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Christmas Eve 2010 - in Memory of Grandma P (1927-2010)

My Grandma and Grandpa always hosted Christmas Eve Dinner at their house for as long as I can remember.  I am the oldest of 9 Grandchildren and I fondly remember every Christmas Eve spent at my Grandparents' house for a great Italian dinner with all the aunts, uncles and cousins.

I know it is already February but it took me a while to get to this blog.

When we moved back here in 2004, I started having the traditional Christmas Eve dinner here at our house.  My Grandma's health was not the best and it was harder for her to host the 30 plus people and do all the cooking.  I definitely had some big shoes to fill.  She was a wonderful cook.  This past Christmas was the first one without Grandma P.  She died in January of 2010. 

I usually always make most of her recipes anyway, but this year I decided to make everything that was perfected by her, from the appetizers to the dessert. A lot of these recipes can be made ahead to save time in the kitchen during the festivities.

We miss you Grandma!

Whiskey Sours:
2 -12 oz cans Frozen Lemonade, thawed
12 oz Whiskey
24 oz Water

Put all ingredients in a gallon jug with a tight fitting, screw top lid.  Shake well.  Chill.  Shake before serving.  Serve over ice.
This was made by my Grandpa all the time when he managed the Onigaming and was a Christmas Eve standard.

Spinach Balls with Mustard Sauce:

Spinach Balls:
2 packages Chopped Frozen Spinach
2 C  Herb Stuffing
1 C Grated Parmesan Cheese
Dash Nutmeg
6 Eggs, beaten
3/4 C Butter or Margarine, softened

Note:  This is required to be made ahead as the spinach balls need to be cooked from frozen.

Thaw spinach.  Drain and squeeze out all water.  Mix all ingredients together.  Roll into balls, approx 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Put on jelly roll pan and freeze. 

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 12 - 15 minutes.  Serve with Mustard Sauce.

Mustard Sauce:

1/3 C Dry Mustard
1/2 C White Vinegar
1/2 C Sugar
1 Egg Yolk

Note:  This also needs to be prepped a day in advance.

Mix the mustard and vinegar together in a small sauce pan.  Cover and let stand overnight on counter.  When ready to serve, add the sugar and egg yolk and stir.  Put the sauce pan on low heat and simmer until well heated, approx 12 minutes.  Use as dipping sauce for the spinach balls for a fun appetizer.

Five-Bean Salad:

1 C Sugar
1 C White Vinegar
1/2 C Vegetable Oil
1 t Salt
1 t Pepper
1 Green Pepper, diced
1 C Onion, diced
1 C Celery, diced
1 Can Cut Green Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can Wax Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can Lima Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Add the green pepper, onion and celery.  Mix well.  Add all of the beans and mix well.  Put into a covered container and let sit overnight in refrigerator.

Even as a little kid I loved this salad.  The sweet and sour flavor is just right.

This is not my photo.  I don't see the green pepper or celery and my onions are chopped finer.  Found on the Internet!


This recipe really deserves it's own blog, but since this blog is about my Grandma and Christmas Eve, this is the right place.  Grandma showed me how to make these about ten years ago and they are amazing.  I am typing the recipe here reading from the two, well worn sheets of paper that I used to write down the recipe as we made them together for the first time in her kitchen.  Some of the amounts are not exact, I'll do the best I can to recreate!

Ravioli are time consuming to make but worth every minute.  Definitely the showcase of our family's Christmas Eve dinner. Legend has it that my Great Grandfather ate 50 one year.

Every year recently, we have a ravioli making party in early December (they are made in advance and frozen until cooked) at either my house or my Mom's. 

This recipe is so special to me I almost didn't want to blog it.  But keeping something so good a secret makes no sense.  I hope you enjoy.

Ravioli Filling:
1 lb Round Steak, trimmed
6 Slices French Bread
4 - 5 Cloves Garlic
1 T Olive Oil
1 Can Spinach, drained
1/2 C Chicken Broth
3 Eggs, beaten
1 t Nutmeg
1 t Ground Cloves
1 t Salt
1/2 C Parmesan Cheese
1 C Fresh Parsley, chopped

  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic.  Stir for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. 
  • Cut up the round steak and add to pan.  Add salt and pepper.  Cook until well done.  Remove steak from pan and set aside.  Add chicken broth to plan and deglaze.  Remove from heat.
  • Put 4 pieces of bread into pan.  Remove.  Squeeze out liquid from bread and set aside.
  • Using a meat grinder (mine is circa 1915) grind the round steak and garlic into a large bowl.  Also grind through the spinach, fresh parsley, the bread soaked in chicken broth using the 2 slices of dry bread to push through if too wet.
  • Add the eggs, nutmeg, cloves, Parmesan cheese, and rest of broth from browning pan to mixture.  Combine well, using hands.  
  • Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Ravioli Dough:
3/4 Stick Butter
2 Egg Yolks, beaten
4 C (heaping) Flour
2 t Salt
1 1/2 C Water

  • Put flour into a large bowl.
  • Make a 'well' in the center of the flour.  Add the butter, egg yolks, water and salt.  Mix well.
  • Knead bread dough on flat surface.
  • Cut dough into four equal pieces.
  • Roll out one piece at a time to 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. 
  • Using a 3 1/2 inch (or so) cutter, cut out the ravioli circles.  Will make about 100 ravioli.  Do not double this recipe.  If you need more, make another batch of dough.

Assembly: (I will add photos next time I make!)
  •  Place a rounded  tablespoon of ravioli filling and place near center of ravioli dough.  Fold over so sides meet.  Fork the edges to ensure closure.  
  • Place ravioli on floured baking sheets, ensuring they do not touch.  
  • Freeze overnight, uncovered
  • Place frozen ravioli in plastic freezer bags or other canisters and keep frozen until ready to prepare.

Cooking, Eating and CELEBRATING the Ravioli:
Prepare the Bolognese sauce (previously featured in FoodieMamaBlog here -->> Bolognese Sauce)..  Assemble a bunch of hungry family and friends.  Get some good red wine  Chianti recommended.:)
  • Heat the Bolognese sauce.
  • Boil 5 quarts of salted water.
  • Add about 20 frozen raviolis to the boiling water.
  • Once the ravioli float, set timer for 5 minutes. Remove ravioli from water and set in colander.
  • Put ravioli in large pasta bowl and cover with sauce.  Tell your guests it is time to mange!
  • Continue to cook ravioli in batches of 20 or so until no one is hungry...hopefully some are left over for the cook!

Italian Style Chicken  (aka Chicken Cacciatore):
This recipe is a bit of a challenge.  I am getting better at it each time I try it but it still doesn't taste quite like my Grandma's.

2 Chicken, cut up, with skin left on
1/4 C Vegetable Oil
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 T Dehydrated Onion, minced
1 T Lemon Juice
1 C Water
Salt and Pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large roasting pan, put oil in bottom.  Add the chicken pieces (use as much as you need to feed your group).  Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Bake, uncovered about 15 minutes until chicken starts to brown.
  • Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees
  • In a saucepan add the tomato paste, water (May need to adjust amount based on the amount of chicken.  You want the broth to not be too 'tomato-ey'), garlic, onion and lemon juice. Stir until paste is dissolved, over medium heat.  Pour over the chicken.
  • Cover the roasting pan and cook about 2 1/2 hours.  Baste chicken several times with pan liquid to keep moist.  Add more water as needed.
Again, not my photo, but looks similar