Of course, that was the first thing Aunt Janet said when we started making the arroz con gandules on Christmas Eve, but I think that statement can be applied here as well.
This was, no doubt, the most hectic Christmas this family has ever seen. If you know me, you know that by "hectic" I mean a blast. I love a crazy mess every now and then, especially if it means I am surrounded by people I love. Christmas Day was relatively quiet compared to the days surrounding it. The roster consisted of my mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, uncle, uncle's girlfriend and me. We took our time getting to the presents in the morning as we enjoyed this impromptu little spread:
I get nostalgic this time of year. Here are a couple things I was reminded of this time around:
Christmas 1992: My big brother, Brian and Uncle John "hosting" their own sports talk show in front of the video camera. I was in charge of the intro music (for the show opening and coming back from the fake commercial breaks), and my dad would play the voice of "the callers" phoning in to ask their controversial questions about players, coaches and other sports drama.
We went all out.
Christmas 1993: My 3rd grade class memorized and recited the Christmas story from the book of Luke. I remember we would tackle about two verses at a time. At the end of each week, there was a free reading time (if you were really good, you got to sit on a special bean bag chair). Each student was called to the teacher's desk individually to recite the verses for that week from memory. This was done in every 3rd grade classroom so that at the end of the quarter, right before the holiday, the entire 3rd grade class stood in front of the whole school to recite the 20 verses:
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom his favor rests!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
We went all out.
So why wouldn't this family go all out when it comes to the food at Christmas? I know a lot of people cut back on gifts and spending this year for obvious reasons. Two things I love about food is that it is relatively cheap, and it promotes togetherness. There is really nothing I love more than coming around the table with great people to share a meal. Uncle John and his girlfriend, Connie, were gracious enough to bring a delicious ham from the store that is their new obsession: Costco. We all contributed to the table with dishes including: Katie's spinach and artichoke casserole (from a friend's recipe), dad's green bean casserole, Publix's dinner rolls, my stuffed jalepenos wrapped in bacon and goat cheese mashed potatoes and Uncle John's sangria (recipes soon to come).
Everything was delicious, but more importantly, it was really special to have the opportunity to share the meal with some of my favorite people.
Dessert. There is a lot of pressure to finish off a great meal with a delightful dessert dish. The Costco crew brought an extra large pecan pie which I will continue to enjoy for the next few days. However, I wanted to try my hand at another cake. In an attempt to counter the state of the economy, I aimed at making the richest cake possible. I found a recipe for a dark chocolate cake that included ingredients like bailey's liqueur, dark chocolate chips, chocolate pudding and sour cream.
I went all out.
Rich Even When You're Not Chocolate Cake
(recipe from All Recipes)
1 package dark chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (about 4 oz)
16 oz sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup baileys liqueur
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 10 inch bundt pan, and lightly dust with cocoa powder.
Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another (large bowl); whisk the contents of each bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients little by little, mixing in thoroughly.
Beat until ingredients are well blended.
Fold in the chocolate chips to the thick batter.
Scoop the batter into the bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving (even though we ate it warm).
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the cake using a sifter to make it pretty.
Tip: A lot of people on the message boards for this recipe on its original post recommend using andes mint chips in place of the semisweet chocolate chips and creme de menthe instead of baileys for a mint chocolate cake. Other suggested adaptations include using raspberry or orange liqueur. Be creative.