5 Days of Preparing for the Holidays Blog Hop: What’s cooking?

Today’s blog hop topic is holiday cooking!! Who doesn’t love the way the house smells when you start making those yummy holiday recipes!! Cookies, pies, cakes, ham, sweet potatoes….it just makes my mouth water thinking about it. In our house, though, the traditional holiday dinner doesn’t usually happen. My husband is a firefighter, and he works 24 hour shifts. His shift is the one that works the most holidays, so he has been at work more than he has been home for Christmas for as long as we have been married. What does that mean for us?? Well, it means we have eaten many a holiday dinner at the fire station. 🙂 When we first got married, that was hard for me, but honestly, now, I like it. We are very close to the families of my hubby’s crew, and our kids are used to spending holidays hanging out at the station. Actually, it takes a lot of the burden off of me, because when we go to the station, the crew cooks most of the main meal, and the families bring the side dishes!!

So, for us, our big “Christmas” meal is usually on Christmas Eve. The thing is, I don’t like to tie up the one day we have with my hubby with cooking, so I like to use my crock pot for our Christmas Eve meal. This year, I am making a tomato soup, which I will serve with potato pancakes (my nana used to make these all the time, and I love them. Of course, she made hers from scratch, and I use a boxed mix, but it’s still kind of the same!!).

This is my tomato soup recipe:
2 cans peeled whole tomatoes, drained, 3 cups liquid reserved
2 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 med. onion, finely chopped
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
salt/pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450, line baking sheet with foil. Arrange tomatoes on foil in single layer. Sprinkle with brown sugar and top with onion. Bake about 30 min. Allow tomatoes to cool then finely chop.
2. Place tomato mixture, 3 cups reserved liquid, broth, tomato paste and allspice in crock pot. Mix well and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.
3. Add evaporated milk and basil. cover, cook on high 30 min. or until hot!

Now, as a rule, we open our gifts early on Christmas morning before my hubby goes in to work. I usually make cinnamon rolls, but this year, I think I am going to try something different. I have a recipe for crock pot oatmeal that sounds really good. (Yes, I know, the crock pot again! I can’t help it, it’s just so EASY!! I love my crock pot….I have several 🙂 )

Here is the recipe I am going to try:
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
2 apples cored and diced
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1. Coat slow cooker with nonstick spray (I actually like to use the slow cooker liners…very easy to clean up!)
2. Combine milk, 3 cups water, the oats, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and the salt in the slow cooker. Cover and cook overnight on low for 9 1/2 to 10 hours.
3. Uncover slow cooker and stir in remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.
4. Make topping: coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add apples and cook 4 min. stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, 1 tablespoon water and dried cranberries. Cook 1 min. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
5. Serve oatmeal with toppings!!

I am hoping we will have some pleasantly cool weather for the holidays this year, but we do live in Florida, so you never know. If not, we will just pretend it’s cold outside while we eat our oatmeal.

Finally, one of the best parts of Christmas to me, is the desserts!! One of my family’s favorites (and a big hit at the fire station too) is Peppermint Bark!!

There are lots of recipes for this, but this is the one I use:
12 oz. dark chocolate chips
12 oz. white chocolate chips
lots of broken up candy canes

I first melt the dark chocolate chips on the stove. I find the best way to do this is to put a small amount of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. I then place the chips in a glass bowl over the top of the pot and stir until they melt (I don’t have a double broiler, so this is how I make do!!).
I then spread the melted chocolate on a cookie sheet (covered in aluminum foil or the Reynolds Wrap Pan Lining Paper). I place the cookie sheet in the fridge and allow the dark chocolate to harden while I melt the white chocolate chips in the same way I did the others.
Once those are melted I spread the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and then top with the broken candy canes!! (By the way, what is your method for breaking up candy canes?? I usually just hand them to my boys and let them have fun!).
I then place the cookie sheet back in the fridge and wait for the bark to get hard enough to break into pieces!

So, that is holiday cooking at my house!! How do things work for you? Do you do all the cooking? Does everyone pitch in? What are your favorite holiday recipes?? Leave me a comment and let me know, and be sure to check out the other blogs on this hop for more holiday cooking ideas!

PreparingfortheHolidays

Come back tomorrow so we can talk about holiday gift-giving!

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5 thoughts on “5 Days of Preparing for the Holidays Blog Hop: What’s cooking?

  1. We have celebrated Christmas with my inlaws for the past several years, which has its good and bad points. LOL I think – I HOPE – that we will be home from Christmas this year, which means I’ll need to make a Christmas dinner! I’ve been meaning to try crockpot oatmeal for quite some time (just for a regular day) and I might use your recipe. It looks really easy and delicious!

    Happy Holidays!

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