This Christmas I wanted to do something a little different. I was inspired by a post from Christine Walsh Egan, where she described her family’s tradition of celebrating the Winter Solstice and how much they looked forward to it each year, relaxed and surround by loved ones, and that got me thinking. Christmas time can be such a stressful time of year, lots of lists and planning, presents to buy and meals to prepare. There is so much prep work, that by the time the holiday gets here – you are just too pooped!!
This year I wanted to switch it up. I didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen for hours and hours. I wanted to spend time with the people that I cared about, creating memories and sharing laughs. I decided that this year we were going to dub “Casual Christmas”! The focus wasn’t going to be a huge meal, or presents – just the company that we shared and spending time together.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there was still some prep work – but on a much smaller scale!!
Like I mentioned, spending hours in the kitchen was just not an option this year, but that didn’t mean I wanted to buy already-made food or not make anything exciting! I scoured Pinterest (I make it sound like a chore – but it is far from it!) for hours looking for the perfect recipes and believe you me that I found them! I had a nice balance of foods that needed to be cooked, salads that took little to no work and I even brought in my crock-pot for back-up help!
First delicious dish up is the Perfect Layered Salad – and let me tell you – it is just that! I mixed the dressing together the night before to help it meld together for extra deliciousness. I also defrosted the peas the night before, so on Christmas Day all I have to do was put it all together. I have to say, I am really pleased and it looks SO pretty. The original recipe called for bacon on top, but being vegetarians, I sliced some red bell pepper and arranged it on top with a broccoli florette in the middle. I didn’t even realize until after they are perfect together for Christmas! Bonus!! 🙂
The other salad dish I made was that fabulous Antipasto from Martha Stewart. Traditionally Antipasto includes salty cured meats, so I did a little twist for us vegetarians! Roasted Red Peppers, Peppadew and Pepperoncini peppers and mixed olives stayed as the foundation. I also included those delicious Mozzarella balls – and they were delicious – I happened to prep them the night before so everything can mix together. I don’t know if it made a difference, but I will say that if you do that – make sure to take out of the fridge for about 30minutes so the oil has a chance to melt. Parrano and Cheddar cheese graced our platter as well as the delicious Bubbies Kosher Dill pickles (yum!), and of course the figs!
The eggplant pizza’s were absolutely melt-in-your-mouth out of this world and so easy to make! I put my husband in charge of that dish and he did a fantastic job! The stuffed mushrooms were also a hit! I made enough dip to stuff and also leave extra to top some yummy crusty bread! I didn’t change anything either of these recipes – they were perfect as is!
Finally, to top everything off and wash it all down – Hot Cranberry Punch! It was DELICIOUS and perfect for our snowy White Christmas in Colorado! Everything came together so well and my husband and I had a blast making everything and rocking out to the tunes of Connecticut’s own KUNG FU! Better yet, everything was ready and waiting once guests started to arrive, meaning that we got to spend all the time creating memories and sharing laughter – exactly what we needed!!
I hope that your family had as wonderful a holiday was we did!! Now to celebrate this fabulous New Year!! Love to you all!!