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Christmas Meal

  • Christmas in July | Scrambled Eggs With Caviar

    caviar banner

    Did you know that today is National Caviar Day? It's true, July 18th has been declared by the powers that be to be the day we celebrate caviar. It sounds funny to me. You too? Nonetheless, let's dig in. It'll be an adventure for sure.

    It may be hard to believe, but at one time this expensive delicacy that we know today as caviar was served in bars much like peanuts are now. Like a freebie appetizer! It was pretty cheap to make, and was abundant for a period of time. Basically, caviar is sturgeon fish eggs, and because the eggs were harvested with such gusto, the sturgeon became in danger of going extinct. And, that is when the price began to climb. Interesting, isn't it?

    Scrambled eggs with caviar

    So, I thought, why not feature this crazy national holiday with a simple but elegant albeit pricey recipe for Christmas breakfast. I don't know what things are like in your house on Christmas morning, but many families find that cooking is not their top priority.

    This recipe that comes from none other than the Barefoot Contessa herself, is simple, elegant and fitting for a holiday like Christmas. I suggest that if you children inquire about what the black things are on their eggs that you avoid the question until they have fallen in love with the taste.

    You can find the recipe here.

    Photo courtesy: Caviar, Breakfast

  • Staying Lean at Christmas

    health coachThe plan today was to finish up our series on Christmas Traditions in other parts of the world. However, I had a meeting this morning with Melissa, my health coach, and now my mind and heart are reeling from our talk . . . so much so that I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else! I do love switching things up around here, so here we are, discussing staying lean at Christmas!

    Melissa and I were talking specifically about my journey and what is next on our long list of things to work on, and maybe sometime I'll share some specifics about that. But for today, this whole process I'm in got me thinking too about the holidays and weight gain and the aftermath of all that. For a couple years now I have been a part of a Facebook group whose goal is to maintain our healthy habits throughout the holidays without deprivation. Say what?

    snowmenIt seems almost impossible what with all the extra sugary treats, rich foods, parties to go to, cookie exchanges, etc. to emerge none worse for the wear.  And, even tho some studies show that we, on average, gain only about 1 pound over the Christmas holiday, so often momentum that was hard won prior to the holidays is lost, and that takes much longer to recover.  I'm going to share with you some of the things I have learned, both through that group and from my health coach that can help to avert that crisis.


    Keep that momentum going while still enjoying the most wonderful time of the year! Here's how:

    1. Set your mind. Once we set our minds to accomplish something, to do something, to be something, it is often very difficult to change, good or bad! Decide ahead of time what you want, what you really want. You don't want extra pounds in January, right? You don't want a foggy brain or an energy sap, right? Then, adjust your plans. Decide. Then, when it comes time to make choices at the party or the family dinner or the cookie table at work, you'll intuitively know what will and what won't serve you best.
    2. Maintain your healthy diet and exercise regimen. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to take a holiday from how they know they should eat. The trick is turning that "shoulda" into something that you want to do. Once you find what's right for you and your body and you don't feel deprived, stick with it. You will enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas far more and feel so much better about yourself. And, who knows, your good habits may just rub off.
    3. Go for a walk. After that family dinner, enlist others to go for a walk. I know I know, sometimes all you wanna do is lay on the couch. But, just a short 20  minute walk about 15 minutes after eating a large meal burns more calories, plus aids your digestion. It doesn't even have to be a fast walk. Take a stroll in the snow or at the park or wherever you want.
    4. Choose your indulgences wisely. Some people decide ahead of time they'll enjoy just one very decadent treat, so that means they are constantly on the lookout for what that'll be. Once you find it, have a small piece, or even just a bite. Often that's all our taste buds really need to feel satisfied.

    I am not a health coach or a personal trainer or anything like that. I'm just a person who strives every day for good health. And, I'm wondering why it should be any different at Christmas. :)

    Have a happy, healthy holiday!

    Photo credit:  Tape measure, Snowmen, We Can Do It

  • Cranberry Margaritas, Yes Please!

    margaritaIt's Friday right before a holiday weekend. You might be going out of town, but if you aren't you are a little irritated that I just reminded you, lol. Like me, you are likely trying to stay focused on getting that last little bit of work done so you can truly relax on Monday. I know that's what I'm up to today!

    When you get home from work, won't you join me by throwing on some comfy clothes as we sit outside with a glass of this?! Ohh la la!! Technically called a Christmas Cranberry Margarita Cupcaketini, it is refreshing just looking at it, isn't it?! Definitely not just for Christmas! I think it's pretty near perfect for a day like today.

    I like traditional things that have a bit of a twist, and this cupcaketini meets the criteria. Instead of salt on the rim of your glass, this recipe says to use sugar. It's also great if you want to stick to the salt, I think it will be equally good, just different. And you will be defending the honor of margarita tradition and that's a good thing. :) You can find the recipe here.

    If you don't imbibe, there is a great alternative too.  Simply replace the alcohol components with sparkling water and regular orange juice! Just make sure you put it in a glass capable of holding sugar or salt on the rim.

    Happy sipping now and at Christmas dinner!

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Cocoa Brownies with Raspberry Sauce

    This is going to be the last post in the series I've been doing over the last couple of weeks about lots of great ideas for a Vegetarian Christmas Meal.  We've covered appetizers and soups and salads and of course, the main course. All vegetarian. All interesting. All delicious. Yesterday we brought you a yummy Kahlua Chocolate Fondue, and to wrap everything up I've got one more dessert idea. Not only is it a ubiquitous dessert, this recipe includes a special, secret ingredient that makes it healthy and gluten free.

    black bean browniesChristmas cookies are pretty much a given if you're hosting a group of people for Christmas. So are certain kinds of pies. And, usually you'll have a favorite family dessert recipe that, let's be honest, Christmas would just not be Christmas without it. But, today I bring you brownies. Not your ordinary brownie if there is such a thing. These are simply amazing, both in taste and in concept. You will probably not want to tell your guests what the secret ingredient is in this recipe until after they've tried it and start raving. Then, and only then, can you tell them that these are Cocoa Black Bean Brownies!

    Stay with me. I know black beans are not really considered a dessert ingredient, but I promise you that you'll be simply amazed at how tasty they are.

    You can get the recipe and directions here. I serve these with a dollop of whip cream on top too. Mmmm. Is it Christmas yet?

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Dessert!

    For the last couple of weeks we've been running a series here on the Merry Stockings blog with lots and lots of ideas for a vegetarian Christmas meal. We've covered it all, everything from appetizers to soups to some interesting salads, and of course the main course. Now there is just one part missing from this amazing spread . . . . DESSERT!!

    We're going to wrap up this series with a couple of great dessert ideas for the finishing touch on our vegetarian meal. Most desserts are already vegetarian, but most decidely it'd be much more difficult to make them vegan. Not impossible tho. We'll stick to the vegetarian kind, and have I ever got a couple of great options for you!

    fonduThe very first time I had fondue in a large party setting was at my sister's wedding. They rented out an entire Italian restaurant, and besides the wedding cake there was a chocolate fondue, complete with strawberries, pineapple, marshmallows and so much more. Now, that was delicious. But, today's recipe is even better because it includes . . . kahlua!

    So, yes, this is more of an adult dessert, but if you have children that you're hosting, you can leave it out. Or make a separate one for the kiddos. Either way, a chocolate fondue is always a hit. Just about everyone loves chocolate and when it flows from a fountain, well it's just fun.

    You can get the recipe and instructions for this Kahlua and Cream Chocolate Fondue here. I'm sure you're going to love every last drop.

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas Meal ~ Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Pie

    I'm going to tell you a little secret. I have never really liked broccoli that much. I know. It's good for me. It's green. It's loaded with phyto nutrients and all that jazz. I used to get my boys to eat broccoli for lunch by telling them they were eating trees. All they knew is that trees are really big and that they would get big if they ate these tree-like broccoli florets. Seriously, they would gobble them down. I was so happy not to have to finish the leftovers on this one.

    broccoli cheddar quinoa pie

    But, my taste buds have matured. First I tasted the very popular broccoli bacon salad at a picnic, and couldn't believe I was actually eating broccoli! Then I ventured into pouring cheese sauce all over it....equally yummy. Then I did the unthinkable. I actually ordered it at a restaurant steamed, plain. And, I actually liked it. If I can overcome childish taste buds, so can you.

    Today's entry for our very vegetarian Christmas meal won't take much coaxing tho. Just look at that piece a pie, would you? I can't imagine that tasting bad, and I'm here to tell you that even the carnivores you host at your Very Vegetarian Christmas Meal won't blink an eye at this dish without meat. It is really that good.

    It is thoroughly vegetarian. It is also gluten free. And of course it's not that hard to make and it's delicioooo. You can find the complete directions on how to make this fantastic dish here.

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Stuffed Portobella's


    I still remember the first time I tasted a large portobella mushroom used more as the base of a dish rather than an ingredient in it. I was not too adventurous when it came to food at the time, but I was struck with how the lowly mushroom had been transformed and elevated! I have seen restaurant entrees that use these brown beauties in place of a hamburger bun. That is genius really when you think about it.

    Today we are not going to wrap a portobella mushroom around a piece of meat. What we are going to do is create a real work of art with a portobella stuffed mushroom cap. You're gonna love this one.

    They look like earthenware bowls, don't they?! What's inside them is even more nutritious than the container tho. Think super greens combined with onion, pine nuts, feta and couscous, scooped inside. This doesn't have any meat in it whatsoever, but you'll definitely need a knife and fork to eat it.

    Can you picture it next to the Roasted Vegetable Lasagna that we featured yesterday? I think these would make a fantastic accompaniment. You can find the recipe and all the instructions here.

    Get ready to dig in, these are fantastic.

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Roasted Vegetable Lasagna!

    One of the things I like the most about planning a vegetarian Christmas meal is the fact that we get to go outside the box a little. Traditionally a Christmas dinner meal would include ham or turkey as the main meat dish. Even in Italian families, the pasta dishes are rarely the star of the show. Today, since we already have permission to break the mold, we are featuring a sumptuous roasted vegetable lasagna and we're going to place it at the center of the meal.

    RoastedVegetableLasagnaslidEven tho this is quite non-traditional, it contains some very traditional Italian lasagna ingredients. It is most noticeably without meat of any kind. In its place tho is some roasted goodness that will really broaden your lasagna horizons. I bet you didn't know you even had lasagna horizons, did you? It is, nonetheless, fact. You do. :)

    You'll still have the savory cheese mixture in each layer,  and you'll even still have the long lasagna noodles to divide the layers. It's the other fillings that will have you smacking your lips and going back for more, tho.

    So, if you dare to step outside the traditional fare for the Christmas meal, check out this pretty simple recipe here for a real vegetarian treat.


  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Green Bean Salad with Basil, Parmesan, Shallots, and Balsamic

    Hello, and welcome back to Merry Stockings blog where we talk all year long about all things Christmas! Some people ask me if it's difficult to write about Christmas throughout the whole year, and really, it's not hard at all. I love everything there is about Christmas and all the festivities and cheer that go along with it. And, besides, there's sooo much to talk about!

    We've been unpacking our very vegetarian Christmas meal now for a couple of weeks, and we're not even at the main course yet! Like I said, there is SO much to share, it's easy to get carried away. And, if you happen to be reading this in the "off" season (I know, no such thing) then you are tucking all these ideas away in the your Christmas notebook for future use. If you happen to be reading this during the Christmas holiday season, well, this is for you too! As we say in our house, it's never too early or late to start planning for Christmas!

    green bean saladWe continue today into the vegetable sides portion of our vegetarian Christmas meal. Growing up the big traditional veggie dish was the green bean casserole. Oftentimes that has bacon in it, but today's entry will have you forgetting all about your mama's green bean casserole. And, you're gonna love it.

    When I was just out of college, my idea of eating a vegetable like cauliflower was to bread it, deep fry it and then smother it in cheese sauce. Hey, I was eating cauliflower, right?! Well, my taste buds have grown up, and I must say, there is not a thing I can think of that parmesan cheese does not improve upon.  And, this goes for green beans, too. Considered a staple vegetable on most American tables, it can stand a little sprucing up, no?

    Well, sprucing up we will do then! Close your eyes and imagine crispy cooked brilliantly green green beans tossed in a light sauce that includes shallots, basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese. It is utterly divine. Now, open your eyes and go here for the recipe. You will not be sorry, promise.

  • A Very Vegetarian Christmas ~ Warm Beet Salad

    beet-salad-citrusI have only learned to like beets in the past year. Growing up we only had the canned, pickled kind that served as our salad. Hmmm. I choked them down with lots of milk or iced tea, but once I got out on my own, beets never found their way into my menus. That is, until I tasted them roasted! OMG, there is seriously some magic that happens in the oven with beets.

    Today's contribution to our very vegetarian Christmas meal is a colorful, nutritious beet salad. It's always a good idea to have your basic greens salad, everyone loves that, but including this warm beet and citrus combo into your repertoire will have your guests believing you are a true gourmet chef. And, really, again, the ingredients do most of the heavy lifting. I promise you, you won't be spending hours slaving over this one.

    This salad is not only vegetarian, it is also vegan and gluten free, a total WIN. And, it looks so elegant, doesn't it?! The citrus vinaigrette that is drizzled over the top is the bright finishing touch, and if you have some left over it's also great over chicken or fish....or sweet potatoes! You can find the recipe for the salad and dressing here.

    If you are a beet hater, you might want to try this one. You will be doing your body a huge favor and I think your mouth will agree.

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