So, I am wracking my brain, trying to decide what to cook for Christmas Eve and Christmas. I don't usually do the same thing year after year, like a lot of people do. I find it boring and uninteresting. I don't cook the same things over and over for non-holiday dinners, either. Most people have about fifteen recipes they fall back on repeatedly. Think about it: that means you're eating the same meals about twice a month. I do admit, I have recipes that I go back to again and again, after all, they are good, really good, but I try to mix it up most of the time. Also, my cooking tends to be seasonal. I use what is fresh and cheap and local, when it is available.
Last year, my daughter, the Gates Foodette, relieved me of having to plan and cook two fabulous dinners and a brunch within two days. She had Christmas Eve at her house. It was really good, and fun, and my stress was much less. She is now doing the newly-married-how-to-please-both-families dance, so she will be spending Christmas eve with her husband's family and Christmas Day with us. That means I am back to making big meals two days in a row. Am I worried? Am I tired? I will be...
Here is one of my strategies for lessening stress: make as much ahead as possible. Appetizers and hors d'oevres are probably my favorite part of any meal and I like to take them over the top. A simple, yet fabulous recipe for a make and freeze ahead appetizer is Cheese Beroges. These cheese-filled phyllo triangles can be put together and frozen between layers of waxed paper and then baked frozen, straight from the freezer. If working with phyllo makes you crazy, just keep this in mind: it doesn't have to look perfect. If the dough rips a little here and there, just keep going. The multiple layers will cover those imperfections.
1 C shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 egg yolk
1 T minced parsley
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 pkg phyllo, thawed
Mix first three ingredients and set aside. Place one sheet of phyllo on work surface and brush with melted butter. Cut phyllo into 2 in long strips, starting from the short end, so that you have about four narrow, long strips. Place one tsp of cheese mixture at one end of phyllo and fold into triangles. Brush with more butter. Layer them into a container as you go, or cover with plastic wrap so they don't dry out. Bake at 450 degrees for about ten minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot.
I'll try to update this post with pictures when I make them, but no promises. It's a busy time of year and I have to cook. Don't you?