Celebrating Family

We have so much to be thankful for this year. We’re finally married, we’re finally together in our perfect little house, and we’re finally living the life we’ve always dreamed of. I never thought life would be this beautiful.

November morning at home

November morning at our home in Maryland

One of the biggest things we are thankful for this November is our enormously huge family. Each of us brought roughly 30 first cousins with us into this marriage, along with dozens of aunts and uncles. We love our new family more than anything. We’re looking forward to celebrating this with our second annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Christmas Movie Night.

Last year, we rounded up the cousins/aunts/uncles. Everyone brought their leftover desserts from Thanksgiving (which was a LOT of food).  I made my mom’s apple cider and my Italian grandmother’s Pastorelli cookies, both of which were a big hit with James’s family. The movie list? We went with family favorites: Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Elf.

It was the most fun I have ever had at a party that I was hosting. It was simple to put together and tons of fun for all involved. We can’t wait to do it again this year!

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Italian Christmas Feast

My family has a tradition of having a crazy awesome, 5 course Italian feast on Christmas day. Every year my mom would deck the halls and put out an extremely long table for 15-20 people, and I would spend 2 or 3 days cooking the most amazing food imaginable. For the first time in 5 or 6 years, I’m not cooking, and my parents no longer have a house with space for such a long table. In memory of the good ol’ days, here are the courses we used to have:

1. Antipasta: Imported Italian cold cuts (Prosciutto, Capacolla, Mortadella, Sopresatta), cheeses (Provolone, Mozzarella, Fontina), my mom’s antipasta salad (roasted red pepper, mushroom, artichoke, capers), Aunt Annie’s tuna salad (with vinegar, not sure what else is in it but it was good), and Italian bread.

2. THE soup. It’s made with lamb and escarole, and comes from the village my mom’s grandmother is from (Rosetto Valfortore, near Foggia).

3. Homemade spaghetti, meatballs, and bracciole (Steaks pounded thin and rolled up with provolone and prosciutto. In Italy they call this involtini).

4. Salad. Usually we don’t have room for it, but we try to eat a few bites.

5. Pork roast. We try. Again, no room. Many years we end up skipping this or saving it for another day.

Dessert: cannoli, tiramisu, all kinds of pies, cookies, and my mom’s dream pie (Walnut crust, cream cheesey layer, chocolate pudding, cool whip, amazingness).

Someday when I have my own house, I’ll do this again. My aunt is doing something like this for us this year, but it’s not the same when it’s not at our house. I really do miss having a home. But it’s ok,  I WILL do this again someday. I hope it’s not too far in the future.

Holiday Baking Weekend

This past weekend, my soon-to-be mother-in-law let me use her kitchen to make Christmas cookies. I was so excited!! It was the first time in over a year that I had a kitchen to myself.

In the midst of all the excitement, I bit off WAY more than I could chew. I bought ingredients for 5 or 6 different Christmas cookies, forgetting that I had other things to do this weekend besides bake. Luckily my fiancé and my mom both stepped in to tell me to can it and just enjoy myself on Sunday. I did make some fabulous items, though. Ever had Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars? I found the recipe on foodnetwork.com and they were AMAZING! Very labor intensive but worth it if you like cheesecake and butterscotch.

I had a lot of fun baking this weekend, but I’m very glad I’m not doing anymore for a while. I’m really looking forward to seeing James tonight and just relaxing!

Holiday Pizza Party!!

Our party was a huge success!! Chili and Pizza are now acceptable holiday dishes. We had about 20 people, all of which seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. Here was the menu:

Appetizers:

Artichoke and Crab dip w/ pita, salsa w/ chips, Manchego cheese straws, veggies, cheese plate w/ feta, pepperjack and a soft spreadable garlic cheese

Dinner:

Chili with toppings (meatless for our vegetarian friends), 5 pizzas (2 plain, 1 pepperoni, 1 CA’s veggie supreme, 1 half veggie half plain), Salad with Pinot Grigio vinaigrette made by my fabulous Aunt Diane.

Dessert:

Oreo pie, Cynthia’s famous brownies (AMAZING!!), Christmas cookies (made by myself and James) and a DARLING Christmas Cake made by Genna and my mom (decked out with Christmas cookies, Hershey kisses, and m&m’s)

Drinks:

Soda, lemonade, wines, egg nog

 

It was great! Sadly I burned my finger on a 425F oven rack taking a pizza out of the oven, but luckily my cousins took over the job of cooking pizzas after that. It was so much fun seeing family, and everyone’s fiancés and boyfriends added a lot to the party. The  party actually gave me a chance to see how my family has grown, and how all the new people really add a lot to the fun!

P.S. I’ll post the recipe for CA’s Veggie pizza soon. It’s really quite fantastic!