November 25, 2012

Tradition: Soup, Salad, Family, and Lights!

 It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

For years we as a family and extended family would kick off the Christmas season by coming together the day after Thanksgiving for some soup, family, and Christmas lights. Our local zoo puts on "The Lights Before Christmas." The zoo decks the halls with over a million lights, decorations and holiday spirit. It is absolutely stunning and guaranteed to get any "Grinch" into the holiday spirit.
photo by BethAnne Heisman
photo by BethAnne Heisman

However, the past few years we have not went as an extended family. The reasons varied, but this year we decided to rekindle our tradition. After the big Thanksgiving meal, no one wants to eat anything big, so we do a soup and salad bar for dinner. Simple, warm and delish! This year I hosted our "holiday kick-off meal."  Since I did not cook Thanksgiving dinner,  I was up for it.
Sorry, no Thanksgiving leftover recipes! There was nothing left to use, so compliments to my mother and her great meal.

The Menu
 Joyful Girl's Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup (my friend Joy's recipe)
Apple Cashew Salad
Crusty Rolls
(Recipes below) 

This year we had a bit of a problem. The meal was ready, warm clothes on stand by, excitement in the air, when Mother Nature decided to NOT be very nice. Living in Northwest Ohio, our weather is a bit crazy. We knew it was going to be cold, but we did not expect was the wind. The temperature was in the low 30's, but with the wind chill it felt like 21 degrees. We can handle cold, but with little ones still in our family, there was no way we could make it to the zoo. I admit I was sad we did not go, but...

We still all came together for dinner. The kids just looked at our lights and those of the neighbors through the window. My 3 year old niece asked my hubby "Uncle Brian, can you get the jumpy thing out, so we can lay on it and watch movies?" (the jumpy thing is our air mattress.) The kids decided to put in Christmas movies,snuggling down together under blankets. 

So our "holiday kick off" was not what we planned, but it does not matter. What matters is coming together as a family


 Joyful Girl's Creamy Chicken and Rice soup
6 cups of chicken broth 
2 cups cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 (4.5 oz) long grain and wild rice with seasoning, I use Uncle Ben's.
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup of All purpose flour
1/2 cups of Butter
2 Cups of Heavy Cream

In large pot over medium heat, combine broth and Chicken. Bring to just boiling. Stir in rice reserving seasoning packet. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine Salt, Pepper and flour. In a medium sauce pan add butter. Heat over medium heat. Once butter is melted stir in the seasoning packet and cook until mixture is bubbling. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour by Tablespoons to make a roux. Gradually whisk in heavy cream into the roux a little at a time until mixture is smooth. Cook until thick about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the cream mixture into the broth, stirring to mix. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through. We like to top our soup with mushrooms.

Apple Cashew Salad

Romaine lettuce, cut into bite size pieces
cups chopped apple of your choice
1 1/2 cups of unsalted cashews
1-2 cups of Mozarella or Swiss cheese (I like the Swiss)
Your favorite Poppyseed dressing.

In a large salad bowl, cut your Romaine lettuce. Our you can buy a pre-washed/cut bag to use.
Cut your apples to remove the core, but leave the skin on, chop apple slices into about 1 inch size. Next add your apples, cashews, and cheese to the Romaine lettuce. Take your favorite Poppy Seed dressing and pour it over the items in the bowl, and toss to cover. Serve.

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