Christmas 2015

Hello friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and spent time with family and loved ones.

santa II

For me, there’s no better way to spend Christmas than with the one I love, having a Christmas movie marathon, while eating tasty treats! We watched 7 movies over 2 days. We even got a small 3-mile hike in on Christmas morning, which was lovely (and much needed after all the treats we’d been eating the day before).

hike

Morning hike with my hiker stud (middle picture is a coffee bean shute).

So, what movies did we watch? Well, we wanted “Christmas” movies, so this is what we came up with (thanks to some suggestions from my Facebook friends). Also, if you’re interested, I’ll include a little commentary on how Greg & I liked each movie. This was determined mainly by if one of us had to get up to go to the bathroom, did we ask the other to “PAUSE” the movie or “DON’T PAUSE.”  So here you go:

 

jen don't pausegreg pauseDie Hard (original):  Yes, with Bruce Willis.  I guess this is a “Christmas movie” because it takes place at Christmas time.  Lots of guns and shooting scenes that go on forever… 

 

jen pausegreg pauseELF:  Will Ferrill.  Lots of people suggested this, and we had never seen.  Very cute, light hearted, kid-friendly.

 

jen pausegreg pauseChristmas in Connecticut (1945):  Thank you Arden Brink for recommending!  Yes, this was made in 1945, black and white, and we knew it had to do with cooking.  We weren’t expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised by the acting, and I loved that it had to do with cooking.

 

jen pausegreg don't pauseWhile You Were Sleeping:  Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman.  Great movie, we’d both seen before, but it had been a while.  Liked it, but not as much as we remembered.

 

jen don't pausegreg don't pauseNation Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:  Chevy Chase.  I know – people LOVE this and just rave about it.  There were a couple of funny parts, but mostly boring slap stick comedy… we were glad when it ended.  

 

jen pausegreg pauseThe Holiday:  Kate Winslet, Cameran Diaz, Jack Black, Jude Law.  Ok – how can you go wrong with that cast?  But really – the story throughout – of each of these people, plus some others – is just so great!  We’ve seen before, but we both loved this even more than we remembered.  

 

jen pausegreg pauseLove Actually:  Cast of too many to name.  Greg & I both love this movie and watch it every Christmas.  I just love all the many ways that love is portrayed – not all warm and fuzzy – but very real.  

 

So enough about movies, let’s get back to the food…  What treats did I make? Well, just a few – but all with an equally HIGH YUMMINESS rating (and the first 2 are perfect for munching on while watching movies).

I only make my Baked Olives at Christmas time, not sure how that happened, but it’s a great tradition Greg & I both look forward to every year.  I even heard that Greg’s Mom and family in Oregon made them this year!  

olives

Baked Olives
Yields 40
Olives wrapped in a cheesy-buttery dough and baked till crispy. Serve with Ranch Dip.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  2. 1 ½ Cups Flour
  3. ½ Cup butter (melted)
  4. black olives (1 can or small jar)
  5. green olives (1 jar)
Instructions
  1. Work cheese and flour together until crumbly. Add butter and mix with fork ( I usually add some water, till it is a dough consistancy). Mold 1 tsp. dough around olives and place on baking sheet with a silpat mat (or parchment paper). If you are baking later, you can chill with wrap over them.
  2. Bake 400 degrees F 15-20 minutes (until slightly browned).
Notes
  1. These are best eaten with Ranch Dip! Enjoy!
Adapted from (ancient church cookbook)
Adapted from (ancient church cookbook)
Costa Rica Chica http://costaricachica.com/
And I FINALLY (after several attempts) perfected a queso dip to make here in Costa Rica (where there is NO Velveeta cheese to be found).  This has the perfect blend of mexican spices without being too spicy.

queso

Costa Rica Chica Queso
Yields 2
Creamy, velvety, flavorful queso!!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ tsp minced garlic
  2. ½ TB butter
  3. 1 box crema dulce (or half & half, or heavy cream)
  4. ½ small tomato, chopped
  5. small bunch cilantro, chopped
  6. 4 oz cream cheese
  7. 12 slices American cheese (the individually wrapped kind)
  8. ½ tsp cumin
  9. ½ tsp garlic salt
  10. ½ tsp pepper
  11. ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Put butter and garlic in a small sauce pan, after melted and sizzling for a bit, add the cream, tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. Allow mixture almost come to a simmer, turn heat to low/medium low, then stir in cream cheese and start adding cheese (I tear up the cheese into smaller pieces) and spices. Cover and leave on low heat for a bit, stirring every now and then, until cheese is melted and all is smooth.
Notes
  1. Enjoy with Gina chips (here in Costa Rica) or your favorite tortilla chips. (Note: this is not a super thick queso - if you want it thicker, add less crema dulce/cream).
Costa Rica Chica http://costaricachica.com/
Christmas Day morning, after a short 3 mile hike with perfect weather, we came home and had this for breakfast – absolutely delicious! Sweet, yes. Perfect for a gourmet special-treat breakfast:

toast

 

Cinnamon Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast
Serves 4
Delicious and sweet breakfast!
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Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. • 1/4 cup milk
  2. • ½ cup cream (half and half, heavy cream crema dulce)
  3. • 2 large eggs
  4. • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  5. • 1 TB honey
  6. • ½ TB vanilla
  7. • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  8. • 4-5 cups cubed bread
  9. • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
  1. • 2 TB brown sugar
  2. • 2 TB cup flour
  3. • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  4. • 2 TB butter, cut into cubes
Instructions
  1. Grease small 8x8 glass pan (double order for 9x13 pan).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, mashed bananas, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. To the milk/egg mixture, add the cubed challah bread and the chocolate chips. Gently toss to coat, being careful to not break up the bread cubes too much. Pour into pan.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and remove the muffins from the fridge, let sit at room temp until oven preheats.
  6. While the oven preheats make the streusel, in a small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and walnuts. Mix together with your hands, until you have a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle the top evenly with the streusel topping.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Serve with maple syrup, butter and bananas if desired.
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest
Costa Rica Chica http://costaricachica.com/
That’s all for now. Hope everyone had a great Christmas! — Jen
PS – stay tuned tomorrow for a BRAND NEW Expat Extra!  

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Jen

I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

Check out my Arm Candy: Costa Rica Chica Arm Candy.

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10 Responses to Christmas 2015

  1. How much do you want to bet that the reason 60% of Gringos go home within
    2 years is because there is NO Velveeta Cheese?? Now they’re all going to
    stick around…
    Loved the queso dip — made it both thick and soupy — Yum and Yummo.
    Thanks!

  2. I loved your movie reviews (and two of your double-thumbs up I’d never heard of so … on the list!) … however, I discovered a new phenomenon which is that I have just gained 10 lbs sitting here reading your recipes and looking at the photos. This is NOT FAIR. I just looked in the mirror and I look like flashback Monica from “Friends.” (I still love you though …)

  3. Thanks for the recipes I love olives any way they can be served. I swear the only reason to drink Martinis is for the olives. Look forward to giving this one a try. Regarding movies, are you streaming Netflix?

  4. Great write up, you are so creative Jen. Thank you for the movie reviews and recipes. I can’t wait to make the olives. And now I’ll wait and see what you have in store for the new year! Feliz año nuevo amiga!

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