Small House Christmas Dinner

Even though we have kept it pretty simple this year, the past week has been a whirlwind of Christmas activities. Our Christmas cards have been signed and sent, and this past Sunday we enjoyed our families Christmas dinner. We hosted this event in our home so much of my week was spent on planning, shopping, table setting and cooking for the big day. I like to cook as much ahead as I can and set the table the night before.

Gene cooked the chicken and I made the side dishes. I find that healthy home cooked food is one way I can show support to my son and make a small difference in his life. I also like to model healthy food for my grand daughter too.

Susans Fried chicken

I feel blessed to live in the land of abundance where we have the food easily available to create a special and tasty meal but I never forget to remember those who do not. While it has been challenging to switch over to gluten, dairy and sugar-free, I have not forgotten that I am indeed fortunate to have the ability to find and purchase the ingredients I now need. Having computer access to gluten-free recipes and a working stove, refrigerator, electricity and the ability to make these nutritious meals makes us very fortunate indeed.

Our Christmas Menu This Year Included;

  • Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken
  • Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate
  • Gluten-free Stuffing
  • Quinoa, Cranberry, Apple, Kale, Pumpkin Seed Pilaf
  • Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad
  • Tossed Lettuce Salad
  • Cider (hot or cold) and Water

The highlight of the meal was definitely the Susan Lamberti family chicken recipe we call, Mom’s Fried Chicken. Mom was Gene mother, Susan Lamberti who emigrated from Italy and was a true and traditional Italian cook.

Gene cooking chicken

She fed her family of six every day, making many traditional Italian recipes and cooked everything but the bread they ate from scratch and kept her family fed, full and satisfied. Gene’s childhood holiday meals always included a fully baked turkey with all the seasonal trimming as well as homemade lasagna using her handmade lasagna noodles. Gene says his mother was “a piece of work,” but I think she must have been a saint!

In an Italian family it’s all about family and the food!

Brenna with chair and highchair USE

I enjoyed this chicken for the first time in the fall of 20145 when we visited Gene’s brother and sister-in-law at their home in Upstate New York. Gene’s brother Pat saved this recipe from oblivion. This chicken is lightly breaded, lightly fried and then baked and is incredibly moist and delicious. We watched the making of this chicken then but needed a quick tutorial to answer a few questions so Gene called his brother for the recipe which I have included here.

Susan Lamberti’s Fried & Baked Chicken (Prep 60 minutes, cook time 60 minutes. Ready in 2 hours.)

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken pieces with skin removed

Salt & pepper to taste

Eggs

Flour

Italian bread crumbs

Olive oil

  1. Remove skin, cut up chicken and dry the pieces well
  2. Roll chicken pieces in the flour
  3. Roll chicken in the egg mixture
  4. Roll the chicken in the Italian bread crumbs
  5. Fry lightly in olive oil, turning often
  6. Drain chicken on paper towels to take out any excess oil
  7. Put the chicken back into the pan and add water, approx. ½ to ¾ cup of water depending on the amount of chicken pieces and the size of the pan. The water will soften the breading and allows you to make gravy in the pan.
  8. Remove chicken from flying pan and put into a baking dish
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Grandma’s Orange and Cranberry Gelatin Salad (Prep 20 minutes. Ready in 8 hours)

INGREDIENTS:

1 (oz.) package raspberry flavored Jell-O mix

2 cups boiling water

1 (16 oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, un-drained

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup pecans

1 teaspoon orange zest

TOPPING:

1, 4 oz. package cream cheese softened (I used non-dairy)

½ cup whipped topping (I used non-dairy)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Place the gelatin in a bowl and pour in the boiling water, and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Mix in the cranberry sauce, pineapple, celery, pecans, and orange zest until evenly blended. Pour the gelatin mixture into a mold or serving dish.

2) Chill gelatin in the refrigerator overnight or up to 8 hours.

3) To make the topping beat the cream cheese with half of the whip topping. Fold in the remaining whipped topping until well blended. Unmold the gelatin and spread with the topping mixture.

Twice Baked Acorn Squash Quinoa & Kale with Pomegranate: (Prep 15 minutes, initial cook 40 minutes-Mix together and bake another 20 minutes)

INGREDIENTS:

2 acorn squash

Quinoa, red or white

Kale, torn into pieces (amount is as much as you like) I use one whole large bunch for three squashes.)

Garlic, fresh or power (I used a large spoon full of prepared ground garlic)

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ cup pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut acorn squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and coat the inner yellow portion with butter, coconut oil or olive oil. Place in the oven, right side up, and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the inner portion is soft. For a more seasoned bowl, dust the squash with garlic powder, cinnamon and allspice. When the squash is done, peel out the inner portion and leave enough squash remaining in the bowl to maintain its structure.
  2. Sauté’ the shredded squash, quinoa, kale, spices and /2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic.) and butter in a pan just enough to melt the butter and wilt the kale.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the squash bowls and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes. Add the pecans and the pomegranates to the top.
  4. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (toasted or not) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cool slightly and can be made a day ahead.

Holiday Dinner 2015

Enjoy your holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Just a Few Holiday Decorations This Year

We are keeping Christmas very simple this year…

Most years I go into the forest and harvest holly berry branches, red osier Dogwood and Juniper greens. I like to use natural materials in my décor. Some years I have gone way out on my holiday decorations, both inside and out and have enjoyed the creative nature of designing the displays. But this year my energy was just too low I found it hard to get inspired, so I gave myself permission to take it easy this year.

VERT tree close up

TinyTannenbaum! The rosemary trees in a vintage crock in my dining room.

Oh, Christmas tree – holiday symbol made popular in 16th-century Germany.  These sweet little trees don’t have to be decorated just display them in unique containers for their sweet holiday charm to shine.

We put the white twinkly light on the outside of the house and two strands of colored lights inside; one on the fireplace and one on the antique china cabinet. We hung three socks on the fireplace added some natural rose hips we gathered from the Todd Farm, a few candles and called it a day.

Rosemary tree and dresser

My hand-painted dresser acts as a server when we have company.

Yesterday at Sewall’s Health Food Store I saw this cute Christmas tree shaped rosemary herb and I splurged. I found an old crock warmed it up and put it on our dining room server. It added a bit more festivity to the inside of our home.

VERT medum view of Rsemary tree

A touch of natural materials makes me happy.

We won’t be doing any major holiday entertaining this year, just my son and granddaughter for a holiday meal near Christmas.

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s revisit a few vignettes from previous years here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was inspired to decorate the playhouse two years ago.

House front SNOWY w Thanksgiving text and leaf jpeg

Natures holiday gift, a Christmas eve snowfall!

2013 Xmas Card before text

A collage of the winter wonderland we often have here on the homestead.

Happy holidays all!

Small House homesteader, Donna