12/30/14

A Collection of Holiday Recipes ~ Food for the 12 Days!

Food plays an enormous role in our Christmas celebrations. We don’t just eat special foods on Christmas Eve or Christmas but we spread out special foods from December 24th through January 6th.  We don’t always eat the same foods on the same day each year but we do eat the same foods or this year a variation of the same foods.

Every year we have Buffalo Style Chicken Wings. I think these are the best chicken wings in the universe and the only ones that come close are the ones from Buffalo Wild Wings.  Seriously, these are good.  Crispy, flavorful, and you make it as hot or mild as you like. We started out making these for Christmas Eve and then switched it over to New Year’s Eve. They’re great for Super Bowl Parties, if you do those kinds of things.  They’re also wonderful as a special movie night “junk food” dinner meal.

I had to modify the 8 Minute Cheesecake this year to make it work for my husband and I. Same basic idea *but* I used heavy cream and whipped it myself in place of cool whip.  I substituted Truvia for sugar in the recipe and I omitted the crust altogether and scooped the cheesecake filling into pretty 1/2 pint jelly jars.  This cheesecake is wonderful and lovely and amazing and has become a Christmas Dinner Dessert tradition.

At least once during the 12 Days of Christmas we eat Cream Cheese and Bacon Scrambled Eggs. We don’t usually make them on Christmas Day as we don’t eat breakfast before church. These scrambled eggs are perfect though for a special brunch. I think I might serve them at Pascha.

This year we had French Toast Strata as part of our come-home-from-Christmas-Liturgy-starving-and-need-to-eat food.  It’s a little different from our Breakfast Casserole: Strata. There are lots of variations that one can do but none are great choices for low-carb. It does make a great holiday brunch. I adore bacon but in the strata I prefer sausage. I think the sausage gives it more flavor.

We also enjoy stuffed mushrooms and fruit soup during the holiday season. I don’t have my stuffed mushroom recipe up on my blog so no link yet. These mushrooms are stuffed with cream cheese and bacon.  You can omit the bacon and still have yummy vegetarian stuffed mushrooms. In addition to making a great appetizer for Christmas dinner these are wonderful to bring as “finger foods” to any holiday potluck gathering.  Hmm, I think I need to get this recipe up on the blog.  I’ve mentioned them before. I haven’t actually made the mushrooms in years though we eat them at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The girls have taken over preparing the mushrooms. I like having teenagers who like to cook.

Another holiday food tradition: Fruit Soup comes from my husband’s family. It has become our tradition to bring it to the Christmas Eve Lenten Potluck Supper at church.  Nope, I don’t have the recipe on the blog.  I can tell you that it has lots of different dried fruits such as apple rings, raisins, prunes, apricots and whatever else looks/sounds good tossed into a pot with water and allowed to soak over night.  Toss in some cinnamon sticks and cook for hours until you have this unappetizing thick fruity sauce like thing that passes as soup. It doesn’t look good but it does taste amazing. It is one of Supergirl’s most favorite things to eat. You can add sugar to sweeten it but we think it is plenty sweet on its own.  We do not add any orange or lemon zest though you can certainly add that as well. We found that if we did do add orange zest then we wanted to add sugar and we prefer to not add sugar.

Do you have special foods that you only serve during the holidays?

Linking this post up to Our Family’s 12 Days of Christmas from Homeschool Coffee Break

12/29/14

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas

Celebrating the 12 days of Christmas is more of a Western tradition than an Eastern Tradition; however, many American Orthodox Christians view the time from December 25th through (and including) January 5th as the 12 Days of Christmas. January 6th is the Feast of Theophany.

In the West, January 6th is Epiphany. Epiphany is the visit of the Magi or Wise Men and some view it as the 12th day of Christmas ( Dec 26 would then be day 1).  Theophany is the celebration of the Lord’s baptism in the Jordan river and the revealing of Jesus as the Son of God.

Liturgically the Orthodox church does not celebrate 12 Days. I think I read it is 6 Days.  I think the “Leaving Taking of the Nativity” is Dec 29 or Dec 30?  January 1st is celebrated as the Circumcision of our Lord and it is also St. Basil’s Day.

For my family we love that celebrating the Incarnation of God can be stretched out.  Without the Incarnation, there could be no redemption but that is a meaty topic for another time and place.

We begin our Christmas celebrations on December 24, the Eve of the Feast.  Prior to Christmas Eve we are in preparation mode.  We prepare ourselves spiritually through fasting (as well as prayer and almsgiving) for 40 days (November 15th through and including December 24th). 

Our Parish serves the Royal Hours in the morning on the 24th. My priest jokes that they should not be called Royal Hours but rather Imperial Hours because the Emperor attended these services. There are three in the liturgical year and are served on the Eve of the Feast:  Christmas,  Theophany, and Pascha.  Well, eve isn’t exact for Pascha.  I believe they are served on Holy Friday.

Later, in the early evening, Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is served.  This service is beautiful and there are 8 Old Testament Readings. These are the readings that foretell the coming of the Messiah. You know, like the passage in Isaiah.

Immediately after the service we gather for a Lenten potluck. In the Slavic tradition there is a 12 course Holy Supper. We do have a quiet candlelight meal but it is not the traditional symbolic meal. You will find some regular items though such as pierogies, and fruit soup (because it’s what my husband makes).

We come home after church and sometimes open a present or two and do any finalizing for Christmas morning. Since we fast before liturgy we don’t have breakfast on Christmas morning. I have yet to serve the same thing on Christmas for the last 6 years! Maybe I’ll settle into a tradition when I have grandchildren.

If the girls are up early enough on Christmas morning we check stockings.  This year? Nope. We had to race to get to church on time! The service is long.  Matins starts at 9am and I think we pulled out of the parking lot to head home around Noon.  Of course some time is spent after the service greeting one another and in some cases exchanging gifts.  Now the feasting can begin!

I always serve beef on Christmas. Beef is the meat we don’t eat during the Nativity Fast.  I also do not serve fish until after January 6th. There are certain foods that I only make a couple of times of the year.  This keeps them special for holidays.

We don’t stop celebrating on Dec 25th though. Honeybear takes time off from work and we spend time together as a family playing board games, eating special foods, playing Wii, watching DVDs, visiting with friends, or enjoying special outings.

God taking on human flesh: God becoming man so that man can become like God is a big deal. Humanity and all creation is redeemed because a Virgin gave birth. It is worth celebrating for more than one day.

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

Linking this post up to Our Family’s 12 Days of Christmas from Homeschool Coffee Break

12/16/14

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is on SALE!!

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!**

One of the perks or benefits of being a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew is a Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This incredible members only resource is filled with lesson plans from preschool to high school and covering everything from basic core subjects like grammar, spelling and math to history and geography.  You’ll also find electives like foreign language, music (both theory and instrument!), filmmaking and more!

New members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are currently writing reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  Since I am not writing a review, I’m just going to drop this link right here so that you can go read *real* reviews of the Yearly Membership.

Read Reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

Since I love having a membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com I just had to take a moment and tell you about this special deal that is happening right now!

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My favorite lesson plan sections are the lapbooking and literature units. I recently discovered the Imperial Russia course and I am contemplating how to add that to Turtlegirl’s current studies since she has been studying the Russian language. 

My favorite non lesson plan section are the planners. I blogged about the planners during my 5 Days of Back to Homeschool series this past fall. 

So much good stuff over at SchoolhouseTeachers.com! Check it out! 

12/13/14

Random 5 on Friday ~ December 12th Edition

I’m not sure and I’m too lazy too look it up but I think this is the first edition that I’ve done for month of December.

1.  One of the things I always look forward to in late November/early December is a delivery of a box of citrus fruit from Texas. Every year my husband’s parents order oranges, grapefruits and tangelos from Texas.  These are the *best* I have ever tasted. I’ve already eaten two tangelos today!

Fresh Citrus Fruit from Texas is the Best!

2.  We started making some dietary changes for health reasons in June 2013 when Honeybear had a mild heart attack. Now, we’ve got another unexpected health diagnosis and have to radically change the way we eat. Honeybear got blood drawn for cardiology follow-up and ended up with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. We’ve been watching *my* sugars for quite some time but his diagnosis seemed to come out of nowhere. The doctor joked that now we have his and her glucose meters.

3. We have a lovely but quiet Thanksgiving here with just the six of us. We played the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who edition of Trivial Pursuit. It can be played with just the cards and a special die or it can be played with the original TP game board.  The colors match the more recent original TP board but work just as well with the old one. We gave the girls the Doctor Who Trivia game for Christmas last year. We ordered through Amazon but it was fulfilled and shipped from the U.K.  How cool is that?!

Playing Doctor Who version of Trivial Pursuit on Thanksgiving!

4. We made and canned applesauce last week.  I’m working on a separate blog post about our canning adventures.  Look for it soon!

5. December 6th is Saint Nicholas day. Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, though the American chubby fellow bears little resemblance to the historical Bishop of Myrna. Our church always has a special activities on the first Sunday of December to celebrate the feast day for St. Nick. We gather around to hear the story of the Old Man and his three beautiful daughters who want to marry the handsome young men but have no money for a dowry. After the story, we get a visit from Saint Nicholas. Supergirl loves getting her little package from St. Nicholas.

Supergirl receives a gift from Saint Nicholas

12/4/14

Mama ~ Our God Is a Baby!

Sometimes children say the most profound and beautiful things. This afternoon Supergirl and were hanging out with my kindle.  She was chattering away and I was flipping through recipes.  Suddenly she was quiet.  She looked up at the Nativity Scene and said,  “Jesus is a baby.”  I nodded and replied yes this is the time of year when we remember Jesus as a baby.

She pondered a moment longer and declared “Mama, our God is a baby!”  That stopped me.  I mean it isn’t new information but I had never quite thought about it in that light. Never took the time to think how amazing it is that God was a baby.  Most of the time when we hear “God” we think of God the Father.  Jesus is the Son.  But Supergirl is spot on.  Jesus is God so that means that our God is a baby.

This little chatterbox was not finished yet with wisdom proclamations. She had one more for me today:  “He had to be our Savior.”  

So often I wonder if she understands what she hears at church or the Sunday school lessons or my inconsistent bible lessons and then she has a day like today. She does get it.  It’s a paradox how she gets it on both a very basic and yet profoundly deep level at the same time.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is our Savior.  Jesus is a baby.  God is a baby who came to be our Savior.  So very basic.  So very deep.

And then?  It’s back to life as I know it.  “Mama, can I play Frozen now?”  “No.”  “But, mama, I want to play.”   And later she says “You’re my best Mama, ever!”  Why?  Because I do spelling with her.  She’s a precious reminder of everything good.

Supergirl says some of the most profound things!