Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Foodie shortcuts - 4 quick and simple recipes for families this Christmas

It's that time of year for family gatherings and foods to celebrate the holidays. You would like to serve your family and friends a healthy meal, but do not want to spend much time in the kitchen. You want to spend more time celebrating the holidays with your family and loved ones. It can be done. Here are some Christmas foodie shortcuts that contain four quick and simple recipes for families this Christmas. Get all family members into the kitchen, including your kids, to help out and reduce your stress level.

For a snack, make some:

Holiday Stuffed Celery Sticks

    * Buy a bunch of celery hearts or celery. Cut off the bottom 1" portion of the celery bunch, so you can easily separate the stalks. Clean thoroughly with cold water and cut into 2" pieces. *

    * Divide the celery stalks into two portions. One portion will go onto the serving tray. The other portion needs to be set aside for filling purposes.

    * Prepare a large serving tray by placing a large cup in the center part. Place one portion of the celery chunks onto one-half of the tray. For more variety, place some peeled baby carrots on the tray. Let the kids place the veggies on the tray, it's simple and easy.

    * For the filling, let a package of cream cheese sit at room temperature for an hour. This allows the cheese to soften enough to work with properly.

    * Make a filling called Herbed Cream Cheese. This recipe calls for:

Placing one package of softened cream cheese into a small mixing bowl.

Chop up some fresh parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme.

Add the herbs to the creamed cheese.

Mix the herbs into the cream cheese until evenly distributed.

Divide the mixture in half.

Place half the herbed cheese mixture into the serving cup on the large vegetable serving tray.

Use the other half to fill the center of the celery sticks.

Have the kids help fill up the celery sticks. It's easy and fun.

Or, for ease, simply mix the creamed cheese with some dried Italian seasoning.

    * For variety, have the kids fill up some celery sticks with peanut butter. Placing some raisins on top adds extra taste and fun.

Starter Recipe:

Have a tasty and nutritious bowl of minestrone soup as your starter dish. For a quick and simple recipe, buy a bag of cut fresh veggies. Find a bag from your grocery store that contains broccoli, carrots, onions and cauliflower.

    * Fill a Dutch oven with 4 cups of water.

    * Place the pan on a stove burner over medium heat.

    * Add the veggies to the water.

    * Add two 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes.

    * Add 2 tbsp Italian seasoning.

    * Add one 15-oz. can kidney beans.

    * Bring the water to boil and stir thoroughly.

    * Reduce heat and cook for about 20 minutes, until veggies are tender.

    * Serve with crackers or bread for a simple and quick starter dish.

Main Course Recipe:

Casseroles are great main courses that do not require much time in the kitchen, giving you more time to enjoy the festivities.

Let's make a Turkey Veggie Casserole

    * Mix in a large mixing bowl:

3 cups cooked turkey, diced

1 cup carrot, peeled and sliced

1 cup broccoli, cut into pieces

1 medium onion, sliced

1 8-ounce mushroom gravy

1 cup water

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

    * Preheat oven to 350.

    * Prepare a stoneware or glass casserole dish by lightly spraying with oil. Place the ingredients into the casserole dish. Cover. Cook for 30 minutes, until you can poke the veggies easily with a fork or knife.

    * Serve warm with a roll.

Dessert Recipe:

Peach Smiles

Kids love peach smiles because they are fun. Adults love them because they are healthy.

    * For this simple and quick dessert recipe, you will need some raisins and canned peaches. Get some canned cling peaches that are cut in half. Buy the peaches that are canned in their own juice to cut down on sugar.

    * Have the kids place a peach in the center of a small serving plate. Then, as a demonstration, place a raisin where the eyes, nose and smiling mouth would be. Squirt on some whipped cream for the hair. Give everyone a spoon and let them enjoy!

    * Not only will you be serving nutritious food that your family can enjoy, you will be spending less time in the kitchen preparing it.

Contributed by Claire from

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