Today's the day I start shopping and planning for the meals we're having for Christmas this year. We have our traditions and I wanted to share some of them with you. Nothing fancy, it's not a cooking blog.
My Christmas Lasagna is one of our favorite traditions and it always seems to go well with whatever else we're having, believe it or not. Probably ham this year.
This lasagna tradition began one year when I decided to include on the holiday menu a few international dishes like Swedish Meatballs, Pierogis, Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Baklava (bakery bought). I can't remember the Asian dish I included but I think it may have been eggrolls as an appetizer. It was a lot of fun to do this and the one tradition that really stuck was the lasagna. It now makes an appearance every Christmas. When my daughter was a vegetarian I began making it with spinach instead of meat and now that has become our Christmas lasagna (red and green). The family probably wouldn't miss ham or turkey but they'd cry if I didn't make lasagna every year.
Easy recipe - Sauce, cooked lasagna noodles, a bag of frozen spinach sauteed with garlic, shredded mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese mixed with a beaten egg and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Place a bit of sauce in bottom of lasagna pan. Then layer one at a time - noodles, spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, sauce. Layer each twice, except for noodles - end with a layer of noodles on top. Then top with mozzarella cheese and more sauce. Yes, I find that Prego is just as good as the sauce I used to make from scratch for years. I often spice it up if I feel like it. With everything else I have to do or worry about, the last thing I need to do is make my own sauce. Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Appetizers are also HUGE at my house around the holidays. Every year I like to add a new one to the mix. I've already shared these with some of you.
For Thanksgiving this year I made Bacon-wrapped Apples Slices, Zucchini Pizza Rounds and also a Spinach Artichoke Dip. Thumbs up to all three.
I found the Bacon-wrapped Apples appetizer online that was scrumptious.
- Peel and cut apple slices. Wrap in 1/2 piece of bacon. Place on oven tray (or cookie sheet with sides)
- Dust with cinnamon & sugar and bake at 400 for 10 min or so.
The recipe said to turn and bake another 10 min. My bacon did not cook very fast so I turned the oven to broil and that worked better for me. You might want to try it first to see how long it takes for your bacon to cook. I used the toaster oven because the regular oven was full so maybe that's why. Also, don't cut the apple slices too thin.
The other appetizer that went over well was Zucchini pizzas.
- Slice zucchini into thin rounds. Place on oiled cookie sheet
- Top with pizza sauce (or tomato sauce mixed with garlic powder and oregano) and shredded cheese and bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly.
A few years ago I made these Black Forest Ham Rollups. Also good.
Some years I make a broccoli-red pepper dip, one of my favorite quick standbys.
Mix a container of Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you prefer) with finely chopped broccoli and half a red pepper. Add garlic powder and salt (or a bit of Ranch dressing mix) and you're done. Do not blend the yogurt in blender; it gets runny. Ask me how I know . . . . Fold the vegetables into the yogurt or sour cream. The sad thing is I cannot find these crackers anywhere anymore. The perfect crispness. This year I will probably serve it with Pretzel Thins.
Speaking of Pretzel Thins - Since I can no longer find these peppermint candy-coated chips at Trader Joes I decided to make my own with melted white chocolate chips mixed with crushed peppermint candies. Dip the pretzel thins into the warmed chocolate mixture and cool on wax paper.
This year I'm trying this Cranberry-Brie appetizer.
Sounds like all I do is eat around the holidays but I really love to cook and, anyway, shopping in the cold weather really works up an appetite, you know : )
Have a fun time as you celebrate and remember what I wrote in my last post. I know a lot of us (yes, myself included) can get dragged down around the holidays for various reasons. If you start to feel gloomy around this time of year, make a conscious decision to be as joyful as you can, choose to do some things that focus on the goodness and beauty of the season (or focus on others), visit with family or friends and see if you can't turn that attitude around. Put some Christmas music on and make cookies. It's difficult to stay depressed for very long if you're making cookies. Everything is a choice - I really believe we're only as happy as we choose to be. Whether your holiday is happy ultimately depends upon you and how you treat and relate to others. Hope it's a good one!