Image result for images Christmas Eve Eve

It’s the holiday season!  It’s my ALL TIME FAVORITE time of the year!  Once I’ve gotten presents picked out, purchased and wrapped under the tree, it’s then time to plan out meals for the days that I’m with family.  All the fun starts on CHRISTMAS EVE EVE…

We’ve got family staying with us from the 23rd through the 26th, so I’m super excited to have so much time with the people I love the most – AND we’ll eat some amazing food together too!

We’re doing make your own pizzas on the 23rd, and my daughter and husband have a few surprises up their sleeves to go with them, and I always do a beef tenderloin dinner on Christmas Day (recipes here).  But Christmas Eve is different every year.

I stumbled upon a Giada De Laurentiis idea that sounded absolutely perfect for us.  It’s lighter and much can be prepped ahead, which I love.

I have a big Lazy Susan on my kitchen table, so we’ll gather and eat casually this fabulous meal:








For the MOZZARELLA BAR, you slice fresh mozzarella and serve with crostini, arugula, piquillo pesto, roasted tomatoes, mushroom tapenade, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Then you place all on the table or on your kitchen counter and allow your guests to serve themselves whether they want it as a salad or as bruschetta.  DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!

Piquillo Pesto:

1- 9.8-ounce jar piquillo peppers, drained well

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/3 cup toasted walnuts

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp Calabrian chile paste

1 small clove garlic, smashed and peeled

Roasted Tomatoes:

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

4 leaves fresh basil, torn

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Mushroom Tapenade:

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

10 oz mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp chopped fresh basil

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp lemon zest

2 TBSP toasted pine nuts

Mozzarella Bar:

2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced

Two 4-oz balls burrata

Grilled thick-sliced bread


Baby arugula

Fresh basil leaves

Extra-virgin olive oil

Good balsamic vinegar

Flaky salt

Red pepper flakes

For the piquillo pesto: 

Combine the peppers, Parmesan, walnuts, olive oil, salt, chile paste and garlic in a food processor.

Puree until smooth and evenly combined. Set aside.



For the roasted tomatoes: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the tomatoes with the basil, garlic, olive oil and salt in a small bowl, and then place on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread evenly and roast until softened and beginning to blister, 30 minutes.


For the mushroom tapenade:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the shallots and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

 Add the mushrooms and season with the salt.

Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have lost all their liquid and are turning golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and season with the basil, oregano, rosemary and lemon zest.

Stir in the pine nuts and remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the mozzarella bar: 

Display all the different types of mozzarella and burrata on platters and plates. Set up a buffet around the cheese options with the 3 homemade toppings, along with the grilled bread and crostini, arugula, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, flaky salt and red pepper flakes. Invite guests to assemble their own bruschetta or salads.


1 fennel bulb, sliced into rings, fronds reserved for garnish

1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to finish

1 4-lb skin-on fillet of salmon

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

3 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed

2 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the slices of fennel in the middle of a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the fillet of salmon skin-side down on top of the bed of fennel and sprinkle it with the salt. Spread the mustard evenly over the top of the salmon and sprinkle with the fennel and coriander seeds. Press gently to help the seeds adhere.


Roast until a fork inserts easily in the thickest part of the fish and the flesh flakes, approximately 1 hour. Remove the salmon to a platter. Sprinkle with the fennel fronds and drizzle with olive oil.



2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP flour

1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp lemon zest

3 TBSP fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

2 TBSP capers

2 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 TBSP unsalted butter



1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into long 1/3-inch-thick strips

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, halved

Fifteen 8-inch wooden bamboo skewers, soaked in water (or use metal skewers)


For the sauce: 

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until smooth. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, juice, capers and parsley. Return to a simmer and whisk in the butter until smooth. Keep warm.




For the chicken: Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Thread one chicken strip on each bamboo skewer. Sprinkle the chicken all over with the salt and drizzle with the olive oil.


Place on the grill pan and grill until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a platter. Grill the lemon, cut-side down, alongside the chicken until charred, about 3 minutes. Squeeze over the cooked chicken.

Serve with the piccata sauce on the side for dipping and drizzling.


(Adapted from Kevin and Amanda)

1 box Devils Food Cake Mix

1 small box Jello Chocolate Fudge instant pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream


1 stick softened butter

2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 bag fun sized Snickers for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. To prepare the cupcakes, place the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, milk and sour cream into stand mixer. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes.

Scoop the batter evenly into the cupcake liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cupcakes are cooked through and a toothpick comes clean from center. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let cool.

To prepare the frosting, beat the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla until well combined and a nice frosting consistency. Spread over cupcakes then top with chopped Snickers.


1 cup cranberry juice

3/4 cup vodka

1/2 cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Prosecco, for serving

5 slices orange, cut in half

Fill a pitcher halfway with ice, then stir together the cranberry juice, vodka, orange liqueur and lime juice. Strain into another pitcher and keep chilled.

To serve, fill a flute three-quarters of the way with the cranberry base. Top with the Prosecco, and drop in an orange garnish.





I’ve been making this fudge for over 40 years (!).  I was visiting a friend in Lakeland, Florida when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and her Mom made THE most delicious fudge I’ve ever tasted.  I wrote down the recipe and – I’ve been making it myself every year since.

5 cups sugar

1 large can evaporated milk

1 stick butter

1 jar marshmallow creme

16 oz pkg chocolate morsels

2 cups chopped pecans

1 tsp vanilla

Cook together the butter, sugar and evaporated milk about 8 minutes boiling time, over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add: chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla.


Beat until cool, then put in a lightly greased glass 13×9 dish.  Cut into squares when cooled completely.

My daughter brought these yummy and healthier cookies:

Here’s the recipe (they were fabulous!):

(Adapted from

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tbsp cacao powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup runny nut butter

2 eggs

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1 tbsp almond milk

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1 tsp coconut oil

2 candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine almond flour, coconut flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Then combine nut butter (all natural is the way to go to make sure it’s the right consistency), eggs (room temp), maple syrup, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond milk and melted coconut oil. Add the wet and dry ingredients together and fold in chocolate chips. Bake for 12 minutes at 350. Once they are fully cooled, dip in melted white chocolate (white chocolate chips + coconut oil) and top with crushed candy canes!

Then combine nut butter (all natural is the way to go to make sure it’s the right consistency), eggs (room temp), maple syrup, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, almond milk and melted coconut oil.

Add the wet and dry ingredients together and fold in chocolate chips.

Form into balls and slightly flatten them with your hands. Bake for 12 minutes.

Once they are fully cooled, dip in melted white chocolate and top with crushed candy canes!

To melt the chocolate, microwave the chocolate and coconut oil at 30 second increments on 50% power, stirring after each round, until fully melted.





A few more family photos from our Christmas weekend:






One final pic of our family that gathered together on Christmas Day – photo’s a bit blurry, but the memories are not…


Image result for images Merry Christmas from our family to yours