Holiday Food Traditions

December 23, 2011

I love hearing about people’s holiday food traditions. In my family, the Christmas menu is pretty much set in stone. First, sometime before Christmas, I make Hal Linden’s Hanukah bread. Christmas Eve we always have a ham and potato latkes (recipe from The New Basics Cookbook by the same gals who wrote the Silver Palate Cookbook), which we started making when TeenMartha was tiny and watched a Sherry Lewis and Lamb Chop special where they sang a song called “Everybody Loves Potato Latkes.” It aired on a Christmas Eve when we were snowed in and we whipped them up and it became a tradition. We serve them with sour cream and homemade applesauce. We usually round out the meal with some grapes, and then have cookies while we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Christmas morning we always have baked donuts. I got the recipe from one of Dianne Mott Davidson’s Goldie’s Catering mysteries (they are called Galaxy Donuts). They’re made with different grains, baked and dipped in cinnamon sugar. We always have hot chocolate with them.

For lunch, we have a fun buffet. The ham from Christmas Eve comes out, along with marble rye bread and rye bread dip. Mr. MarthaAndMe always gets a summer sausage in his stocking, so we eat that with cheese and crackers and an assortment of mustards. Grapes and tangerines round out the meal. The kids usually get candy in their stockings and eat some of that.

Christmas dinner is at my parents’ house. During the afternoon when we are opening gifts, my mom makes gougere, which is a cheese puff pastry. Dinner is always beef tenderloin. She makes a broccoli wreath (cooked broccoli dotted with cherry tomatoes surrounding a bowl of hollandaise sauce). We also have a salad and potatoes (usually roasted potatoes, but this year it will be twice baked for something different). We have cookies for dessert. This year I bought a tray from an Italian bakery and we are going to try that, along with some I made and some that were given to her. My mom doesn’t make cookies anymore and we like to have something different when we go over there, rather than eating our own cookies again.

When we see my in-laws, they always insist on taking us out to dinner although I would be happy to cook for them. Then we have two other family parties which are usually overloaded with tons of wonderful food. One aunt always makes sticky buns. My mom usually makes a pork roast or some kind of chicken breast dish for one of them. I like getting to sample family members’ cookies!

What are your holiday food traditions?


Martha Mondays Artichoke Crostini

January 24, 2011

Artichoke Parmesan Crostini was a quick and easy recipe that would make a great hors d’oeuvre or party food. I put all the ingredients in the food procesor and whizzed them up. It was ready literally in minutes. I think I might add a little more cheese next time. Thanks to Megan’s Cookin’ for selecting this.

Next week’s project is chocolate cups from p. 56 of Feb. Living. Let me know if you need the recipe.

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Yule Log

December 27, 2010

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrated. I thought I would share a photo from ours. My dad made this yule log for Christmas dinner. He says he made it once 30 years ago, but I don’t remember it. I think it looks gorgeous. The cake was very moist, but he used a prune filling that had some liqueur in it and I didn’t care for that. The mushrooms were light and yummy though.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! 2010 is here and to help ring it in, we had our traditional fondue party last night. We’ve been doing this for years. It started as something fun to do while we were home with small kids and has now become a tradition among our daughter’s friends, who come every year. I like it because it gives a purpose to the holiday for me and we have fun food, and then I can go to bed at 10!

In addition to the cheese and chocolate fondue, this year I made some appetizers. I made cocktail wieners – so not Martha but a kitschy thing I like to make. It’s very simple – mix a bag of mini wieners with half a jar of grape jelly and half a bottle of chili sauce and heat it up.

I also made stuffed mushrooms. I used baby bella mushrooms and filled them with a mix of crabmeat, cream cheese, mustard, dill, lemon juice, bread crumbs and salt and pepper. I put the mushrooms in a baking dish and just covered the bottom with chicken broth. I covered it and baked for 15 min at 400.

I bought a bag of mini vegetable egg rolls and served those with sweet and sour sauce. Then I made up a puff pastry item (channeling my inner Martha). I started with two sheets of puff pastry, which I rolled out to make a bit thinner. Then I mixed 3/4 jar of pesto with 8 oz. of goat cheese in the Cuisinart with some pepper. I spread this mix on the puff pastry and then placed prosciutto on top (I used about 12 pieces of paper thin prosciutto). I rolled them into logs, sealed the edges with water, and refrigerated (a trick I learned from Martha). Then I sliced them and baked at 350 for about 10-15 minutes until they were brown and cooked through. I liked them, but thought they were a little salty.

The fondue went well, but as always it is hours of cutting up food! With the cheese, I served: ham, chicken sausage, marinated chicken breasts, French bread, pumpernickel/rye, pear, apple, grapes, cherry tomato, broccoli, and cauliflower. With the chocolate: pretzel logs, graham crackers, marshmallows, pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, banana, tangerine, rice krispies, pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and chocolate chip biscotti. We had rainbow sprinkles, chopped nuts, and chopped white chocolate to roll things in as well. Beverages were sparking apple juice, sparkling white grape juice, sparkling red grape juice and cola. We had a bottle of sparkling apple pomegranate juice, but the screw top lid was stuck and when Mr. MarthaAndMe finally got it off, it ended up breaking the top of the bottle off, so we had to toss that one.

I loved the way my table looked, even if it was not up to Martha’s standards. I used my gold tablecloth. I went to the party store and bought plates, cups, and napkins that say Happy New Year. I bought a string of New Year garland which went down the center of the table. Each person got a hat, a noisemaker and two little champagne poppers. Also in the center of the table I placed a few different metal noisemakers, a big horn, a little gold hat and a feathered New Year’s tiara. It looked festive and cute.

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Merry Martha HANDMADE Gift Guide

November 25, 2009

If your holiday budget is small this year, you might be wondering if there are any handmade gifts you could make, even if you aren’t a gifted crafter. Martha to the rescue! I’ve collected my 10 favorite handmade gift projects that even the most craft-impaired person can make. So while the rest of the world is out fighting the crowds on Black Friday, why not enjoy a quiet day at home and work on some low-cost DIY gifts with Martha?

1. Decal Candles. This craft is ridiculously easy and Martha even provides the templates.

2. Bath Fizzies. Cute and easy to make. What woman wouldn’t enjoy receiving these?

3. Velvet Ribbon Belts. Who wouldn’t love a fab new belt?

4. Map Coasters. I made these and they were actually quite easy. Perfect for a man or a woman, and easy to personalize with maps from their favorite vacation spot, cabin, or even where they honeymooned.

5. Photograph jewelry. Any gift that involves buying something and sticking a photo in it is doable for even the most craft-impaired. You know you can make any mom or grandma misty eyed with this kind of gift.

6. Stenciled Stool. Stenciling is a quick way to dress up a child’s stool, and a stool is a gift a young child will use every day at the bathroom sink.

7. Holiday Drink Mixers. Just mix and give – no crafting required! This is a gift that says “invite me to your next party.”

8. Pecan Clusters. You can’t go wrong with candy and these are classier than homemade fudge any day. Sneak a couple for yourself.

9. Popcorn tins. This all-purpose gift is even less expensive when you make your own at home. There are many yummy options available.

10. Organza Sachets. This is a great project for kids to work on with you or do on their own with a little guidance.

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A Merry Martha Gift Guide

November 18, 2009

I decided to put together a Martha Stewart product gift guide. You don’t have to be a Martha fan to appreciate the things she sells. Martha could probably fill an entire store with her products at this point, so my challenge was to isolate just ten to recommend to you this holiday season. Check the list out for things you might want for yourself, hostess gifts, and presents for the ones you love!

cookie book1.Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  This book will be adored by anyone who likes to bake.  The cookies are organized by texture, which is a new approach, and includes classic recipes (peanut crisps, shortbread and snickerdoodles) as well as more adventurous kinds (bratseli, cornmeal thyme cookies, and Earl Grey cookies). $24.95

glue pen2. Fine Tip Glue Pen.  This is a great idea for anyone who crafts, has kids, or has lots of fun office supplies.  This dual purpose glue can be used wet for a traditional glue or once the applied glue has dried for a tacky, temporary stick. It’s a bargain at $3.06.

3. Glitter. Martha Stewart is now probably one of theglitter biggest purveyors of glitter – she has over 100 colors and types. Pick up a pack for crafters or kids. The glitter is excellent quality and the shades of color available are just astounding. $15.95 for a 12 pack.

towels4. Tropical Toile Kitchen Towels. These are perfect for a hostess gift.  The vintage look of these towels means your grandma will like them and so will your newly married cousin.  $8.99 for a 3-pack.

4. Trousseau Pillowcase Box Gift Set.  Beautifully pilllowedged heirloom quality pillowcases will make a welcome gift for anyone. Choose from lace, scallop or delicate blue edging. Because they’re white, they will match any sheet set and the 300 thread count means they will feel luxurious to weary heads. $29.99 for 2 pillow cases.

wedgewood5. Wedgwood French Knot Beverage Pot in Gold. What’s a gift list without a bit of luxury? Martha has her own line of Wedgewood dinnerware, and this elegant coffeepot/teapot is the perfect gift for the woman who has everything. Its delicate design will complement any china pattern and will identify her as a woman of class and taste. $189.

6. Asian Strainer. A fabulous stocking stuffer that will be asian strainerwelcome in any kitchen, this kitchen tool is bigger, lighter and more functional than a slotted spoon and is perfect for scooping veggies or ravioli out of boiling water. $7.99.

recipe7. Magnetic Recipe Divider. You’ve decided to cut your aunt’s cookie recipe in half, but what’s half of a 1/3 of a cup? Take the guessing out of reducing recipes and buy your Secret Santa this magnetic doohicky that does it all for her!  $9.99.

8. Counting Baby Quilt. For the mom-to-be or the new quiltbaby in your life, Martha’s 100% cotton quilt will be a cherished gift whether it is used as bedding or hung on a wall with the attached rod pocket loops. $79.99

cake plate9. Whiteware Cake Stand. Whether you choose round or square, these elegant cake stands will make any cake look like a gourmet treat.  Select 8″, 10″ or 12″ for $22 to $42.

10. Petite Hydrangea Plant.  Send this to your friends and family who won’t be coming home for Christmas (and maybe send one to yourself too!). Martha’s 1-800-Flowers collection includes these lovely live plants, in pink or purple, which will last much longer than hydrangeaa cut flower arrangement and can be planted in the garden come spring, for years of enjoyment. $39.95

Looking for other great gift ideas? Here is a round up of some other terrific gift guides:

Gifts for dogs and dog lovers

Irish music

Gifts for travelers who read

Gifts for travelers

Gifts from paradise

Foodie gifts under $20

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Halloween Party

November 1, 2009

Happy Martha-versary to me. The end of October marked the one year anniversary of my Martha project and my blog. We decided to have a Halloween party to celebrate – and also to give me a chance to flex my Martha muscles.

Yesterday was the big day and it was the culmination of several weeks of planning and work (that’s always the problem with parties – you plan and cook and decorate and work your buns off for weeks and it’s over in a flash).

I promised to share all the details, so this will be a long post!


Halloween BFirst, the costumes. I was Martha. Teen Martha blew out my curly hair to look like Martha’s – I was surprised at how well it actually turned out! I wore a pink button front shirt and khaki capris. I had a pair of blue heels I was going to wear, but when I put them on , the soles disintegrated (I haven’t worn them in over 15 years!) so I ended up with some low black heels which weren’t quite what I wanted. Mr. MarthaAndMe made a home detention ankle bracelet for me to wear. I have the greatest respect for Martha and was afraid that was a little insulting, but it helped people identify who I was. I carried a Martha bouquet – paint brush, whisk and garden trowel, tied with a measuring tape.  I pointed out “good things” all night.

Mr. MarthaAndMe was a vampire.Halloween T He has years of practice with vampire costumes. His mother had the cape made for him when he a child.

Teen Martha was a Roman. I sewed the toga by hand. She made the belt and halloween 1headpiece. I think she looks cute. As you can see in the background, her friends were also Romans.

Dude Martha wore his gory store bought costume.Halloween Z


Let’s move on the decor. We made a gourd totem, from Oct Living. Actually, Mr. MarthaAndMe handled that and he did an excellent job. I don’t think I would hall totembother doing this again, but it was fun. We put this on the front porch, but I never got a picture.

There were lots of spider webs, caution tape, orange and black streamers and balloons around also. Halloween liv rm

I spent a lot of time on the table. I made the tablescape that is in the Halloween special issue – gauze on the table and black tissue paper cut out to go around it. I had to order the tissue paper online and I found the gauze at Joann’s, but didn’t buy enough. When I realized, they were out of it. I ended up finding something similar at Walmart. I also Halloween tablecut the tissue paper to go around my cake plate with the ghost cake.

You can also see my luminare hanging from the chandelier.

The Food

I made a lot of food. We have tons and tons left. I’m just going to paste in the photos with captions for this:

Halloween cookies

Maple Cookies, Nov Living, by Teen Martha

Halloween dip

Guacamole, Halloween special issue

Halloween ghost cake

Ghost cake Halloween special issue

halloween mummy toes

Mummy Toes, not Martha

Halloween puffs

Pumpkin Cheese Puffs, Halloween special issue

halloween pump tart

Chocolate Pumpkin Tart, Halloween special issue

Halloween punch

Putrid Punch with frozen hands, not Martha

halloween rice

Coffin Crispies, my own creation

Halloween yogurt

Eat My Lips Yogurt, from Rachel Ray

hall arm cupcake2

Buried Alive Cupcakes, MS recipe, Rachel Ray decoration

The Games

Halloween donut2

Donut on a string

We had several games which the younger kids enjoyed. We started with Martha’s donut on a string game. I had a hard time finding small donuts for this – regular size seemed too big. I did finally find some and everyone liked this game. One girl ate hers in one bite!

We put “body parts” in bags and the kids had to guess what they were. The best score was 6 out of 8. We had cauliflower for brains, ramen noodles for veins, an oiled tortilla for skin, dried apricots for ears, peeled grapes for eyeballs, a carved canned cranberry sauce for heart,

Halloween body parts

Body parts game

and gherkins with almond slivers for fingers/toes.

We also played mummy wrap, where they had to wrap each other in

Halloween mummy wrap

Mummy wrap

toilet paper.

We played eyeball pong – each kid got a rubber eyeball and they had to bounce it and try to get into cups. Each cup had a prize and if your ball went in, you won the prize.

Halloween eyeball pong

Eyeball pong

We also had a monster assembly game. I kept all our recyclables for several weeks. We divided them into two boxes and divided the kids into two teams. Each team got tape and scissors. We gave them five minutes to make a monster. They actually did a really great job – but they smashed them before I could get a photo of the final results.

It was an incredible amount of work. We got most of it cleaned up last night when the kids left to go trick or treating and did the rest this morning. I’m exhausted! I’m glad I did it though – I’m pretty proud of myself and think everything turned out quite well.

Halloween monster

Monster assembly

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Halloween Party Update

October 18, 2009

We’re planning a Halloween party as the one year wrap up to my Martha project. I’ve hit a few bumps along the way and thought I would share them.

First of all, why don’t people RSVP? It makes it so hard to plan things!

My biggest gripe though has to be the things I simply cannot find that I need! Martha demonstrated how to use her Halloween stencils to decorate cupcakes on her show. I can’t find them anywhere. And at this late date, I’m worried about ordering them online in case they don’t arrive in time.

I had to order black tissue paper online for my Martha tablescape. I simply could not find it anywhere. So I ended up paying $5 for shipping for a 99 cent item.

I’m looking for cheap doll parts. I’m planning to make buried alive cupcakes – chocolate cupacakes with an arm sticking up out of them. I actually found this idea in Rachel Ray’s magazine. But I can’t find doll parts anywhere for a reasonable price. I was even hoping to find a bag of cheap little dolls at the dollar store, but they only come singly for $1 each and I need at least 20 arms, so that $10 which seems like a lot. I haven’t found any online for a good price, because the cost of shipping always makes it ridiculous.

We have some fun games planned:

– donut on a string (see who can eat it first with their hands behind their backs)

– eyeball pong (ping pong ball with an eyeball on it – you try to bounce it into cups to win a prize)

– monster assembly (we are collecting bags of stuff we would normally throw out and will give each team a box to make a monster out of)

– name the body part (we’re going to put food items inside boxes and have them guess what body part it is supposed to be)

– candy corn relay

– pitch a penny into a jack o lantern

– pumpkin bowling (we’re making ghost pins out of white cups and using a small pumpkin as a bowling ball)

I’m going to start making some food and freezing it this weekend to get a jump on things. I’m making Martha’s one bowl cupcakes for the buried alive cupcakes and the stencil cupcakes if I ever find the stencil, the marshmallow ghosts in the Halloween issue, the chocolate pumpkin tart from it also, the black bean guacamole from the Halloween issue  (which I’m going to serve in a carved gourd), punch with a frozen hand floating in it along with ice cubes with gummy worms, the puff pastry cheese pumpkins from the Halloween issue, rice krispy treat coffins, a veggie tray that I need to spook up somehow, and little bowls of pink yogurt with mouths on them made of apple slices and yogurt raisins.

For decorations, we will have the luminaria (see tomorrow’s Martha Mondays), a gourd totem (from the Halloween issue) and possibly one of the toadstools from the cover of October Living. I also bought some spider web junk and caution tape, as well as all of our regular Halloween decorations.

As for costumes, Dude Martha has a store bought costume and Teen Martha will be wearing a toga I am making for her. I’m going to be Martha. Mr. MarthaAndMe is undecided. We’ve batted around a lot of ideas, including Tim Gunn, Ryan Seacrest, and Simon Cowell. His old fallback costume is a vampire (he won a prize at a church party as a child and never deviated after that). The other option is for him to be Martha also (Drag Martha).  You’ll just have to tune in after Halloween to see what he ends up as!

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May 16, 2009

Yesterday my daughter went to the junior prom.  Although it was her prom, I spent the day getting ready since her limo of friends were coming back here afterwards.

prom12In the afternoon I had to redo my daughter’s hairstyle – she wasn’t happy with how the hair stylist did it.

I spent a lot of time trying to get the house ready – setting out hand towels and extra toilet paper rolls, moving around chairs, and finding serving bowls.

I managed to take a photo of the table before I put out the food – I made a centerpiece of lilacs and what I think is a honeysuckle tree.  I didn’t get any actual food photos since the kids did not arrive until 2:30 am and it was all I could to do to dump it all on the table and sit in a stupor on the couch.prom flower

I did try to make things as Martha-like as possible. I made a cookie cake and decorated it with pink rosettes and wrote “Prom ’09” in the center. I used my good serving bowls for the snacks, fruit, dip, cheese and cake. This morning I had donut holes, muffins and juice available, which they picked at as they stumbled out the door.



Making a Martha Calendar

May 6, 2009

Lots of people are wild about Martha’s calendar, which has reappeared at the beginning of Martha Stewart Living. I have a calendar, but it’s just appointments and events – not household things. So, I’ve decided to follow Martha’s lead and make up a calendar for May. I’ve tried to think ahead and plan out what tasks will need doing when, but it’s hard to know. It will be interesting to see how closely I can stick to this.

F 5/1 House cleaning

Sat 5/2 garden clean up, clean garage, wash winter coat, walk dogs

Sun 5/3 seal deck, put away snowblower, walk dogs

Mon 5/4 morning walk, daughter’s prom dress fitting; buy Mother’s Day gifts

Tues 5/5 morning walk, webinar with one of my publishers

Wed 5/6 morning walk, son’s piano lesson, use new pet hair remover on furniture

Thurs 5/7 morning walk, phone interview, return items to store

Fri 5/8 daughter’s AP exam; house cleaning

Sat 5/9 clean porch furniture, plant vegetable seedlings in garden, put up awning, buy hanging plant baskets, buy new carpet for front porch, walk dogs

Sun 5/10 hang hanging plant baskets, cut lilacs,  Mother’s Day dinner with my parents, walk dogs

Mon 5/11 morning walk, son’s chorus concert

Tues 5/12 morning walk, daughter’s AP exam, dentist appointment

Wed 5/13 morning walk, son’s piano lesson, wash comforter

Thurs 5/14 morning walk, cook for tomorrow’s party

Fri 5/15 son’s dance and sleepover, daughter’s prom and post-prom party here, download Paypal reports, house cleaning

Sat 5/16 party clean up, plant herbs, walk dogs

Sun 5/17 replace basketball net backboard, buy perennials for new garden, walk dogs

Mon 5/18 morning walk, kids’ dentist appointment

Tues 5/19 morning walk, clean inside of dishwasher

Wed 5/20 morning walk, son’s piano lesson

Thurs 5/21 morning walk, clean out refrigerator

Fri 5/22 housecleaning, wash insides of wastebaskets around the house

Sat 5/23 clean windows,open pool, walk dogs

Sun 5/24 go to the lake

Mon 5/25 Memorial Day

Tues 5/26 morning walk, MSL Radio Morning Living appearance

Wed 5/27 morning walk, son’s piano lesson

Thurs 5/28 morning walk, son to camp with his class

Fri 5/29 house cleaning, make vet appointment

Sat 5/30 get new keys made, trim lilacs, walk dogs, clean behind beds

Sun 5/31 order new parts for grill, clean curio cabinet in bedroom, walk dogs

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