Christmas Is All Around

I know it’s so cliche, but the holidays really snuck up on me this year.  Time was just flying by and poof we have our first big snow storm in New York and I’m traveling home to be with my family.  Doesn’t it seem as though we just waved goodbye to summer?

Truth be told, since this was my first Christmas since moving out of my parents house, it was quite sad not having a Christmas tree or other decorations to help stimulate that holiday feeling.  Instead, I improvised and bought a bunch of pine scented candles to use when I needed a little holiday spirit.  Definitely not as good as the real thing, but it helped.

The weekend before Christmas was really when I finally got into the spirit of things.  Shopping was finished (and started), cookies were baked, snowflakes fell, lots of wine was consumed and I got to spend a ‘fake Christmas’ with a wonderful person.

Speaking of cookies, here’s a couple of the iced sugar cookies we made

I used these recipes for sugar cookies & royal icing from Martha Stewart, which I must say are tried and true favorites.  I also made Martha’s recipes for Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti which are also fantastic.

For the chocolate lovers, I made an assortment of dark chocolate truffles.  Some were coated in crushed pistachios or hazelnuts.  Others looked like mini munchkins covered in red, green & white sprinkles.  Being resourceful, I also used some of the leftover royal icing to coat a couple.  Left for a few minutes, the icing dried creating a nice shell around the ganache center.

When all the baking and decorating commenced, I made a few goodie bags and boxes of treats as holiday giveaways.  To see the final gifts and some other homemade presents check out Blissful Bites on Facebook where all the photos can be found.

Truffles Sample Box

Finally after making it through the short work week, I made it back to Long Island on Christmas Eve. After getting home and unloading some of my bags, we all got ready and headed to mass f0r a surprisingly not packed service.  It really was a great way to start off the holiday and I was very excited to be back with my family.

From there, we headed to my Aunt’s house.  Every year for as long as I can remember we have gone there for Christmas Eve and second only to our New Years Day German Tradition, it is my favorite holiday.  It is the one holiday where all of my mom’s side of the family is together and although at times hectic, it is never short of memorable and always reminds me how lucky we all are to have such a close family.

Christmas many years ago, rocking some sweet 90’s shirts, nerdy glasses and awesome haircuts.

Not only is Christmas Eve a great holiday spent with my family, but my Aunt also shares my love of food and entertaining and always has quite the menu planned.  It’s a group effort though and everyone tries to pitch in where necessary.

Helping with the delicious salad filled with mixed greens, cranberries, walnuts, cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Fantastic Filet Mignon grilled outside

Aunt B. makes the best creamed spinach

Uncle D. passing out some stuffed mushrooms

The cousins dominated in wine drinking

After we were all stuffed to the gills, it was time to open presents and let me tell you,  this was quite the foodie Christmas for me.  Be prepared to see lots of stews, braised meats and one pot meals in the coming winter months all thanks to this bad boy

A sloooooow cooker!!

I must thank my grandma who really outdid herself on this present.  I am so excited to use it!  I also was lucky enough to receive a Cuisinart Immersion Blender, a J.H. Henckels Knife Set (with butcher block holder) and 2 AWESOME cookbooks.  I really couldn’t be happier!

I don’t think anyone would argue that 2009 was an interesting and very often a difficult year.  But even without all of the generous gifts and delicious food, this holiday was able to put much into perspective and make many of us realize how much happiness and good fortune we still have all around us.

I hope you were all able to have a Merry Christmas and here’s to a Happy & Healthy New Year!

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