My Christmas Dinner Tablescape: Neutral and Natural

We’re still finding our way for Christmas dinner traditions.

I suppose it will be so for some time to come, as is the case with blended families, comprising of member young and old, near and far. Some years we are fifty-strong at one set of in-laws for a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings, followed by an ample sweet table.

This year, we are hosting another side of the family around our table and my new range will get to perform Christmas dinner duties. I’m roasting a leg of lamb with Meyer lemon as a nod to my British background, not forgetting the Yorkshire pudding or the classic English trifle for dessert. We will be 14 at dinner, so you, know, a respectable number but still manageable.

With everything that is going on (book-writing, house guests, holiday prep and a houseful of kids) I wanted a simple yet festive holiday table.  It took some head-scratching, a little sawing and snipping, and an hour of scrolling Pinterest, but in the end, my Christmas tablescape came together with relative ease and the natural beauty I was hoping to achieve.

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Cranberry Orange Scones

With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I’ve been dreaming up different ways for my little family of three to celebrate.

One thing I’m looking forward to is a leisurely Christmas morning, complete with homemade breakfast. With nowhere to rush off to that day, we have the opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen, and I can’t think of a better way to start the day than by making breakfast with the people I love most.

Scones are a breakfast staple around here. Before Clara was born, I filled my freezer with both chocolate chip and bacon, pepper jack, and jalapeño scones. I wanted to have my sweet and savory bases covered, and those two recipes are still favorites around here. When I was thinking of what I wanted to make for Christmas morning, though, I knew something more seasonally appropriate was in order.

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How to build a gingerbread house in 5 simple steps

Noah woke up the other morning and exclaimed, “It smells like Christmas!” He made a good point – our made-from-scratch gingerbread house doubles both as holiday decor and a delightful air freshener of cinnamon candy and spices.

This week I’m bringing you a new tutorial for kids in the kitchen. It’s called The After School Gingerbread Project: 5 simple steps. 2 happy kids. 1 edible house.

Constructing a gingerbread house from scratch is an activity my children look forward to all year. This Christmas, I decided to let them do it all by themselves. They had supervision, of course, but I was behind the camera 99% of the time. They did a great job! It was thrilling to see how much pride they took in their handiwork.

We broke the after school gingerbread project down into five steps that can each be done in under 30 minutes.

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Classic Gruyère Gougères: A make-ahead party snack for holiday entertaining

I’ve spent the past two weeks preparing myself for the upcoming holidays by stocking a sizeable portion of my deep freeze with an assortment of homemade chewy caramel candies, sugar and gingerbread cookie doughs, pie crusts, soups for quick and nourishing weeknight dinners, and no less than five different varieties of gougères ready for last-minute entertaining and party-going in the coming month.

Lest you think I’m hyper-organized (okay, maybe I am a little), most of it is due to the large amount of recipe testing I’ve been doing for my forthcoming book, and the fact that December is my busiest working month of the year, and there is simply no time to let myself fall behind when it comes to holiday preparations.

While all of the items I’ve stockpiled are essential sanity-savers, none are more important to me than the gougères I mentioned above. They are my secret weapon when it comes to holiday gatherings, and I always, always have a bag ready to be baked between December and January, when surprise visitors pop by or I’m in need of a last-minute party nibble.

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Merry Christmas from all of us

I lost track of time in the kitchen yesterday, cooking and baking with my visiting sister, while a stream of bright-eyed children, frisky canines, and hungry uncles passed through looking for handouts.

We boiled fresh Maritime lobster and folded it into buttered linguine, simmered a boeuf bourguignon for half a day, whisked together eggnog, and built a gingerbread house! As the snow continued to fall among the trees outside, I couldn’t help but stop to reflect on my many blessings and the joy of the season.

As we’re all whipping around with an apron tied on today, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. We couldn’t let the holidays pass without wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.

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