Christmas Dinner Menu

My favorite thing about Christmas is the dinner I have with my family. Unlike Thanksgiving, for Christmas we do a fancier, most intimate dinner with just my nuclear family. We don’t have a Christmas tradition that we partake in every year, but the main part of our holiday is to spend time together.

This year we have decided that on Christmas Eve we are going to the Fairmont Hotel to oggle at the massive gingerbread house in the lobby. Afterwards we’re either going to the bar in the Fairmont or another bar around to have a cocktail (it’s so weird that my brother and I can drink with our parents.) When we get home we’ll probably play a game of Hearts.

On Christmas we wake up at about 9. Mom will make some coffee. We’ll sit around and open presents and Mozart (the beagle) will actually do all of the unwrapping. And then we’ll have Eggnog and Cranberry Rolls for breakfast.

The rest of the day will be spent in the kitchen preparing a beautiful dinner.

The main dish isn’t quite decided yet because it depends on whether my mom decides to spend the money on a rack of lamb. If she decides against the price, we’re having a crown roast instead.


Glazed Racks of Lamb OR Crown Roast of Pork with Apple Stuffing
Burgundy Mushrooms
Sweet Potato Rolls
Breaded Brussels Sprouts
Creamed Onions
Panna Cotta with Berry Sauce

What are your Christmas traditions?
What are you having for Christmas dinner this year?

* Shared with Weekend Cooking


Violet Beauregarde Cake Pops (Chocolate Mint Cake Pops)



At Food ‘n Flix this month we watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this month hosted by Willy Wonka is such a creepy movie. And while the original Willy Wonka isn’t as outwardly creepy as the remake of the movie, I find the original Willy Wonka more believable and therefore… more scary.

I knew what I was going to make right away. Unfortunately this whole cake pop experience turned out to be a disaster. I wanted to make cake pops for the part in the movie where Violet turns into a giant blueberry. I mean . . . She turned round and blue. So a blueberry cake pop seemed perfect!



My plan was to make a blueberry cake, to use cream cheese frosting, and coat the cake pops in blue candy. The only part of this that actually worked was the blue candy portion. I’m going to a Christmas party tonight, so I felt these blueberry cake pops would be a nice addition.

I went to the grocery store and there was no blueberries. OH? I could have went to another store, but it was getting late and I wanted to get home and make dinner. I decided instead I’d make another flavor cake and coat the pops in the blue candy. Unfortunately the recipe I picked for the cake was probably not the right recipe. It was a pretty moist cake and once mixed with the frosting, it was really moist. Maybe I added too much frosting. Whatever though, they turned out okay. And really, the flavor was nice. I made a rich chocolate cake and mixed some peppermint into the frosting.

But then disaster hit in the guise of a kitten named Isabelle. I put the cake pops to set in my office and right as I went to close the door, she dive bombed into the cake pops, getting her kitten fur into a ton of them and knocking another few off their sticks. As of this morning I only have about 5 pops that she didn’t get all over. So . . . obviously I don’t have cake pops to bring to the party.



Time to get back to the kitchen and whip something else out for tonight.

How To Make Cake Pops

1 cake recipe, cooked
1 container frosting
2 packages of candy chips
Popsicle sticks


1. After your cake is baked and cooled, place in your food processor. Process the food into crumbs. Mix the frosting into with your hands.

2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the cake/frosting mix into tsp size balls and place on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for an hour.

3. While the cake is freezing, melt your candy in a double boiler or microwave. If the candy isn’t melting smooth enough, add some shortening.

4. Stick each stick into the melted candy. Stick the candy coated stick into the cake ball, 2/3 of the way through. Let sit for several minutes.

5. Cover each cake pop with the melted candy. Then roll in sprinkles.

6. Place somewhere where the cake pop can sit straight up (Styrofoam works, but I used the holes in a colander.) Let the candy set and then enjoy!


* besides Food ‘n Flix, these cake pops are shared with Foodie Friday, Foodie Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, & Weekend Potluck

Zucchini Bake

IMG_8295I mentioned on my Random Recipe Spicy Italian Chicken post that with the chicken I had served a zucchini bake and would be sharing the recipe. This side dish far outshone the Spicy Italian Chicken. Using the just-add-water cornbread mix made this dish super easy. I have no complaints about it at all and will definitely make it again.

I like to make my vegetables super full of carbs. What can I say?

Zucchini Bake

2 zucchinis, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cornbread mix
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl toss all the ingredients together. Spread the mixture into a baking pan.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked all the way through.

* serves 4
* shared with Full Plate Thursday & Catch A Glimpse Party


Pink Peppermint Chip Cookies


I love the holidays. I have been watching Christmas movies almost everyday. I’ve been listening to Christmas music every day. And what else? Christmas cookies!

This year I participated in a Christmas cookie swap hosted by Julie of White Lights on Wednesday. Instead of swapping cookies in the mail we each were paired up. Basically . . . One person sends you a recipe, you send another person a recipe. So, I sent a cookie recipe to Carrie of My Favorite Finds and I received a cook recipe from Linda at Tumbleweed Contessa. You’ll actually see these cookies at my first Pantry Party roundup, because Linda recently made these cookies and submitted them to my new party.

So I’m preemptively posting this and putting it into my queue to publish on the 13th (the day we’re all sharing our recipes.) Today is the 4th, so I’m kind of early.

I’ve been studying for finals, so when I got this recipe in the mail and realized how yummy and how easy it looked, it provided a nice break from studying. It also made me go to the grocery store and get eggs (among other groceries since I was kind of foodless.)  These cookies are easy and tasty! I made a few variations from the original recipe because the cheap grocery store I go to didn’t have all the fun baking chips. But I worked with what I could get my hands on to make some peppermint and chocolate chip cookies.

I brought them to my final today too. Everyone was happy.
And I ate too many too.

Pink Peppermint Chip Cookies

1 cup original flavor Crisco (not butter flavor)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
9 drops red food coloring
1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup creme de menthe Andes candy, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup peppermint crunch Andes candy, coarsely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cream together the Crisco, sugars, eggs, food coloring, and extract in a stand mixer. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until there are no dry spots left.

3. Mix in the candies and chocolate chips, stirring with a wooden spoon.

4. Using a teaspoon, spoon the dough onto the baking sheet, rolling each ball into a ball. Place 12 cookies on a sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

* makes about 40 cookies

WordPress does not allow me to post a linky tools on a site hosted by wordpress (I need a domain clearly.)
See the rest of the cookies HERE at the roundup.

Spicy Italian Chicken

IMG_8289This month at Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipes we were challenged to randomly pick a cookbook we received for Christmas last year and then randomly open that cookbook to a recipe and cook it. Picking the cookbook was easy, because I only received one cookbook for Christmas last year. It was from my cousin. Knowing how little time I’ve had with school, she got me a cookbook of slow cooker recipes, Fix-it and Forget-it Big Cookbook. By far it’s not the best cookbook I’ve had the pleasure of cooking out of, but it really is a BIG cookbook of slow cooker recipes.

Fix-It-and-Forget-It-Big-Cookbook-9781561486403I opened up to pages 370 and 371. Four recipes greeted me: Spicy Italian Chicken, Chicken and Veggie Bake, Zesty Italian Chicken (which is basically the same recipe as the Spicy Italian Chicken by the way), and Creamy Italian Chicken. I closed my eyes, pointed at the page, and it landed on the Spicy Italian Chicken. Though who knows how guided my finger was, because it did look like the best recipe of the four.

I’ve been super skeptical about this recipe. It’s made with salad dressing. Salad dressing? Chicken? Slow cooker? This just didn’t sound horribly exciting.

And really, it wasn’t horribly exciting. It wasn’t bad, in fact it paired well with the side dishes. The first night I served it over rice (as suggested in the cookbook) with a zucchini bake (which I’ll share the recipe for tomorrow.)  Tonight I had the rest of it with mashed potatoes with a lot of garlic and cheese. But, it wasn’t the best slow cooker recipe I’ve made.

No complaints though – this was a random recipe!

Spicy Italian Chicken

1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (I used Kraft fat free Zesty Italian)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water


1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients except the chicken, cornstarch, and water in the slow cooker.

2. Add the chicken to the slow cooker and turn to coat.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.

4. After the chicken is cooked, remove and keep warm.

5. In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and cold water. Add the cooking juices from the slow cooker gradually. Stir and bring to a boil, until thickened.

6. Pour the sauce over chicken and serve over either rice or noodles (or mashed potatoes even!)

* serves 4
* Shared with Random Recipes, Wednesday Whatsits, Cast Party Wednesday, & Wednesday Extravaganza



Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup


I love butternut squash. I love soup. The combination of the two is the perfect blend.

Speaking of blends, I haven’t had a blender in a really long time after my last one broke. I haven’t had the money to replace it, so a lot of recipes that use a blender I avoid. I do have my food processor which could do the trick sometimes, but you can’t fill the food processor too high or it will overflow. I really need a blender for some things. I mean, making milkshakes in a food processor is tough.

I went to the Goodwill recently and I got some new (or I mean, old and used) clothes. I scanned the electronics section and they had a whole lot. I figured none of it would work though, due to past experience at Salvation Army with a food sealer.. thing. Anyway, there was a blender for $8. I tested it in one of the outlets and it spun, so I figured for $8 I didn’t have very much to lose. I got it home, washed it up really well, and used it to make this soup. And guess what? It works! $8 blender for the win!

This soup is perfect. I had it with some garlic bread that I had in the freezer. It was the perfect meal for a cold night. Apparently I forgot to add the water from the original recipe in, so my soup was definitely thicker than it would have been. While it may have made it last longer to have added the water, I liked the consistency a lot the way it was.

Jalapeno-Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
(recipe from Sunset Magazine)

2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream


1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cayenne and cook for 30 seconds. Add squash, chicken broth, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the squash is tender.

2. In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Add the heavy cream. Serve hot.

* serves about 3
* Shared with Souper Sunday hosted by Kahakai Kitchen, Tuesdays at the Table, Delicious Dishes, Tasteful Tuesday Party, & Recipe Box   

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the mini muffin pan!

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

IMG_8265My hot chocolate obsession lately has involved a lot of Ovaltine. I also got this hot chocolate mix from Cost Plus World Market. It’s a red velvet hot chocolate and is wonderful. But for as good as my heat up some water, add some powder, and mix hot chocolates have been, I decided it was time to put the powder aside for the night, watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and drink some hot chocolate that’s just as easy to make, just yummier.

Besides just sharing this hot chocolate recipe with you, I’m also submitting it to the We Should Cocoa challenge (this month’s theme is cinnamon,) hosted by the Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot. This month the roundup will be posted at the Chocolate Log Blog.

Now… This is a very simple recipe. I was actually going to make homemade cinnamon marshmallows to go with it. I’d never made marshmallows before and my first attempt was a failure. However, this first attempt also used my light corn syrup. So my marshmallow plan temporarily went out the window. I’ll have to try again another time.

I did put some canned whipped cream on the chocolate after I took the picture. It was such a rich hot chocolate. The cinnamon flavor was perfect. It wasn’t overpowering. It was just enough and just perfect.

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

2 cups skim milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. In a pot, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the milk comes to a boil, take it off the heat.

2. Add the chocolate chips and stir into the warm milk until melted. Remove the cinnamon stick once the chocolate has melted.

* makes 2 cups of hot chocolate
* besides We Should Cocoa, I shared this with See Ya in the Gumbo


Bridgeport Saltine Crusted Chicken and Kickin’ Collard Greens



I was actually going to make Cheez-It Chicken that I’ve made on here before for dinner the other night. But I’ve been studying my brains off. I’ve literally completed 6 finals between November 30th and December 6th. Basically, every time I finished something I just had more to do. (I’m done now though, YAY!!)

Since I’ve been so busy though, I didn’t get to the grocery store when I usually do. I was writing a 5,000 word paper. I really didn’t have time to go to the store. But I still needed to eat.

One thing I didn’t have in my house was cheez-its. I had the rest of the entirely minimal amount of ingredients on hand already, but just no cheez-its. I dug through my cabinet to see what I could do. Two things:

– Saltine crackers
– Bridgeport Seasoning from my August Foodie Pen Pal package

The Bridgeport seasoning is cheesy and worked perfectly to make my faux-cheez chicken.

I figured this is definitely my entry for Pantry Party this month. I hope to get more entries for the party, so don’t forget! Starting next month there will be themes to use supplies in your cabinet, but this month is a free for all.

Anyway, the collard greens were the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. I never really liked collard greens, but this was perfect.

Bridgeport Saltine Crusted Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups saltine crackers, crushed
2 tbsp Bridgeport seasoning
1/4 cup vegetable oil


1. Pound your chicken breast halves so they a 1/2-inch thick.

2. Place the saltine cracker crumbs and Bridgeport seasoning in a ziplock bag. Shake well to combine. Spoon the sour cream into a shallow dish.

3. Roll the chicken into the sour cream. Shake the chicken in the saltine crumbs to make sure the chicken is well coated. Place in a baking dish. Cover with the vegetable oil.

4. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

* serves 2

Kickin’ Collard Greens

1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 slices bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pinch chili powder
8-oz frozen collard greens


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Place on paper towels to drain. Crumble and return to the skillet with onions. Saute until tender for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic until fragrant. Add the frozen collard greens and if they are sticking together, break up the ice with a wooden spoon.

2. Pour in chicken broth and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Bring to a boil and then cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

* serves 3

* Shared with Pantry Party, Full Plate Thursday, & Catch A Glimpse Party

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the mini muffin pan!

Merry Christmas Giveaway!



This Christmas I’ll be sending one lucky person a mini muffin pan. It’ll be a late Christmas present, because I want to be able to keep the giveaway open long enough for anyone who participates in Pantry Party to get an extra entry, but it’s my gift to you this Christmas. I decided that this Christmas I’d give away my current kitchen favorite. I’ve been loving the mini muffins, so it only makes sense I share a muffin tin with one lucky reader.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Sugar Donut Mini Muffins

Here are the rules:
– Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to people in the US. I love you all, but I have shipping on the brain.
– You have 24 hours to respond to my email that you won the giveaway. If you don’t respond, I will pick a new winner.
– Because I cannot post Rafflecopter on a blog hosted on wordpress you need to click HERE to get to the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.
– The first question on the Rafflecopter is going to be “Leave a comment on my blog telling me the first mini muffins you would make with this muffin tin.” This is just so you know, I want the comment HERE, not at the page with the Rafflecopter.
– The giveaway runs from now until December 31, 2012.