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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Part Two of Three - Christmas Eve at Home

Sometimes I am the sole decision maker in the kitchen (ok, most times), but once in awhile I survey the family for ideas and thoughts.  The hard part for me is when I ask for input and am told, "It doesn't matter," or "Whatever you think."  So I was happy to take a few requests when planning the Christmas Eve menu and one of them was melon wrapped with prosciutto.  Thing is, in this house honeydew is not typically a favorite of the majority and so I am forced to substitute cantaloupe.

It is still a crowd pleaser.  Other starters include a tray of fresh mozzarella with sopressata, a platter of fresh tomato slices, a shrimp cocktail plate and of course, a soup.

Though none of us are from Georgia and the idea of a seafood based soup can be risky, I know this soup is fabulous and once it gets going, fairly simple.  My guests include a mix of family, long time friends and my older son's fairly new girlfriend and so we are a gathering of 10.

The soup is assembled, hot and ready immediately after appetizers since I really put it all together earlier in the afternoon.  This is what it looked like simmering in the pot:

I love finding out after the skeptics tried it that they did in fact love it. The soup does focus on the sweetness of the crab meat but the full body of flavors come from a variety of vegetables, seasonings and clam juice.

What dish would be "fancy" enough for a holiday meal without repeating anything from the previous night or duplicating any flavors my sister will be preparing for our Christmas dinner?  I opt for Chicken Cordon Bleu and since again I am not sure everyone will love my choice, I decide to simply bread and fry some of the cutlets.  

The Cordon Bleu was camera shy, but the chicken was pounded thin then rolled with ham and swiss cheese before baking.  Mashed potatoes and garlic green beans were served on the side.

I set up a bar in the foyer which includes flavored liquors from past holidays as well as a few standards but somehow the choices boil down to Riesling and Prosecco.  I add Creme de Cassis to my sparkling wine and I'm quite happy with my choice.

Stories are told, opinions are shared, laughter can be heard and the food is eaten.  A few gifts are exchanged and we pose for a group photo in front of the decorated tree.  I only use the tripod a few times a year, but each time I am so grateful I have one.

Somehow we make it to dessert.  In the past I would bake holiday cookies like a fiend, but this year in the spirit of less makes you less crazy, I only baked chocolate chip and brownies.  The platter is on the table with a lovely gift of various trail mixes from my mother-n-law and a decadent prepared cheesecake from the Fakery where my older son's girlfriend works.  The Fakery is her word for "fake" and "bakery" since the goods are typically all prebaked but the staff decorates and packages.

Regardless, sweets are sweet and I decide to add some packaged caramel syrup over an already over the top treat.  What a fabulous invention.

A few stories of shared memories, a couple of secrets revealed including the origin of my husband's first name.  Turns out every generation has "that book" all women may read and while I have yet to even hold "Fifty Shades of Gray" in my hands, my mother-in-law did find the name for her third child from "Forever Amber."  As a middle name, she selected the first name of her doctor.  In 25 years of marriage, I had never heard this story before and ordered my own copy of "Forever Amber" as soon as possible.

A blend of backgrounds, experiences, ages, tastes and yet we all come together for a wonderful winter night on the edge of a predicted white Christmas.  We are comfortably Fed Well.

1 comment:

  1. I have a great recipe that I have been using for a few years now. I found it when I was living by the beach down in South Carolina. We were blessed to get our seafood right off the dock at the fish market. My son loves it and it's become a staple for Christmas Eve afternoon ... afternoon because it's made with a white cream and later in the evening I make the traditional Italian dinner.
    Happy to share ... it's so easy to make:

    Seafood Chowder
    Makes 4 servings

    6 slices thick-cut bacon
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 celery ribs, chopped
    1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 4 1/2 cups)
    3 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
    1/2 pound cut up sea scallops (not in the original recipe)
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground black pepper to your taste (the original recipe called for a large amount of black pepper but it was just too much for us.)


    Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in pan. Coarsely crumble bacon. Set aside. Cook onion and celery in hot drippings over medium heat 7 minutes or until tender, stirring often. Add potatoes and clam juice. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender. Add cream, and heat again just to simmering. Add seafood, and simmer 3 minutes or until done. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon.

    Serve with a big hunk of rustic bread and a glass of a nice white wine and your tummy will be happy!