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Touring Wisconsin Food

Tag: christmas dinner

Easy Recipes for Christmas

Christmas is all about tradition, but that doesn’t mean cooking the same exact meal each year, or making complicated recipes.  Easy recipes are sometimes just as gourmet and delicious as complex recipes.

Here are some easy recipes and easy ideas adapted from my interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette. You can read the article here, or you can click on the links to see the easy recipes or find out where to buy ingredients.

Be creative with appetizers. To avoid grumpy and ravenous dinner guests its a good idea to have some pre-dinner snacks.  One of my favorite easy recipes is to put out some jarred cranberry chutney (like Wilderness Cranberry Chutney), cheese (goat cheese or brie work well here), and some crackers .  It tastes gourmet but its super easy, and you can use the chutney in place of cranberry sauce so it covers two bases at once (less work!).

Add a twist to old recipes. For a truly Wisconsin holiday meal, try adding bratwurst to your stuffing, or instead of pumpkin pie, try a pumpkin trifle (click for recipes).

Give the bird a makeover.  One of’s most popular items for the holidays is the smoked turkey.  It tastes a bit different from a roasted turkey, but it is easier to prepare because it is pre-cooked.  All you have to do is warm it up, or you can even serve it cold.  If you are feeling adventureous you can try smoked duck or pheasant instead.

Trying new dishes at the holidays can be fun for hosts and guests alike.  Friends and family will be impressed with a host that tries new dishes. Who knows, you might discover an easy recipe so good that it becomes a new tradition.

The Host’s Dilemma: Enjoy the Guests or the Food?

It may be dark and cold outside here in Wisconsin, but we’re warm inside with family and friends.  At Thanksgiving, we celebrated the food, now in December, we celebrate each other.  We appreciate all the people who make our lives better by giving them cards and gifts.  And what better gift is there than ourselves?  I mean, really ourselves – our time, our attention, our presence.  We’re so busy, busy all the time, and even busier now with our preparations for holiday fun.  Sometimes I’ve been so busy getting ready for the next festivity that I’m in the other room during the party.  How messed up is that?!  But I’m the host; I make the party happen.  

So let’s analyze the host’s dilemma.  As a good host, you want to hang out and have fun with your guests, but you also want to serve delicious food.  Solution #1: Celebrate only with people who love to cook, then you can all spend the holiday in the kitchen together.  This solution however, is impractical.  Kitchens are too small, and your circle of family and friends includes non-foodies.  If good fortune smiles on you, you will always celebrate with people who are too old and too young to cook for themselves.  You have to come through for them.  But you also want to have fun.  How can you be in two places at once?

Solution #2: Outsource.  Let someone else do the cooking.  Today’s world is full of gastronomical options.  The gamut runs from haute-gourmet caterers sweeping into your home with trays of ambrosia, to your picking up packages of fast food at the grocery store.  Yes, the latter route will likely sacrifice quality.  The first Christmas Eve my husband and I spent together our families were elsewhere, and we decided to rebel against all the fuss and stress our mothers exhibited preparing the holiday dinner.  So that Christmas Eve, we ate hamburgers accompanied by favorite foods selected from the frozen-food aisle (this was pre-Trader Joes).  We warmed up Chung King egg rolls and Stouffer’s creamed spinach.  Then for a lark, we tried Zippy-the-Pinhead’s favorite dessert: Hostess Ding Dongs dipped in taco sauce.  We concluded that taco sauce tastes better on Oreo cookies.  None-the-less, this holiday menu never became a tradition.

But these days, convenience without caterers can taste good –very good, in fact.  I heartedly admit that the high-quality foods from specialty shops that my mother served were superior to what she or I could make.

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