Holiday Checklist, Dinner – Done!

The hustle bustle is tuning up, and soon moms across the world will have to-do lists longer than their arms.  Please let me give your bustle a little less hustle with planned out meals for the holiday season.

Daily Dinner Plan – with Crockpot options

November 30
Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Thyme, Quick Roasted Asparagus

December 1
Diner Comfort Food – Cheesesteak Style or Patty Melt Sandwiches

December 2
One Pot Chicken and Rice – you’ll have leftovers, so you won’t have to worry about hubby’s lunch tomorrow or the rice for next week’s soup

December 3
Minestrone Soup

December 4
Baked Chicken Parmesan or this yummy looking Milanese (less cheese, more calories for cookies) An even easier version is this chicken parmesan casserole you could assemble ahead.

December 5
Paula Deen’s Pulled Pork Stuffed into Baked Potatoes (make a double batch of the pork, and you’re ready for next week)

December 6
Chicken Cordon Bleu with Steamed or Roasted Veggies and a Green Salad

December 7
Baked white fish sliders with not-your-normal cole slaw and oven fries

December 8
Shredded Beef Tacos or mix it up with these Korean Style Lettuce Wraps (both of these yield awesome leftovers)

December 9
Chicken and Rice Soup

December 10
Stuffed Pasta Shells (add in sautéed dark greens instead of meat and make this dish for Meatless Monday) A great reason to make a big pot of marinara and freeze for another busy night.

December 11
Texas Chili Bar – no beans here! (brown the meat , onion and garlic, then pop in the crockpot with all the other ingredients so it’s ready when you are)

Tonight is family game night, and make your own bowls of chili couldn’t be easier! Save the extra cornbread for next week’s stuffed peppers.

December 12
Mediterranean Style One Dish Herb Chicken Bake

December 13
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (this is actually leftover pork from the baked potato night that I froze for a super quick meal)

December 14
Veggie Lo Mein

December 15
Tis this season for family and friends, so why not make Taco Tuesday an event? Grab a holiday flick or make an impromptu craft or gift wrapping party.  Try these Seven Layer Tostadas

December 16
Pioneer Woman’s Pork Chops with Pineapple fried rice

December 17
Chicken and Cornbread Stuffed Peppers OR My Stuffed Bell Peppers

December 18
My Potato Soup – a nod to my family heritage — so easy and yummy

December 19
Broiled Salmon and roasted veggies

December 20
Whisky BBQ Meatballs ( I use my BBQ sauce recipe, then  add mashed potatoes (or steamed veggies, or herbed noodles – the side options are endless)

December 21
Kid’s Night – Bake cookies, make treats, watch your favorite holiday movie, let them invite friends over for a sleepless slumber party – the kids hang out, then everyone goes home and goes to their own beds for sleeping

Dinner cooked in muffin tins makes everything easy to divide and easy to eat – Mary Beth’s Knock Your Socks off Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese Cups

December 22
Soupeasy dinner so you can get to those last minute items on your list

December 23
In Texas, Christmas brings Tamales – order some, or try these cheats

December 24 & 25
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day are not included since everyone has their own traditions

December 26
With new toys to try and games to play, try one of these breakfast casseroles to start, or end , your day

December 27
Supreme Pizza Pasta (toss in the slow cooker or even freeze ahead)

December 28
Grilled Venison Backstrap with Gingered Carrots

December 29
Pioneer Woman’s Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

December 30
Baked chimichangas

December 31
Stay in Date Nite – going out when you have young children is rare; I don’t want to spend it with crowds

Chicken Marsala with Garlic Whipped Potatoes & Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

Forget the bubbly, this year I’m making these bourbon Blizzards.

Keep in the Freezer for One of Those Really Long Days – seriously, you don’t even need a side!

Make a Bunch and Save for Lunch

Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork – In the oven or slow cooker, this make it and leave it dish is great on slider rolls with sliced gouda or piled in tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a lime wedge for quick pork tacos – Plus there are usually plenty of leftovers to freeze and use again*

Pecan Crusted Chicken – these take some prep up front, but they are easy to make and freeze great

Browned & seasoned ground beef, bison, or turkey (use in tacos, quesadillas, as pizza toppings)

Chicken Fajita meat – try this marinade to elevate them beyond normal week night.

Bring a Little Holiday Spirit into Your Kitchen

Christmas Scones

Gingerbread Waffles – I haven’t made these yet, but they are on my must try list

Fresh Cranberry Scones

Hosting Guests? These touches are sure to impress

For their room:

  • Recently I stayed at my brothers’ and one of the most welcome treats was their selection of pillows. Doesn’t sound like much, but with everyone having their own preference, being able to choose was a luxury. Of course, I picked them all!
  • Have an extra throw blanket in the room, especially for those who travel across the country, the climate change can be shocking

In the Morning:

  • Create a coffee and tea station next to a bowl of fruit so early risers can serve themselves and relax.
  • Your guests will be convinced they’re at a B&B with these breakfasts-Homemade donuts – these puppies are all baked so you can indulge without standing over the frypan or having guilt-Blueberry Baked Oatmeal or Bobby’s Oatmeal Stuffed Apples
  • Baked egg boats would be restaurant worthy
  • Set a loaf of bread to make overnight, so you wake to Fresh Bread machine with make ahead berry butter spread
  • Save some time with this gourmet casserole

Stock Ahead for Comfy Touches:

  • make sure the bar is stocked, grab an extra bottle of wine to mull (awesome on the day guests are arriving), have some bottled sparkling water or ginger ale on hand
  • early in the month, check dry goods in your pantry so you are prepared for last minute at home meals that come with an unexpected winter storm front
  • make cookie dough and freeze, so fresh baked cookies are quick to whip up

Fix-Aead Dinners that Feed a Crowd:


Dinner? Soup’s On!

It’s starting to finally cool down. For me, that means SOUP weather!

I am looking forward to a yummy winter.

Roasted Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This final recipe is a culmination of years catering lunches and teaching cooking students; a few tweaks each time I prepared it for someone. It is a winner.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large crowns of broccoli, trimmed to florets
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
4 medium carrots, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, chopped (approx. ½ cup)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, fresh grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
To Make:
Place broccoli in roasting pan and roast in oven at 350 for 20 minutes. This is an extra step, but the added flavor is soooo worth it.

While broccoli is roasting, place half and half in a small saucepan and warm over low heat. In a large saucepan, melt butter under medium to medium high heat and sauté onions, celery, and carrots.

Add in flour and cook for 3-5 minutes making a blonde roux. Add seasonings and whisk in chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer on low.  When the broccoli is done, add it in, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Using either an immersion blender or ladling into a regular blender, puree the soup. Return the soup to the saucepan and add in warmed half and half and cheeses.  From this point, do not allow to boil.  Gently simmer soup for about 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine and cheeses to melt. Ladle into bowls, find your favorite bread, crouton, or crackers and dive in to some cheesy comfort. Trust me, my phone does not do justice to the yumminess.

Beef & Vegetable Soup like my Dad made it
1/2 pound ground beef
1/3 large onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 large red potato, large dice
14 ounce can whole tomatoes
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef broth
To Make:
In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the meat with onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and garlic. Remove from heat, drain, and discard the grease.
Return to heat add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and herbs. Cook over medium-high heat until dry. Stir in broth, add potato, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low/medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are softened.

A’s Potato Soup
This is an original S’more Mom recipe, and one of my all time winter favorites!
Serves 4
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 celery stock, fine dice
3 baked Yukon gold potatoes
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups thick cubed black forest ham
1/2 medium sweet onion
1 shallot
2-4 cups chicken stock
2/3 – 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped
To Make:
Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Sauté ham, onion, celery, shallot, garlic, and thyme with olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until veggies are translucent and ham slightly browns. While cooking, bake potatoes an additional 15 minutes, and allow to cool slightly. Peel and dice, set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze with a small amount of chicken stock, just enough to scrape brown bits. Sprinkle veggie mixture with flour, and cook several minutes. Add enough chicken stock to cover veggies, dairy, potatoes, and chives. Simmer an additional 10 minutes, but do not boil.

Chicken Enchilada Soup
Serves 6-8
3 Tablespoons butter
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 corn tortillas, cut into think (1/4”) strips, divided
2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz American cheese or queso blanco (good melting cheese)
1 to 1 ½ cups half and half (can substitute cream, Mexican crema, or sour cream)
4 oz can green chilies
*can substitute 2-3 Tablespoons of non-msg taco seasoning for chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and salt.
**the baking soda keeps the dairy from curdling when added to the tomatoes and lime juice in the soup base
To Make:
Melt butter over medium heat and sweat pepper, onion, celery, and carrots until softened. Stir in seasonings, stock, tomatoes and 4 tortillas.

Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Puree and return to pot.

While soup simmers, bake remaining tortilla strips at 375 degrees until crispy.

Add baking soda, and when bubbling calms, add cheeses, chilies, half and half, and chicken. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.

Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar

Minestone Soup Base
1 Tablespoon EVOO
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth
28 ounce petite diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary, minced
salt and pepper to taste
any vegetables you want to add, diced
1 can Italian beans, rinsed & drained
To Make:
Sauté onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until translucent. Add it broth, tomatoes, vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer at least 20 minutes, checking for tenderness.

Toss It Together Southwest Chicken Soup
This soup can be easily assembled with pantry and freezer ingredients

Tomato Parmesan Soup

Williams-Sonoma French Onion Soup

Try these other recipes from my Souper Pinterest board and let me know your thoughts!