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Santa may be making a list of who has been naughty or nice, but I’m making a list of food for Christmas! Any type of portion control or any of that nonsense is right out the window for me this time of year, because I adore Christmas goodies and I make them for a solid month.
Since we usually have a traditional sit-down Christmas meal at my mother-in-law’s house with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, I always put out a spread of finger foods to nosh on during the day. The reason I start making them a month in advance is so we can test them out before the Big Day arrives. I mean, I’d hate to put out substandard snacks. A little testing is just good hostess sense, right? (All the photos are from 2011. I’d forgotten how dreary my kitchen looked before we remodeled it. 😁)
There are always three things on all my Christmas spreads: no-bake cookies, Chex Mix, and sausage-cheese balls. Other things can come and go, but those three things are mainstays, and my family would come at me with flaming torches or something if I didn’t serve them. The no-bake cookies are those chocolate ones with oats and peanut butter, and they’re my husband’s favorite things ever. And this is a man who doesn’t like sweets. So I always make a ton. The Chex Mix is always prepared in the oven like God intended. No microwaved Chex Mix will ever set its bland foot in my house. And the sausage-cheese balls are another fave of the Hubby’s.
I broke down several years ago and bought one of those slow cookers that has three units in it because I usually have those little cocktail weiners and some sort of cocktail meatballs on Christmas. I use the tried and true Southern recipe for the weiners: grape jelly and barbeque sauce. Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it! Ten million Southern bridal showers and wedding receptions can’t be wrong! For the meatballs, I used to make a creamy gravy version and a sweet-and-sour version, but then I discovered my son-in-law makes the best meatballs ever concocted, so now he’s in charge of those. They still need the slow cookers to keep warm, though.
My youngest daughter always requests a cheese ball, so that’s on the menu, too, along with the tiny pigs in a blanket she loves. Our older daughter is a fan of the Honeybaked Ham we always have, courtesy of one of my husband’s vendors who gives it to us as a Christmas gift.
We also have different kinds of cookies, haystack candy, fudge of some sort, different dips (usually involving shrimp and/or crab), and Frog Eyes. That last one is always a request of our youngest granddaughter, and she insists her aunt make it each year. It consists of deli ham spread with cream cheese and wrapped around a large Claussen pickle. It’s then cut into slices, and it’s Frog Eyes. Sounds icky, but it’s really good!
There have been things that only appeared once in our spread, things that didn’t turn out as expected or that no one liked. One year I decided to do a hot brie covered with a caramel-pecan sauce. It wasn’t bad, and no one said they hated it. So I made it the next several years running. I noticed that only my son-in-law was eating it, but I figured if he liked it that much I’d keep making it. Then my daughter told me I could lay off the brie, because her husband didn’t really care for it that much. He only ate it because he thought I was proud of making it. And I was only making it because I thought he liked it! We had a laugh about that, and the brie no longer shows up at Christmas.
So now I’m off to the market to buy the ingredients for our Christmas spread and the test batches that will precede it. Since my husband couldn’t eat much of anything last year due to his chemo and radiation he’s looking forward to the first batch of no-bake cookies!
My children, however, might not get to have anything this year. They’ve declared the Christmas celebration will be held at my youngest daughter’s house, and I’m not down with that. Neither is my husband. I’m not going to schlep all that food to the next town (where my daughter lives) on Christmas, and I’m not going to make it at her house because then my husband wouldn’t get the joy of munching on the test batches. I’ll still make the food, but it will be at my house. If they want Mama’s Christmas food they’ll have to come to Mama’s house. I fully expect a full on revolt, but at least I’ll have something good to eat while it’s happening.
By the way, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the readers on your list, I’ve gotcha covered!