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How did your Christmas feast(s) go??

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!! I'd love to hear how everyone's cooking turned out.

Our Christmas Eve supper was great. Nigella's Chocolate-Cherry Trifle was a huge hit, with everyone groaning with delight at the first bite. Can't say enough about that recipe!

Today's feast turned out wonderfully. Suzanne Goin's prime rib recipe was a winner and we have lots of leftovers for the next couple of days. Yorkshire Pudding (Martha Stewart's recipe) was as foolproof as always...I've made it for the past 10 years, at least! Ina Garten's Spinach Gratin was also wonderful...very comforting and fabulous as a side dish with the prime rib. I reported on the roasted green beans...really good. My biggest experiment was a coffee-macadamia creme brulee and I'm thrilled to say it turned out perfectly. The texture was superb, and the flavors were spot on. The coffee and macadamias are ground up fine and steeped in the cream, then strained out...so it will be easy to substitute other flavors if I want to for next time. Or just add vanilla bean and make it plain. YUM.

Time for bed. Sweet dream everyone...may you all enjoy this final week of 2006!

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  1. Our first go-round was on Christmas Eve, and it went well. The shoulder (scored and studded) ham we served was blessedly not too salty, and the resultant gravy was heavenly. Mashed potato casserole was, as usual, a hit. Marvelous potato sausage. All sides well-received - especially red sweet-and-sour cabbage.

    Still, we're doing it all over again on Twelfth Night for another side of the family. And there are some things I will tweak, just for a change of pace (gads, I want some scallops in black-bean and garlic right now...). Maybe a scalloped potato dish in lieu of mashed. Maybe an arugula salad instead of mixed greens. Maybe a cranberry fool for desert. Or a custard pudding, or a rice pudding. Who knows. I do have a week to formulate plans. For now, I'm happy that everyone ate well. On to the next meal!

    I wish you all a Happy New Year!

    1. My moment of genius was cooking the stuffing (dressing) outside in a Dutch oven, while the birds were on the smoker. Cripsy on the edges, but moist inside, so everyone got what they wanted.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Alexandra Eisler

        Tell me more, please. Do you add broth? Do you leave take the lid off at some point to make it brown? I've never been able to make outside-the-bird stuffing that came out well. I usually use a glass baking dish with a cover.

      2. I did Thanksgiving, so my sister did Christmas feast. I got the job of desserts. I went nuts. Good nuts, though.

        I made the following desserts:

        Frozen vanilla yoghurt (Bittman's recipe, son and signif other's Simac ice cream maker on loan while they're out of town)

        Chocolate panna cotta with orange caramel sauce

        Chocolate and chestnut pie (from Rose Bakery cookbook)

        Pistachio/Almond/lemon zest cake (also Rose Bakery)

        Mascarpone and prune tarts (prunes steeped in a bit of brandy first)

        All were really good and have some leftovers to take to work tomorrow.

        I had fun making these desserts and also it was fun having no other chores re holiday dinner. It wasn't even at my HOUSE? Huzzah!

        1 Reply
        1. re: oakjoan

          oakjoan, can I hire you for my next family bash? :) Sounds great!

        2. My flaming persimmon pudding was a certified hit.

          1. My GF's sour cream apple pie was a big hit, and worthy of the "Mentioned on Chowhound" award.

            1. Christmas eve was the challenging meal this year, as my brother and sister-in-law were with her family for Christmas night.
              Christmas Eve:
              sesame-cornmeal-crusted fried squid with mizuna, beets, candied pistachios and sherry-urfa biber-vinegarette

              celeriac soup with greek yogurt, vietnamese cilantro, sea salt and white balsamic

              forest honey-glazed quail with roasted turnips with nutmeg, roasted cipoline onions and microgreens

              pan-cooked sea bass with leek puree, candied meyer lemon peel, and fennel pollen

              West County hard cider

              Las Rocas Garnacha 2004

              Christmas was much simpler:

              cut-up chicken roasted over red potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and prunes with white wine, thyme and shallots

              new zealand spinach and green bean salad

              no-knead bread with nigella seeds

              Guest brought amazing cranberry-apple-nut relish

              Chateau Ste Michelle Reisling 2005

              1. I'm not a big baker but every year I make a Double Chocolate Torte for the dessert table and it's always the stand out. It's from Gourmet and you can find it on Epicurious - it's a nearly flour-less chocolate cake topped with a rich chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Just to die for and very pretty. Happy holidays everyone.

                1. Since I went home (to New Orleans) for Thanksgiving, I decided to stay in Tampa and celebrate with my girlfriend (and her parents). Her family has a tradition of eating seafood on Christmas eve, and I told them I would do the cooking. I originally thought about doing a paella, and my girlfriend gave me a paella pan for an early Christmas present. However, I wasn't going to attempt a new feat during a family dinner. I din't want to risk having to order pizza because my rice didn't cook properly.

                  I decided to stick with what I knew best: jambalaya. I did a creole shrimp jambalaya; and to keep in the paella spirit, I also added some mussels. I just named it my Creole Christmas Paella. It was fantastic and everyone enjoyed it.

                  For breakfast on Christmas day, I fixed my girlfriend her favorite: cream cheese-stuffed French tast. It was outstanding and put a smile on her face.


                  1. Our tradition for Christmas has been the same for years - and there are no complaints here. For Christmas Eve, we make steak and lobster for the family; a whole lobster per person, plus a filet mignon. Sides are baked potato and brocolli. We do the whole-lobster-per-person thing because we need leftovers for our Christmas day tradition: Lobster bisque.

                    My dad boils the shells and makes his super rich and lovely lobster bisque on Christmas morning. He also roasts a pork loin and makes corned beef and my mom sets out a sandwich bar with all the fixins'. Two kinds of bread (rye and Dutch crunch), condiments (honey mustard, yellow mustard, spicy mustard, Japanese mayo, pickles, thinly sliced red onions, cornichons) and loads of great sharp cheeses. They also make a chicken terrine with pancetta, pistachios and dried apricots. All of our friends and family gather for a casual day of soup & sandwiches. The day ends with my mom's homemade cream puffs.

                    Needless to say, I am already starting my New Year's diet :)


                    1. Just the two of us, but we still had a nice feast!

                      Christmas Eve, I made my first Tom & Jerry's from an Epicurious recipe. The only change I made was to use rum and bourbon instead of rum only (I used Myer's Dark rum and Blanton's single-barrel bourbon). They were delicious. My husband's more of an expert than I am (I've only had them at my favorite restaurant in Boston when they have them around the holidays), and he commented it was the best one he's ever had.


                      For dinner, we started with a Zuni-based butter lettuce, toasted hazelnut, and Satsuma mandarin salad with Grand Marnier vinaigrette.


                      Jumbo stone crab claws from Fresh Choice Seafood. They arrived on time, were nice-sized, and came with mustard sauce, but I think I prefer the stone crabs we get from our usual purveyor (Moore's Stone Crab on Longboat Key) - they seemed not as sweet from Fresh Choice, and the texture was a little tough - maybe overcooked? Also, Moore's ships them already cracked so less mess.


                      Dessert was Florida Pie (a frozen meringue pie using key lime juice and a layer of coconut cream). Very very good. I'll have to take a pic and post on the appropriate Dorie Greenspan thread later.

                      Christmas Day, breakfast was a slice of Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake that 'Hounds are posting about. I used Satsuma's which made it so easy since they're seedless.


                      Late lunch were our traditonal lobster melts, this year with the addition of white truffle butter on the English muffins. mmmmm....SO good.


                      Dinner was supposed to be Zuni's mock porchetta, but my husband developed a craving for chicken mole nachos, and so that's how we finished off the holiday!

                      1. I cooked Christmas dinner for 6, and I think it was the best meal I've ever cooked...or eaten!

                        Charcuterie & Cheese Plate w/ proscuitto di parma, mortadella, salame, calamata olives, cranberry chevre, brie & french bread

                        Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

                        First Course:
                        Crab Cakes w/ herb salad (see Dec 2006 Gourmet magazine for recipe) - These were the best crab cakes I've ever had. I used 2 fresh Dungeness crabs and the only modification I made to the recipe was adding a bit of Sriracha chili sauce for a little kick.

                        Main Course:
                        Herb crusted rack of lamb w/ cabernet sauce - My first rack of lamb!! Gorgeous & delicious! Perfectly rare. I am so proud. I hope to have the photos uploaded soon. Thanks to kittyfood for the sauce recipe, which was amazing.

                        Steamed green beans w/ lemon & dill

                        Twice baked cheesy mashed potatoes

                        Martha Stewart's chocolate gingersnap cookies (a Christmas tradition at my house)
                        Lemon Shortbread (butter city! yum!)
                        Blue star sugar cookies (pretty as can be)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bourbongirl

                          I'm impressed with your ability to cook crab, pick out the meat, and make crabcakes. I could never do that; the crab would be eaten long before it made it into the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Even with a full stomach and leftover crabs (see below) I don't think I'd have the will power.

                          1. re: JoyM

                            Oh, believe me...I reserved plenty of crabmeat for munching (both during & after the cracking of the crabs)! I still have about 1/2 cup in the fridge. Perhaps I'll have a crab & dill omelette for dinner. YUM.

                        2. We had a Shellfish Christmas.

                          First course was Salmon, Pea and Scallop Terrine. Easy to make, delicious, and served with an Acme Italian Batard. I had to buy the bread on Sunday, but took advice from Cook's Illustrated and wrapped it well in aluminum foil and plastic, and it tasted amazingly fresh, even a day old, although I did heat it in the oven a little.

                          Then, a megasalad -- red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm, roasted beets, steamed (cold) shrimp, sliced carrots (really sweet ones from the Farmer's Market), red pepper, arugula and peppercress, with a mustard vinagrette dressing.

                          Along with the salad we served the pasta dish -- Mussels steamed in white wine and garlic with homemade linguine.

                          The next course was steamed Dungeness Crab. I bought them live on Sunday, and thanks to advice from Chowhounds (thanks, all!) I kept them alive in the bottom bin of the fridge until they were ready to meet their destiny. They were sweet and fabulous, served only with melted butter.

                          Then, for dessert I made chocolate butter cookies, cut into lobster shapes with a cookie cutter. (I also made some holiday shapes.) We also had sliced strawberries with whipped cream.

                          The best part is that everyone was so full that we could only eat 2 of the 4 crabs we bought, so there are 2 cooked crabs just waiting for us to eat for dinner tonight.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JoyM

                            Two leftover crabs, you say? The perfect amount for crab cakes! :) Here's the recipe. I swear, you will not be disappointed.


                          2. This was my first holiday hosting our families, as well as the first in our new house. I was so excited to be have everyone over and the food came out even better than I imagined.

                            Christmas Eve- meal for 5

                            -Peppered Bourbon Ham
                            -My mother in law's Lasagna
                            -Roasted Red Bliss and Yukon Gold Baby Potatoes
                            -Ina Gartner's Spinach Gratin (the hit of the night!)
                            -Field Greens with Toasted Walnuts, Gorgonzola, and Dried Cranberries

                            Christmas Brunch- 7 people

                            -My dad's home fry recipe, which is now always made by me at Christmas- diced potatoes, onions, red peppers, sausage, ham, and american cheese; cooked stovetop on low during the 2-3 hour present opening extraveganza. YUM!
                            -Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Smoked Salmon with Dill
                            -More Ham =)
                            -Cranberry Walnut Bread
                            -Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
                            -Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jessicheese

                              This was my first christmas hosting the family as well! Eight adults, five doggie "children." First night beef tenderlion, second night grilled ham and fried oysters, Christmas morning our traditional oyster stew and sausage milk gravy over biscuits, Christmas day night, pork tenderlion with escalloped potatoes and steamed brocolli. I'm hoping by New Years I'm hungry again so I can enjoy some black eyed peas for good luck in 2007!

                            2. i prepped dinner at my house then cooked at my sister in laws. She has a huge gourmet kitchen with top-of-the-line Viking appliances, but has cheap, cheap cookware and knives. I tried to do as much in my own home where I am more comfortable with my own tools.

                              The star of the menu was Beef tenderloin in salt crust (courtesy of AB). I made sure the meat was well seared before putting it in the herb crust. I pulled the roast from the oven at 125 degrees, but it ended up sitting in the crust for almost an hour before anyone felt like eating, so it was medium to meduim-well when we sat down to dinner. Fine for them, a bit of a disappointment for me and my husband. Overall, it was tender as all heck and a success. Luckily, I only cooked 1/2 of the full $140 piece of beef, so hubby and I can enjoy it nicely rare on New Year's Eve.

                              The rest of the menu was: Spinach salad with warm bacon dressing, Horseradish sauce for the beef, mashed taters, peas and pancetta, sauteed white mushrooms, and roasted cipploine onions.

                              Dessert was a pumpkin pie. No one ate it. In my own family, we have tons of desserts, and very few are leftover. At my in-laws, everyone it too health-conscious to enjoy dessert. It's sad. At least this gives me a chance to try Michael Chiarello's lefover pumpkin pie brulee tonight!

                              1. My Christmas dinner was great! I was able to eat Mama's home-cooked hoilday meal, something I have not been able to savor for a few years now. Christmas dinners at non-foodie homes really SUCKS! There is no place like home for the holidays.

                                1. We had a scaled-down Swedish smorgasbord. Ham, several herring dishes, meatballs, Swedish sausage (Julkorv and Prinskorv), 2 Swedish cheeses: Cumin ost and Vasterbottenost (a true King among cheeses) and of course, almond-flavored Rice pudding (with a custard layer) and lingonberies. Don't forget the glogg!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: twodales

                                    Always interested in where other (presumably) Swedish-Americans get their groceries....??

                                    1. re: candace


                                      I live in Chicago and get our goodies at Wikstrom's Deli on Clark Street. They do mail order I understand. There is also a very popular bakery, called, of course, The Swedish Bakery. It is also on Clark street. The old neighborhood is still called Andersonville, although most Swedes have moved out to the suburbs now. So how about you? Where do you get your "lutfisk and lingonberries" these days?

                                    2. re: twodales

                                      Mmmm, glogg! I hadn't thought of that in years. I first had it on a Swedish-American line trip from Sweden to NYC in December pf 1960. It was so stormy and scary for half the trip (I think it took 10 days...is that possible?) that I drank a lot of glogg!

                                      My aunt used to make sandbakelser (this is somewhat phonetic spelling) - sand tarts filled with something wonderful on Christmas. My mother and sister and I always made fatigman. Unfortunately, my aunt also made kalvedunce (or karvedunce - again phonetic) which was a sort of veal pate with a layer of meat jelly on top. Maybe I'd love it now, but I really hated it then. Mother and aunt used to sing a song about Skonig and how everybody's fat there. That's where they were from but they were never fat.
                                      Sorry to blather on.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        My FarMor (Father's Mother) used to make kalvesylta, similar to what you describe. As a kid I wouldn't touch it as it was all gray. Sort of a cold meatloaf or country pate. She used top-notch ingredients but it was not appealing to look at. My father loved it. I'd probably like it now. Perhaps the song was about Skane? (Pronounced with a sort of o sound.) It is a province in the south of Sweden. Many Swedes emigrated from that area to America. Blather on all you like!

                                    3. We cooked at home, then transported food to my elderly in-laws' home for the family meal. The meat was a slow roasted pork shoulder, cooked all night, then pulled and warmed on site with cooking juices and homemade BBQ sauce. I also brought homemade mac and cheese, already baked and in a carry case. Once there, we sliced cold, peeled baked potatoes, then browned them in bacon grease and I made a fresh Ceaser salad and toasted the onion rolls. My sister-in-laws brought appetizers (cheese ball and crackers) and dessert (homemade cookies). Not the fanciest meal, but it was all tasty and low stress for the in-laws, who were most appreciative.

                                      1. My pa-in-law, very ill last year, was back in form this Christmas, though the feast was by no means elaborate. He cooked an enormous goose in the big covered roaster, and baked some sweet potatoes and made creamed spinach. There was a green salad with vinaigrette to freshen things up after all that, and then sister-in-law did a very nicely booze-soaked buche de noel. Brother-in-law and I had grave doubts about the wine Pops had hauled out from the cellar, two very dusty bottles of a 1964 Nuits-St.-George, and a much more recent Vouvray for dessert. Both of the '64s had evaporated a bit, one down below the neck label and the other just down to it, but amazingly they were both not only drinkable, but quite pleasant. Both were well past their prime, but the first one, the least evaporated of the two, simply lacked any aromatic character but was smooth and had a ghost of fruit, while the more evaporated bottle actually tasted fresher and more vigorous. The Vouvray, which I think was only ten years or so old, was a perfect thing to have with the boozy cake, nice and floral and just slightly tart.

                                        A simple enough feast, stunningly satisfactory. I'm still smiling.

                                        1. Appetizers: artichoke tapenade from a modified Cuisinart recipe, incredibly delicious; anchovy and cream cheese spread; crackers, olives.

                                          Really great salad with greens, roasted pepper, goat cheese, vinegrette.

                                          Braised leg of lamb (a combo of my SIL's recipe and Molly Stevens, very delish) with roasted potatoes thrown in; brussel sprouts which I sauteed lightly and then steamed, added butter and salt and pepper, best b. sprouts I ever ate, even people who said they never ate them liked these.

                                          Fruit salad, homemade cookies for dessert, along with homemade marzipan and torrone that SIL brought.

                                          Excellent feast!

                                          Only glitch in the day was, I was going to make the Grand Marnier French toast which was described on this thread a couple weeks ago for Christmas breakfast. Went grocery shopping Saturday, couldn't get the leg of lamb until Sunday since the butcher was gone for the day (and I needed the bone end cut to fit it in my pan)... decided to get the challah Sunday also, and ... forgot. Sunday night, store closed, no challah!!! So we had bagels and lox for Christmas breakfast, isn't that traditional? (My DH is Jewish anyway, so it seemed appropriate.)

                                          1. We were just the five of us - wonderful! Christmas Eve we did a traditional Chinese food takeout, except that we went to a party with loads of great food, so we noshed on the takeout all Christmas morning and afternoon. For dinner: my first rib roast. A lovely eight pound fellow. Plenty of salt and pepper, quick sear stove-top, 325 degree oven, took it out of the oven at 122 degrees, made Yorkshire pudding with the fat and it was a beautiful piece of meat when the giant popover was ready. Thank you all for the help with that! Served peas and forgot the horseradish creme fraiche sauce! DH picked a nice wine to go with. Dessert was caramel pears w/vanilla ice cream. Whew. For five people it was plenty of food, especially considering we were eating all day! We all just sat after that. It was good.

                                            1. Got to try out a new toy making the tostones: a stainless flat pounding mallet I got at a local Chinese rest. supply house for $15. Nice weight and smooth face to avoid the waffling I was getting with my meat mallet.

                                              Boiled 4 lbs of raw peanuts with Old Bay, dry garlic chutney, cayenne, viet sea salt. They turned out very nice.

                                              Baked two 6 lb collared pork shoulders as lechon asado on my GrillDome kamado cooker, no smoking wood, just lump charcoal. The golden crust on the surface was sinful, as good as any I've had in Cuban rests. Goya bitter orange juice, garlic, onion, olive oil, with a few hours to work is just amazing.

                                              The ropa vieja turned out very nice. Reminded my daughter of a rich Flemish stew she had made with Westmalle trippel.

                                              Mashed boiled yuca with chimichurri sauce and Cuban black beans were very tasty.

                                              Cuban sandwiches and variations using freshly baked Cuban bread were heavenly. Not personally a fan of swiss cheese, ham, or pickles, I made one up with the lechon and some corned beef, soaked and rubbed with a pastrami rub, and smoked at 210*F over cherry wood, and another with ropa vieja and mashed yuca.

                                              1. We usually smoke a turkey, but this year there were only four adults so we smoked a duck instead. We did it Chinese-style, using tea leaves in the smoker, following a recipe from Madame T.S. Wong. It was fabulous!! Not a morsel remained.

                                                It was a bit laborious. First we did a dry rub with salt and Sichuan peppercorns and let it sit overnight. Second step was a 90 minute steam treatment. Third step was the smoking, which we did on our BBQ/smoker. Final step was deep-frying the bird for five minutes on each side.

                                                We served it with homemade lotus leaf buns (those yeasty Chinese buns you get with Peking duck) and Madame Wong's special broccoli.

                                                We will definitely do this dish again once our cholesterol levels fall back to normal.

                                                1. My Christmas Eve feast came out really well.

                                                  I made the following:


                                                  Sushi (mango, avocado, surimi)
                                                  Cod/potato cakes with homemade tartar sauce
                                                  there was also antipasto brought by my sis

                                                  Roast Turkey (I got a organic, drug-free, free range turkey from a place called Fresh From the Farm) - I did it low and slow, and simple (lemon, onion, thyme, celery in the cavity and rubbed with butter) - it was so juicy and succulent!
                                                  Beef Curry - also low and slow and it was very good - like great brisket
                                                  Cornbread stuffing (made the cornbread first) with pine nuts, fennel, onions, herbs, etc.
                                                  Chipotle sweet potatoes
                                                  Roasted beets, fennel, carrots, garlic
                                                  Green beans with dill, green onions
                                                  Big green salad with raspberry vinagrette

                                                  White chocolate raspberry cheesecake - this was a fabulous recipe and I would definitely make it again
                                                  Gingerbread biscotti

                                                  1. I cooked my very first Xmas dinner this year for my family on the 24th. It went really well! I spent all day in the kitchen (and a lot of time the night before) but it was well worth it.

                                                    Ordered a fresh turkey which I picked up on the 23rd and brined overnight. Didn't realize how much work it was hauling a 20lb turkey + 60lb of water from a sink, into a cooler, then dragging it all outside to keep cool overnite.. totally underestimated the legwork involved in that part!

                                                    I wanted to get ambitious, but had to keep the needs/wants of my family in mind. I nixed my mom's usual canned gravy for a pan dripping sauce/reduction and it was like the end of the world for them; "No gravy? Are you mad?!" ;)

                                                    I think I have opened their minds, though; the turkey was the most flavourful and moist they had ever had, and stuffing was made from scratch - a sourdough/sausage/mushroom mix that they all loved. With some more flavourful favourites, it was an amazing dinner.. and I think I have turned my family on to some new things.

                                                    Next year I'd like to do dinner with some friends who are much more open to food experiences and go crazy.

                                                    1. We decided to skip the poultry and go with venison this year-- I was a little worried it wouldn't be, well, Christmasy enough, but it was actually great, and so nice not to be in a turkey & dressing induced stupor at the end! Here's what we did, and everyone was perfectly satisfied but not stuffed to the gills:
                                                      hors d'oeuvres- Duck rillettes with green peppercorns, fried oysters with basil sauce
                                                      soup- cream of cauliflower with truffle oil & seared scallop
                                                      main- venison loin with sour cherry/madeira/green peppercorn sauce, mushroom gratin, sauteed chard, & wild rice
                                                      dessert- pear frangipane tart & chocolate pecan pie

                                                      There were only 5 of us, though-- any more and we would've really needed a warning oven.

                                                      1. Christmas Eve I made venison meatballs as a snack for the family while we passed the time before going to the in laws (see request for venison meatball recipe, and subsequent results here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353776). My mother in law served malfatti, which are sort of a local institution, now only available at one liquor store. They're like an inside-out ravioli, and I find them kind of comforting. She also served her caesar salad, which always has odd things in it like bacon bits or avocado or this time, tiny bocconcini, that just don't go in caesar salad (imho). To accompany the appetizers, my in laws served some special holiday beers that my husband provided, but my mother in law put the kibosh on serving wine with dinner. She goes through these weird fits where she tries to control everyone's drinking, which is hugely annoying. Thankfully, my father in law served Tom & Jerry's after dinner.

                                                        Christmas Day we had 10 at our home for dinner. For appetizers we had a few cheeses, some leftover venison meatballs, croutons with chicken liver mousse (brought to the '05 SF/Bay Area Chowhound picnic, recipe posted in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/279828), and the Trader Joe's Alsatian tarte with gruyere, ham and caramelized onion. I've served the tarte before, which bakes right on the oven rack, except for this time, when it stuck and then ripped and bled melty cheese all over the other items in the oven right as my in laws were coming in the door. My mom came to my rescue and we served it anyway.

                                                        For dinner I did a massive choucroute garni from the Silver Palate, with all kinds of sausage and smoked pork chops. To accompany it I had spinach sauteed with olive oil and lots of garlic, mashed sour cream red & yukon gold potatoes, a butter lettuce salad with champagne-shallot vinaigrette, my Mom's cheesy-jalapeno squash casserole, and my sister-in-law's mother's Portuguese hominy casserole.

                                                        The self-serve hot cocoa bar and steaming spiced cider were big hits. I served a nice crisp Alsatian Pinot Gris with the appetizers, and Titus Vineyards 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner. Yes, I work for Titus but that didn't stop the wine from being enjoyed!

                                                        For dessert we had cookies, fudge, apple crisp and Rachel Ray's chocolate cups, which are ridiculously easy, better than they have a right to be, and becoming a Christmas tradition.

                                                        Everyone was gone by 4:30, and by 6:30 my husband & I were in our pajamas eating leftovers and drinking wine, and making plans to leave town next year for Christmas.