All About the EVES

All of our cookbooks focus on heirloom recipes. And what holiday has more heirloom family food stories than Christmas? So we thought we’d share some of our own family’s traditional holiday recipes. These are what made our Christmas Eves special as we were growing up.

Every Christmas Eve, Josh’s mother serves clam chowder and cornbread.  Before the meal she serves a chopped Italian salad with many cheeses, sliced Italian meats, shrimp, and peppers with a olive oil, garlic, vinegar dressing. After the soup and bread, the platter of Xmas cookies would be served.  (They were not TOUCHED before that night).  They would all have a glass of champagne (tiny for the kids).  The dog and the cat would be allowed in for 1 tablespoon each of the bubbly and many hugs until they begged to be let out into the cold nite again!!!!  Then the whole family would trudge through the snow to Christmas Eve Mass.

Jackie’s Christmas Eve Corn Bread

Ingredients

1 cup roasted corn meal
1 cup flour
1 t. baking soda
pinch salt
1/2/ cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
7/8 cup buttermilk

Instructions

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add egg, milk and mix. Then stir in the dry ingredients

Grease an 8″ x 8″ pan

Bake in oven at 425 for 25 minutes

Clam Chowder for a family of 4

Ingredients

2 cups cooked diced potatoes, peeled
1 cup fine chop celery
1 cup fine chop onion
3/4 cup butter
pinch of white pepper
1/4 t. dried leaf thyme
1/3 cup flour more if  you want it thicker
16 ounces chop clams
16 ounce clam juice
2 cup hot milk
1/2 t. parsley flakes
salt to taste

Instructions

Cook potatoes

Saute celery and onion together.

Add pepper, thyme and flour….do not brown

Add clams and juice, slowly, stirring.

Heat until thickened

Reduce heat, slowly add milk

Whisk until smooth

Add potatoes, parelsy, salt

Heat but do not boil

Christmas Eve at Brent’s grandmother’s house was a 4 hour grazing festival rather than a sit-down meal.   Each holiday treat was always served in the same platter each year and placed in the exact same lay out on the table.  They’d eat until they couldn’t hold any more then unwrap gifts.  Then they would eat some more.  When we asked Edith to share some of her Christmas Eve recipes, she hand-wrote them just like a true Southern lady should.

Hint:  the Ice Box Cookies are probably what made Josh fall in love with Brent

Chef’s note: Cookies best after left in the refrigerator, covered, for one day.

Tell us a little more about your holiday traditional meals in the comment section below!

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

ConnieW.

It was always a baked hen or a turkey at Thanksgiving, and ham at Christmas. Sides included baked beans, Parkerhouse rolls, potato salad, dressing if having hen or turkey, candied sweet potatoes, corn or green beans, fruit salad, lime jello cheesecake, Cherry Delight, and various pies. It’s funny how we focus on the gifts as kids, but after we grow up, it’s the food and the songs that bring back all the memories.

Reply
writerspacesite

As a young couple, putting each other through college with zero money for presents, one of the *gifts* we gave our families was a Christmas dinner we would research, prepare, and serve. The one requirement was that the menu had to be unique — which led to various results, such as multiple tables of relatives waiting rowdily for a roast goose that refused to cook. The most memorable, as the worst and best, was the Tudor England Feast we discovered in a magazine. We followed the recipes optimistically, and I don’ t know why we didn’t realize — until we served it — that just about every dish at that dinner was replete with figs; nor did we realize that the English mean it when they use the word “savory” about their cranberry sauce. There were two successful — i.e., edible — dishes in that dinner: a dessert trifle that saved the day (too many figs in the pies); and the “cock-a-leekie” soup that we’ve since served on Christmas Eve for the last 36 years, and all the branches of the family that struggled through that Tudor dinner do the same, although we all live far corners of the country away from one another now. Our own kids, who have eaten this soup every year of their lives, today requested a double recipe — and we, just as traditionally, say Yes — so it lasts the entire Christmas week. We never make it at any other time; it is perennial as the tree and presents wrapped beneath it. We’re teachers — so those degrees we were achieving back then didn’t lead to hedge fund millions — but what we realized then (despite the figs) and show our kids now is that it’s gifts of our attention and care, and time, that matter and make the family tradition.

Here is the basic recipe that can be doubled, revised, and adapted for folks who don’t have hours to simmer and nurture the broth of a soup: (1) cover a 2-1/2 – 3 lb. chicken with cold water; add 1/2 cup diced carrot, celery, and onion, 2 sprigs of parsley, 2 tsps. salt, a twitch of white pepper, a bay leaf, and 1/4 cup of pearl barley; (2) bring to a boil and simmer the chicken until it’s tender; (3) remove the chicken (make sure you’ve got all the little bones out of the broth) and strain the broth — save the veggies and barley, and make sure you have 4 cups of broth; (4) pull the chicken meat from the bones and shred it. (At this point you can continue or put everything away for a day or so, or freeze it all until you’re ready to finalize.) At serving time: put the broth, veggies & barley, a small diced potato and 1-1/2 c. sliced leeks or yellow onions together in a nice big pot, bring to a boil, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and a pint of light cream (if you can get it: good luck with that) or regular cream or a combo of 1/2 and 1/2 and heavy cream. Heat through and garnish with a few glorious leeks; enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Reply
Elizabeth Lambert

Love you guys, thank you for all you do making great products, sharing recipes, goat cam…you make us feel like we live next door. Happy holidays to you Josh and Brent.

Reply
Zoe

Very kind – love your newsletters – yum clam chowder sounds yummy the night before;) I’ll be making that during holidays- blessed holidays and bless your families- shalom and may you you enjoy 🙂 thank you Zoe

Reply
Margaret (Madge)

School is back in session today (UGH! Junior High level)…. But, on the bright side we are on what we call “the downhill slide” of the school year. Anyway, was taking the time to go thru my emails… and I see in several postings people are talking about your show. I have looked all over my cable provider to see if they carry it…. where will I find this? I dearly loved watching you boys and farmer John on cable a couple of years back and that station quit carrying you show…. HELP!!! I could use some sunshine here in IOWA during the winter months!! Thank you!

Reply
caralie scott

My 89 year old Mother has made homemade mincemeat pie forever and 40 years ago I took over the tradition of Plum pudding with hard sauce! A delicious family tradition!

Reply
Carla

I have a friend that takes old recipes written in the original hand writing and transfers them on trivets – what an amazing heirloom. YOU’d love them as would these recipes!

Reply
Christi McMillan

Everyone remember the Beekman Special tomorrow night!!! This will be so much fun!!

Reply
Debi Pierce

Christmas Eve has meant venison/beef stew since our 3 kids were small. My mother thinks it's beef stew because she doesn't "like" venison. Ha! Our kids are grown up and still look forward to it. We pack 3 kids, 2 spouses, 5 dogs, 3 grandparents, a brother and sister or two and my husband and I (is there a song in that somewhere?)into our little ranch house and I wouldn't have it any other way. Since the kids have grown up, we break out the wine and play some rather interesting Wii games! I love Christmas Eve! I really wish my mother-in-law was still with us. She loved it too!

ps. The sausage balls are great and not too hot – even with hot sausage. We have been making them for years and they are a family favorite.

Merry Christmas, Polkaspot! I miss my llama!

Reply
Mary Weber- Kraus

Christmas Eve was always a magical time growing up in NJ, in the 60's. We alway's had a big family buffet, with Fresh Ham, coleslaw, baked beans, pickled pigs feet, chopped liver , shrimp & sides, plus desserts. Then after we all ate, we'd hear sleigh bells & Santa would come up from basement & give each of us a special gift…saying he was stopping by early, but would be back in morning if we were all good.. Then we'd hang our stockings & the children would go to bed. Back then, our Tree was up with lights only…while we slept- our parents, grandparents & aunts & uncles would decorate tree, and

place all our gifts (unwrapped) under it. Then about 6am, we'd all be up ( my poor tired parents) to open gifts & we'd have a holiday brunch for all the relatives again. The Ham on Christmas eve was a German tradition to symbolize good luck. It's my 52nd Holiday, all family is gone, but I still feel like that little 7 yr girl during Christmas. Many Blessings to all of you!

Reply
Melissa

Every Christmas Eve we have an open house at my parents house. I make my cioppino (to squeeze the 7 fishes into one dish), my mom makes baked ziti, and my grandmother makes fried shrimp. Everyone from the whole neighborhood and all of our friends and family come and we eat and laugh until it is Christmas morning. I love Christmas Eve.

Reply
Julie Norris

My family spends Christmas Eve at my parents house in Wells Tannery PA. A small rural town with less than 200 people. The entire town sets out thousands of luminaries that line the roadways, alleyways, and driveways. They also make a big star on the community ballfield that can be seen from the main road in the village. Every year it is such a beautiful site. We invite friends over, open gifts and eat lots of good food. Many wonderful memories.

Reply
Sarah

Is it alright for me to print the recipes as they are written? I love old recipes that are in the penmanship of someone you love. I have several that my Grandmother wrote for me. I cherish them! But…don't want to break any copyrite laws.

Reply
Becky Kinney

My husband and I love watching your show together, one of the few we totally agree on! My family has lots of traditions for Christmas. Christmas Eve is always finger food (usually shrimp or pizza) since there is usually present wrapping still going on. Christmas Day starts with coffee and NO ONE is allowed to enter the room with the presents until everyone is awake. We used to all have sticky buns while openening gifts, but food allergies limit that now. After gifts we have sausage gravy, biscuits, eggs and venison steaks if someone got a deer. Dinner isn't till later in the afternoon and consists of what the cook is most comfortable with: usually turkey or ham, sweet potatoes w/marshmellows on top, stuffing (oyster and regular), green beans and a huge array of desserts. The allergy sufferers tend to bring their own specially prepared food and it all ends up working somehow. We will have a new addition to the family this year (cousin and wife are having a baby any day now!), and then add the dogs into the mix and Christmas is NEVER boring!

Hope every one has a Happy Christmas!

Reply
Suzanne Gerrior

I have just discovered you through Country Living magazine and feel as though I have found old friends. I'm looking forward to catching up on your shows and watching the Christmas special (even though I will be stuck in Toronto taking an ISO 9001 course).

I grew up in Nova Scotia and have lots of wonderful Christmas memories and traditions that are tied to the sea. My mom always cooked fresh salmon for Christmas Eve dinner. I used to do the but now make lobster pasta instead.

Your grandmother's handwritten recipes look like the recipes my mom wrote out for me when I left home, which I still have.

Reply
jankandfran@att.net

I'm wishing my family had Christmas eve traditions..we didn't..anyway I got in on my Italian husbands' celebration with the squid, pasta and midnight mass.I'm missing my Mom and am sad,but am decorating my house with my antique ornaments and several trees..lots of lights.I have given my kids a tradition to remember.God Bless us all.

Reply
Terri DeSantis

Christmas Eve is spent at my sister's house. Good food, great family…………

It starts around 2 in the afternoon with many courses. Hot hor dourves, salads, chips an dips (one set of dishes)then goes to the fish,shrimp,skate,clams (many ways, filet, you name it it is there.(another set of dishes, different pattern) then we go to the eggplant parm & pasta (yes, another new patterned dish). In between eating we play games. Now Santa comes around the neighborhood on the fire truck this is now around 6:30-7:00 pm and we all run outside to see Santa and get a bag of candy!the kids are all thrilled with this part. We all run back inside because we don't have our coats on and spread the candy all over the table and trade. We nibble on some as well. Now comes the exchanging of some gifts for the kids because we don't all get together on Christmas Day. It is also my godson's birthday so it makes it extra special. Now comes the desserts (yep, yet another new design for the dishes). My sister Denise does all the cooking and work for this special night for our family. We love her for it. This year we will move the location from my sister's house to my Dad's house. He's not feeling well and cannot travel so we will bring the party to him as we did with Halloween, and will with Thanksgiving.

Reply
Connie Wedding

I think it is the traditions that make us remember the holidays so fondly, and to get the feeling of our childhood back, we want to carry on the traditions we grew up with. To me, this is one of the best things about Christmas…..that I can re-create (almost) the feelings from the past, and the food is a very large part of it.

Reply
Christi McMillan

Hi Brent and friends on Beekman!! Just wanted to tell ya'll about the AWESOME Sausage Balls…We decided to divide the recipe and see what flavors would fit for everyone. We LOVE Brent's grandmothers original recipe for the adults and the younger grandkids liked mixing 1 lb. of Hot Sausage and 1 lb. of Original Sausage for them!! Thanks again! Have a great day!!

Reply
L.L.Coleman

Love to you both, Josh & Brent, and to your families. I love your tv tradition ! It was sweet seeing your grandmother's handwriting in her recipes, Brent. Reminded me so much of my grandmother's handwriting.

My in laws have a 'tamale making' tradition that takes 2 days. Cooking the meat in water on day 1, then preparing the chiles and mixing the masa on morning of day 2. Corn husks are soaked in water too. A group of people are needed to spread the masa on the softened corn husks, later in the day. By that time, the shredded meat has been warmed in chile sauce, and a spoonful of meat mixture is put onto the masa-spread corn husk, which gets folded up like a packet. The packets are then steamed for at least 25 minutes. Labor intensive but worth it; they freeze well (and are enjoyed for months if batches are big enough ).

Happy Holidays..

Reply
Butch

I could only wish your show was playing on x-mas eve, it would be a perfect backdrop to a perfect evening with my Daughter, Son-In-law, and two wonderful grandsons. Their family is filled with unconditional love just like the two of you, so Happiness and Health to all at the Beekman

Reply
Roni

Is Josh's mom's Italian chopped salad homemade as well? If so would loooove that recipe too to go with the chowder! =)

Reply
Renate Beedon

I just started Weight Watchers a few weeks ago and your meatball recipe is one that is doable for the point system. I'll try it!!

Thank you for the recipes and I hope to see new episodes of your lives pretty soon 🙂

Reply
Donna Rae

Like Wendi, we always open one gift on Christmas Eve, freshly laundered new jammies. We quickly change into said new jammies, grab some cocoa or cider and handfuls of pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and jump in the Jeep Commander… the whole family… including the dog. Why is that gas tank always empty? Hhhmmmm. Oh, well, my husband doesn't mind pumping gas in his jammies and Santa hat! We drive around town, munching and laughing and enjoying the light displays, always finishing our tour in the most exuberantly decorated neighborhood. We've been known to make surprise stops on the tour at unsuspecting friends' homes, dropping off trinkets in our jammies.

By the way, our children are now in their late twenties and eagerly await this tradition!

Reply
Lola

Our tradition is to have Mexican food for Christmas Eve. It's a perfect antidote to all the cookies and fudge leading up to Christmas. We have posole (spicy pork & hominy soup), tamales, enchiladas, chicken chili, refried beans, and Spanish rice. Mmmmmm.

Reply
Christi McMillan

Dear Dr. Brent,

I am looking forward to trying the sausage ball recipe and wanted to know if you think it might be too spicy for small children?? Have you tried it with mild or original sausage?? Looking forward to the Recipe Collection from ya'll as well!!!

Hugs to you both!! Christi

Reply
veronica

Sausage balls are a holiday staple at our house. We make them with sweet sausage and serve them with lil'smokie pigs-in-a-blanket and cinnamon rolls. Every holiday gets them, new year's, easter, thanksgiving, and christmas. This year I will also be makeing my Amish Sweet-Hot Mustard, yum!

Reply
Andre Jones

Note….We lived in a really nice neighborhood…It was mainly to protect us from ourselves….looking forward to your XMAS special…warm and fuzzy time.

Reply
Andre Jones

I am tiring you mom's meatball recipe-sounds good!

We lived in an apartment in Riverdale,Bronx.

On Christmas Eve day we decorated the Christmas tree. Then we invited neighbors over for drinks…champagne, and grog. After that we would go door to door singing Carols. That night we had an easy dinner, like cold cuts and rye bread. We could open one present. Then we were off to bed, unable to keep our eyes closed….so we went into the parents room around midnight, and watched Santa on the radar (B&W TV)….then we went to sleep. Drove my parents nuts!

How Santa got into our apartment was always the question? Our windows had braces that only had 5" clearance. and every door was in lock down.

Reply
Roger

One of our traditions each year when I was a kid was the late night service and social on Christmas Eve. The wife of the Rector at our parish always made this special soup. When I met her again many years later she dug out and gladly shared the recipe with me. I now make it every year for Christmas Eve, just as she did for our parish 'family'.

MRS. RENFRO’S NORWEIGAN FRUIT SOUP

3 cups water

½ cup tapioca

1 large can of sliced or diced peaches

2 cans of sour pitted (pie) cherries. (Do not use “pie filling”)

2 cups of grape juice

1 peeled orange –or- 2 small cans of mandarin oranges

Boil the water in a large kettle or stock pot. Add the tapioca and stir the mixture until clear. Have canned fruits open and drained (reserve the juices). Add the juices to the boiling mixture and bring to a boil again. Then add the orange fruit first. Simmer for 1 hour. Don’t boil the soup too hard and remember to stir the mixture frequently with a wooden spoon making sure it doesn’t burn. Let the mixture cool slightly, then add the canned fruits. Heat through but don’t let the soup boil again.

Serve hot with cheese-flavored crackers.

Serves 6

[NOTES: This recipe was created years ago when most fresh fruits were not available or in-season in stores during the holidays. It therefore relies heavily on canned fruits which were only available packed in what we now call 'heavy syrup'. No sugar was added because the 'heavy syrup' contains sugar. If you use canned fruits packed in water or 'lite' syrup you may need to adjust for this.

This recipe may be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc. When making a big batch I have also added cans of fruit cocktail.

Reply
Molly Payne-Hardin

Ooohh, this Southern girl loves a Christmas Eve sausage ball!! I'm hoping Williams Sonoma on Columbus Circle still has some of your jam when I visit NYC in December. Oh and I just saw the ad for the Holiday Special — HYSTERICAL!! These recipes are a wonderful treat — thanks, guys! Molly in Florida

Reply
Mim

Christmas Eve is spent at my Dad's house (Mom passed away 9 yrs ago)- gift exchange among family members under 18 do not exchange names over 18 exchanges names…I am the oldest of 7 kids…so we always have lots of "finger foods" at this time and have the traditional dinner on Christmas Day.going to mark my calendar for Dec 8th.

Reply
Pam

We celebrate Yule in our home. A couple of weeks before our celebration we start making natural items to decorate an outside tree we find in the woods. All the items we make for the Yule tree are things wild animals eat. When evening rolls around on Yule "eve" we gather and proceed to the Yule tree and decorate it with strings of berries and popcorn, bird seed and peanut butter ornaments. We leave offerings around the trees for other forest animals. We sing and chant while we work to decorate the tree.

When we get back we feast on homemade hot chocolate and a potluck dinner – I think this year claim chowder will be my contributions 🙂 – thanks for sharing the recipe. Gift exchange consists of homemake gifts or services that other family or friends can offer.

May you all have a blessed holiday season no matter how you celebrate!

Reply
Wendi

Thank you gentelmen, for sharing these recipes, will have to try some! we are so looking forward to the holiday special!

Christmas eve growing up wasn't so much about food. We did have a tradition of opening one present (always new pjs), reading the Christmas story from the bible and Clement Moore's version and then leaving cookies, milk and carrots (for the reindeer) out for Santa. Also, there was always homemade Wassail in the crockpot.

These days with my own family Christmas eve has become a tradition of having friends and family over for a potluck. Duck, swedish meatballs, pasta and chili have been some of the highlights. The ever-present Wassail reminds me of my childhood. And my now 12-year old puts out cookies and carrots for Santa still.

Reply
Cathy

Since we all gather around and cook things we have seen you make on your show, December 8th will be an extravaganza! We are already planning on making the corn bread and clam chowder as well as some of the other items above.

We will be staying at the American the weekend after Thanksgiving. I'm going to the Merchantile and hope to get some Blaak. Oh please, please tell me you still have some! And the Blaak Onion Jam….that stuff ROCKS! We have to have those items for our December 8th feast.

Reply
Renee

My family celebrates Hanukkah. The first of the eight nights would be celebrated with a little more festivity. The first night would usually be a meal of my mothers brisket that she cooks in simmering plum tomatoes and lots of onions. Paired with mounds of homemade latkes, (potato pancakes) served with gramma's homemade apple sauce from their apple tree in Silver Spring, Maryland. a salad, and for dessert, home made sugar cookies in cut out shapes of Hanukkah related items,; dreidel (kids spinning toy) menorah's, and gelt (chocolate coins). We drank home made spiced hot apple cider. After dinner, all the kids would gather for the lighting of the first candle of the menorah and sing songs. then we would open a present and play games. the adults got to have my moms home made rum balls. sometimes we (as kids) would go outside and play flashlight tag.

Reply
Sarah

When I was a kid, there was So. Much. Church. on Christmas Eve, we honestly had little-to-no family celebration. Mom sang in the 10AM (German) service, we'd spend the afternoon cleaning the house, then I'd play violin in the 4:30, 6, and 7:30 services, followed by a light dinner and bed. My parents sang in the 11PM service, and would wake me when they got home to open precisely one gift. Christmas morning, I got to open one more gift before Mom headed out to sing at church again, then cleaning and cooking for the big family Christmas dinner.

Dinner involved every sitcom/movie stereotype: way too much food, a rowdy kids' table, etc. Uncle Don would have brought a pheasant at Thanksgiving, which Dad would have smoked; that and a bunch of sauces were the most popular appetizer. Sauerkraut cooked in beer was a mandatory side dish, and beer would be added by anyone walking through the kitchen. After dinner, the kids each had to do a song or "Christmas piece" before we were allowed to open gifts.

Now I spend Christmas with the in-laws, where nearly every moment from the 23rd to the 27th is painstakingly scheduled. Christmas Eve is lasagna, Christmas trivia games, a Yankee swap, and a "game" designed to quiet the children down, even though the youngest is 22.

Each meal is prepared by a different team, and over time the husbands' contribution–appetizers on the 25th–grew beyond anyone's ability to chip away at it. Cheese twists, meatballs, sausages, bacon wraps, and more…to the extent that the traditional Christmas dinner was moved to the 26th.

I'm part of the team for dinner on the 26th, but most of my contribution is in the form of baking: a combination of my family's traditional cookies, the mother-in-law's requests, and something new once in a while. We start the day after Thanksgiving, doing the things that freeze well first: spritz cookies, some chocolate chip variants, and lots and lots of bars. Taking into consideration the three different food allergies in the family, two incredibly picky eaters, and the "must" list, we do about 30 different kinds of cookies and candies every year.

Reply
Karen Hardenburg

I am already drooling over these recipes and will be making all of them. Christmas Eve we make a nice dinner and leave a plate for Santa. In years past Santa has had steamed Oysters (which she I mean he loved), McDonalds Happy meal and even chinese take out food. We then light a candle and sing Happy Birthday then blow it out. Corny I know but fun. I can't wait til the special. Love ya guys!

Reply
Laura Totaro Schafer

Christmas Eve in my family was 12 courses of fish. One for each of the Apostles. Wonderful Italian dishes and cookies swarmed over three tables at my grandmothers house. Not to mention the wine which was located in barrels in the cellar. I miss those years very much as all are gone to heaven now. I can still taste and smell every dish and every glass of wine and still see my grandparents sitting at the table. I will be hosting a Soiree in my family's honor and now will include you both December 8th.

Reply