Christmas Traditions and Fresh Spinach Dip

I don’t know about all of you, but this skinnyfat girl has been BUSY!  Holiday parties, Christmas cooking, buying presents, et cetera, et cetera…

How was your holiday?  Mine was absolutely wonderful. 

On the 24th, my hubby, sister, and I headed for Oklahoma where my mom, dad, and little brother live.  When we got there we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, as we do every year on Christmas Eve.  There is always the inevitable moment about halfway through the movie where my mom will get annoyed at all of us for quoting lines and getting into philosophical debates over certain scenes.  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I am always beaming by the end of it.

After the movie, my siblings and I raided the fridge, well tried to anyway, it was pretty much filled with food for Christmas dinner.  This wouldn’t have been a problem if my mom hadn’t been watching us like a hawk.  We just had toast and then headed to bed.

In the morning, we had our traditional Christmas breakfast – each of our favorite sugary cereals.  It’s Fruit Loops for my sister, Reeses Puffs for my brother, the hubby has Frosted Flakes, and I have Lucky Charms.  My dad has Life cereal and then a bowl of Lucky Charms.  My mom rarely indulges, but she usually has granola or something similar.  I am responsible for this not-so-healthy tradition as I was the one who, at the tender age of about 4 or 5, convinced my mom to buy “special” cereal once a year for Christmas. 

And, of course, after breakfast there are presents.  I didn’t start this tradition, but I thoroughly approve of it.

I also approve of another tradition; one that I am implementing now.  Fresh spinach dip for Christmas, New Year’s, and mealtimes.

Fresh Spinach Dip

  • 2 cups greek yogurt
  • 8 oz. package neufchatel cheese (or vegan cream cheese)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (you choose the color, I used red)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

First combine the greek yogurt and neufchatel cheese together.  You will need to either mix it with a hand mixer or blend it in your food processor or blender.  It will not work to just mix it using a wooden spoon.  Trust me, I tried.  It may have worked if the neufchatel cheese was softened (note to self for next time).

Then chop your various ingredients.

Bell pepper…

Fresh spinach (chop off stems and discard)…

Water chestnuts…

If you do not have water chestnuts…

Go to the store and buy some right now.  This is the ingredient that makes this spinach dip so special.  Just trust me on this.

Now add your garlic powder, paprika, salt and that’s it!

Now it’s time to eat!  You can serve the dip in a bowl with crackers or you can get fancy and make a bread bowl like I did.

Happy (almost) New Year, everyone!  I wish you all the wonderful and happy things that life can bring, including spinach dip.

~Elesha, a skinnyfat girl (New Year’s resolutions: eat lots of spinach dip, post to SkinnyfatGirls once a week)

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10 Rules for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is at our place this year. I’ve never made Thanksgiving dinner before, meaning I’m super excited and a tad nervous. My mother-in-law is making the turkey, which is quite a weight off my shoulders. I’m a fairly laid back person, but I could eaily see myself completely losing it if I ruined a turkey. Still, with about 12 different dishes to make from scratch, I’m open to the idea that I could become slightly overwhelmed by the whole thing. With that in mind, I’ve set some rules that will hopefully help things go smoothly.

1. Do as much as possible in advance. When Thanksgiving morning rolls around, your house should already be spotless. Your food should be chopped, cooked, baked, chilled, boiled, and prepped as much as possible. And do your very thorough shopping several days before. Check your grocery list twice. Three times, even. Trust me, if you forgot to pick up a can of pumpkin it’s going to be nearly impossible to find a can on Thanksgiving day. If you forgot the potatoes, well, there’s just no excuse for that one. Hang up your apron, you’re probably not ready for this.

2. Buy plasticware for table settings. Hobby Lobby sells really beautiful and festive disposable plates, utensils, and napkins that look just as good as the real deal but make cleaning up way easier!

3. Don’t burn stuff.

4. Keep multi-tasking to a bare minimum. In other words, focus on one thing at a time…which will make you less likely to burn stuff. I know we all want to save time and do a million things at once, but when you’ve got three things in the oven and four on the stovetop, well, its going to get ugly. I’m willing to bet money you don’t have seven kitchen timers.

5. Trick your husband (or significant other) into helping. If you successfully do this and then realize he’s more of a menace than a help, trick him into staying out of the way for the entire day instead. Just say, “Hey, do you wanna watch the game?” Rather than peel potatoes? Why yes, he does wanna watch the game. Now that you mention it, he probably wants to watch both games. This may also work with the Macy’s parade. If he is anti-baton-twirling and/or broadway musical numbers, remind him about the Snoopy float. As a last resort, send him to pick up a pretend item you need from the store. You just bought yourself at least one uninterrupted hour!

6. Don’t waste time on any other food but Thanksgiving dinner. As this means there is no “official” breakfast or lunch that day, graze on things as you make them – green beans, potatoes, scraps of uncooked pie crust, etc. I usually get pretty full on pie crust alone.

7. Wash dishes as you go. Load the dishwasher often and start a load as soon as it’s full. And for God’s sake, don’t dirty another dish unless absolutely necessary!  Dishes could easily become your downfall, which leads me to…

8. Don’t collapse on the floor, sobbing. In this state, you may be tempted to declare that Thanksgiving is canceled, you’re never cooking again, and everyone and the dog can stick it where the sun don’t shine/go to H-E-double hockey sticks/die. You may also be especially upset with a particular dish and throw it across the room or at an innocent family member. To prevent this meltdown, try sticking to the above guidelines.

9. Schedule time to take a shower. After a long day in the kitchen, you’re going to be sweaty and covered with Thanksgiving goo, so as important as folding napkins into pretty shapes may seem 20 minutes before the guests arrive, showering is actually a bigger priority. You may also want to put on clothes that are not sweatpants and a t-shirt. Brushing your teeth can’t hurt, either.

10. Don’t stress. Thanksgiving should be a wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable holiday. If you’re reading this, you probably love to cook, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t take it easy and have fun in the kitchen. Enjoy the time with your family and friends, but more importantly, eat as much as you can physically fit inside of you and appreciate the fact that you’re such a darn good cook. After all, it’s the only day of the year where it’s acceptable to be a complete glutton!

So that’s the plan. If  you follow these guidelines, the preparation should be relatively stress-free. Happy Cooking!

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~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

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