Last year, after Christmas, someone put up an offer for a TALL BIG Christmas tree on Freecycle.
(If you don't know what that is, it's MAGIC! Google Freecyle in your area to find one. It's a Yahoo based group for people to post and request items for free pick up. Baby items, phones, furniture, ANYTHING! It's wonderful! I've put up clothes and an old Christmas tree myself...a lot of items. Helping others is an awesome thing.)
Ok...so my husband went and picked it up and when he got home I was a big flabbergasted. Two huge storage containers contained the tree. I didn't do anything but check the boxes to make sure it looked like everything was there. I opened it up and laid it all out, yup every branch! So cool!
When I went to put it up this year, I astounded at how gorgeous it was! We've not had a big tree (or the space for one) in years. It was so exciting for me, a free tree....a free gorgeous tree! It's not pre-lit, but who cares!?
I just love it! And so do the cat and the dog, which led me to putting tin foil under it so they didn't destroy it. Also, the angel has been renamed Drunk Angel because even with my step stool I couldn't properly reach the top to secure her. She's always tilted in one direction or another.
A few days was fine, he slept under the tree....
Then this little stinker thought it would be great fun to chase the cat
under and around the tree....
Still running around the house like crazies.....
I did the mantle and the yard...it was very slow goings this year. This fibro/RA/Shingles ridden body moves very slow these days.
Stockings (minus the college kid's because she's not given it back yet) and
the animal's stockings hanging together.
One day I will get lights on the top part of the house.
Ladder. I need a ladder.
The blow ups kill me. I love them.
This year I missed the lights going up the walk to the front
patio area, but it was a crazy time with filling orders at
DawnMoodyDesign and life. LOL
Now, on to the food.
I have no recipes for these. They're pretty much staples that I make every year.
The first is the 'Breakfast Casserole'. This is a mish mosh of whatever you would eat with a breakfast...toast, eggs, bacon, cheese. I make it the night before, the bread soaks up the eggs and it cooks up almost like a souffle. Delish!
I added onions and mushrooms and cheese on top. What you do is get bread....white, wheat....whatever, and lay slices to fill the bottom of a casserole dish. Greasing or buttering the dish is up to you. Then I get about a dozen eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add in a little milk and whisk it all up. Meanwhile saute some onions and mushrooms in a little butter and season and fry some bacon. (I used turkey bacon)
Chop up the bacon and mix with the veggies. pour the eggs over the bread, sprinkle everything else on that and top with shredded cheese. Cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning I took it out and topped it with thinly sliced tomatoes and baked it at 350 for about a half hour.
For the rest of the food (minus the turkey) I prepare the day before. Christmas Eve and Turkey Day Eve is when I do my heavy cooking. There's no reason you can't put casseroles together the day before and just bake them off the next day. Totally worth it!
For my stuffing or dressing (either way you call it)....this is a no recipe either. It's from helping my mother and grandmother every year growing up. Cornbread (I make 3 to 4 recipes), chicken stock, onions, celery, boiled eggs (about 3), sage, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
After I bake the cornbread and it's cooled a bit, I crumble it up and put it in my big pot. And by 'big pot' I mean it's a lobster pot....very deep....so in order to get a good, firm leverage with the stirring I have to put it on the floor.
This is my daughter helping out.
Into the pot with the cornbread, sage, thyme, salt and pepper, onions, celery (that's been sauteed) and stock. For me, the wetter the better. (It will bake off and keep your dressing from being so dry) Then we taste it. We both stand there (my daughter and I) with spoons in hand tasting, adding more salt or pepper, more sage, more stock....until we are pleased. Then into a dish, covered and into the fridge!
I bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes or until it's golden brown on top and heated through.
Now, the gravy. There's always a debate on just how to say it. My husband said Giblet with a hard 'g' sound. I Giblet with a 'j' sound. I'm right. So there.
This is easy but so delicious. When I am taking everything out of the turkey butt, neck and giblet bag, I immediately put it into a pot with water and cook them. Then I remove them, throw everything away but the neck, of which I pluck every piece of meat from that I can and add that back to the pot. While that was boiling away, I saute onions and celery and then add that to the pot. Previously I boiled some eggs and those get peeled and chopped and added. I season it with salt and pepper and thyme and sage. Then, I get a mason jar and fill it almost halfway with water and put quite a bit of flour in it, put on the lid and shake the dickens out of it. While the pot is boiling I pour it in and stir. This will thicken the gravy without lumps. If it's too thick, add milk and water. If it's too thin, do the flour/water again.
*I don't have a photo of gravy but it was devoon.
This year instead of mashed tators, I made mac and cheese. Again, so simple it should be a sin. The sauce is made from a butter/flour roux. Equal parts butter and flour, then add milk to make a sauce consistency. Salt and pepper and paprika are then added. Then add however much grated cheese and whatever cheeses you desire. I did two blocks of cheddar and sharp. (one each) Stirred until it's all smooth and poured it over cooked macaroni noodles. I put that into a dish, covered and cooked it the next day...same as the stuffing.
Now, the green beans. It wasn't until I put together the casserole that I realized we didn't get the fried onions for the top. Fail. I had already sent the mister to the store several times that day and I wasn't about to ask him again. So it's not a pretty casserole.
Easy peasy, two bags of frozen green beans (thawed). Two cans cream of mushroom soup. Three tbsp of soy sauce. Sauteed mushrooms. Mix and plop in a dish. Same thing...fridge, cook, eat.
Now, the turkey. We call the turkey the BoobyBird. Oranges or mandarins, cut in half and put on the breasts under the skin. I don't put anything on my turkey. Rosemary inside. That's it. I baste ONCE about thirty minutes before I take it out of the oven. I've never had a dry bird.
I cover the entire bird for the first two hours. The last hour and a half I cover just the boobs....they'll burn. We don't want burned boobies, y'all.
The puppy didn't take a breathe I think the whole time he was carving the bird.
For dessert I made an apple tart. It's not goopy, dripping in sugar. It's light and sweet. After a HUGE meal, the last thing I want is a heavy dessert. I also don't cook it until the apples are mush. I like them with a little bite to them.
I made a simple butter crust and patted it in the bottom.
I layered apples all around and filled up the middle. It had two layers.
On top of each layer I sprinkle cinnamon and sugar.
On the top layer I put a few pats of butter then baked it.
350 for about an hour.
I also made my husband's gifts this year. This is one of them and I thought I'd share. I made concrete coasters. We have a TON of beer bottle tops. I'm making a table with some and I chose several others for this. I mixed up some quickset and poured it into jewelry boxes. You can find them at the dollar stores....they are the perfect coaster size. Before it set, I plopped in the caps and pounded them all against my desk to get the bubbles out and they were ready to be popped out the next day.
He has coasters already but they annoy all of us. They don't soak up any liquid from the cups and when
they get wet, the cup gets suctioned on and drops midway down scaring us all.
I guess he could pay more attention to when he picks up a glass to see of the coaster is attached, but
come on people, he's a man. I'm past trying to train him on everything.
Then this cutie was passed out. Too much excitement.
....and a Merry Christmas to Me!