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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Christmas Favorites

My last holiday party is behind me, and it is time to get serious in the kitchen. I, like Santa, am making lists and checking them twice. Mine are more like grocery lists, plans for prepping some dishes in advance and menus for the several days of guests. Whew! In case you haven't completed your plans, here are a few of my favorites.

We start out Christmas Eve with some appetizers. The old fashioned biscuit mix and sausage balls are a huge favorite of my oldest boy. This is a new twist I came up with this year, that adds an Italian zing to the tradition. Great with a marinara as a dipping sauce. This is a low carb version of course. It was featured in the December Diner News.

Italian Sausage Balls

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup whey protein powder
1/4 cup oat fiber
1/4 cup dried Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp glucomannan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 lb ground Italian Pork Sausage
1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan / Romano/Asiago blend cheese
2 tbsp crushed tomatoes or marinara

In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. Using your hands, incorporate the dry ingredients with the sausage, cheese and tomato sauce.

Form into 32 walnut sized balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve with additional marinara for dipping.

Serves 8:  175 calories   4 net carbs
Per ball:   44 calories  1 net g carb
(without dipping sauce)

Want some other ideas for appetizers? I am making these again too. I love them, personally, especially when there are too many sweet things to eat. 

I will also be stuffing some of my amazing Salchicha Skillet mixture into mini bell peppers and baking them. This stuff is so delicious. My middle son is a huge fan! We are having those as part of our brunch on Christmas morning too.

Salchicha Skillet
Laughing Cow Cheese wedges make fun and easy appetizers. Make Christmas trees out of wedges rolled in herbs atop a food skewer. This idea was from Christmas 13.  Or use some slivered almonds and pepper to make a little mouse. How cute is this? The tail is a string of celery.

I have so many appetizer options. You really should check the blog and The Diner News back issues.

For dinner, we are having stuffed breast of chicken--spinach and feta. I cheat and buy mine from Sprouts. Easier on the cook. That way I have more time for the rest of the meal. Maybe some last minute shopping too. For side dishes this year, I am making another of the sides I featured in the November issue of the Diner News. I will be using a butternut squash to make this dream of a dish. Roasted Delicata Butternut with Cranberries.

My middle son loves carrots, so I will also make another dish from that edition, but change out the squash with carrots.  That one is Whiskey Glazed Squash. Diner News Nov. '15.

We will also have a big spring mix salad (at least we have something green) with some roasted nuts. My Omnivores have requested garlic potatoes for the special occasion and some rolls for the gluten eaters.

For dessert, I am planning on a Red Velvet Cheesecake. If all works out well, I will have photos of that soon after I make it. Cheesecake is a family favorite, and it seems I always like to try new ones. Great that this low carb dessert is so versatile. Like a blank canvas for an artist.

Just in case that doesn't work out, here are some other Diner favorites you might love. All would be wonderful for Christmas. Pavolva with Raspberries and Marshmallow Cream, New Year's Cheesecake,  Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Poundcake, Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Pavlova with Raspberries and Marshmallow Cream
New Year's Cheesecake
Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

After our traditional festivities and gifts, we will have a hot cocoa bar. I had one of these last year. I add all sorts of flavorings, home made chocolate chips, crushed peppermints, whipped cream, caramel sauce, etc. It is fun to experiment with things to dress up the flavorings. 

For those who aren't into chocolate, we just may have some of this year's favorite new drink. My tea that tastes like traditional Wassail. This recipe was in the December issue of the Diner News too. My sweet daughter-in-law helped me taste test the recipe until we got it just right. The Celestial Seasonings teas are superb and very flavorful. You will not really  miss the juice at all. The photo is hers from our Thanksgiving together. I wish I had her around to take all my photos! We had a wonderful time in the kitchen together. Hers is so much bigger than mine, and we both love to experiment with food.

Celestial  Wassail

12 bags Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea
8 bags Celestial Seasonings  Mandarin Orange Spice Tea
1 gallon water
1 cup erythritol /stevia based sweetener
Stevia to taste

Boil 2 quarts of the water. Steep tea bags for 10 minutes. Remove and squeeze bags. Discard. Add remaining water and granulated sweetener. Simmer until hot. Adjust sweetness with stevia.
Trace cal. / carb

Blessings to you and yours this joyous holiday.

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