Gingerbread is a popular Christmas treat which has been enjoyed for centuries around the world. Gingerbread cookies were originally only baked exclusively by professional bakers. These cookies were baked year round and shaped into popular shapes based on the season. Later, the general public was given permission to bake the popular cookies at Christmas and Easter, which may explain the Christmas connection.
Ham is the main attraction for many Christmas dinners. Serving pork at holiday celebrations dates back to Tudor England when a boar’s head was a common holiday centerpiece for the wealthy. Serving a Yule ham at holiday gatherings was later adapted for ease and accessibility.
Candy Canes originated, according to folklore, around 1670, when a German choirmaster needed an enticement to keep young singers quiet during services. Later, in 1847, an Ohio German immigrant used candy canes to decorate his Christmas tree. It wasn’t until the early 1900 that the popular colored stripes were added.
Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a popular food for Hanukkah. These traditional Hanukkah treats symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah because they are fried in oil. While traditional latkes are made from potatoes, onion and matzah, today there are many different recipes for latkes including latkes made from sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli, and come served topped with sugar or cream.
Caribbean, African and South American foods are traditionally served at Kwanzaa. Since Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage, pride, community, and family; food served during this holiday honors this culture. Popular dishes include fried okra, fried chicken, black bean soup, baked ham and gumbo.
Even if your holiday menu does not center around ham, take advantage of the current ham sales at the grocery store and make this Fast and Delicious Black Bean Soup. This soup would also work wonderfully with any ham leftovers you might have from the holidays.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4-6
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
3 garlic clove, minced
2 (15.0 ounce can) black beans
1 (14.0 ounce can) chicken broth
2 cup cooked ham, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup sour cream
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in 1 can black beans and chicken broth.
In a blender, puree remaining can of beans until smooth. Mix into the pot. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Mix in ham, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes. Garnish with Cheddar cheese and sour cream to serve.
Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.