Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Comfort Food

There's a lot of serious meal planning going on in homes across America right now. Planning a holiday meal requires searching for favorite recipes and trying out some new ones. There's lots of choices from ethnic to regional to traditional and then there's always family favorites. I have to say I love the planning and cooking of the meal!

Every year I get my cookbooks down, look through all the latest magazines for new recipes hoping to plan the perfect meal. We are a family of traditionalists so we don't stray too far from our Southern roots. One year though, we had an Olde English Style Christmas with Chestnut stuffing, Figgy pudding and a trifle. You can't imagine how hard it was to find chestnuts in Arkansas grocery stores!

Another year I tried my hand at making a tree shaped Croquenbuche. Martha Stewart encouraged me to do this and I foolishly thought I had the cooking skills to make spun sugar. It looked beautiful and I couldn't wait to try it out. I should have...because when I did, it was after all of our company had arrived and the sugar had a faint burnt taste, I'd cooked it too long. Oh well, it was family and they forgave me!

Until the holidays are over, I have a stack of my favorite Christmas cookbooks that I peruse when I am watching TV at night. I make notes, use sticky tabs and plan. After Christmas is over the cookbooks all go back to the bookshelf waiting for another Christmas to come.

This year I'm pulling the majority of my recipes from two cookbooks that I bought at Sam's Club. "Bless Your Heart" by Patsy Caldwell says it's Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time, don't you love that? The other, a down-home cookbook by Devon O'Day is called "My Southern Food." Both are comfort food at it's best, I need that a lot these days! Here's how our Christmas menu looks so far...

Cider House Ham  PRINT RECIPE
from My Southern Food
1 (5-6 lb.) bone in ham
2 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar, divided
1 gallon apple cider
1 1/2 cups honey or maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub the outside of the ham with 3/4 cup of the brown sugar and place in a large oven roaster pan with a lid. Pour enough of the apple cider to cover 2/3 of the ham. Sprinkle the exposed part of the ham with the remaining 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, cover and bake for 1 hour. At the end of 1 hour, pour off the cider. Add the remaining cider, cover with the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar and drizzle with the honey or maple syrup. Bake 1 more hour (the cooking time is based on a 6 lb. ham).
Makes 10-12 servings
*Directions for a dry cured country ham were given as well in the cookbook.

Swiss Potato Bake PRINT RECIPE
-from Bless Your Heart
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, divided
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups canned chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 13x 9-inch baking dish and set aside. In a small bowl mix the salt, garlic powder, lemon pepper seasoning and cayenne pepper. Place 1/2 the potato slices in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of the mixed dry seasonings. Place 1 cup of the Swiss cheese on top and dot with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Repeat withe the remaining potato slices and the rest of the dry seasoning.  Top with the remaining 1 cup of Swiss cheese. Pour the chicken broth over the top and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown.
Makes 6-8 servings

Mary Beth's Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle PRINT RECIPE
-from Bless Your Heart
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar, divided
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 (12-ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (10-ounce) pound cake loaf, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 (4.25-ounce) Hershey's bar, grated

Wash the strawberries, remove the caps and slice. In a large bowl add the strawberries and 1/2 cup of the sugar, stir well and set aside. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until blended. Fold in the whipped topping. Place 1/2 of the pound cake in a trifle or serving bowl. Top with half of the strawberries, 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture and 1/3 of the grated chocolate. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining cream cheese and garnish with the remaining grated chocolate. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.
Makes 16 servings


  1. Reading over these recipes are really making me hungry....All sound great! I have my menu planned, just need to get shopping.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. About the same thing going on here...have fun...and Merry Christmas! ;D

  3. Yum.....I'm getting hungry AND impressed. You certainly aren't afraid to try new and different things! :) Love that you tried an Old English Christmas. Merry CHRISTmas Ya'll from Houston, TX

  4. This just might be the first year we aren't having two of our favorites, garlic cheese grits and pretzel salad.

  5. Lots of good cooking and eating there! I'm making my lists for shopping tomorrow and Friday for Saturday night's Danish Cold Board - yummy!


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