The Christmas Season is always a time of hustle and bustle and anxiety of making sure you have purchased every last gift! While we get caught up in all of the traditions, holiday sales, and family drama; I feel like sometimes we truly lose the meaning of the entire holiday season. Now, I’m not trying to give you a sermon, because there are plenty of those abound. I want to talk about the Christmas season for the average neighbor.
It is a fact that this time of year comes with a lot of stress and a lot of financial burdens. I get it! I’m there too! What do you buy cousin Eddie, what happens if I don’t make Aunt Bethany’s obscure Christmas casserole the family has expected since 1978, what happens if I can’t pay the power bill to keep the cheerful Christmas lights on? These are all probably some semblance of questions that are racing through our brains about this time of year and, while they are valid concerns; they force us to lose sight of the real joy of the season.
I understand that not everyone is extremely well off and can afford a perfect Hallmark Christmas but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. In the words of the great Dolly Parton, I have also been through some “Hard Candy Christmas’.’” Sometimes it’s those moments that seem so down and low in the height of everyone else’s happiness that slaps us in the face the most. But, in all reality why should we be so down just because we are short on gifts or short on cash?
This is the point where I challenge everyone to look at the small things. Do you really need a gift? Chances are you already have plenty you don’t appreciate! Do you really need extra money to conform to family/holiday traditions? Chances are there’s something in your pantry that everyone will crave and love and it didn’t break your bank.
Without rambling on too much longer I promise I am going to include a few recipes that my family cherishes every Christmas that aren’t expensive, they wont break the bank, and I bet you have most of the ingredients already in your pantry!!
As I’ve said numerous times before, food is the glue that holds us together. Food is community. Forget the expensive gifts that will be history about two months after Christmas. Forget the expensive Christmas sweater you must wear to impress Ellen Griswold. Forget having to stress out so much at this time of the year! This is a season of love, friendship, giving, and compassion… none of those things have to cost a penny.
It truly is my Christmas Wish that everyone would come together, pool recourses if necessary, forget about the gifts, and sit down at a Christmas table and share a meal together. A handful of simple ingredients at the grocery may be the cheapest, easiest, and most heartfelt way to bring a family back together, or build new traditions, or rekindle the love of the Christmas Season.
Remember it’s not all about the gifts, it’s not all about the decorations, its not all about the money spent. IT IS all about the family and friends that are created and shared throughout this season. Aside from Christ, that’s the greatest gift of all.
I hope you enjoy the following recipes and find them economical and delicious. Hopefully they will become a staple in your family’s tradition. Just remember, “Food is the glue that keeps us together!”
Now go out and break bread with your loved ones and from the bottom of your heart, wish them a Merry Christmas!
_ Josh Gilreath, The Tennessee Rebel
OLD FASHIONED MAC & CHEESE
1 – Box of elbow macaroni (1lb)
4 – Cups of sharp cheddar cheese
2 – Eggs scrambled
2-3 – Cups of milk
½ – Stick of salted butter cut into slivers
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Prepare pasta according to box directions
- Layer pasta into a 9×13” casserole dish and top with about half of the cheese.
- Layer remaining pasta on top of cheese and then top with the remaining cheese.
- In a mixing bowl whip the eggs and add the milk salt and pepper.
- Pour egg mixture over the top of the Mac & Cheese.
- Top the Mac & Cheese with pats of butter.
- Add additional milk so that the liquid roughly comes half way up the side of the casserole dish.
- Bake covered in foil for about 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes to make sure the cheese is golden brown.
Note: Use any cheese you desire or use a combination of cheeses! It’s cheese you can’t go wrong!
BROCCOLI & HAM CASSEROLE –
1 9X13 PAN
2 – 10oz. bags frozen chopped broccoli
1 – can cheddar cheese soup
1 – cup Dukes mayonnaise
8 oz. sharp cheddar shredded
2 – 8 ounce packages large ham chunks (or 1lb ham steak cubed)
2 – eggs beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1 – teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ – cups Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
¼ – cup shredded parmesan
2 – tablespoons butter melted
- Prepare broccoli according to package directions
- Mix broccoli, cheddar cheese soup, mayo, ham, sharp cheddar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Pour broccoli mixture into a 9”x13” casserole dish.
- Mix melted butter, bread crumbs, and parmesan chees until evenly coated.
- Spread bread crumb mixture on top of casserole about ¼ “ deep.
- Bake uncovered at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
WILD RICE AND MUSHROOMS – 2 QUARTS
1 – Box Uncle Bens Original Wild Rice
½ – Stick Butter
½ – Onion Chopped Fine
1 – Small Can Mushrooms Stems and Pieces
1 – Can Campbell’s Beef Broth
1 – Can Campbell’s Beef Consume
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Place butter and onions in 2 quart casserole and place in oven while preheating.
- Once the oven is preheated add the rice, mushrooms, spice packet from rice, and beef broth and beef consume. Mix well with a fork to dissolve seasonings and make sure all rice is coated.
- Cover and bake at 450°F for 45minutes or until rice is tender.
COWBOY COOKIES– 8-10 DOZEN
2 – Cups All Purpose Flour
2 – Cups Rolled Oats
½ – teaspoon Salt
½ – teaspoon Baking Powder
1 – teaspoon Baking Soda
1 – Cup Sugar
1 – Cup Brown Sugar
1 – Cup Shortening or Oil
2 – Eggs
1 – teaspoon Vanilla
1 – Package Chocolate Chips (OPTIONAL)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly.
- Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Add eggs and vanilla and continue to blend well.
- Add chocolate chips if desired stirring evenly throughout mixture.
- Drop batter from teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 8-10 minutes in a 375°F oven or until golden brown.