mash well. Measure out six cups and proceed with recipe. (Recently, I learned that baking your sweet potatoes in the jackets is a preferable cooking method, as it preserves more nutrients as well as more flavor. I tried that this year, with great results!)

Beat together thoroughly:

6 cups whipped sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 stick butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
2 tsp vanilla-butternut flavoring

Pour mixture into greased 9x13 or 10x12 baking dish and cover with topping:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped pecans
2/3 stick butter, melted

Mix topping with hands. Sprinkle on top of sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 35 miknutes.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days or frozen to serve at a later time.

And now for a new recipe, I guess you can't live in the deep south for very long without learning to like and make banana pudding! This recipe is quite easy to prepare and so creamy and delicious! My husband and sons are very happy that I finally mastered this popular southern dessert!

Banana Pudding

2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding
2 8-ounce containers Cool Whip
5 cups milk
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1 box vanilla wafers
6 large bananas, sliced

Mix vanilla pudding and milk together in mixer on low speed until thickened. Add sour cream and one container of Cool Whip. Blend together thoroughly.

Layer vanilla wafers in bottom of 9x13 pan. Top with vanilla filling, and sliced bananas. Repeat layers. Top with remaining container of Cool Whip. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. (This is better the next day.)

I'd love to be introduced to some of your family's favorites!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Day

After our Crazy Christmas Eve, our Christmas Day celebration was pretty calm! Well, as calm as Christmas can be with ten excited children!!! ;)

Alan and I got up about 7 am on Christmas morning, in order to take our showers and get ready for the day, stuff the turkey and put it on to roast, and put our traditional breakfast casserole in the oven to bake. By that time, children were beginning to trickle out of their bedrooms, and we woke up the rest, so everyone could get their showers and get dressed for the day.

When everyone was ready, we sat down to our annual Breakfast Casserole, Cinnamon Rolls and Orange Slices. After eating breakfast, Luke and Chris went and got the stockings and handed them out at the table, for everyone to explore.

Then, we quickly cleaned up the kitchen and convened in the family room for our family gift exchange. After the Advent fiasco of the night before, we were all a little nervous when Alan began to read our Advent book, but he was able to finish it without incident, thankfully! ;)

Then we opened presents! But, at our house, we don't let the children just dive into them and tear them open in a rush. We have developed a system for this important event -- someone finds a package under the tree for the youngest child and gives it to her. She opens her gift, while we all watch and admire and enjoy her excitement. Then a package is opened by the second youngest child; then the third, and so on. When all of the children have opened a present, Alan and I open one. At that point, we stuff all the trash into a big black bag, and then start over and make the round again. This continues until all gifts have been opened. It usually takes about five rounds for everyone to open all of their gifts.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Bethany was excited to receive a new baby doll and car seat.

Matt eagerly opened a new Wii game.

Luke was excited to receive another Halo Wars building set!

Chris got a new Wii classic controller.

Alan received some Apple Butter from Cracker Barrel -- his favorite.

Tiffany's new plaque fits her perfectly -- "Pink is not just a color. It's an attitude!"

New shoes for Ashlyn.

Joe and Tiffany -- looking good!

Joe was excited to get a game of Apples to Apples!

Chris excitedly opened his top request - Modern Warfare 2 -- an X box game.

New boots for Hannah!

A new version of Scrabble for family game nights!

Joe is happy to get an American Eagle T shirt.

A Cooking Mama Wii game for Hannah!

New Precious Moments Bibles for Matt and Bethany!

Home Decor for Mom!

A perfect coffee mug for Tiffany! It says, "With enough prayer and coffee, I can do anything!"

Luke and Joe examining one of Luke's gifts.

Winter gloves to keep Joshua's hands warm when he goes to Ohio to visit his cousins!

The Gift of the Day -- Axe Spray!

After the excitement died down, Alan's Mom came over to exchange gifts with us!

By the time we finished exchanging gifts with her, I had to get busy in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on our big Christmas Dinner. Our Christmas menu included:

Spiral Ham
Party Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole
Broccoli Casserole
Sauteed Green Beans with Red Peppers
Pumpkin Bread
Chocolate Cake
Carrot Cake
Banana Pudding

And then the best part of Christmas -- those quiet moments at the end of the day, when all the hustle and bustle is over, the worst of the mess is cleaned up, and everyone is occupied with their new Christmas toys, and I can sit quietly by the fire, and rest my weary feet and think over all the events of the last couple days, remembering the Greatest Gift I have ever received, and ponder it all in my heart.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve - Part 3: The Family Celebration!

We had such a Fun Christmas Eve! I'm not sure I can capture it all here on my blog -- but it is worth a try!

We spent the day in a flurry of last minute preparations. Ashlyn arrived from SC just in time for our delicious dinner buffet. (See previous post!) It was such a Joy to have her Home!

After enjoying our festive spread of food, we gathered in the family room to spend some serious moments contemplating why we celebrate Christmas. First, Alan read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2, which has been a family tradition for many years.

The girls worked on their needlework while they listened to the reading.

Then, Alan opened up Bartholomew's Passge and attempted to finish reading the last few sections of our Advent story for this year. However, whenever he would start to read, someone would start laughing over something. I'm not sure how it got started, but there was a serious outbreak of the giggles! Every time the room would grow silent and Alan would attempt to read, someone would start giggling again! Once the dam broke, there was no containing the water, and soon the entire room was drowning with giggles!!!

It was becoming obvious that Alan was getting a bit frustrated with his unruly children! So, everyone tried to quiet themselves. Finally, a tentative quietness settled over the room, and it appeared that the giggles were under control. So once again, Alan began to read, saying, "The Rabbi paused . . . " and then, you won't believe this, but he dissolved into fits of hysterical laughter!!

Once Alan was delirious with laughter, the disease spread like wildfire around the room! Soon we were ALL wildly out of control, laughing until tears ran down our faces and our sides ached! Have you ever seen an entire family GIGGLING together???

Alan's Mom looked on in Amazement -- not quite sure what had happened to her once dignified son! :)

I don't think she is used to seeing her son giggle uncontrollably! :)

Finally, our laughter subsided, but it was just too risky to try reading again, so Alan postponed the conclusion of our Advent readings until Christmas morning! :)

Instead, we all piled into the van to go look at Christmas lights. It has been awhile since every single seat of our twelve-passengar van has been filled! It was a good feeling! (But that may have been because I was in the front seat, not squished into one of the back seats!!!) We drove through the dark, rainy night, looking for twinkling displays of light, and spreading Christmas cheer (by singing loud for all to hear!).

Then, we gathered in the family room again for the annual sibling gift exchange! Take a deep breath . . . .there is more fun to come!!! ;)

Every year the children draw names among themselves on Thanksgiving and then try to keep the names a secret, as they stealthily shop and wrap and disguise their gifts for one another! It is a Lot of Fun!

Christmas Eve is the time when all of the scheming comes to a head and the secrets are revealed! We start with the youngest child, and whoever drew her name gives her her gift. Then, we work our way up to the oldest of the kids. Here are some pictures of the sibling exchange:

Bethany received a loud, obnoxious toy guitar from Taylor! (Thanks a lot, man!)

Matt opened up a Star Wars action figure from Hannah.

Joshua gave Luke a set of Hogan's Heroes DVDs.

Tiffany gave Hannah a jewelery box, which was purchased right under her nose!

Chris received a Halo Wars building set from Luke!

Matt gave Joe a football!

Josh received a Life is Good T-shirt from Bethany (with a little help from Ashlyn!)

Ashlyn gave Taylor some X box games.

Chris gave Ashlyn a Bath and Body Works gift set.

And Joe gave Tiffany some Bath and Body Works shower gel -- wrapped in his own creative style! :)

After the official sibling gift exchange, any other random gifts were exhanged. And believe me, some of these were pretty random!!!

The highlight of the evening was Joshua opening this gag gift from Taylor and Joe!

An Elf Suit!!! Oh My~!

What a hoot!!!!!!

A few more gifts for each other . . .

And some for Mom and Dad . . .

And then it was time to put on our snuggly jammies and find comfy spots around the family room to watch "White Christmas" -- which is our annual Christmas Eve movie!

And thus ended a Delightful Christmas Eve!

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