Hello and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! I hope everyone is able to enjoy the holidays and take a break from the day to day and be with those you love. Cooking, eating and just being with my family is my favorite part of the holiday and I can’t wait to have my guys all here. We do Christmas Eve dinner and then sit by the fire after and exchange gifts with my father.
I think I’ve written about this before, but my family has a tradition my mom began which is staying in our own homes in our pajamas on actual Christmas. The hardest thing this time of year is thinking about my mom and missing her, but my dad and I started a new tradition where we exchange food after Christmas Eve dinner here. He gives my his famous cinnamon rolls to have for Christmas morning and I give him a lasagna to cook on Christmas day. We’ve done it now 6 years and it makes for a very relaxing day and so nice after all the rush. My dad’s cinnamon rolls are amazing and we pop them in the oven when the kids first get up and we only let them open stockings. Then we sit down to have rolls and juice and coffee. No presents until we have cozy breakfast with candles at the table!
Tonight we are trying something a little different for the Christmas Eve meal. My husband has always loved cheese fondue, but it’s a lot of bread and cheese and I often feel like it’s a bit much with all the Christmas treats. A week or so ago we had some friends over for a dinner exchange we do and we tried out a new menu and set a Christmas themed table. It was the same night I tried out this holiday cocktail on this post that was a hit with my friends. The dinner was so easy and had something for everyone, non meat people also, so we are replicating it tonight and I will set the same table.
If you need some ideas for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve menu and festive table this is what we did..
I had just put up a pink tree in my little den and liked the idea of continuing the theme in the table with pink bulbs scattered on juniper and evergreen branches that I laid out in the center. I added clear votives and a mix of the pink Christmas bulbs I had on hand, small and large and different tones. I found the branches at the grocery store in the floral department, but you can look in your yard or trim your own Christmas tree if you have a live one. I also added pinecones to this mix, which looks great, but I forgot to photograph it.
I don’t have red napkins, so I used some black and pink napkins I bought at Pottery Barn and with the black table, some pretty vintage glassware from my friend Elizabeth, my new plates from Anthro and a cute San Francisco made gourmet chocolate bar as a little gift on each place setting.
The napkins are here-now on sale and these red and green paisley ones would also be cute for a holiday table. I love the idea of taking regular napkins and making them work with the just the addition of matching bulbs in the same colors- so shop your tree (literally) and don’t limit Christmas to just red and green! I used these mini wreaths I found at Joanne’s as napkin rings and tucked a cutting of greenery in each.
- Ginger Marinated Chicken Breasts Sliced and plattered (we do both meats on the grill.) A recipe here.
- Tri-tip with a rub. We often buy it already rubbed at the store, but this California recipe looks good.
- Butter lettuce, pear, persimmon and toasted pecan salad. I whisk together a vinaigrette of 1/4 C olive oil,1 T pomegranate or any fruit vinegar and 1 T maple syrup and a squeeze of any citrus plus sale to taste.
- Julia Reeds’s Gratin de Macaroni (a fancy and so easy take on baked mac and cheese everyone will love.)
- Dessert is Christmas cookies and chocolates we have received on a pretty platter.
As we lost the wonderful Julia Reed in 2020, it’s hard to fins her recipes online and she never had a website. The book I take this from is called Julia Reed’s South and it’s a beautiful book filled with her actual dinner parties and great inspiration. It was a gift from my pal and fellow blogger Juliet who writes Make Mine a Spritzer.
I am copying this directly from the book with her own words to describe. I will never make the usual mac n’ cheese again as this is so much easier than the roux route. Also, if you want to eat lighter, you can change out the whole milk for a lighter fat content and when I made it, I used a whole box of penne (1 pound) and just 1 cup of creme fraiche and it was still super yummy..
Julia Reed’s Gratin de Macaroni
Butter for greasing the
½ pound penne pasta
1½ cups crème fraîche
1½ cups whole milk
1 cup grated Gruyère
¼ cup finely chopped
Italian parsley leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black
2 tablespoons grated
from Julia Reed’s South cookbook.
“My mother used to make a noodle casserole with egg noodles,
butter, sour cream, lemon juice, and Parmesan. Neither of us
can find that exact recipe, but I discovered something similar
in-of all places- an out-of-print book on French bistros. This is much
lighter and far speedier than a proper macaroni and cheese made with a
béchamel sauce, and I prefer it, especially with daubes and stews. Feel free
to get creative with the cheeses. I like the way the Parmesan browns on
the top, but I’ve substituted everything from Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
to Thomasville tomme (a buttery Pyrenees-style cow’-milk cheese from
Georgia’s Sweet Grass Dairy) for the Gruyère.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a shallow glass or earthenware gratin dish
Cook the penne in boiling salted water according to the directions on
the box. Drain and place in a large bowl. Fold in the crème fraîche, milk, and
Gruyère. Stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper, and taste for seasonings.
Spread the mixture in the prepared dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is browned on top and the liquid has
been completely absorbed. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.”
I also wanted to take the time to say thank you to everyone who subscribes and visits. I truly appreciate you reading and being here and it’s what keeps me going on this blogging journey of almost 11 years! The connection with you all, and the community that comes from doing this is everything to me. I have finally had more time to devote to this with my sons on their own and I hope it will be more fun and interesting to read in the coming year..
Thank you and I wish you a wonderful holiday season and let’s hope an even better and healthier 2022 for all of us.
Much love and happy wishes from my little spot here in Northern California,
If you’d like to get an email when I post, please subscribe to the blog here for a post in your inbox a few times a month! Thank you so much, as Bloglovin seems to have stopped working and I no longer post as much on Facebook and plan to do less there.
Some links will generate a small commission. Thank you for supporting the blog!
Robin Miller says
Merry Christmas Kim to you and your family. Love the blog, it has been one of my little bright spots throughout this past year. Here’s to 2022🎉🎉! 😘🙋🏼♀️
Merry Christmas Robin! Thank you for that about the blog- I appreciate it so much! Hoping 2022 is a good one. Your notes brighten my day always..xo Kim
While there’s a lull in the action with my 4and 7 year old grandsons, I read your post. I think the colors that you used for your table are much more fun than the predictable red and green. Love your plates, wink wink!
Enjoy the time with your family and all of the blessings we are so fortunate to have.
Merry Christmas Wren! Thank you so much. Glad you liked the colors too. I hope you have fun with the grandsons and a happy Christmas and new year. We are blessed! xo
Merry Christmas to you and your family. Love the blog too and look forward to 2022. We are all so
fortunate and my hope is for a even better 2022!
Hi Char! Merry Christmas and thank you so much. I agree we are so fortunate. Here’s to a happy and healthier 2022. xo
Linda Fant says
Love this post.. it made me cry ( I think it’s the vodka tonic). Such beautiful photos, memories and food! Will definitely try the recipe! Merry Christmas Kim. It has been such a please to follow your life through Instagram and your blog. Wishing you happiness, prosperity and good health into the new year!
Hi Linda! Aww thank you for your notes and comments this year. They mean so much and it’s been lovely to connect! Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and 2022! x Kim
We wish you and your family a continuing Holiday Season!!
Thanks Robin! Happy Holidays! xoxo
LA CONTESSA says
CONTESSA REPORTING IN ON A FEW DAYS AFTER THE BIG EVENT!
I MADE JULIA REEDS SCALLOPED POTATOES FOR Christmas Eve!Second year and they are DELICIOUS AND OH SO EASY!
I DONOT HAVE THAT BOOK OF HERS!!!!!
JULIET TURNED ME ON TO HER AFTER SHE PASSED………I THOUGHT I HAD PURCHASED EVERY BOOK SHE WROTE BUT I GUESS NOT!
OFF I GO TO PURCHASE!Her books are worthy of reading a second time!I may just do that headed into the NEW YEAR!
YOUR TRADITIONS SOUND LOVELY………….THATS MY FAVORITE PASTRY CINNAMON ROLLS……………EVER!
I can take a GLUTEN DIGEST PILL AND ENJOY WITH NO PROBLEMS………being the GLUTEN FREE GAL THAT I AM!
HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!
You did her scalloped potatoes? I have to try! I think you’ll love this book and the photos and dinner parties are gorg and inspiring. Aren’t cinnamon rolls the best? My dad makes them with walnuts all over the top and we slip the pan after they are out.. So good! I have never heard of gluten pills. Its that new? I hope you are enjoying the holiday week with the Italian.xoxo
LA CONTESSA says
THERE ARE GLUTEN DIGEST PILLS AS WELL AS DIARY DIGEST AND I JUST BOUGHT ONE FROM PURE FOR BOTH IN ONE PILL!
SO FAR SO GOOD!!!!
HELPS ME A LOT!!
I CAN ENJOY THE GOOD STUFF NOW FROM TIME TO TIME!!
I’m finally getting caught up with my blog reading. I like the way you describe your holiday traditions. Christmas morning sounds similar to what my mom did with us when we were little. We had to go to my parent’s bedroom and eat a little breakfast before we were allowed out to see the tree. I think originally it was because we would eat so much chocolate from our stockings we would then get slightly ill! We always opened gifts from family on Christmas Eve and then, if we were lucky, gifts from Santa in the morning.
Your table is lovely, I like the different colors it all looks perfect. Those glasses from E are gorgeous! I hope you had a nice holiday. Things were great here and now looking forward to 2022 and all that’s new ahead.
Your Christmas table is divine, Kim. As is your tree. I love reading your blog and get so much inspiration from you. I’m glad we’ve become friends and I love that you love Julia Reed too. Its a shame she didn’t have a website for all her amazing recipes. What a great tradition with your dad. I’m going to need to speak to mine about this … where are my cinnamon rolls?!!! Happy New Year! xo