O Come All Ye Hungry!

For the last three years, we’ve spent Christmas in Maui. While I’m not complaining, it is somewhat of a juggle to make sure we celebrate the birth of JC with both sides of the family. We started a tradition two Christmases ago (after we bought our house) of having an early get-together with the Wills before leaving town. Since then, it’s become a favorite tradition of mine to prepare for.

Now that we have a house with room for an actual dining table, I’ve been more inclined to cook big meals for our family and have them over for get-togethers. Who knew it was quite a production? Cooking until 5am the night wore me out, but it was worth it.

Ryan has a big family with different tastes. While I grew up eating lechon, pancit, fried rice, bangus, and any other salty/fatty Filipino dish under the sun, Ryan didn’t. I am slowly easing him into such dishes and accustom his palette to the cuisine that tastes like home to me, but for the sake of his whole family, I thought I go outside both our boxes and try something different.

Here is what was prepared:


[Plates: Courtesy of my mom, they were wedding gifts to her and my dad almost 30 years ago! Menu template: Found on Etsy, through PaperAndPartyLove]


It took some time for me to narrow down easy, yet wholesome recipes that would please everyone’s tastes. On top of creating a grocery list and making sure no one interrupted my kitchen, I’d say it was worth the sheer exhaustion I had after everyone had eaten and presents were opened.

I really have to thank Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, for her recipes. As much as I would love to have her kitchen, four well-behaved kids, hounds and a huge farm in Oklahoma… my small  ‘burb life in Bremerton will work for now 😉 She’s kind of my go-to when it comes to making food for others, especially my picky husband. While most of it isn’t paleo/clean/super healthy, it’s ok–it’s Christmas!

Broccoli & Wild Rice Casserole \\ A little twist on traditional casseroles. I also managed to sneak in mushrooms and didn’t have to use and cream of something soup. Simple ingredients, big taste.

Cornbread Stuffing \\ Stovetop can just quit now. This is too easy to make and doesn’t have all the extra nasty sodium. Making cornbread from scratch is also a cinch!

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots \\ A complete hit. My Filipino kin isn’t really keen on sweets with dinner. We never understood why people ate marshmallow yams or cranberry anything with their dinners! But this was a great balance of flavor and was a HIT side dish. I felt like a badass splashing in some Jack into a skillet. I also knocked back a couple shots while cooking 😉

Turkey \\ Compliments of a guy I found on Google years ago who has probably cooked more turkey in his life than anyone else in existence. Butter-massaging, ftw!

As for dessert, my sweet mother-in-law made a delicious strawberry trifle. I’ll have to have her guest-blog sometime. Until then, check out her cake business 🙂

Lastly, I found time to whip up peppermint fudge and a pumpkin pie, Sara’s Silky Pumpkin Pie, to be exact. If you know Ryan, you know he loves Costco pumpkin pie more than he loves me. Any other pie is mediocre and untouchable. HOWEVER, I found this gem from a Good Housekeeping magazine I perused while making coffee at the office. The family annihilated it! The key ingredient to both my EASY desserts: sweetened condensed milk.

So now that I’m hungry after writing this, I’m going to go eat an unfulfilling salad and dream up the next family dinner menu.



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