Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Family Christmas

Good morning after Christmas to you!  I hope you all had a lovely day with family and friends.  We had such a nice holiday with our family.  I will break this post up into two or maybe even three posts, as there are a lot of photos I want to document and remember.  Beginning with the Christmas Eve, and my food prep.  Greg had to work Christmas Eve, and so I made my way to the market bright and early to get the rest of the things I needed for my cooking day.  I got home, put on my apron, and got busy!!  First up, is Mama's Mac N Cheese.  Pammy Sue....this recipe is for you, cause you asked!  Now, I have to preface this by saying that I had not ever made this dish until recently.  My Mom always makes this for our family gatherings, and all the kids, young and old, love it!  Never any left over, unless an extra pan is made, and perhaps hidden.  I made it myself for the first time on Thanksgiving.  It is my son's favorite food!!!  So I called Mom and got all of the particulars, and then made my own.  It is so easy.  The only thing I did differently, was make a roux with the flour and butter, and mixed the milk in with this.  Mom doesn't.  She just pours it all in together after the pasta is cooked.  You could do it either way.
First, prepare your pasta.  I always cook the pasta so that there is a bit of chew left.  Not too over done.  I like to use a medium sized elbow macaroni.
I drain the water off, leaving a wee bit of starchy water left in the pot.  To this, drop in a whole stick of butter.  I cut it into pieces, and just drop it in.
I make the roux, using about 1/2 a stick of butter and a few tablespoons of flour.  Cooking it off until lightly browned, then adding the milk.  Mom always uses a can of evaporated milk.  And so did I.
Whisk together the flour with the melted butter.
Add your milk, and then pour over pasta.  Add a generous amount of salt, and even more fresh cracked black pepper!  Mix it together.

I like to use sharp cheddar cheese for this, but use what you like.  And use a lot!  This is not a diet dish, so go for it!  Start adding handfuls at a time, and stir it together.
Everything is still piping hot, so the cheese will melt quickly.  Add as much or as little you would like.  We like it extra cheesy, and I would guesstimate that I used about three cups here.  Pour into a lightly greased baking dish.  And top with more cheese.  About another cup.
Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray, and loosely cover the dish.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake another 10 or 15 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and nice and bubbly.
The ultimate comfort food!!!
Next up, I made Pioneer Woman's Potatoes Au Gratin.  I have one word for these....OH MY!  Wait, that's two words......
These creamy decadent potatoes remind me of the ones you get in a fine steak house, like Ruths Chris.  So delicious.  So easy, and so perfect for a special occasion or meal.   This recipe is in her second book, and can also be found on her website.
We brought everything to Gennifer's house and had a wonderful meal with the family.  Honey baked ham, potatoes au gratin, creamy mac n cheese, green salad with berries and walnuts, dinner rolls, tamales and home made refried beans.

Gennifer had set a beautiful table, and I don't know how I forgot, but I didn't get a picture of it.  We had a nice meal, and loved watching the excitement build for the girls!  They did a lot of checking on Santa's location throughout the night.  Hannah made Santa a special note to place by the snack she was leaving for he and his reindeer.

We stayed until the girls were ready for bed, and home we went, with full tummy's and full hearts.
I was not done cooking yet.  I made the strawberry pretzel jello salad that I was bringing to my Mom's on Christmas.  This is a recipe I got from my friend Lori, many years ago.  It is a family favorite, and I make it every Christmas.  I was certain that I had purchased all of the ingredients I needed, however at 10:00 PM, I discovered that I did not get the cool whip!  I had to put my clothes back on and run to the market.
And the closest market to us had just locked up!  On to another, cool whip in hand, and back home to finish the dish.  First, you crush 2 cups of pretzels, add 3 T of granulated sugar, then add two sticks of melted Imperial Margarine to the dry mix, forming a sweet and salty crust for your jello.

Using rubber spatula, press into a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  Let cool completely.  (This is when I made my mad dash to the market for the cool whip I had forgotten to purchase)  For the next layer, you will cream together a softened brick of cream cheese, with 1 cup of sugar.  To this add one small tub of cool whip.  Spread out evenly over cooled pretzel crust.
I forgot to take a picture of that layer, so it shows the next layer going on top.  For the top layer, take one large box of strawberry jello.  Pour 2 cups of boiling water into jello mix.  To this add 2 10 oz packages of frozen strawberries.  (note:  I can no longer find the 10 oz. boxes of frozen strawberries, so I bought 2 bags of frozen berries, each was 16. oz.  Guesstimate the portion to equal roughly 20 oz.)  I had to chop the berries up, so if you can, let the berries defrost a bit for easier chopping.  Add this to the jello mixture, and it will begin to set up very quickly.  Let sit for about 10 minutes, and then pour this over your creamed cheese mixture.
 Cover and allow to set up fully in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, or overnight.  Dot with whip topping if desired.  This is delicious, and you will love it!!!
"Mrs. Claus" stuffed the stockings, then kissed Mr. Claus goodnight to wait for the arrival of Santa.
I will see you tomorrow for more of the Grover Family Christmas.
XO  Kris


Holly said...

What a fun night! Thanks for the mac and cheese recipe and I'll check out Ree's potato recipe, love her cookbooks.

Nana Go-Go said...

I've never used evaporated milk for my mac'n cheese but I will give it a try. I always add the cheese to the roux sauce and then add the pasta to it before oven-baking it. I also add a couple of rashers of bacon and some sliced tomato to the top of the dish, it seems to keep the mac moist and gives it a nice hammy flavour. Glad you had a good time - it's gone all quiet here now that they've all gone home and it takes me a couple of days to get back into my 'single' routine again!I always manage somehow.x

Pammy Sue said...

Yay!! I've been waiting for this one. I may even have everything I need. Thank you, Kris! Everything looks so good.

Mereknits said...

You are making me very hungry and I am still feeling full from yesterday. Thank you for the recipe, it looks delish.
Hugs to you,

From the Kitchen said...

Coming from the south, I adhere to "first you make a roux"!! Your mom's mac and cheese is very similar to my mom's recipe and we love it!! What's better than the Christmas excitement of little ones?


by Teresa said...

Hi dear Kris.. thanks for sharing your Christmas with us!! I just did a similar post.. but smooshed it all into one.. lol.. I look forward to your next installment. We had a super holiday.. not counting having no granddaughters.. wah.

  *H*A*P*P*Y* *N*E*W* *Y*E*A*R*!*

((hugs)), Teresa :-)

NanaNor's said...

Kris, You are as busy as I anticipated you'd be. We got off easy with food prep this year but as usual I forgot one item that I was responsible for-rolls. Last year I forgot regular stuffing(I seem to forget those things I don't eat). We had a wonderful time all day.
Hope you are relaxing today.
Hugs, Noreen

Heather - The Good Life said...

All your food sounds super yummy. We had a Honey Baked Ham yesterday too and I made my mom's scalloped potatoes to go with it. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas so far, looking forward to the rest of the story. Heather

Dawn said...

All the food look so yummy, you now have me wanting mac and cheese. I like how Santa got a little bit of a healthy snack. When you said you put on your apron to start cooking all I could picture was you wearing your boob apron. LOL

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

OH...looks like lots of good eats at your house, Kris! Sounds like a wonderful Christmas!

Elaine @ Sunny Simple Life said...

That jello dish sounds so good. Glad you had a Merry Christmas. I am tired but had a wonderful holiday.

Linda said...

Glad you got the cool whip!!!!
That looks quite delicious...
Will look for the next installment, Kris...

Linda :o)

Debbie said...

Oh my I don't know which one of these dishes looks or sounds better. I think I would love that salad best. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your festivities!

Grayseasailor said...

YUM!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe favorites and sources. Even though I am eating gluten and dairy free, I can imagine how wonderful your family favorites taste and am so glad you can be together to enjoy each other as well as food you love. I add my typing to all the others who have told you they are looking forward to the next chapters in you report :) xx from Gracie

Deb~in~Denver said...

Family fun is THE best! Thanks for posting your recipes, I'm looking forward to making them! I've tasted the strawberry pretzel dish and loved it! There's always something I have to run get at the last minute, glad I'm not alone!

Tania @ Out Back said...

All that good food = Yum!

Love the look of the mac cheese, might have to give that a try, I think my son would love it!


Nicolle said...

Looks like a yummy Christmas, but how could it not be, in your house?! You make so many delicious things. The mac and cheese....YUM! The potatoes look good too. I love that pretzel salad.

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas friend!

Val said...

Happy New Year to you and your wonderful family!! That food looks DIVINE.