Archive for December, 2008

Our family has favorite Christmas foods that we anticipate each year. As we get together to celebrate the holidays, we share some of the same recipes from year to year with occasional new dishes making an appearance. 

Olive roll-ups (see below), stuffed mushrooms, twice-baked potatoes, broccoli-cauliflower salad always show up at our Christmas Eve feast. It wouldn’t seem right not to have Buche de Noel as we wait for Santa to deliver his treats. We’ve been making it for 30 years, with a few variations from time to time.

Christmas morning we often have a grits souffle that my mother used to fix, along with fried potatoes and onions, sausages and scrambled eggs. What a treat! After that we would waddle into the living room and collapse. 

Share with us some of your family’s traditions.




Olive Roll-Ups (Great make-ahead appetizer)

(Amounts depend on how many appetizers you need. Each slice of ham should give you 4 – 5 roll-ups.)

Boiled Ham or other uniform rectangular shaped thin ham slices

Soft Cream cheese, room temperature

1 t. horseradish or to taste per small container of cream cheese

Green pimento stuffed olives



1. Drain a small jar of olives and dry the olives with towels and set aside.

2. Mix a teaspoon of horseradish into the cream cheese. Stir until spreadable.

3. Dry both sides of a ham slice with towels and lay on cutting board.

4. Spread one side of ham with cream cheese mixture, thinly.

5. Cut ham slice lengthwise into strips, each slightly wider than an olive.

6. Lay an olive at one end of the ham strip and roll it up, securing with a toothpick.

7. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Out-of-Control Soup

soup1Did you ever go to your refrigerator to look for something you positively knew was in there only to find 23 things you forgot you had and never finding what you were looking for until you moved that plastic container shoved wa-a-a-y in the back? You know, that “science experiment” about growing mold? 

Well, I did just that yesterday. Among the 23 things I had forgotten were 2 shrivelly carrots, a partial bag of spinach,  half of a red onion, a lonely, slightly slimy leek, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, some leftover corn, part of a yellow bell pepper, a few slices of Genoa salami, about a cup of chicken broth, and some grated parmesan. Before long, I had a plan. “Soup,” I said!  

Obviously, that frig was out of control and I made a solemn promise to clean it out…later. 

But I had a more immediate task. I got out a medium-sized, heavy saucepan, drizzled in some olive oil, and got to work. The slime on the leek was confined to the green ends which I wasn’t going to use anyway. I halved the white part lengthwise and rinsed it well under running water. Then I sliced it and put it aside. I chopped the red onion, the bell pepper, and peeled and chopped the poor limp carrots.

All those little foundlings I threw into the pot with the hot oil. I stirred it and let it cook a while to start tenderizing the veggies. In the meantime, I opened a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of cannellini, which I drained and rinsed (the beans, not the tomatoes). When the veggies were slightly tender, 3 cloves of garlic, minced, were thrown in. I stripped the leaves off a sprig of thyme and the leaves from the rosemary  sprig, chopped them roughly and added them. Then I added the broth, the tomatoes, some salt and pepper, and the salami, cut up into tiny bits. It looked a bit skimpy so I added another 14 oz. can of chicken broth. I brought this concoction to a boil and then lowered the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. Finally, I dumped in the beans, corn  and the baby spinach, coarsely chopped, and put the whole thing in the crockpot on low.

It was only 10:00 in the morning and we were still full from our weekend bacon and egg breakfast. I knew we had errands to run and wouldn’t want to spend much time fixing lunch later. The crockpot was the answer. I could keep the soup warm and ready for a few hours with no problem. 

Later, after we had picked out and bought our Christmas tree, we were ready for lunch. I sliced up some fresh “No Knead” bread, ladled out the soup, and sprinkled some parmesan over it. Boy! Was it delicious! I enjoyed it again today for lunch. No recipe, just plain old soup.

Try it yourself. I bet you can find some leftovers to throw into a soup pot and make a tasty meal. Chicken, torn up cooked hamburger, shredded roast beef or pork, cut up ham, cabbage, green beans, peas, pasta, rice – you name it. Add some broth, or just water and a bouillon cube if that’s all you have on hand (hold the salt until you taste it), or tomato juice. You probably know instinctively what combinations you would enjoy. Make the most of your food dollar and use those little bits of leftovers.

Now, I must tackle the frig and see what else I can salvage.

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Rushing the Season

Technically, it’s not really winter for another 2 weeks, but it’s only 18 degrees, snow is blowing and it sure feels like winter. Shall we make chili? Pot roast? Soup?

While we ponder all the comfort foods appropriate for the cold weather, let’s listen to Vivaldi’s “Winter” from “The Four Seasons”.

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