Feast of the Seven Fishes

In my family, Christmas is a time of traditions. Matching holiday pajamas. Last minute Christmas Eve shopping with my dad for my mom. And our seafood iq trading Christmas Eve dinner served in my mom’s kitchen.

Thank goodness my family doesn't look at this much. They would kill me.

Matching Christmas Pajamas

I was raised Greek Catholic, so it was customary for my family to abstain from meat and milk products on Christmas Eve. As I got older, I learned that for Italians this is known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  We aren’t Italian, but my mom raised me to cook like one (see my ever popular meatball recipe). This feast consists primarily of seafood (minimum seven dishes), as well as pasta, baked goods and veggies.

Why I gain weight over the holidays...

Fried Foodapalooza

Our dinner typically consists of the following:

- Pierogies

- Fried shrimp

- Cocktail shrimp

- Salmon

- Fried scallops

- Fried smelts

- Clams

- Catfish

And the pièce de résistance, fish from Long John Silver’s.

Klassy with a capital K

Long John Silver's Fish

We’ve been having fish from Long John Silver’s as a part of this dinner for as long as I can remember. While our tastes are a bit more refined now, it still remains a staple in our meal. Like I said, Christmas is a time of traditions.

What’s on your menu for Christmas or Christmas Eve? How do you celebrate the holidays in your kitchen?

Whether honoring long-standing traditions or creating new ones, I hope you all have a joyous holiday shared with loved ones.

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Halloween Treats

I have been in a considerable funk this fall because of the cancellation of my annual Halloween party. Speaking of which, any suggestions for what I can do with a light-up Tinkerbell costume the other 364 days of the year? Anyways, just because my Halloween spirit has been slightly dampened, it doesn’t mean I’m not happy to share some of my Halloween-themed confections so others can spread some creepy cheer.

Each year, I make a spooktacular smorgasbord of food that would make even the witchiest of witches weak at the knees. To add to the ghoulishness, everything gets a Halloweeney name.

Some of my favorites from the In the Kitchen with Stacey archives:

- Skin and bones (prosciutto and basil wrapped chicken fingers)

- Bloody eyeballs (meatballs)

- Goblin gook (crab dip)

For a child’s Halloween party, I would recommend:

- Bugs in a bowl (popcorn with chocolate chips mixed together)

- Creepy crawlers (jell-o jigglers with gummy worms inside)

- Spiders (Oreo cookies with licorice string legs in the center and orange icing dots for eyes)

For an adult Halloween party, may I suggest:

- Bloody-hand punch (Utilizing either a hand mold or a latex glove, fill with fruit punch and freeze overnight. Combine 1 fifth vodka, 64-ounces no-pulp orange juice & 2 liters of Sprite to a punch bowl. Add frozen fruit-punch hand.)

- Worm casserole (Combine 8-ounces cooked spaghetti with 6-ounces cooked egg noodles. Mix in 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese. Place in a large greased casserole dish and top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.)

In closing, I’ve included a picture from last year’s Halloween party. This was the inspiration for my blog header that my best friend created, so I thought it seemed apropos to include. Please note – my husband always ends up shirtless by the end of the Halloween party. It’s like a Halloween tradition. Also, my dog gets a costume. Don’t judge me.

Don't you wish your husband was hot like him?

Any creepy confections you’d like to share? I’m always welcome to new ideas.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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Homemade Alphabet Chicken Soup

This past weekend our days of Indian Summer waned and fall finally began to feel like fall. The decorations are out, the heated seats are on in the mornings and the soup pot is out on the stove. To me? This is the most wonderful time of the year.

Chicken soup isn’t very glamorous, but it’s tasty and perfect for warming your belly on a cool day. And this recipe will warm lots of bellies (or just your own with plenty left to freeze for later).

Homemade Alphabet Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 chicken leg quarter
5 chicken bouillon cubes
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1 small onion
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Up to 3 12-ounce boxes San Giorgio Alphabets

Directions:

Combine chicken, parsley, bouillon and pepper in an 8-quart stock pot.

Chop carrots, celery and onion.  Add vegetables to stock pot and fill about 3/4s of the way with water.

C0ver and heat on high. When it begins to boil, reduce to medium heat and cook for an additional hour.

The directions moving forward are based on my personal preferences. There are many, MANY ways to enjoy chicken soup, but this is what I do.

After heating for an additional hour, turn off and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight. The next day return to burner and heat on high. Once the soup returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and remove the chicken from the pot with a pair of tongs.  Discard the skin and remove the chicken from the bone, shredding with your fingers. This can be a little messy, so I recommend removing any jewelry.

Once done, add shredded chicken to the pot and continue to cook for another hour or so. Reduce soup to low.

In the meantime, prepare one box of alphabet soup noodles according to package directions.

I know many people either add the noodles directly to the soup or even cook the noodles in the soup pot. However, I prefer to keep them separate and combine at the end. I find you will typically need 3 boxes of soup noodles per pot of soup, but I also like my soup really noodley (I just made up a word).

Add noodles to a bowl and ladle chicken soup over top. Serve with crackers if preferred and enjoy!

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