December 14, 2019

Hello friends! Phew, have you had some time to take a breath a relax a bit? We have had a nice holiday season so far and have been able to enjoy festivities without being overwhelmed. I've had a few dinner parties and have kept them very small, four people, with simple but great food. Both dinner parties I made gougere and served it around the fire, my favorite winter appetizer, then soup and salad at the dinner table, and always homemade Christmas cookies and apple slices for dessert. I know everyone appreciates lighter fare at this time of year when there are so many other opportunities to overindulge! We also had a party but kept it smallish--17 guests made up of my birthday group and their spouses. Two friends brought appetizers and I served Champagne. Dinner was a make-ahead chicken paprikash over noodles with green beans on the side. It was so pretty and scumptious and very easy to serve. We had an old fashioned cookie exchange for our dessert with our guests bringing the most gorgeous cookie gems to share. The evening was festive, casual and easy. We had so much fun and know our guests did too.

I had never made chicken paprikash before but was searching for make-ahead dinners to serve to a crowd. Chicken paprikash kept popping up and after making and serving it, I recommend it too. My two tips are to use a fresh can of smoked Hungarian paprika, and LOTS of it! Also, add the sour cream right before serving and heat through but do not boil. Leftovers reheat well. To avoid boiling a big pot of noodles at dinner time, I served a make-ahead noodle casserole: boil a 12 oz. bag of wide egg noodles until al dente. Drain. Mix in 8 oz. each of cottage cheese and sour cream, 1/2 tsp. salt and 3 sliced green onions. Put in a pretty casserole dish and cover. Can be refrigerated for up to two days. When ready to reheat, pour over 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken stock (to make sure it stays moist) cover with foil and heat on medium heat in oven until done. I doubled this recipe and it took about an hour in a 350F oven to heat through, but it was cold from the refrigerator.

We are having one more party. Our annual neighborhood pot-luck, BYOB progressive party is next week and we will be hosting the appetizers. Dinner will be served a few doors down in one of the newer, roomier homes, followed by carols and dessert in another home. We have had this tradition for decades and it's fun for everyone. New neighbors get to meet everyone, and the children that grew up on this street decades ago come back to show off their young families. We will have about 50 people and it's very fun. We even have our own personalized songbooks that we pull out every year!

I know not all of my readers celebrate Christmas, but I know all of you celebrate peace. My choir director has again chosen this beautiful Christmas carol for the choir to sing. It's so moving. If you have a moment, take the link: I Heard The Bell on Christmas Day/Peace on Earth.

“The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.” Norman Vincent Peale.

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy

“If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

"When you make peace with yourself, you make peace with the world." Maha Ghosananda

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

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  1. Beautiful quotations, Kristen, and worth taking the time to ponder and meditate upon. Chloe

  2. Merry Christmas! I love your posts not only for the knitting content but the decor, gardening and food! You are truly an inspiration:)


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