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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas dinner, a recipe, and a chance at a free book

Is Christmas dinner at your house a repeat of Thanksgiving? It is at mine but I have friends who traditionally eat enchiladas and tamales. Some people serve ham, some beef tenderloin. If you watch the Food Network as much as I do you see preparations for everything from crown pork roast to Cornish game hens. All of that sounds good, but my kids would rebel if we had anything but the traditional foods: turkey, green bean casserole with Campbell's mushroom soup and French's fried onion rings (no subsitutions, additions, etc., please--one year Lisa made a smashing green bean casserole with sour cream and several ingredients; we all agreed it was good but it wasn't "the same"), mashed potatoes with plenty of gravy. We experiment with different dressings, though never in the turkey--we've done a recipe with kielbasa in it and other variations.  Some  who married into the family like that jellied cranberry sauce in a can; I come from the tradition of ground cranberries with orange and apple, but the kids don't really like that, so I don't make it. They do NOT want sweet potatoes, although lots of them eat them other times. They want our traditional cheeseball (see Potluck with Judy November 20, 2011) and often have an apple pie, though Melanie's grandmother's recipe for chess pie is rapidly becoming the family favorite. And lots of wine, please.
In the last few years, my grown children have developed a love of fried turkey. I've posted about  it recently (, November 24, 2011). I love the fried turkey skin but bemoan the lack of gravy. At Christmas, we usually do two turkeys--there are after all fifteen of us these days. The boys will fry a turkey while Megan and I roast one. She always buys extra gravy at Central Market, even though it comes with giblets which used to be a no-no.
And, of course, we all love leftovers. My favorite day-after-Christmas sandwich? Sliced turkey, mayo, lettuce, and blue cheese. I first ate this in the basement cafeteria of a Cedar Rapids (Iowa) department store. It was when I was in college in Iowa.

Here's the recipe for one of the turkey dressings we've fixed and liked a lot.

Green chile/Cornbread dressing

1/4 c. butter or margarine
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced celery
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can chicken broth
1 (17 oz.) can whole kernel corn
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chillies
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 cups cornbread crumbs
1/2 c. pecans, chopped and toasted.

Melt butter in large Dutch oven; add onion and celery and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until onion and celery are wilted. Add broth, corn, green chilies, parsley, and seasonings. Stir well, and add cornbread and nuts (I don't like the crunch of nuts in this and often leave them out). Toss until all is moistened. Spoon into baking dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 8-10 servings.

So what's your Christmas tradition? The oddest thing you eat? Email me at The person with the most unusual tradition will gt a free copy of Skeleton in a Dead Space, my new mystery--I'll let my tradition-bound local children, Jordan and Christian, be the judges. Please do include a recipe if appropriate.


  1. Hi Judy:

    We've had a Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition that's been running at least thirty years. Our menu is always the same: roast turkey with apple/sour cream dressing (baked inside the bird), German red cabbage--a tradition I introduced from my old freundschaftsbund days, butternut squash casserole (mashed with butter, green onions and chopped pecans), giblet gravy, endive/Radicchio salad and freshly baked Pear Almond Tart (time-consuming, but so worth it!)

  2. Hi Judy,

    Our Christmas/Thanksgiving tradition always includes apple pudding and dried corn. (The meat may be ham at Christmas.) The apple pudding is made with sliced apples mixed with pineapple, a bit of flour at red hots (cimimon candy), then topped with a mixture of flour, sugar, and shortning cut together. It's an absolute must. The dried corn is often optional as Copes dried corn is not available everywhere. That one involves soaking in water, then cooking for a while longer.