The holidays are filled with so many memories. Decorating the Christmas tree, caroling for the neighbors, playing board games with the cousins, and wrapping presents for the tree. As soon as November hits, many of us find our hearts racing, thinking about all there is to do, but also all the memories we can't wait to make with our families.
I find that many Christmas memories are connected with food as well. The baking of those special treats you wait all year for. The smells wafting from our Grandmother's kitchens. The buffet of snack foods lined out on Christmas Eve. I grew up in a family that skipped Christmas Eve dinner in favor of snacks and hors d'oeuvres. The kitchen counter was filled to overflowing with bite sized pieces of comfort, some healthy and some not so healthy. Especially as my young eyes would fixate on the creamy Spinach dip or the fried bits of halibut.
And while I find myself drifting more and more to the healthier end of things as my age increases, I still indulge in some of the higher fat items. After all, it is only once a year!
Still, I'm looking for options. And as my children grow, I want them to understand that they have options as well. Knowing that the holidays don't have to be filled with only pre-packaged items. These are just two of the whole food items that will be a hit at our house this holiday season:
Marinated Cucumbers and Onions
2 Cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2-1 full red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. plain yogurt
Mix the yogurt, vinegar and sugar (to taste) to make a dressing. I tend to like mine on the tarter end of things. Toss in cucumbers and onions. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours. Can be served as a side dish or as a solo meal with a chunk of sourdough bread.
Apple Cranberry Sauce
6-8 apples (this is what the original recipe says, but if they're small, go for 10-12)
1 bag of cranberries (I buy these in season then keep them in the freezer to cook all year round)
1 c. sugar
1-2 c. water
Peel and core apples. You can slice them as well to help them cook down faster. Start with 1 c. water and add just enough water for apples to cook down.
Cook apples until not quite done. This won't take long. Approx. 45 min. Remember to cook not too hot and keep checking them so they don't stick and burn.
Add cranberries and sugar. Cook until cranberries "pop" and apples are done. Add sugar to taste (but I like just one cup).
This is the best applesauce you've ever had. After trying this, you'll never go back to plain cranberry sauce.
And the higher calorie end of things:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. butter @ room temp
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour and backing soda. Beat peanut butter, butter, sugars and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before removing.
For more Healthy Eats and Treats, check out Keeper of the Home.