We are having a wonderful holiday here at the Zeff house.
With the kids home from school, we took some time off and have been enjoying many Christmas festivities for two weeks now. And we are still lucky enough to be basking in that post-holiday glow. Yes, our decorations and tree are still up and in full force at our house.
And this year again, we were fortunate to have most of my family available to come to our house on Christmas day for food and fellowship.
You might be thinking I had a big feast prepared - but with two small kids underfoot (and a husband who was sick in bed that day), I scrapped any idea of a big "to-do" and went the easy, fresh, easy, nutritious and easy route.
Did I mention easy?
This year, I made a healthy version of chicken tortilla soup and paired it with locally-made black bean tamales, homemade guacamole and chips. And we topped it all off with a Whole Foods' freshly made cranberry/apple pie (thanks, Janice) and homemade cookies (thanks, sister).
Hadn't planned on a big turkey, ham, pork loin, roast or meatballs; no pounds of potatoes for gratin or mashed within an inch of their lives; no babysitting food in the oven while everyone else is having fun; no pre-event planning or making long lists of things to buy.
Just a simple meal, made that morning in the span of oh, about 20 minutes.
So what did I do with all of that free time? I spent it playing with my kids, visiting friends, toasting champagne with my family and lounging at the Christmas table....laughing and having fun. And best of all, my family loved every bit of it.
It was a great Christmas.
I hope you had as wonderful a Christmas holiday as we did. And here's hoping for a wonderful 2011, as well.
Recipes for the Zeff Christmas Meal, 2010:
Southwestern Chicken Soup
Originally from Cooking Light, this soup is easy, healthy and really tasty. I change it up a bit by using about a cup less liquid (and I use half low-sodium chicken broth to half water for less sodium); I add more rice and spices, and save the fresh juice and veggies for last. Garnish each bowl with a generous squeeze of fresh lime along with chopped cilantro, halved grape tomatoes, avocado cubes and a few crushed tortilla chips. It truly makes the soup outstanding.
Black Bean Tamales
I'm lucky enough to have a Market Street nearby; they have a dedicated, local tamale supplier so the tamales are fresh and really good. They make black bean, chicken tomatillo, pork, beef and apple/cinnamon (yum, by the way). I buy a bunch and freeze them; then I heat and eat by covering with foil at 350 degrees. But the best part? They are made without lard and with healthier ingredients than your regular tamales. My family raved about them and didn't miss the extra grease. Check out your local tamale suppliers and try to find lard-free.
GuacamoleSeriously, sometimes nothing is better than homemade guac. And it's just about the easiest thing to make: mash ripe avocados with fresh lime juice, a little garlic powder, a little salt (I use Kosher for the big crystals) and a little pepper. No need for tomatoes, peppers, onion, etc., unless you want it. Takes about 2 minutes and is gobbled up in about 30 seconds.