By TEDDYE SNELL
The Christmas Day feast may be the center of the gastric world on Dec. 25, but many families also enjoy a variety of snack foods, sweets and special drinks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
As families gather for the holiday, they are often greeted by table laden with finger foods, sweets, eggnog and spiced cider.
The Daily Press asked its Facebook friends about the liquid refreshments they traditionally serve.
“We have apple cider with cinnamon sticks,” said Angela Baker-Barnhart. “We have had it every Christmas as long as I can recall. My mother made it, and it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I have that fragrance permeate the house. [It] warms my heart.”
According to allrecipes.com, nothing beats a mug of hot cider on a cold winter day. The standard recipe calls for 6 cups of apple cider, a quarter cup of real maple syrup, two cinnamon sticks, six whole cloves, six whole allspice berries, one orange peel and one lemon peel, both cut into strips.
To mull the beverage, pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel container. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen twine. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture. Place the saucepan over moderate heat for five to 10 minutes, or until the liquid is hot but not boiling. Remove the cider from the heat and discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big mugs or cups, adding fresh cinnamon sticks to each serving if desired.
Local resident Kathy Williams said her family enjoys a sweet, crunchy snack during the holidays.
“We always make an enormous batch of caramel popcorn to snack on throughout the holiday season,” said Williams. “We love it, and it’s so easy to make.”
Homemade cookies and candies often factor into the mix of holiday treats.
“We have peanut blossoms and chocolate chip cookies,” said Ashley Wade. “The kids drink hot chocolate while the adults drink coffee with a little Bailey’s Irish Cream added to it. We also have sugar cookies that we decorate together.”
Those who enjoy a little mint with their chocolate may want to consider making this candy cane cocoa, from allrecipes.com. The ingredients include 4 cups of milk, three 1-ounce squares of chopped semi-sweet chocolate, four crushed peppermint candy canes, 1 cup of whipped cream and four small peppermint candy canes. In a saucepan, heat milk until hot but not boiling. Whisk in the chocolate and the crushed peppermint candies until melted and smooth. Pour hot cocoa into four mugs and garnish with whipped cream. Serve with a candy cane stirring stick.
Jami Custer said her family has traditional fare for Thanksgiving, but lightens things up for Christmas.
“We always, always have a pickle platter, sweet tea, Sex in a Pan, pies and chips and dip for Christmas,” said Custer. “We go all out for Thanksgiving, but for the Christmas holiday we take it easy with yummy finger-type foods, sandwiches and things of that nature. I like to bring the sandwiches, using the Hawaiian rolls and thinly-sliced meats and cheeses. Toast them a bit and yum.”
Bea Tullis offers her family a variety of treats, ranging from sweet to savory.
“Fudge, a cheese ball and spinach dip are must-have treats at my house on Christmas Day,” said Tullis.
Allrecipes.com offers a recipe combining the flavors of spinach dip with a traditional cheese ball. Ingredients include one 10-ounce package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; two 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese; one packet of vegetable soup mix; one 4-ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese; and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, cream cheese, water chestnuts, vegetable soup mix, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese until well-blended. Form into a ball and roll in chopped walnuts. If the mixture is too soft to form a ball, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set. Wrap the cheese ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to blend the flavors before serving with crackers.
Former Northeastern State University student Nancy Berry said her family enjoys a little bubbly with their Christmas meal.
“We’ll be having mimosas with our Christmas dinner,” said Berry.
The mimosa is a traditional brunch beverage, and combines champagne and orange juice. To make a mimosa, combine three parts chilled champagne with one part orange juice.
To review or print the recipes found in this article, visit www.all-recipes.com