Merry Christmas

What a week! What a month! I am very much looking forward to taking a few days’ break from blogging, hunkering down with my sweet (and loud and funny and busy) family, and soaking up the last joyous minutes of this holiday season.

While I spend most of my time here raving about The Best Food on the Planet, I appreciate the often and sometimes poignant reminders that my life is much more than food and blogging.

Truly nothing in my life would have meaning without that sweet, deeply-held belief that this glittery, bustling, wonderful Christmas season exists because of a precious baby born thousands of years ago in humble circumstances only to become the Savior of the world…for me…for all of us.

I am endlessly grateful for that knowledge and the opportunity it gives me (and sometimes forces me) to recenter and reprioritize. Again and again.

In this season of giving, I thought it would be appropriate to again say thank you for all of those who generously donated to Mentors International earlier this year after I told you about my experience in Ghana, Africa. I have thought of your generosity over and over again during the holidays; what you gave is so much more than a donation, so much more than money. I met some of the amazing people your donations will help – because of you, their lives will change for the better. Truly, you have demonstrated what it really means to give.

Through your donations + your purchases of the eCookbookMKC readers have donated a total of $54,571.10 so far with additional donations trickling in every day. THAT IS INCREDIBLE!


I received this message from Mark, the CEO of Mentors, this week:

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being so generous with the Mentors International families we are helping to lift from poverty with “A hand up; not a handout.” Due in great part to your readers’ generosity, since July 1, 2016, Mentors International has been able to place $120,000 new dollars into the Mentors Ghana loan fund. 

During that same time we have distributed:

1,067 loans
Loaned out $295,000
Added 362 new, active loans
Created 121 jobs
Added 478 new clients
Hired 2 additional staff
Impacted an estimated 6,000 people.

This is a HUGE impact. THANK YOU, thank you, thank you!!!!

I echo Mark’s remarks and simply say: Thank you! You have inspired me in so many ways; we many never know the full and far-reaching impact of your generosity. 

And because this is a food blog, after all, a quick note about food for Christmas Eve and Christmas! Our traditional Christmas Eve meal is detailed below (two desserts because…um…I’m having a real personal struggle deciding between creme brûlée, which we always have, and the new sticky toffee pudding I just posted).

And Christmas Day I keep it really simple. I make cinnamon (or sweet) rolls in advance to bake the morning of, crackers and cheese and appetizers for the afternoon, and we are starting a new tradition of soup and bread bowls on Christmas night (all made ahead of time so I can enjoy the day with the family) with lots of leftover treats and snacks because we will have food coming out of our ears by that point in the holidays.

What will you be eating this weekend? Please, please share.

Also, this coming Friday, the 23rd, will be the last newsletter for December unless I manage to get one out on the 30th (we’ll be traveling during that time to visit my in-laws in Portland, OR, so I’m staying a little uncommitted at this point). You definitely don’t want to miss the exclusive recipe in this week’s edition (no-bake, easy, decadent, and rock-your-world worthy). So sign up here if you aren’t already on the list to get the weekly newsletters! 

Mostly, I want to say, thank you for being here. I appreciate you so much more than you realize, and from the very sincerest part of my heart, I truly hope your holiday season is filled with love, laughter, and peace.

Merry Christmas!

92 Responses to Merry Christmas

  1. Beth says:

    Mel, I wanted to fix the cranberry salad for Christmas Eve but didn’t have the ingredients or the time to run out for them. But I served it yesterday to my ladies group luncheon and it was simply delicious. Thank you for the recipe! And I don’t even like cranberries! It was sweet and tart and so creamy. Happy New Year!

  2. Heather says:

    Saturday we had appetizers and leftovers. Today we had tri tip, mashed potatoes, broccoli and homemade noodles which are put over the mashed potatoes. We also had pumpkin pie and/or Christmas cookies.

  3. Jennie says:

    Instead of a gift for my sister I made a donation and will print out the cookbook to wrap for her. It is a win-win gift! Thank you so much for the opportunity to give back!

  4. Ashlee T says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! We will be having your perfect cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow! Can’t wait! Thanks for you amazing recipes!

  5. Abigail says:

    Merry Christmas, Mel!
    Thank you for all the hard work you put in on this blog…my kitchen creations are more fun because of what you do!
    Christmas Eve at our house is pretty low key. We’ll have raised waffles for breakfast then play all afternoon until we go to church. Well come home to a dinner of wild rice soup, pretzel rolls, and creme brûlée for dessert.
    Christmas morning we’ll wake up and open gifts before feasting on monkey bread (monkey balls as my kids call them!). For dinner we’ll have brown sugar baked ham, challah bread, roasted broccoli, and melting roasted potatoes.
    I’m looking forward to what you have cooked up for us in the new year! God Bless!

  6. Kate says:

    Wait, no lasagna soup???

  7. Valerie says:

    Thanks for all you do! You help keep us well fed! On Christmas Eve we’re having cheese fondue and pear salad with almond croissants for dessert (Trader Joe’s is making my life easy with this!). Christmas morning we’re having your chocolate German pancake, which I am in love with. And for dinner beef tenderloin, yorkshire pudding, salad and fruit. As I write this, I’m shocked there aren’t more recipes from you. That is a rare day! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  8. Fiona Chain says:

    Hi Mel,
    I don’t have too many blogs on my reading list as I just don’t have the time However I look at your everyday, I love the honest to goodness, amazing recipes, that you deliver without fail. I have made so many of your recipes and your blog is often the first place I look for inspiration. I am making your creme Brûlée French toast for Christmas morning, I showed lovely hubby a photo of it this morning and he can’t wait, neither can I. Mel, I think you are amazing and really don’t know how you fit it all in. Thankyou, from the bottom of my heart. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.
    Fi, from stay home instead.

  9. Beth Farwell says:

    Mel, I’m having 26 for dinner on Christmas Eve and serving your lasagna! We can’t wait! And we do enjoy your cheeseball on Christmas too. Happy, Merry to you!

  10. Alice E says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Mel. I fixed the baked eggs for breakfast this morning since hubby didn’t leave for work until 10:30 and I was staying home. 🙂 They were very good, we will definitely be fixing them again, easy and quick – I love it. The menu for the weekend is still in flux, but I definitely plan to fix your whole wheat blender pancakes for my husband as a treat. I will also be making him either a pumpkin pie or the pumpkin dessert that is really just pie in a 9×13 pan with a special crust and topping. Since it is just the two of us, I try not to overdo, but still have some special treats. Thanks for being here to inspire us all.

  11. Julie says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family! I adore your picture! I don’t know how you do it all, but I am thankful that you somehow fit blogging into your busy days as a mom. You inspire me in so many ways. Thank you for reminding us all of the reason we celebrate Christmas!
    We are having honey baked ham, confetti corn, cranberry fluff salad, cornmeal dinner rolls, broccoli and cheese sauce, and my husband’s great-grandma’s pumpkin pie for dessert on Christmas Eve! I wanted to do something delicious like ham and cheese waffles, Christmas baked eggs, and fruit soup for Christmas breakfast, but then I remembered that I’ll be getting four little ones and myself ready for church after opening presents… so I am giving everyone a box of their favorite cold cereal :). We’ll have your classic lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and mint brownie ice cream squares, plus a cheese ball and wassail for snacking, for a Christmas gathering with family. Can’t wait!

  12. Melanie says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! Thank you for your wonderful blog. I still look at it all the time for my weekly menu planning. We have done lasagna on Christmas Eve for about 5 years now as well. A new tradition we are starting THIS year, however, is your homemade pizza on Christmas night! I know, it’s a lot of sauce and cheese in two days, but we love it. God’s blessings to you and your family!

  13. Janet says:

    Mel, I love the photo!! Merry Christmas and God Bless…….
    Thank you for the work of love that your blog is, and how you reach so many people.

    We are having baked ham, scalloped potatoes, apple/celery/walnut salad, roasted butternut squash, Your Corn Rolls. Still not certain on dessert, too many choices!!!!
    I had to chuckle, was texting my daughter Suzi last night, asked her what she had planned for Christmas dinner. Our menus almost matched……we both love to cook….and this was just a coincidence as we both vary our menus every Christmas. 🙂

  14. Jessica Glover says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! I hope you enjoy your time with family! Thank you so much for all you do to help me in the kitchen. You are truly a blessing!

  15. Marci says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! I owe much of this crazy year I’ve had to you (I say that in a very, very good way), your so inspiring! Have a beautiful relaxing Christmas with your family!

  16. Beautiful cause and beautiful idea, happy Holidays!

  17. I have been looking for a Christmas Tradition dinner! Thanks for sharing! I will be using some of these for sure! Merry Christmas!

  18. Camille says:

    Merry Christmas! I hope you know that your hard work blesses the lives of many!

  19. jamie says:

    My mom said her favorite dessert she ate all year was your lemon cake; so we are having that for Christmas Day dessert. And your southwest egg rolls (made into baked taquito style)…we always do Mexican for Christmas dinner. Thanks for ALL the incredible recipes my family (and extended family!) have enjoyed each week for years now!

  20. Pam B says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! My Ghana nativity took the top spot on the mantel this year! 🙂

    I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas. We’ll be enjoying roast turkey, cheesy potatoes and some sort of greens for Christmas dinner, along with copious amounts of cookies, naturally.

    Thanks again for all you do for all of us!

  21. Christy says:

    Well, once again, true to form I got all emotional over your Christmas picture. Yours is the only picture I cry over…but I always feel this tidal wave of gratefulness. I use your recipes all the time…in fact with my extended family whenever they ask for a recipe, we now just have to exchange knowing looks that say “did you really have to ask…where else would I have got this delicious recipe except from our good friend Mel”! In the past I have come into the kitchen out of duty, not joy…but you are are helping me to experience the opposite. Thank you so much for all your love and dedication to this blog, and Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and God’s richest blessings in 2017!

    • Mel says:

      Oh, jeez, Christy – now you’ve made me teary-eyed. Thanks, a lot! 🙂 In a time of some blogger burnout, your comment meant the world. Thank you.

  22. Ellen says:

    Merry Christmas Mel and your sweet family! Enjoy your Christmas in the PNW. Portland is nearly in my backyard! (well, over the Columbia river, and thru the woods. literally) Thanks for all your work, recipes, and the funny and cheerful posts I look forward to daily. Oh, and the kefir…. mega thanks!

    ps, came here for jalapeño poppers recipe, so, we’ll be eating those for starters….

  23. Astasia says:

    My parents live in your stake. Small world! We live in Portland…well Beaverton. Have a good time here, we love it! Merry Christmas!!

  24. Tracy says:

    Merry Christmas! I was looking for a baby on your picture, how fast they grow! Love your recipes! What a wonderful gift you are giving to all of us and still spreading the wealth to others. Thank You!

  25. Teresa R. says:

    Merry Christmas! You have a beautiful family and I wish you all the best in 2017. My family appreciates the yummy food you’ve inspired me to make for them. Your recipes have been helping me feed them for years! You are amazing!

  26. Tara says:

    We do a huge spread of appetizers with my mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve (dips, shrimp cocktail, hot apps…you name it! Hah). On Christmas Day, my mom is making a shrimp and scallop pasta dish with bread and salad for dinner.

    Bon appetit, and Merry Christmas to you and your family!! Enjoy your time off!

  27. Ketz says:

    Dear Mel,
    Thank you so much for this amazing blog and all you do. I appreciate it so so much. Thanks to you I am getting so much better at cooking & baking !
    Hope you have a very merry holiday season 🙂
    Lots of love

  28. Jen says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! Thank you for your delicious recipes and inspiration. Thank you for being true to yourself and your values by not selling out your blog for 100% sponsored baloney posts. Thanks for helping me WOW my family on occasion at dinner!

  29. Lindsay says:

    Oh, I almost forgot! Even though I swore off making more cinnamon buns in the foreseeable future after I made hundreds for a Stake brunch earlier this year, I made and froze your (Gloria’s) cinnamon buns for Christmas morning! We serve it with a hash brown/egg bake.

  30. Lindsay says:

    Look at your beautiful family! How close in age are your boys? I got chills reading about all the money you’ve helped raise for Mentors International! And I loved your testimony, too. 🙂

    Thank you so much for all of your amazing recipes. I still cook/bake from your website almost every day. My family is well-fed thanks to you!

    We are having a house full of family from Dec 23-26th, so I will be a busy beaver in the kitchen. Christmas Eve we are having appetizers (cheese ball, homemade taquitos, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, bruschetta, and pizza dip. Then ALL the baking for dessert (my favourite part)! And in Canada we traditionally do a full-on turkey dinner on Christmas Day. Bring on the food coma!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Lindsay – you are so sweet. My boys are all about 18 months apart and then a three year gap between my last son and little Cam. Enjoy all the baking and cooking you’ll be doing! Sounds fun…and busy…and yummy!

  31. Anna says:

    Our main Christmas food tradition (continued from my childhood) is whole wheat waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for brunch on Christmas morning. We have a bowl of cereal before opening presents to take the edge off our hunger (which our kids get really excited about too because they don’t get cold cereal very often). This year the timing is tricky with 11 o’clock church so we will be doing our waffles on Christmas Eve morning instead. Family and friend parties cover the other meals, so it will be very simple, which I am totally okay with. Have a beautiful Christmas!

  32. Helen says:

    What a fun Photo!! Merry Christmas!! Christmas Eve is always Clam Chowder in bread bowls, and lots of cheese and crackers and bread sticks… last year we added your shrimp cocktail and the year before we added bacon wrapped chicken. So the list keeps growing. As a tradition we also make and decorate a batch of sugar cookies. This year I am also adding raspberry ribbon salad to Christmas dinner. On Christmas morning we usually have french toast or german pancake. Last year we added Christmas eggs. This year I’m going to mix it up and try overnight creme brulee french toast, plus the Christmas eggs. I usually cook a ham or smoked turkey on Christmas day in the Crock pot and serve it with “cheesy potatoes” and a steamed veggie and rolls. We snack on appetizers and cheese and crackers all day. I’m sure I’ll be making cranberry salsa, cheese balls, artichoke/spinach dip and more chips and salsa. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!! Safe Travels!

  33. What a gorgeous photo! The kids are getting so big. I’m so glad you provided an update on Mentors International, and wow, what impressive results! As for food, we’re having a traditional Italian seafood feast on Christmas Eve, with pasta, octopus, fried shrimp, fried calamari, and seafood salad. Christmas Day is beef soup and beef tenderloin. Merry Christmas, Mel!

  34. Linda says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! I love your Christmas message every year. It is always a reminder of the reason for the season, and is always so sweet and thoughtful. I also have two desserts for Christmas Eve ! This year it’s a fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and tiramisu.
    Have a great time with your family this holiday season and have a happy and healthy New Year. ! Thanks as always, for all the awesome recipes!

    Our condo in N. H is still waiting if you and your family want to hike in the White Mountains

  35. Tiff says:

    Merry Christmas! What an adorable family you have. I just made caramels successfully for the first time from your site last night, and today was back searching Christmas breakfast plans (last year I made your Monkey Bread and it was a hit). You are the reason my family stays well fed all year (and you’re also the reason I have a good reputation at family gatherings of bringing something yummy). Thank you!

  36. Patti says:

    Merry Christmas Mel! I’m believing that the time that you spend with your family is filled with an abundance of God’s love, grace and His peace. I rarely comment, but yet have tried so many of your recipes. Thank you for sharing your recipes, your labor of love, with all of us.

  37. Kris says:

    Merry Christmas! Absolutely love your website. I will be working full-time over the next year while my husband (who doesn’t cook) is going back to school full-time. He is going to be meal planning, shopping and cooking. I told him, just go to Mel’s site, pick something (it is all good) and do what she says. You are a family friend and I always enjoy reading your blog with my teen daughter as we make one of your recipes. I love that you love Jesus! Merry Christmas to you and your gorgeous family! Love, Kris

    • Mel says:

      Ah, thank you, Kris! And good luck to your family with those big changes. I hope I don’t let your husband down! Let him know I have some killer, simple meals coming up that sound perfect for your situation. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  38. Becky says:

    I host Christmas for my family every year and I LOVE it! Christmas Eve is spent in the kitchen and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I put Minestrone in the crockpot for dinner so whenever the traveler’s arrive, it’s ready. I buy artisan bread to go with it. For Christmas Day – ham and cheese quiche (with hashbrown crust), monkey bread (I’m sorry to say I don’t have the time to make your from-scratch recipe of this – we are going to church on Sunday before the festivities begin) and fruit. While we open gifts, I have a variety of snacks, finger foods and of course Christmas cookies.

    For our big Christmas dinner, I put a ham in the crockpot, twice-baked potatoes (made the day before), beets ‘n sweets (roasted veggies made the day before), spinach and strawberry salad, relishes, cranberries and rolls (I buy hawaiian rolls because there would be a revolt if we didn’t have them!) Cran-apple pie and apple crisp for dessert!

    This is getting long but I SO appreciate your blog, Mel! As I’ve said before, if I’m looking for a new recipe, I see what you’ve got first. I’m never disappointed!

    Your family pic if adorable. Thanks for sharing it! Merry Christmas!

  39. Erin Cherry says:

    Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for all your hard work blogging and sharing your recipes. I can always count on your recipes ( not only to be delicious i an able to make them!). I’ve also enjoyed your non recipe posts just as much.

  40. Becky says:

    Merry Christmas, Mel! We had your peppermint bark cheesecake for our Christmas party last night and it was amazing!

    We travel a lot for Christmas, so my little family doesn’t have much in the way of food traditions. But, we will be having your cinnamon rolls (or, Gloria’s, I suppose) the morning we open presents. The plan is for us to have a variety of soft pretzels with different dips for Christmas eve, but that’s dependent on whether or not we have freezing rain and have to leave early for Christmas. We shall see!

    Have a Merry Christmas and enjoy your time with your family! Oh, loved the IG story videos of Cade cooking! My girls love to bake, but we’re still working on cooking 🙂

  41. Rachel Russell says:

    Merry Christmas Mel!! If it wasn’t for you, my kids would still be eating plain chicken, cheese and carrots in little piles that could never touch . . But thanks to you and finding your blog many moons ago- my kids eat anything and everything you post – after years and years of cooking exclusively from your blog! We have Dip Night’ on Christmas Eve where I will spend the 9O hours making and chopping the amazing Mel Tex Mex, (worth the bad words I will say while making it) as well as the amazing pretzel bites and artichoke dip and your hummus and pitas. We have your monkey bread and egg/ cheese bake for Christmas morning every year now. Love you Mel! Thanks for making me a Rockstar in the kitchen! ( sporting my Mel’s apron obviously . . ) xoxoxo

    • Mel says:

      Haha, you are funny, Rachel! My kids don’t like their food touching either, but we’re making progress. I wish I was there to help you with all your chopping. 🙂

  42. Angela says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family! Great picture and love all the boots! I have my kids on Christmas Eve this year and we’re having your lasagna and peppermint cheesecake. PS – my youngest son and his family are moving from VA to Portland OR in January!!!! So the holidays will be a little bittersweet here. You are my absolute favorite blogger! Happy holidays!

  43. Katherine says:

    Merry Christmas! Your family is so beautiful!
    I am oh so thankful for you. When I got married (to a man from a family that cooks a lot… my mother in law feeds 30 every single sunday!) I only knew how to brown ground beef and stick it in a tortilla with cheese… and heat up a lean cuisine. I started to learn how to cook from various internet bloggers and this summer I found you! It was perfect timing for me to not only try some new recipes for regular stuff, but you have so many recipes and tutorials for things that kind of scare me! (looking at you, caramel and cinnamon rolls…and dinner rolls). Not only have I had rave reviews from my Mel-inspired Christmas treat plates, but last night I had the missionaries over to dinner and they said someone in our ward told them they were lucky I signed up because I’m an amazing cook… best compliment ever! Thank you thank you… I love reading your posts as much as I love your recipes!

    • Mel says:

      Thank you, Katherine! Your comment made me so happy…way to go on branching out and trying new recipes and techniques in the kitchen. You are amazing and it sounds like your reputation as an amazing cook is well deserved!

    • Janet says:

      Wojw, your comment brought tears to my eyes

  44. Dora says:

    Merry Christmas and Happiest New Year! Thanks for the wonderful recipes and gift ideas. We really appreciate ya!

  45. Karen says:

    Merry Christmas Mel and family.
    Thanks for sharing your lives, love of food and laughter with us.

  46. Liz says:

    A very merry and blessed Christmas to you and your entire family, Mel! What a great photo – not only is everyone beautiful but more important you all look so happy and confident. And Miss “Strike-the-pose” is too much 🙂 !!

    Thanks for sharing all that you do and especially for this post’s sharing of your faith and the Mentor’s impact.

    My Christmas treats … I have yet to make anything sweet! I keep making crackers (from sourdough discard) and I love crackers and cheese. I have an order of smoked salmon arriving today so munchies will be that with goat cheese and capers. If weather cooperates to allow a run to the grocery I will get dates to makes sticky toffee pudding.

    My favorite tradition is a long snowshoe in the woods with my dog (and the cat comes also!). This year is the first in several years that it looks like that will happen.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Liz! I so enjoy having you here – your loyalty and helpful comments on recipes! I LOVE smoked salmon…yummy! I hope your weather cooperates. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  47. Angela says:

    Merry Christmas, Mel! Great picture. I like all the rubber boots. We always have pizza on Christmas eve. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, appetizers during Christmas Day, cheese ball and stuffed mushrooms for sure. This year we will have fauxtisserie chicken in the slow cooker, your roasted carrots (so yummy) mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls for dinner. Thank you for the starring role you play in making the food at my house awesome!

    • Mel says:

      Haha, yes, we traipsed out into our cows’ pasture with our muck boots on, I set the timer for the camera on the tripod, snapped a few and called it good. I have very little patience for family pictures (I’m worse than the kids!). Merry Christmas!

  48. Melanie Miller says:

    Merry Christmas, Mel! Thanks for all the great recipes this year. We are having potato ham cheese chowder for Christmas Eve dinner and lasagna for Christmas Day (because I can make it ahead and everybody loves it). Family coming for both meals and they’re bringing desserts. Hoping to make your cheeseball recipe for New Year’s Eve. Many blessings to you in 2017!

  49. Sheree L says:

    Dear Mel,
    I (and my family) appreciate you so much! We wish you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for all you do and the person that you are. Thank you for your sweet testimony of our Savior.
    Love, Sheree L

  50. Susan says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family too. I am so grateful to have your food in my life, your blog is my go to site for so many of the delicious things that we eat. Thank you! You are amazing and I am so grateful for all of the goodness (both food and non-food) that you share.

  51. Laurel Dewey says:

    Wow, I’m in awe! That is amazing news!
    Safe travels to you and a very Merry Christmas!!

  52. Teresa says:

    Mel, wishing you a joyous, blessed holiday season and a very happy, healthy new year! Enjoy every minute with your sweet little family!!!

  53. Paige says:

    Dearest Mel,
    A very Merry Christmas to you as well! Thank you so very much for generously sharing you time and talents with all of us. My family would be living on cold cereal, toast and macaroni and cheese if it were not for you. Wishing you and your family all the best!

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