"Wait - there's an actual recipe for this?"
My husband Douglas paused his furious stirring and spun around from his post at the stove. I pointed to the book his mother, now resting in the front room, had left spread open and bookmarked on her kitchen table.
"Well yeah," I said. "Isn't this what you're using? Onion, cornbread, celery, the egg? It's the same dressing you make for Thanksgiving, and this recipe is pretty much it, right?"
Christmas is often a time for heavy eating and drinking, and the Japanese don't miss out.
But unlike many other countries where there are traditional Christmas dishes, Japan does not have any, and a quick look at a regular family's Christmas feast shows that anything, from sushi to chinese steamed shrimps, are acceptable at the buffet.
However, there is one specialty that many Japanese like to have on the table next to those items – fried chicken from KFC.
Today, it is possibly the closest thing in Japan to a Christmas tradition.
The luscious, dark, tangy, sweet, and often intoxicating first bite of Christmas pudding is a special reminder of the holiday season for those of British origin. A bonus for those unfamiliar with the aged, steamed cake filled with fruit, liquor, and nuts is the opportunity to douse it with brandy butter and set it aflame.
It has been almost two years since I last laid eyes on a Christmas pudding, and in planning this year’s holiday festivities, I knew it had to be an integral part of our celebration. My husband, however - a Florida native with childhood memories of Jell-O brand products - couldn’t conceive of pudding as something special. Indeed, from an American perspective, tapioca and chocolate pudding is generally the domain of the cafeteria. I had to broaden his dessert horizons.
Marilynn Shcolnik of Snohomish County, Washington, shared photos of awe-inspiring gingerbread houses from the 19th annual Gingerbread Village fundraiser in Seattle. The creations are all made by architects partnering with hotel chefs, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Northwest chapter. The theme this year was “Holiday Express.”
Is there a food that makes the holidays bright in your home? We want to hear all about it. Immortalize your food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video, submit it as an iReport and we'll show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy food blog through the end of the holiday season.
Growing up with an Italian grandmother, Christmas meant befana cookies. My Nonna would make these anise treats every December. Italian legend has La Befana as a good witch in the style of Santa Claus, but for some reason in my family, befana became the name for Christmas cookies.
Nonna would make enough befana cookies to fill a glass jar that was about two feet tall. She would store them on the stairs leading to the attic with a piece of bread on top to keep out any moisture. I grew up in Vermont and I remember the cold as you would try to sneak a cookie. Of course, Nonna would catch me - the powdered sugar on top of the cookie made it very obvious.
My Nonna passed away in November of 2001 and unfortunately, no one in the family had learned how to make the befana cookies. Thus, my younger brother has spent the last eight years trying to perfect the recipe and seems to have come as close to Nonna's as possible.
There's a reason that iReporter Chris Morrow is considered a superstar around these parts. Not only does she file sumptuous reports from all over the country - she also scores interviews with tip-top talent like the hosts of NBC's "The Sing Off."
Morrow asked Nick Lachey, Ben Folds and Shawn Stockman our favorite question at this time of year, "Finish the sentence, 'It's not the holidays without...'" and got answers ranging from eggnog to...well, you'll just have to watch. And drool. And go make chicken. (You'll see.)
Our favorite question to ask folks at this time of year how they'd finish the sentence, "It's not Thanksgiving without..."
Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley, John King and Soledad O'Brien share the dishes that make their holidays shine bright.
We recently asked readers to immortalize their holiday food tradition in words, recipes, pictures or video via iReport so we could show off some of our favorites on CNN's Eatocracy all the way through the end of the holiday season. Christmas may be over, but for White House Sr. Supervising Producer Stacia Deshishku, the leftovers are the fun part.
I don’t know when we began eating Greenberg Smoked Turkeys, but it likely was some time in the mid-1980s. In Tyler, Texas - home of the Greenberg Smoked Turkey - the Greenberg family has been smoking turkeys since the 1940s. Ordering one (or more) each holiday season has been a Christmas tradition in our family for almost 30 years.
We order every year from Greenberg for two, well, really three reasons. First, they are phenomenally good. Second, they are easy - no cooking required! But third and most important, once you finish your turkey dinner, the turkey ball party begins. I actually prefer the turkey ball to the actual turkey, and I’ve been known to purposely underserve my guests so that there is more turkey leftover for making turkey balls. Once, we even ordered an entire turkey simply for ball making!
Abigail Bassett is a Senior Producer with CNNMoney.com. She lives in New York with her husband and two very helpful dogs who clean up all her cooking messes. This is her first in a two-part series as Abigail tackles her first joint family Christmas dinner.
"And the lion shall lay down with the lamb..." - or in my case, the foodies shall cook for the conventional foodies, and none shall order pizza.
I've got a confession to make: I've been dreading Christmas since Thanksgiving. Well actually, Christmas dinner to be exact.
I know, I know, bah-freaking-humbug - but hosting my first combined family holiday has sent me rummaging through cabinets and family recipes for days. Upending plans for a mellow holiday and sending me (and my poor husband) into a tizzy.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about family holidays and tradition. In fact, I really like my family’s Christmas tradition: A big turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and stuffing is like a dream Thanksgiving do-over. My husband’s Italian family however, does things very differently - and that’s where the issue arises.