I don't know how it happens. We spend so much time preparing for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, and in the blink of an eye, they're over.
For months, we did a countdown in our house. First for our darling daughter's second birthday, then a few weeks later, for Christmas. The babies' anticipation grew and grew, especially once we pulled out the Advent Calendar and then the Christmas decorations.
And, in a blink, it's over.
It was a fabulous celebration, one that lasted three full days in our house. And, although, my goal is to keep the Christmas spirit going for as long as possible, it's sad to see it go so quickly. In our house, we're still listening to Christmas music. (If I had my way, we'd be listening to the cheerful and heart-warming tunes through the summer, but hubby would never let that happen.)
But, I digress ...
|Our little gingerbread house.|
Two weeks before Christmas, we built our annual gingerbread house. Mommy took over ... just a little bit (the babies were too busy licking the icing off their fingers and eating as much candy they could sneak out of the bowls).
|Grandma's sugar cookies. Iced|
in good Christmas spirit by our
So, when Christmas arrived, I made sure the girlies led the sugar cookie decorating efforts. We started baking my grandma's sugar cookie recipe on the first Christmas Eve after we had our first daughter. We've followed through that tradition. The girls were really into the decorating this year, and enjoyed it almost as much as they enjoyed eating the icing.
Since we are hundreds of miles away from our folks (both sides), we try our best to incorporate the traditions that meant the most to us into our newfound family traditions.
For Christmas Eve dinner this year, we were blessed to have my brother, sister-in-law and nephew join us (they live locally and spent the holiday here this year). I made homemade sauerkraut pierogies (courtesy of my husband's grandmother, Gram), crab cakes, french onion soup and roasted carrots. It was incredibly important for us to have a meatless dinner, a tradition my husband and I both grew up with. I couldn't remember the pinch and flatten method for the pierogies that Gram taught me several years ago. So, instead, I pulled out my rolling pin -- gasp! -- and cut out little rounds that I molded into perfect little sauerkraut-stuffed pillows. My husband kindly told me how tasty the pierogies were, but I know they didn't hold a candle to Gram's. We'll just have to keep working on it, and next year, I'll remember the pinch and flatten method.
|Rainbow cookies from the top.|
And, below, here's a look
at the tasty layers.
Had I known the work that goes into these cookies, I probably would have put up my hands and walked away before even starting, but my husband insisted, even after the cookies turned into an hours-long project. He kept saying, "Don't you remember last week you were complaining you were in a cooking rut? I'm just trying to help you out." (Remember this, as he repeated this on Christmas Day when I was making the hours-long beef bourguignon.)
If you've ever had these almond petit cakes, you'll know they're delicate in texture, moist and hit many complex notes on the palette. They're quite tasty, but so much work. I've sworn I will never again make these little treats, so my hubby better savor all 96 little sweet cakes. (I've included a copy of the recipe I adapted below.)
After the girls ripped open their packages on Christmas morning and savored all the goodies that Santa brought them, we headed over to my brother's and enjoyed sharing pecan rolls, something we had every Christmas when we were growing up. In my humble opinion, nothing says Christmas morning more than the scent of warm cinnamon filling the air, and it was something we missed in our own house this year. But, my hubby and I were incredibly touched that my brother took the time to make these yummy pastries for us to enjoy on Christmas morning.
|Searing the meat.|
|Sauteing the veggies.|
Although Elizabeth's beef bourguignon wasn't as "magnifique" as that at Chez Francois, it was tender, complex in flavor and, in a word, delicious. We paired the beef with roasted red potatoes and a roasted pear salad. My 2 year old loved the beef, "More chicken Mommy!" (She's 2 and calls every protein "chicken.")
We definitely are guilty of eating our way through the holidays -- and our belts need to be loosened a bit. But, we built off some of our childhood traditions (sauerkraut pierogies and cinnamon rolls) and created some of our own new ones (beef bourguignon and Italian rainbow cookies (ahem, can you tell my hubby "edited" my post?)).
It was a tremendous holiday, and I'm so incredibly grateful for the precious time with family and the yummy foods that will help frame our memories in the years to come.
... and, in a blink, it's now a memory.
- 2 Tbsp. plus 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 12 oz. almond paste (not marzipan), chopped
- 2 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. red food coloring
- 1 tsp. green food coloring
- 3/4 cup orange marmalade, heated, strained
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted