The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies: The Recap Roundup

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Happy Boxing Day, everyone!  In honor of a successful 25 Days of Holiday Goodies series (in which I managed to have a post for every day, miraculously), I am going to blitz you with several pictures of the series:

This series this year kept me busy and focused, in the moment for the busy festivities of the season.  Many of these are family favorites for several years in the running.

Full disclosure:  I thought to end the blog after Josh passed away.  As Muffin and I transition into a new year, I hope to record for posterity his growing up (and explorations with food).  Completing this series really helped me to remember how much I loved blogging and writing, sharing our experiences (both good and bad) with others.

On a happier note, I hope everyone has found at least one or two recipes to add to his or her culinary arsenal from this blog or other places this holiday season.  My pinning finger has been busy on Pinterest, both in terms of recipes and “other things.”

What other things, you may ask?  Well, I hope to share that journey with you, as well.

In case you missed it, here are the items on the “nice list” for The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies series.  Please don’t forget to click the link to view each in all of its (questionable) glory!

Day 1:  Fluffy Fruit Dip

Day 2:  White Sausage Rotel

Day 3:  Jezebel Sauce

Day 4:  Homemade Quickie Kahlua

Day 5:  Microwave Pralines

Day 6:  Cheesy Snack Mix

Day 7:  Velveeta Cheese Fudge

Day 8:  Caramel Truffles

Day 9:  Magic Cookie Bars

Day 10:  Funfetti Mug Cake

Day 11:  Mashed Potatoes

Day 12:  Vanilla Mini Cheesecakes

Day 13:  Death by Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

Day 14:  Caramel Macchiato Mini Cheesecakes

Day 15:  Rolls

Day 16:  Cheesecake

Day 17:  Arnold Palmer

Day 18:  Warm Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

Day 19:  Triple Berry Smoothie

Day 20:  Cranberry Orange Relish Daiquiri

Day 21:  Deviled Eggs

Day 22:  Gumbo

Day 23:  Denver Omelet Burritos

Day 24:  Jumbo Pico Salad

Day 25:  Jello Shots

I hope you had a merry merry Christmas and that you will have a Happy New Year!

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 25: Jello Shots

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Merry Christmas! I hope you are enjoying the festivities today with loved ones!

Why did I choose this recipe for Christmas Day? Well, by now, you’ve got Christmas in the bag. Sides are (hopefully) prepped, meat is defrosted, desserts are made, and breakfast is ready to eat/prepare/pop into the oven.

So, today is all about shifting gears to that most hedonistic of holidays (save Mardi Gras): New Year’s Eve! Something super festive and beveragey (technical term!) is in order!

I present to you a high-octane version and a no-octane version because, if your household is like mine, Muffin would never let me forget it if I got to have Jello and he didn’t. I make the distinction by placing a slice of citrus fruit or a cherry with a stem in the non-alky ones—and leaving the alky ones plain.

One thing to note: Walmart sells condiment cups and lids (Solo brand, I believe) in manageable packs (20-25). I buy them normally to put sauces in Muffin’s lunches, so I raid my stash to make jello shots.

Also—as you can tell from the pic below, I use the jello shots as a drink garnish (alongside any fruit, umbrellas, and the like). They are awesome and fun that way!


Alky Jello Shots (High-octane)

Adapted from Tip Hero

1 envelope (1 T) unflavored gelatin

2/3 cups plus 2 ¼ teaspoons non-alky liquid or low-alky liquid (wine, if making Sangria Jello Shots)

¼ cup – 3/8 cup hard alky or alcoholic drink base

up to 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, if needed, for sweetness

Pour the first mentioned liquid into a small saucepan. Whisk the gelatin into the juice mixture little by little and let it sit five minutes until the gelatin has softened. Add sugar, if desired.

Heat the pan over medium heat and whisk until the gelatin (and, if using, sugar) are completely dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. DO NOT BOIL!

Remove the pan from the heat and sir in the remaining (alky) liquid.

Pour into prepared cups. Top with lids and chill until set.

To remove: briefly place the cups in warm water halfway up the sides. Remove lids and manipulate them out.

Non-Alky Jello Shots (No-octane)

Adapted from Tip Hero

1 envelope (1 T) unflavored gelatin

2/3 cups plus 2 ¼ teaspoons non-alky, non-carbonated liquid

¼ cup – 3/8 cup additional (same) liquid or fizzing liquid

up to 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, if needed, for sweetness

citrus slices or wedges or maraschino cherries with stems

Pour the first mentioned liquid into a small saucepan. Whisk the gelatin into the juice mixture little by little and let it sit five minutes until the gelatin has softened. Add sugar, if desired.

Heat the pan over medium heat and whisk until the gelatin (and, if using, sugar) are completely dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. DO NOT BOIL!

Remove the pan from the heat and sir in the remaining liquid.

Pour into prepared cups. Add selected fruit into the cups. Top with lids and chill until set.

To remove: briefly place the cups in warm water halfway up the sides. Remove lids and manipulate them out.

The sky’s the limit with these combinations! Muffin loves the non-alky ones!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite drink to convert to jello shots?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 24: Jumbo Pico Salad

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All hail the Pioneer Woman! Ree Drummond’s recipes have saved my sanity on more than one occasion. This salad is no exception!

Bright and colorful, this salad brings a smile to my face every time I make it. The flavors are so fresh and clean.

It is pico…maximized.

I first made it for my mother-in-law’s rehearsal dinner, years ago.

And I haven’t stopped making it since. It makes quite a bit, so it is awesome for dinner party fiestas as well as good to bring to that holiday potluck.

Enjoy and ole!


Jumbo Pico Salad

Source: Ree Drummond

5 whole Roma tomatoes

½ large onion

1 jalapeno, halved, seeded and finely sliced

½ cup fresh cilantro leavess

½ teaspoon salt

2 limes

Quarter tomatoes and place in a bowl. Cut onion into large chunks and add to a bowl. Add the cilantro leaves to the bowl. Juice the limes and pour over. Sprinkle with salt. Stir.

What do you like to eat with pico de gallo?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 23: Denver Omelet Burritos…Freezer Friendly!

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Let me just start this post by stating for the record that breakfast burritos have always been a let down for me. I think it is the bland effect that scrambled egg gives the final product.

When I was pregnant with Muffin, in an effort to ensure I ate a good breakfast each day before work, Josh spearheaded the whipping up of several breakfast burritos for the freezer. Most stayed uneaten, though not for lack of trying.

I wish I had discovered this recipe back then. I could probably eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, freshly made or straight from the freezer.

They are that good.

The funny thing? I’ve never had a Denver Omelet before.

This recipe is easily adaptable. Not fond of the veggies in the mix (Muffin)? Leave them out. Require a little extra kick? Add several dashes of hot sauce before rolling up the burritos.

These are very large burritos, so, if you don’t have a “Chipotle Burrito” appetite, feel free to share this with someone you care about.

I just found this recipe when searching for make-ahead breakfasts for when my in-laws visited this past summer.

These truly do freeze and reheat well.


Denver Omelet Burritos

Source: Tablespoon

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 large onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 (16 ounce) package frozen hashbrowns

salt and pepper, to taste

cooking spray

12 eggs, beaten

8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

1 cup diced ham

8-10 burrito-sized flour tortillas

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in vegetation and cook until tender (5 minutes).

Add in remaining butter and potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are brown and soft (8 minutes). Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a second large skillet over medium heat and spray liberally with cooking spray. Add in the eggs and scramble until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and ham. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Assemble the burritos by placing a heaping 1/3 cup each of the two mixtures. Roll burrito closed.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. You should be able to get at least 8 burritos.

These may be wrapped in foil, frozen, and reheated.

If you make ones that don’t have onions or peppers, these are Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 22: Gumbo

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Guess what I used to take that picture?  My shadow photobombed it!

After someone passes away, it is customary to offer food. My sister, when we visited her after Josh’s passing, asked what I wanted her to fix. I knew instantly what I wanted: her gumbo.

To tell you the truth, I think she was a bit taken aback. I think she expected me to say her chicken and dumplins, which I love, but all I could think of was losing myself in the depth of flavor her gumbo brings.

Now, I should note, even though we were both born and raised in Louisiana, neither of us has a Cajun bone in our bodies—nor a Creole one. But my sister knows gumbo. ‘Nuff said.

Recently, for the sake of this blog, I tackled one of those cooking fears I had: this time, making a roux. Being able to produce an unburned roux is a matter of pride in many Cajun households. That seemingly simple mix of flour browned in an equal measure of oil is simply maddening. It must be carefully babied.

Some households down South eat gumbo for Christmas Eve, but I think it is good any good cold evening.

With that in mind, my sister created fail-proof instructions, so much so that when I asked her how long it takes her to make her roux dark brown (but not burnt) after attempting it myself (and it taking an hour and a half and two phone conversations with friends), she said around forty-five minutes. Having taken twice that time, I asked her what gives. Her response: she doesn’t start it out at the low to medium temperature that she recommends in the recipe. She starts the oil at high, adds the flour and mixes it, drops it down a notch, and continues to drop it down notches as it browns so that, at the end, it is on low to medium when that chocolatey brown is achieved. But she wanted to make sure I didn’t burn it. So my perfect roux took 90 minutes of babying.

How did she tell me to make it? I am sending the instructions part as she sent it to me…merely adding in the ingredients portion.

Also to note: gumbo is often served with a scoop of potato salad. Try it (provided you like potato salad)! It completely works! The more mustardy the potato salad, the better. And yes, mustardy is a technical term!


Source: my sister

1 whole chicken, cut up

2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 cup onion

1 cup celery

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon bacon grease

14 ounces smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon parsley

4 bay leaves

salt, pepper, and Tony’s to taste (Tony’s being Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning—find it or substitute another Creole seasoning or even make your own!)

extra chicken stock, as necessary

Cook whole chicken with whole big pot of water. Take chicken out to cool when done. Keep broth it made for gumbo.

Start by making a roux. I do this with 2 cups vegetable oil to 2 cups all purpose flour. Cook on a medium to low temp till chocolate colored. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Take off of stove and add to big pot with chicken stock after it cools. If you do it before it cools, it is likely to blow up on you. I have had this happen. Not fun.

Now you need to saute 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery, and 1 cup bell pepper (I do not use bell pepper in mine), and one tablespoon minced garlic. Saute in bacon grease. (I keep all my bacon grease frozen. Do you know they sell just bacon grease at Rouse’s? Too funny!)

After saute, put veggies in pot. Now, brown your sausage. I cut my sausage before browning in bite size pieces. When browned, add to pot. By the way, I add all the drippings while cooking veggies and sausage to the pot as well. Add parsley, about 1 tablespoon, 4 bay leaves, salt, pepper, and Tony’s to taste. Add deboned chicken you cooked, as well.

Cook till flavors meld. What I usually do is cook or 30-45 minutes, then turn off and keep on stove for the rest of the day to meld till ready to serve. If your gumbo is too thick, then you can add some chicken stock to the pot. I have not found a need for this, at all, though. Keep tasting and alter seasoning as you see fit.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite soup or stew?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 21: Deviled Eggs

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This is one of those recipes that I have always been PETRIFIED to make. Seriously, hard boiled eggs have been my nemesis. Will the egg yolk stay perfectly centered? Will they peel well? Will they be overdone? Will they be underdone?

In fact, like cheesecake, I have left that up to the experts (my mom and my sister) for decades.

This past Easter, I decided to face that fear, and I am so glad that I did! Deviled eggs are…easy peasy lemon squeezy. And delicious. And joy-inducing!

Muffin did not like them, but I don’t remember being too fond of them at the age of seven, either. They are completely an acquired taste.

Everyone else loved them.

Here’s what I did:


Deviled Eggs

Source: (which is now going by another name???)

6 eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon yellow prepared mustard

1/8 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

smoked Spanish paprika, for garnish

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with enough water that there is 1 ½ inches of water above the eggs. Heat on high until water begins to boil, then cover, turn heat to low, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and leave covered for 14 minutes, then rinse continuously under cold water for one minute.

Crack egg shells and carefully peel under cool running water. Gently dry with paper towels. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise, removing yolks to a medium bowl and placing the whites on a serving platter. Mash the yolks into a fine crumble using a fork. Add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Evenly disperse heaping teaspoons of the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Note: Bonus points if you use the dyed eggs so that little bits of color pigment the egg white cups!

What is your opinion on deviled eggs?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 20: Cranberry Orange Relish Daiquiri

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We take today a walk on the leftovers side of things. My brother-in-law who first presented me with the recipe for the Cranberry Orange Relish created a way to use leftover relish (Perish the thought of their being any leftovers!) in a new and innovative and festive way.

I should note that, when I partake of holiday leftovers, I prefer them in their normal natural state. It has to do with relieving the perfection of the original experience all over again.

However, this daiquiri does make me rethink things.

Oh, and if you are wondering, I obtained the glass at Joe’s Crab Shack last year around this time. Muffin and I recently went there to obtain a new one, but they no longer had them. 😦

Also to note: to make a “Muffin Approved” beverage, substitute the alky in the original relish with cranberry juice, orange juice, white grape juice, or a combination of any of the three. Then, do the same for the alky liquids in the daiquiri to make a credible mocktail.


Cranberry Orange Relish Daiquiri

Inspired by my brother-in-law

½ recipe cranberry relish

2 ounces triple sec

4 ounces rum

3 tablespoons sugar

ice to fill blender

1 teaspoon additional triple sec

1 tablespoon sugar, for rimming the glass

Place first five ingredients in blender. Blend until liquid and all ice is crushed. Dip rim of glass in triple sec, then in sugar until rim is coated by sugar. Pour blender mixture in glass.

What is your favorite leftover usage?

The 25 Days of Christmas Day 19: Triple Berry Smoothie

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Muffin, in addition to being a carbo-vore, is a fruitatarian. With that in mind, he is going to enjoy this smoothie quite often. Chock full of the tasty trio of berries (strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries) as well as the protein power of Greek yogurt with the sweetness of white grape juice and honey, they aim to please (even on the coldest of mornings) as a great breakfast treat!


Triple Berry Smoothie

Adapted from Skinnytaste

½ pint each blackberries and raspberries, frozen

1 pound strawberries, tops removed

1 cup frozen white grape juice cubes

6 ounces vanilla, honey, strawberry, raspberry or mixed berry Greek yogurt

honey to taste

extra ice cubes or white grape juice as needed for consistency

Blend all until smooth. Serve with a straw.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 18: Warm Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

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No Holiday Goodies season of posts would be complete without something warm to sip to remove the late fall-early winter chill from the bones.

And this recipe with the clove-studded orange slices appears so festive!

In addition, have you ever noticed how the addition of cinnamon sticks to a brew makes the favor so out of this world yummy?

On the minus side, this recipe is a bit of a bear—the sieving, that is. But the taste and the warmth that spreads through you as you sip this delicious concoction make all of the effort seem worth it!

Muffin, however, did not like it.


Warm Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

Source: eazy peazy mealz

1 gallon apple cider

1 whole orange, sliced

1 tablespoon whole cloves

2 cups fresh cranberries plus more for garnish

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

5 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)

1 whole apple, sliced

Prepare orange slices by carefully studding the rind with whole cloves; set aside.

In a blender, combine cranberries, ginger, and ½ cup apple. Blend until smooth. Reserve.

Pour remaining apple cider into a slow cooker. Add cranberry mixture (once pressed through a sieve), cinnamon sticks, and orange slices.

Simmer on low in a slow cooker for 8 hours. Serve warm with sliced apple and cranberry sticks.

What is your favorite warm fall beverage?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 17: Arnold Palmer

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This is also known as possibly the best mocktail ever! The insipid Shirley Temple has nothing on this sip of Southern summertime. Yay, alliteration!

I realize that what follows is not the original recipe. I realize that the original Arnold Palmer uses unsweetened tea. But…

I live in the South, and sweet tea is a thing.

In my opinion, this drink combines the best of two worlds: sweet tea and lemonade. I mean, let’s face it: adding lemon to sweet tea is fine and dandy, but that tends to make it too tart. Most lemonade by itself is too tart and too insipid. So, mixing the two in equal parts is only right, right?

I think so.

Muffin, after tasting the Cane’s (of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers fame) version of the Arnold Palmer, prefers it to their just-lemonade. When we go to Chick-Fil-A, that is what I always order.

How do we make it at home? Here’s how:


Arnold Palmer

Source: Me!

½ gallon Josh sweet tea, chilled

½ gallon Chick-Fil-A lemonade, chilled

Combine. Chill some more. Serve over ice with extra lemon slices.


This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite way to drink sweet tea?  Or lemonade?