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

Can you stand one more look back at the holiday season? I hope so, because it’s time to wrap-up all of the festive feasts and baked goods I prepared from Thanksgiving through Epiphany!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was fairly standard, although I did make a second kind of stuffing, and instead of just roasted carrots, I made a blend of roasted winter vegetables (which did include carrots):

Our pick-out dinner is always my favorite meal of the year, and I thought it was extra special with the full charcuterie board I prepared:

Our fancy Christmas dinner (which we had on the Sunday after Christmas) featured beef Wellington:

Our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar looked a little different this year, but it was still delicious!

Pork tenderloin is becoming something of a tradition on New Year’s Day:

And finally, our most recent “festive feast,” Ryan’s birthday dinner last week:

I made ten pies over the holidays (with a lot of help from the girls):

We baked more cookies than I can count, including several new varieties, my favorite of which was the Linzer Augen:

“Only” six cakes this time around (do Yule logs count as cakes?):

And some other assorted treats, including my first attempt at cannoli and gingerbread Oreo truffles:

It’s not like I’m going to stop cooking anytime soon, because we still need to eat, but I’m looking forward to planning some simpler meals for a bit!

The First Birthday of 2022

How lucky are we that we have Ryan’s birthday to celebrate so early in the year every year?!? Since his birthday also falls on Epiphany, it’s always a double celebration, as we have our last holiday meal of the festive season, too!

He picked chili for his birthday dinner last night, with all the fixin’s, plus fry bread, which everybody loves.

For his birthday cake, Ladybug and I tried a new recipe from The Ultimate Final Fantasy XIV Cookbook for a “Chocobo Cake” which I can assure you was made with no actual chocobos. It was a vanilla-cardamom cake soaked in a lemon syrup and filled with strawberries and topped with vanilla whipped cream. It was very delicious!

I always feel like we’ve gotten the year off to a good start once we’ve had a birthday celebration!

Out with the Old, In with the New

Already it’s the second day of 2022! Here’s a look back at our New Year celebrations.

I found some hot cocoa rolls with marshmallow frosting for breakfast on New Year’s Eve…I thought it was the perfect way to start a day that features a hot chocolate bar!

We had pizza for dinner…I don’t know that we ever have the same thing two years in a row on New Year’s Eve!

After our annual viewing of Apollo 13, I set up our hot chocolate bar. Things were a little different this year due to various shortages…I couldn’t find speciality hot chocolate or peppermint candy canes (which I hear became very difficult to find this year), but we did have several other flavors (mint chocolate, raspberry, and wintergreen), and three kinds of whipped cream (regular, chocolate, and peppermint).

I did manage to stay up until midnight, but only so I could ring in the New Year on my island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

We had what is a fairly common dinner for us on New Year’s Day, starring pork tenderloin.

Chickadee helped me make dessert, featuring two different recipes from the My Little Pony Baking Book she received for Christmas:

I think we got the New Year off to a good start!

A More Normal Christmas

After what was a very strange and low-key Christmas last year, this year’s three-day Christmas celebration was closer to the normal we remember. We started the day on Christmas Eve by forgetting to eat the Christmas Crunch I had been saving specifically for that day. The Fab Five (specifically Turkey) finished building the Lego Millennium Falcon in the morning:

I found some time to play Animal Crossing and deliver gifts to all my neighbors:

We enjoyed Portillo’s for an early dinner before church:

And we got to go to church inside this Christmas Eve!

On the way home, we stopped to see the city of St. Louis Christmas tree and drove through the Way of Lights:

Of course I took pictures when we got home!

We lit the Advent wreath and had birthday cake:

And the Fab Five received their yearly gift of Christmas jammies…this year’s theme was gnomes!

I filled the stockings and made sure the tree and nativity scene were just right before I went to bed:

On Christmas Day morning we had our traditional Christmas coffee cake, plus the previously-forgotten Christmas Crunch:

We got to go to church on Christmas Day this year!

And I even had a chance to take a picture of the Fab Five without their masks before the service because we arrived so early and there was hardly anybody else there yet:

We opened presents after we got home:

And had the best meal of the year, the “pick out dinner.”

There were old favorites and a few new items:

I think the star of the meal, though, was the charcuterie board I put together, featuring salame roses:

Seriously, it’s the most delicious dinner ever!

And this morning, we were back at church, and again we had an opportunity to take a mask-free picture, this time of the whole family!

Tonight we had our fancy Christmas dinner, featuring beef Wellington:

It was also a delicious dinner (but not as good as the pick out dinner!).

For dessert I made both a gingerbread Yule log with sugared cranberries and a more traditional chocolate variety:

So this Christmas was still a little different, but more familiar than last year. I’m so grateful we had more opportunities for worship this year, and the ability to have family visit. Maybe next Christmas will be more normal still!

Thanksgiving 2021

Time for a look at our annual three-day-long Thanksgiving celebration, beginning with a beautiful sunrise on Wednesday morning, which gave me encouragement to bake nine pies, prep two different kinds of stuffing, and make the cranberry sauce.

On Thanksgiving Day, we had fun watching the Macy’s Parade and playing Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo, picking our favorite dogs at the National Dog Show, and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Of course, there was dinner to attend to, as well. I thought the table looked extra pretty this year…maybe that’s because we had guests to set it for!

The menu was a mix of old and new. I made our traditional stuffing to go with the turkey, but also a new recipe for everything bagel stuffing. I also tried a new roasted winter vegetable dish to go alongside our usual green beans with almonds. Of course we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and cranberry sauce:

It made a very pretty plate!

For dessert, all of the pies. Sadly, the pie I was most looking forward to trying, cranberry custard, didn’t set right, so even though it looked pretty, it didn’t come out right at all. I guess that’s the risk you run when you try a new recipe on a holiday!

This morning started with one of our favorite traditions of pie for breakfast.

I was very happy to get to go see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade for the first time since 2019, and for the first time with the high school marching band! We honestly weren’t planning on staying for the whole thing since his group was near the beginning, but it was fun as well as short, so we ended up seeing it all!

I enjoyed having a place to wear one of my new Erstwilder Christmas brooches:

Turkey sandwiches for lunch are another great thing about the day after Thanksgiving!

And more pie:

We built the annual addition to our Lego winter village:

And had turkey soup for dinner:

After dinner, some of us went back downtown for the tree lighting and community sing:

And more pie for dessert when we got back home:

There you have it. It was a mostly normal holiday, and it was good to do things that felt familiar again!

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

I often take a look back at the holiday baking I did from Thanksgiving through Epiphany; this year, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the holiday meals and treats we’ve enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving dinner:

We had our pick out dinner on Christmas Day this time:

And our fancy Christmas dinner on the Sunday after Christmas:

Of course we had our traditional New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar:

And a special New Year’s Day dinner to start the new year right:

And finally, our Ryan’s Birthday/Epiphany feast:

On to the baking. There were pies for Thanksgiving:

And several cakes throughout the season, for St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Jesus’ Birthday, the fancy Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Day:

We baked so many Christmas cookies!

And an obligatory “other” section, for things like lussekattes, coffee cake, and even some special holiday beverages:

I put in a little extra effort this year, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere or do most of our normal Christmas activities. In the end, I think we’ll have a lot of delicious memories from this holiday season!

A Birthday Feast on Epiphany

It’s hard to write about a celebration on a day like today, but regardless of what is going on in our country, today is Ryan’s birthday, and we still wanted to celebrate him, even though we spent most of the day glued to the news. So, while we watched in disbelief, I carried on with the special dinner I had planned for him, starting with setting the table. (At one point while I was preparing for our dinner, I yelled so loud at the TV that I almost shattered a glass!)

The meal included a standing rib roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with almonds, Brussels sprouts, rolls, and spiced apple rings.

It was a nice meal, in spite of everything:

For dessert, he asked for Oreo truffles. Since I didn’t have a cake to decorate, I made a fancy display for them, which I was pretty happy with.

I even found a fun star-shaped sparkler (that’s what happens when you have an Epiphany birthday), to top the truffle tree:

It wasn’t the birthday celebration he wanted, but it certainly will be an unforgettable one.

Tasty Tuesday–Cooking Through a Pandemic, the Tenth Month

This has been a good month for cooking! We’ve had some favorite meals and some special meals, and we even had two different dinners from Portillo’s, because this time when I ordered our Italian beef and sausage combo I added in an order of tamales (totally delicious, and we have enough left in the freezer for another meal!). I’ll admit I was a little worried about being able to find everything I needed for all of our culinary traditions, but while I did have to enter a few more stores than I would have preferred, in the end I found everything that was necessary.

We also baked all of the things. I’m shocked there are any baking supplies left in our town. The kitchen still smells vaguely like a bakery!

And a few special beverages for the holidays…hot chocolate from our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar, wassail (which I’ve made a few times in the last two months), and homemade eggnog, which is a real treat!

You’d think that would be the end of fancy meals for a while, but Ryan’s birthday is tomorrow, so we’ll have at least one more special dinner in the next month!

Celebrating the New Year in the Time of COVID-19

How in the world do you say goodbye (or perhaps good riddance), to a year like 2020 and then immediately move into celebrating what we all hope will be a better, brighter future?

In our case, we did what we usually do on New Year’s Eve and Day…stay home. I made stromboli, one of our favorite dinners, for New Year’s Eve:

And we had our traditional hot chocolate bar while watching Apollo 13. It wasn’t as fancy as it has been in the past (finding all of the things I usually include was too difficult due to COVID-19), but all things considered, I think I did a pretty good job of putting it together!

Most of the rest of the evening was spent playing Animal Crossing New Horizons and waiting for the final countdown, if you will, while we watched Ocean’s 11.

Roald had some wisdom to share:

Aurora and Wade echoed my thoughts on the year, too:

After staying up far too late trying to place an order on Lego’s website (I finally had success at 1:30 a.m.!), I was up fairly early this morning, and got to see the ice on the trees before it melted:

Sprinkle must not have gotten enough sleep, either, because she was in desperate search of coffee:

I think Ursula summed up my feelings on the new year pretty well:

A new year deserves a fancy dinner. I went with cool colors for the table this time:

I kind of took the easy way out with dinner…I just made pork tenderloin for the main course, which isn’t difficult to make and doesn’t even take much time, but feels fancy. I also made roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts, creamed spinach, breaded artichokes, and rolls. We even had spiced apple rings, which are a favorite of mine!

It was a really delicious dinner!

After watching Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!, we had dessert, a hot chocolate cake. I won’t lie, I used a mix, and canned frosting. But I still tried to make it look fancy:

I’ll leave you with a gently misquoted toast to the New Year by Colonel Potter on M*A*S*H:

“Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we all leave home before she’s over.”

Happy New Year!

The Christmas Feast

Today was the day of our big Christmas feast! Because of COVID-19, we didn’t have any guests to share it with, but I still made a nice dinner for the seven of us, and since we went to church this morning, it kind of felt like Christmas Day usually does!

As always, a holiday meal begins with a pretty table:

I didn’t make as much food as when we have family visiting, but I still think it was a nice spread. Beef Wellington, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts casserole, sautéed mushrooms, rolls, and cherry cola Jell-O were all on the menu. (We were also supposed to have creamed spinach, but the chef ran out of energy).

For dessert, I made a gingerbread Yule log with white chocolate bark and sugared cranberries:

It was a different Christmas feast than we’re used to, but it was still festive (and delicious!).

Merry Christmas!