Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enjoying Your Family Celebrations

Where man sees but withered leaves, God sees sweet flowers growing. ~Albert Laighton

Family celebrations should be about creating lasting memories with the people we love. Don't let yourself become wrapped up in the perfect menu or trying to impress everything with your entertaining skills, especially if it takes away from the enjoyment of the day. Keep several things in mind as you plan your holiday:

1. Don't do it all yourself. Ask everyone to bring a dish for the holiday table. Use this as an opportunity to make family members feel good about contributing a dessert or dish to the celebration. Try to include everyone, even teenagers who can bake a batch of cookies. I loved to bake when I was a teen, and I have a nephew who makes an awesome chocolate chip cookie.

2. Keep the food simple enough that you won't be spending the entire day in the kitchen instead of visiting with family.

3. At the celebration itself involve children of all ages in some part of preparation. This may be as simple as carrying napkins to the dining area to be put on the table, to setting the table itself. Teenagers are the perfect age for carrying food to the table, rounding up extra chairs etc.

4. If you have little ones coming for the day stop by the dollar store or somewhere else and pick up cheap coloring books or activities to keep them busy before and after dinner.

I have a couple of easy recipes for Easter celebrations:

Crock Pot Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

9 medium potatoes peeled and sliced
1 small sweet onion, sliced very thin
4-5 cups chopped cooked ham *see note
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
dash or two of paprika

Saute the onion until soft and set aside. Layer HALF of the ham, potatoes and sauted onions in the crock pot. Season with paprika, salt and pepper, sprinkle with half of the cheddar cheese. Start over and layer the second half of the same ingredients. Pour the soup into a bowl, add the 1/2 cup milk and mix it well with a whisk. Pour over the top of all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

Note: Any diced ham can be used. It can be leftover from a bone-in or boneless ham, you can buy it at the deli, asking for it to be sliced thickly, or you can buy the large ham slices and chop.

Creamy Jalapeno Dip

This dip can be served while everyone is waiting for dinner, or later if you need a snack.

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
16 ounces low fat or regular sour cream
1 package dry ranch salad dressing mix
2 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Optional: 1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, minced

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. You can make this the night before or first thing in the morning. Refrigerate and serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

On OFL I have several articles I've written with more Easter tips and recipes:

A Light & Festive Easter Dinner:

Easy Ham Recipes


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