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I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~ Charles Dickens

As I promised here is the 1st installment of CHRISTMAS 2013!

Now that it is over I can tell you… I was dreading it.

BUT… it wasn’t as bad as I had thought. In fact, it was a pretty great Christmas. I feel guilty saying it, but, the food was awesome, the company was fantastic, there wasn’t 1 tear (outside my bathroom), no harsh words, no rush, no stress, no yelling, no drunkenness, you know all the stuff that has happened in past Christmases LOL Seriously… don’t even get me started about a few of them!!! LOL

So today’s post is about Christmas Eve! 

We have a few Christmas Eve traditions… We of course put out stockings, cookies and milk for Santa. We also light sparklers on the driveway so Santa knows where we are J (We had TONS of leftover sparklers from our wedding, thanks to all the rain lol) so it became our thing lol. We also add the “magic Xmas dust” that Maynard (our elf) leaves on his last night, to our Santa key. After we add the dust we put it on the doorhandle so Santa can get in… because as HBear pointed out last year, we don’t have a chimney lol

We usually do Christmas Eve with bowling and soup. Last year I made Stone Soup. The story is so nice and it gave everyone in the family a say in what we were eating! It turned out great.

This year, as I wasn’t cooking a BIG Christmas dinner, we had a nice Christmas Eve dinner J

Today I will share the salad and risotto. The salad is wonderful. We had it last year shhhh don’t tell anyone!

The risotto was creamy and a perfect side for our meat… enjoy!

Mandarin & Pomegranate Salad w/ Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette & Sweet n' Spicy Pecans 
Adapted from The Café Sucre Farine

1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon garlic, pressed
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

8 cups green leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce
1 tin mandarin segments
½ cup pomegranate seeds
½ cup Feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup sweet 'n spicy pecans, see recipe below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qfQ3_N7S6Y Watch this for an easy way to get the seeds out :)
For the vinaigrette - Combine first 12 ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to combine.

Candied Sweet & Spicy Pecans

2 cups raw pecan halves
1 teaspoon butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 350. 

Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with Pam.

In a microwave-safe medium-size bowl combine butter, sugar, honey, water and spices. Heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Heat for another 30 seconds and stir well. Add pecans and stir to coat.

Turn pecans out onto prepared sheet pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, stir to separate and cool on pan.

On a work surface, lay another sheet of aluminum foil and lightly grease it. Carefully move the pecans from the cookie sheet onto the foil. Sprinkle with salt. Separate the pecans and allow them to cool. (Can be made one week ahead. Seal in an airtight container)

For the salad - Place greens in a large bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle with pomegranates, Feta, mandarins and candied pecans. Sprinkle salad lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.

Classic Risotto Milanese

6 cups homemade turkey stock
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1¼ cups diced onion
1½ cups Arborio rice
⅝ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated 
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice, salt, and saffron; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Ladle in 1½ cups stock; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

Add remaining stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total); reserve  cup stock at last addition.

Remove pan from heat. Stir in reserved  cup stock, butter, pepper, and cheese.

Top with parsley.

Here is our evening in a few photos J

Our beautifully set table
Playing Guess Who

New Jammies!

My 2013 ornament from Dad... in honor of Mom l-o-v-e

Kitty Cat loves her new jammies lol
Writing to Santa
Grandma's 1st try at the Wii
Sleepy? Too bad there's more to do lol
Hmmm this doesn't look good lol
Setting up "Santa" presents

Those layers went DEEP


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