The Stress of Planning Holiday Meals

By now, surely everyone is preparing for the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus. I, too, am in the throes of preparing for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas Evening. It’s different in Florida. The lack of any real weather change doesn’t make it feel like Christmas. No snow. No fires in the fireplace. No big, poofy coats to slip into and out of when visiting people. No twinkling lights adorning all the bushes and trees in front of every house. No journey to Pennsylvania on Christmas morning to celebrate with my grandparents and extended family.

Merry Christmas

For a native New Jersey girl, that’s my memory of Christmas.

With horses and too many other animals, every holiday is muted by our responsibility to tend to their needs. Christmas breakfast must wait until the horses are fed and watered, stalls cleaned and pastures rotated. After breakfast, horses need to be exercised. Maybe we’ll squeeze in a nice trail ride, but then, afterward, more stalls, more hay, more grain, more water. Only then can we do Christmas gifts and supper.

Despite the farm looking like any other day of the year (minus a few bare sycamore trees who shed their leaves at last), I’ve been trying to get into the holiday spirit. Last night, I managed to watch Elf with Cat and Jacob and then, afterward, snuck in my favorite movie, The Nativity Story, which Marc watched with me. Later today, I’ll wrap the very, very few gifts I bought and then we will attend the Rafter Cross Cowboy Church Candlelight Service. Afterwards, we will return home for Christmas Eve supper.

So, knowing that I need everything prepared before church for our late evening meal tonight, I decided to try something different. Usually, we do prime rib on one night and turkey on the other. This year, I felt “meh” about another turkey. Thanksgiving seems like it was only yesterday, doesn’t it?

Well, last week, my problem was solved! Watching the news in the morning, Celebrity Chef Adrianne Calvo from Miami was sharing a special assortment of dishes for Christmas or Christmas Eve supper. My eyes remained glued to the television as she whipped together a glaze/marinade for pork tenderloin and served it with two delicious looking side dishes.

Click here to see the two minute segment: Tips to add maximum flavor to your holiday recipes.


At that moment, I knew what I would cook on Christmas Eve! Celebrity Chef Calvo made it look so easy and simple. Not thirty platters to prepare, pass around, and then clean up afterwards. Just three simple dishes. With an eight hour marinade, I could prep that early and cook it up after church. And the salad—kale something—with the acorn squash? Perfect.

But then, after I prepped my shopping list for dear hub to fight the hungry holiday crowds at Publix, I realized there was a problem: No where on the Internet could I find the recipes! In fact, I couldn’t even catch the name of the second dish. I knew the third one required acorn squash and I finally found what I think is the recipe (click here to read) so, maybe I’ll make it tomorrow even though I have no idea what burrata is. I’ll have to make up something to hopefully fill the void.

Why on earth would any news channel push a wonderful meal like that and not publish the recipes? I am totally baffled by this wildly unfair situation. Entice us with the idea of this amazingly delicious looking meal and then steal away the possibility of actually making it!

Angry Tomato

I must have watched that video a dozen times. I gave up on the second dish—she ran through the ingredients too fast and dear hub was getting antsy, waiting for my list. But, I think I managed to pull off the pork tenderloin!

Right now, it’s marinating in the fridge and I’m trying to figure out what to make to go with it…probably mashed cauliflower (easy and yummy) but I have nothing green. That means another trip to a food store, I suppose. The stress of trying to figure out Chef Calvo’s recipe threw off my game and I didn’t plan properly.

Knowing this, I fully anticipate a very stressful evening. I hope my marinade works out. I still need to figure out the prime rib deal for tomorrow (but I’ll worry about that in the morning, I reckon). And then I have the acorn squash situation.

Fortunately, I have the church service to look forward to. Singing. Candles. Remembering the actual reason for the holiday (which has zero to do with my meal, thank you very much). Yes, I need that moment of calm before the tidal wave of cooking stress is released, flooding me with the fear of failure, especially with other people coming over to “enjoy” the meal. Everyone’s memory of THIS Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals are in my hands. That’s a lot of pressure.

But, regardless, it will be a memory—one to be praised or laughed at in future years. Either way, it’s going to be a memory. And as long as people remember the real reason for the holiday, that’s all that matters. Of course, it would be nice if it does turn out. Perhaps a Christmas miracle will grace my kitchen this year after all.

Merry Christmas to all.



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