Merriest of Christmases to all! We had a lovely and eventful holiday as always.
Our Christmas really started on Christmas Eve Eve when we went caroling with friends. I had never gone before but we have friends that live in a great neighborhood for doing neighborly things such as this so we gave it a shot this year. The idea stemmed from a make up trick or treating session we did for Frankie after she missed Halloween due to the flu. We planted candy at a few homes and Frankie and friends trick or treated a week after Halloween. Everyone was SO nice!
We decided we should bless them with Christmas carols this holiday season. We formed a group and met up at my friend Lisa’s beautiful home for lasagna. Scarlet printed up lyrics to five different carols, we wore festive Santa hats and had candy canes to hand out. After dinner and some vocal warm ups from our middle school chorus students we headed out with hot cider in our travel mugs (plus brandy for the adults who wished it). We were about 20 strong with a huge age range. Apart from the trained chorus students we weren’t in tune or even in sync at all times but the faces of the neighbors were priceless! They seemed truly touched! Some of them had tears of joy, others wanted to give us hugs. Many said they had never had carolers sing to them before. It was one of the most rewarding holiday experiences I have had the privilege of partaking in and all of us agreed this needs to be an annual event.
What a great kick off to Christmas!
Christmas Eve we hosted a group of friends and family at our home. We live in the middle of nowhere and have an amazing local volunteer fire service that delivers gifts to homes on a fire truck on Christmas Eve. Complete with Santa and sirens! The kids go crazy, it’s so fun!! So the party is HERE for Christmas Eve. We made a hickory smoked ham and a sirloin tip roast, both from Five Marys Farms.
The roast came with our farm box and was already tied. I decided to slow cook it over potatoes, onions and carrots. I tempered the roast for an hour to bring it to room temperature, coated it with salt paper and rosemary and seared it in a smoking hot cast iron skillet with olive oil for 3 minutes per side. Then placed it in the slow cooker over quartered red potatoes, sliced onions and carrots. I made an acidic sauce to pour over the roast and help break down the tissue and tenderize the meat while cooking. It had apple cider vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, dry mustard and orange juice. Set to cook on low for 8 hours.
The ham was from one of Five Marys Gloucester Old Spot pigs and had a rich flavor and dark color. I made a glaze of bourbon, honey (also from Five Marys), molasses, chili pepper flakes, and pepper. I scored the ham with a cross hatch pattern, placed it in a rack on a roasting pan and poured the glaze over the outside.
Then added water to the roasting pan and baked it at 350 degrees basting every 20 minutes until the internal temperature reached 135 degrees which only took about an hour. I couldn’t find my baster (I think it melted last time I used it) so had to improvise with this (clean) baby Tylenol dispenser. It did the job but took an extra long time so I think a trip to Williams Sonoma is in order soon!
In addition to the meats I made a gingerbread cheesecake, a huge batch of sidecar cocktails, roasted butternut squash, and cooked cabbage. Our friends brought manicotti, appetizers, cherry and pecan pies plus cookies.
Santa came on the firetruck with sirens blaring, every child got a present and immediately began playing with toys and changing into new jammies.
After Santa left, dinner was ready, appetizers and cocktails were consumed. But Dan’s parents were late. They had to take a detour to pick up baby Alex’s Christmas present which had been forgotten at work. Still they were very late… We got a text “we wrecked the car, call for help. We are alright but can’t get out”. Well turns out they spun out on a corner in the rain and thankfully a tree kept them from going over a cliff! Dan drove down to wait for the tow tuck with them. It took two tow trucks to pull the car out! They are fine thankfully, and even drove the car out here. Just a couple dents. Thank god for that tree!!
By the time we got everyone in one spot for dinner we were a couple hours past the planned serving time so the meat was a little over warmed. In hindsight I should have pulled it from the crock pot and warming oven sooner. I think I’m being overly critical though since everyone ate everything up. Served with the jus from the respective pans it really was delicious. The roast had great flavor and the ham was crisped on the outside with the cooked honey glaze, juicy and tender on the inside. The glaze had a tiny kick of spice from the pepper flakes which offset the sweet honey and bourbon flavors nicely.
We feel so blessed to have great friends and family to spend the holidays with! After everyone had either left or gone to bed Dan and I poured some Christmas Armagnac and began cleaning and prepping for the morning. Stockings stuffed, cookies and broccoli “eaten” (we had cooked all our carrots with the roast so the reindeer got a special broccoli treat instead ????????), note from Santa left and a few large presents brought in. It didn’t take too long. We were in bed by 1:00am which is pretty good for us on Christmas Eve.!
Christmas morning I made our traditional Bisquick streusel coffee cake. We make it every year and the kids (and adults) love it! It couldn’t be simpler. I’ll put a link to the recipe below.
Once the house began to smell of coffe and coffee cake children and grandparents started appearing like in a Folgers ad. Some were VERY anxious to open presents. We headed in to the living room and got started.
A living doll in the dollhouse!
Everybody had a great time. Zach got things for his mountain bike, Scarlet got a bunch of accessories for her room from the Junk Gypsy line at Pottery Barn Teen, Frankie and Alex got a huge doll house and furniture for their room. Dan got a new set of copper pots and pans (in theory anyhow, I ordered them in October and they still haven’t arrived…) and he surprised me with a gorgeous rooster weather vane!
Although it looked like a lot of boxes everything was for a specific purpose so I don’t feel like we added a lot of clutter into the house, which is always a huge fear of mine. I’ve found keeping little knick knacks to a minimum helps us tremendously with having the house tidy!
The present that was the most fun to open was this “punch a present” that Scarlet made for Zach. She cut four holes in a box and taped wrapping paper behind them so he could punch through the paper to get four different bags of treats! She’s pretty clever!! ????????????
After presents Dan made his traditional hash brown casserole. We make it every year too. Cooked hash browns in a huge cast iron skillet topped with scrambled eggs and crispy bacon, and broiled with cheddar cheese and green onions. Yum!
The grandparents made their way home slowly after lunch and we cleaned up the mountain of boxes and wrapping paper.
The leftovers were put to good use for dinner and my personal favorite: ham, cheddar and bacon marmalade panini! We watched some holiday movies and went to bed early.
I think it’s time to go work some of this decadence off! I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday and is enjoying the break!!
From my family to yours!
Bourbon and Honey Glazed Ham: delicious ham, the glaze crisped up the outside during cooking. Our ham was 8lbs so cooked faster.
Sirloin Roast: I cooked ours for 8 hours on low and then it sat in warm for 2-3 hours and it was a little dry. I would check it sooner next time. Delicious flavor though!
Gingerbread Cheesecake: this was devine! If you read the comments though many people say it needs to cook longer and I agree. I added 15 minutes to the cook time and still the center was a little soft. Next time I would add 20-25 minutes. I used ginger snap cookies for the crust but did make gingerbread men for the kids to decorate and place on on the cheesecake.
Bisquick Coffee Cake: this used to be on the box (way back when I was a kid). It’s not anymore but thankfully it’s available online. I always make extra for snacking later.