Tag Archives: holiday recipes

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions & Christmas Treat

Merry Christmas all!  Did you grow up with any Christmas traditions?  In our house at Christmas it wasn’t so much about the sweet treats – although we did Christmas baking.  It was about the memories that were created from our own Christmas traditions ( and funnily enough none of them cost anything – says something for the simple things in life doesn’t it?).

Here is my list of my fave traditions in our family- what are yours?  I’ve also included my step by step instructions of how to make bacon wrapped water chestnuts below.

My Top 5 Fave Traditions Growing Up (in random order)

  1. Attending Christmas Eve mass complete with Christmas Pageant.  I grew up in the country, so every year for Christmas Eve, my parents would bundle my sister and I in our Christmas dresses, and load us up with snowsuits in the car (because you had to be prepared in case you ran off the country roads in the ice/snow(which we did one year) – no cell phones back then!!)  and we would go to mass and watch the Christmas story unfold. When we were young my sister and I participated in the pageant and I can remember all the buzz at the back of the church with all the kids getting ready to come out to do their parts.  Shepherds, Wise Men, Joesph, Mary, Angels, Sheep & other misc animals.  Once we got older it was still delightful to watch the younger kids in the parish participate in the pageant – it makes me smile even now.
  2. Christmas Pajama’s!  Christmas Eve, once we got back to the house from church, we would be allowed to open our one Christmas Eve gift – which was always new PJs – to be worn that night.  Somewhere my parents have years of my sister and I in front of the tree wearing matching PJs (in different colours) smiling in anticipation of the big guy coming.
  3.  Listening for Santa sitings on the radio.  My parents always found the station that was broadcasting Santa & reindeer sitings around the world.  As a child I can remember being glued to the radio listening to where Santa had just been sited.
  4.  Oranges in the fire.  We always had wood burning fireplaces in our houses.  So Christmas morning, we would burn the wrapping paper in the fire while we were unwrapping presents.  Santa always put a mandarin orange in each persons stocking and Mom always had extras out (along with the box of turtles yum!) out to munch on while we unwrapped presents. The orange peels all got thrown in the fire so it made a nice orange smell – funny this was the only time of year we did that!
  5. Christmas Appy’s/Munchies – I blame my love of tapas and appy’s 100% on my Mom!  Our family always grazed through the day on shrimp rings, cheese balls, dips, crackers, cheese & pickles and everyone’s fave – Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts!  – I mean come on – whats not to like about bacon???   Because I know a lot of you just said Oh, yum!  I want those!  Here is my recipe – taken from my Mothers origional and Joy-ified a bit.

Mouthwatering Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

What you need:

          • 1 LB bacon – cut in half – try to get the low sodium type and less fat
          • 1 large can whole water chestnuts (or two smaller cans)
          • 1/2 c soy sauce – sodium reduced
          • 2 TB  brown sugar
          • about 4 dozen tooth picks

     Step One:

          1. Mix the brown sugar and soy sauce together until sugar is dissolved – set aside
          2. Lay the bacon out on your hand and place a water chestnut on it, then roll it up tucking the ends in
          3. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon wrapped chestnut together
          4. Place in tupperware or glass lasagna type pan & pour marinate over
          5. Place in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

  Step Two

          1. Remove from marinate, place bacon wrapped chestnuts on a cookie sheet or stoneware
          2. **hint you will need one with edges to keep the grease and excess marinate on the pan and not all over your oven
          3. Bake slightly higher than the middle rack, at 425 degrees for 20 mins. – you may need to drain off fat/excess marniade part way thru cooking, and then continue to cook until bacon is cooked – EnJOY

  optional  hints:

          • While marinating, flip the bacon over and reinsert the toothpicks to get the flavour all the way thru
          •  If you don’t want to pour off the fat all the way thru (or think you may lose all the pieces in the sink :), you can place a oven safe rack (like one for a turkey) sprayed with cooking spray on the cookie sheet and place bacon wrapped chestnuts on top – the fat/grease/marinate will drip onto the bottom of the pan and you will be saved a step – note this may shorten cooking time – keep your eyes on them!

What do ya think?  Going out to buy some bacon yet?  From my kitchen to yours – happy holidays!

Be sure to visit my Facebook Business Page Joy In Your Kitchen and leave me comments below!

My Top 5 Gifts under $20 -Local! & Holiday Recipe

Well that Christmas season is upon us, and as much as the season is not supposed  to be about the gifts – we all know that for one (or two) people on our lists – it is about the gift.  So what do you give that person you see once or twice a year but that expects a gift?  My kids would say “A lump of coal!” but as an adult you can’t just unload a hunk of coal on someone and be done with it …. so besides the ho-hum bottle of wine or box of chocolates – the token gifts we like to give are close to my heart – local & thoughtful.  As many of you already know I am a huge supporter of the local economy, so for me to direct you to Wal-Mart or another box store for the $20 – gonna-be-a-garage-sale item candle holder would be sacrilege.    Instead I direct you to my Top 5 list of gifts under $20.

Joy’s Top 5

One – Apple Cider

Local Apple Cider

Geissberger Farmhouse Cider

With the number of people these days, dieting, not drinking (alcohol) and the danger of Drinking & Driving – I present you with local apple cider – There is nothing better than a locally made fresh apple cider.  Serve it ice cold or hot mulled with spices and a cinnamon stick you can’t go wrong!

Two – Canned Yummies

Joy In Your Kitchen canned sauces, http://mealsfromjoyskitchen.com

Pictured here are a couple of my sauces that I sell – a Tasty BBQ Dipping Sauce and a Pasta sauce, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to natural preserves! Whether it be jams, jellies, sauces or pickles, pick up a few from your local vendors (you can find them at craft sales!) and make up a basket of yummy.

Three – Local Artisans

Hair Clips from the Tattooed Tutu shown

Not that hair clips are the thing for everyone, I am using this as a simple example of local talent that you can find in your home town.  Don’t know where to start?  Check out Facebook or a listing of local vendors & artisans like The Hot Pink Apron.

Loads of stuff out there from flower arrangements to hand turned bowls and pens and everything in between.

Four – Homemade Something Scrumptious 

Holiday Dip (Recipe Below)

Ok, so I realize I may (or may not) have one up on some of you in that I cook and enjoy it – however there are loads of easy-as-1-2-3 recipes for yummy appy’s that you can bring.  It doesn’t have to be a dip – a homemade loaf of holiday bread, muffins, cookies or Caramel Corn (from Crazy Corn) in a tin makes a lovely gift!

Five – A Gadget (or something thoughtful)

A thoughtful Gadget can mean a lot!

This last category may have you thinking I’m sending you running to your local box store – but stop! Wait is there a local independent out there looking for your business?  Something that your hosts don¸t have but could (and would) use?  These kitchen misters (are used with EVOO or your choice of oil) and air to coat your pans when cooking sticky items without subjecting your self (or your family) to all the chemicals that I can’t pronounce on those aerosol cooking sprays) can be found at my local gourmet butcher shop – Lots of times these guys are the ones you will find the best “OMG thats so cool!” items at!

That’s it – that’s my top 5 list!

One other item that I didn’t mention but is equally as valuable is the gift of helping others.  Make a donation in your host’s name to your favorite (or theirs) charity many of these organizations will give you a card of thanks to present to the person you were donating on behalf of.

So that’s it – o wait – you all wanted the recipe for my easy-peasy hot dip above …. riiiigghhht.

OK here it goes!

Holiday Dip

In a blender or food processor or mixer – mix – 1 300g container of creamy ricotta (whey) cheese, 1 egg (beaten), 6 dashes hot sauce, some minced garlic (maybe a 1/2 tsp or a clove), and 1/4 c mozzarella cheese.  Blend until  smooth.

Pour into an oven safe dish. Top with my Joy of BBQ dipping sauce (or if you don’t have any on hand – your favorite sweet with heat heavy-on-the-molasses sauce)  and bake for about 60 min.  Remove from oven and serve with flatbread and a glass of wine :).   YUM-O

stay tuned next post will be a tasty holiday (or in my house a whenever Mommy will make them appetizer sure to please!)

From my kitchen to yours – happy & healthy eating!