Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


It's been a wonderful week so far, filled with family, friends, and of course tons of food. Over the weekend it really started to feel like the holidays since Matt finished work last Friday. No better way to kick off the holiday break than with cocktails and cheese plates! We had a bottle of St. Germain so made some fancy gin & elderflower cocktails in non-fancy glasses.


Matt's grandma also came over to bake our annual holiday cookies with me, a tradition I really love.



We baked up a storm! We made the traditional Crunchy Chocolate Pecan Cookies, Peanut Butter Truffles and Snowballs (we call them Crescent Cookies) but also a few new ones including White Chocolate, Cranberry & Macadamia, Nutella with Sea Salt and Peanut Butter White Chocolate Pretzel. Thankfully about half of these left the house to go to my office, our neighbors and to Matt's parents. I am sugared out!



We also took the kids for a festive day out with a little shopping, a cozy lunch at a creperie and a ride on the North Pole Express with Santa. (Couldn't get a pic with Riker's eyes open).


Once work wrapped up for me on Tuesday evening, my grandma, sister Amanda and her fiance Justyn got to our house for our annual Christmas Eve-Eve dinner (Nana's Tomato Mushroom Mac & Cheese), wine, movies and hanging out. They always come a day early because my sister and I cook all day on Christmas Eve day, and it's just nice to extend the holiday for one more night.

Usually on Christmas Eve I get a little stressed with all the cooking I have to do, but this year we cut the appetizer list down a bit and planned a dinner menu that I could mostly cook in advance, which really helped. It was totally stress free and much more relaxing. And when everyone arrived at 5:30, we were ready to go!



The dinner menu included:

- Baby greens with homemade balsamic dressing, cranberries, blue cheese and pecans
- Breaded chicken cutlets (we bought these from the butcher - one less thing to cook - and dressed them with fresh lemon, balsamic reduction and arugula)
- Kale and ricotta stuffed shells with butternut squash sauce (this is amazing - get the recipe here)
- Green beans with olive oil and fleur de sel
- Eggplant rollatini (made by my aunt)

Desserts included a wide array of cookies, truffles and pie.












Christmas morning with Riker was so much fun. This was the first year he really knew what was going on and looked forward to it for weeks, and seeing the joy on his face as he ran down the stairs that morning was one of the best feelings in the world.


Sadly I didn't snap any pics of Riker and Carson opening presents since we were too busy enjoying it with them, but that's the point, right? 

Since we're usually starving during present opening, the day before I had prepped some fruit cups for us to eat while breakfast was in the oven. They were a great way to start the morning before all the rich foods that come with Christmas dinner.


For breakfast I had pre-made (and then reheated that morning) a Broccoli & Cheese Quiche on whole wheat crust and a Cranberry Orange Bread, which slightly reminded me of being a kid since my mom always loved that flavor combination - every time cranberries were in season she would make Cranberry Orange Relish, and oftentimes on Sundays we would have orange cinnamon rolls. This bread was sort of a mashup of the two and tasted like home.



We cooked up some bacon on the side (I buy Applegate Farms and everyone loves it), along with coffee and mimosas of course. :)


My sister left after breakfast to head to Justyn's family's out in PA, and after naps, showers and a second cup of coffee we were off to Matt's parents' house for the big extended family celebration. It's so fun having a group of little cousins running around now. Their excitement is contagious and they're just so cute.


My two loves!


We got home late last night and are all pretty wiped from the week of parties, so we've just been hanging home in our PJ's all day. Matt and I both have off work until after New Year's, so it's nice to be able to just be bums today and not worry about the usual weekend to-do list. On Sunday we're headed to the Poconos for a few days of skiing and kid fun at the indoor waterpark, but until then, it's R&R for this bunch.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are gearing up for a great 2015!

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