Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

The holiday season is officially over, so let’s take a look back at all of the festive feasts and holiday baking we enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving. I think the turkey turned out especially well this time around!

We had our “pick out dinner” on Christmas Day:

And our “fancy” Christmas dinner two days later. I never want to prepare a beef tenderloin any other way!

On New Year’s Eve, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, but we made it fancy, with the addition of homemade hot chocolate bombs!

And on New Year’s Day, we had our traditional pork tenderloin, with an untraditional (for us) side of twice-baked potatoes:

On to the baking. Of course there were pies (seven!) for Thanksgiving:

We made five types of German Christmas cookies in Christmas School:

And another ten types of Christmas cookies besides!

There were eight different cakes throughout the season:

And some other various treats including Christmas cracker candy and lussekattes:

This was a fun and delicious season, but now the kitchen is closed!

Hail the New!

“Fast away, the old year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses”

Can you believe it’s already 2023? 2022 (for the most part) just zoomed right by! Here’s a look at how we celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this time around.

I like a theme, so we started the day yesterday with hot chocolate rolls:

We spent a lot of the day decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies. Mickey Mouse shapes were very popular this year!

I also (finally!) made eggnog:

We decided that 2022 deserved one more Disney Dinner, so I made one of our favorite recipes from Delicious Disney, Monte Cristo sandwiches:

After Apollo 13, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, with the addition of hot chocolate bombs that Ladybug and I made!

Another new addition was hot chocolate Chex mix:

My only motivation to stay up until midnight is ringing in the New Year on my Animal Crossing island, and I made it!

New Year’s Day is the perfect excuse to wear something sparkly, am I right?

Of course we started the year with a special dinner, so I set the table with the china again, and this time, I learned a new napkin fold to make things a little fancier!

Pork tenderloin is a fairly traditional New Year’s Day main course here, although I did prepare it differently this time. I also made twice-baked potatoes, roast carrots and parsnips, and for the first time, spiced apple rings, since you apparently can’t buy them in a jar anymore.

It was delicious, and not as much work as Christmas dinner (and way, way less work than Thanksgiving!).

For dessert I made a hot chocolate cake, complete with homemade marshmallow creme (I told you I like a theme!).

So that’s how we said goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023…and now I’m looking forward to giving the kitchen a bit of a break!

Christmas 2022

We’ve had another happy Markel Family Christmas!

Our celebration started, as always, on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Crunch for breakfast:

I played Animal Crossing early, because I knew that might be my only opportunity to deliver gifts for Jingle and say “Merry Christmas” to Roald:

The Fab Five completed this year’s Advent project, the Lego Disney Castle.

Speaking of Disney, Ladybug and I made red velvet Mickey Mouse waffles for lunch:

And then we went to church. It was quite early for us…3 p.m. It was definitely different to go to Christmas Eve church when it was still so bright out!

It was even bright when we stopped to see the city of St. Louis Christmas tree after church…but that made it easier to see the snow on the ground. We finally had a white (and very cold) Christmas!

It was also still pretty bright when we drove through the Way of Lights, but after all these years, it was kind of cool to see it in a different way:

I took lots of pictures when we got home:

And we enjoyed some cake:

We played a couple games of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries. I suffered one of my greatest losses of all-time in the first game!

The theme for this year’s Christmas jammies was (surprise, surprise) Mickey Mouse:

I still always set up the Little People nativity scene before bed:

We almost kind of got to sleep in on Christmas Day…but just barely. Stockings were the first order of business:

And then our traditional Christmas morning coffee cake:

And then we headed back to church for the Christmas Day service.

We found time for a nice family photo:

After we got home, we opened presents.

And then I got to work putting together the “pick out dinner.”

I was once again very pleased with how my charcuterie board turned out!

It’s such a fun and delicious meal!

We had another little reminder of our vacation when I burned the Christmas candle we picked up at Disney Springs:

Yesterday was a pretty quiet day because we waited for today for our fancy Christmas dinner. The table looked especially nice with our (kind of) new glasses added to the place settings:

For dinner, I made a beef tenderloin, which turned out beautifully. We also had sautéed mushrooms, hasselback potatoes, roast Brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze and dried cranberries, our favorite cherry Jell-O, and rolls:

It was delicious and elegant!

For dessert I made a pair of yule logs. I tried a new recipe for a red and green variety, which was delicious, but not as pretty as I wanted it to be. I also made a favorite gingerbread variety, which was delicious and pretty!

The whole season of Advent went by quite quickly, and so has the beginning of the Christmas season, but I’m looking forward to making the most of the days ahead!

Spargelparty

Last weekend was the first-ever Markel Family Spargelparty!

When I first came across the idea of an asparagus celebration in one of my Duolingo lessons, I think my family thought I was joking when I said it was something we should do this spring. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could run with the idea of a meal centered around asparagus…(and it even makes a pretty centerpiece, especially when you have all three colors Eckert’s offers!):

I picked five recipes, all of which were at least somewhat new. There was an asparagus tart, bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles, cream of asparagus soup, asparagus and bacon quiche, and sautéed asparagus with (homemade!) Hollandaise sauce. Many of recipes included lemon, nutmeg, or a combination, and I discovered both are great additions to asparagus dishes. The overwhelming favorite was the soup…it was smooth and delicious.

It was a very spring-y meal!

I offered to incorporate asparagus into our dessert, as well (perhaps an asparagus cheesecake?), but no one took me up on my offer. Instead, I used a mix from Dr. Oetker to make a Käse-Sahne Torte. German Girl in America’s website was very helpful in translating the directions on the box, and I also followed her tips of using plain Greek yogurt instead of the quark, which you can only find around here sometimes, and serving it with fresh strawberries. It was the perfect end to our celebration of spring!

For years I’ve told my children the story of how they ring the church bells in Germany when the asparagus season begins…I’m glad I found a way for us participate in this tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring in a uniquely German way here at home!

And Also with You (Revenge of the Fifth)

The Jedi had their day, now it’s time for the Revenge of the Fifth! I didn’t make quite as many dishes today, but we still had a special dinner. I turned back to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook and Star Wars: The Life Day Cookbook for inspiration. For the main course, I made Bantha Surprise (beef stew)…do you know how hard it is to find fresh Bantha around here?!?…and served it with Rorkid Bread (garlic bread dusted with matcha powder).

I made another special drink, the Photon Fizzle, and just left out the gin. I got to work with a new ingredient (boba pearls), which was a lot of fun!

For dessert, I made Mirial Teacakes, which also had matcha powder:

This won’t be the last themed dinner before our big trip…I already have something special planned for the last day of school next week, and beyond that, who knows?!?

May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day!

We have especially been looking forward to this holiday this year, because we’re so excited about our trip to Disney World and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge next month! I planned some special meals to celebrate, featuring recipes from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge The Official Black Spire Outpost Cookbook and Star Wars: The Life Day Cookbook. We started the day with Five-Blossom Bread for breakfast:

For dinner, I made an Eopie (pork) Roast, Plicated Orga Root (hasselback-style russet and sweet potatoes), and Roasted Rootleaf (cabbage).

We also had a Kyyyalstaad Fizz (lemon and lime juice with sparkling water):

For dessert we had Kashyyyk Cakes (chocolate cake, raspberry jam, and chocolate-mascarpone filling):

We’re not done yet…I have another special dinner planned for Revenge of the Fifth tomorrow!

Easter 2022

Time for a look back at another Markel Family Easter, which started, as it does every year, on Maundy Thursday:

On Friday, I made hot cross buns (again), but this year, I tried a new recipe:

The Good Friday service was, as always, lovely and moving:

On Saturday morning, while we watched Rick Steves’ European Easter, we made our Paschal Candle for the year…I think this may be the nicest job we’ve ever done!

While I did have work to do on Saturday to prepare for our Easter dinner, most of the day was really spent waiting until it was finally time for my favorite service of the church year, the Great Vigil of Easter:

After church, we stopped at Wendy’s for Frostys and fries:

We’re still getting used to the fact that we don’t have to get up for a sunrise Easter service, so we felt a little more leisurely about getting ready. We were still at church early enough to take pictures outside:

And some indoors, including our traditional by-the-baptismal-font Easter pictures:

The church looked especially beautiful!

Ladybug even got to acolyte:

And we got a nice family picture after the service:

When we got home, I made Easter breakfast, which included Kaiserschmarrn (the Kaiser’s torn pancakes) with Rhabarberkompott (rhubarb compote), hard-boiled eggs (this is really the first time we’ve ever dyed eggs…you’ll see why in a minute), and pomegranate juice:

While we watched Easter Parade and My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, I found time to play a little Animal Crossing: New Horizons so I could visit with Zipper T. Bunny. I also caught up with Roald, who was wearing an egg suit…I wonder if that’s what he looked like when he hatched?

I spent most of the rest of the day working on dinner and setting the table:

I chose an Italian theme for this year’s dinner. I served the same lamb in the slow cooker we had last year (technically Greek, but more generically Mediterranean, so close enough), lemon parmesan risotto, insalata caprese, roasted cauliflower, panzanella, breaded artichokes, capers, olives, Italian Easter bread, and lemon Italian soda.

I stuck with the Italian theme for dessert…we had cannoli and Italian sprinkle cookies:

This was an especially nice Easter. Maybe it’s because things felt more “normal” (I actually shook hands for the first time in over two years!), maybe it was because the church services were so meaningful, maybe it was because this may be the nicest Easter dinner I’ve ever made. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful we had such a wonderful celebration of Christ’s resurrection!

Opening Day 2022

Yesterday was one of the funnest days of the year…Major League Baseball’s Opening Day! And the Cardinals got to start their season at home with a win in Baseball Heaven. Chickadee and I were very excited!

As usual, we had a special Opening Day dinner. We started with the traditional ballpark appetizer of nachos:

Hot dogs and brats were the star of the meal…with root beer, of course!

For dessert, I decided to put in a little extra effort…I made baseball cake pops!

This is going to be such a special season for the Cards, with Yadi, Waino, and Albert riding off into the sunset together. It’s just the beginning of our fairytale ending…I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

Kirby Day

Happy Kirby Day!

The Fab Five, and especially Turkey, have been looking forward to the release of Kirby and the Forgotten Land for a long time. Today was finally the day, and I decided to make the most of it.

We started with pink donuts for breakfast:

We managed to find a Target that had decorated their bollards for the occasion:

I improvised a recipe for a pink Mocktail that was absolutely delicious…it combined white cranberry-strawberry juice, frozen lemonade concentrate, and 7-UP, with some raspberries floated on top:

For dinner we had tomato soup (tomatoes restore Kirby’s health) with Kirby-themed grilled cheese sandwiches:

It was a pretty fun dinner!

For dessert, I made strawberry cupcakes (and I made sure Keeby was represented, too!):

I like finding fun things to celebrate!

Only Nineteen but His Mind is Older

This year, to celebrate his 19th birthday, Turkey had a two-day birthday celebration! We started with a low-key observance on his actual birthday, with cinnamon rolls and Brazilian lemonade for breakfast, and one of his favorites, Stromboli, for dinner:

Today was his birthday (observed)…just like the Queen! I think I was almost as excited about him opening his presents as he was!

For dinner, we had Thanksgiving in March. This was the most normal birthday dinner we’ve had since 2019…we had three additional guests at our table, and that was amazing!

He requested a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting…and then I threw in some lemon curd as a filling. It was pretty delicious!

Even though he had to wait a day for his full birthday celebration, I think having two birthdays is pretty fun!