Seasonal Sundays (Week 50 Mid December)

A quick read, December recipes plus a seasonal showcase of cranberry recipes from a cranberry fiend plus quick 'n' easy food gifts plus ... ideas and inspiration for these busy short weeks before Christmas.
Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and ideas.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays!

Hello, All. This morning my younger nephew – single, lives alone, works nights – texted a picture of his Christmas tree and how he'd set up a Christmas village, something he's loved since he was litte. If Alex is getting in the Christmas spirit, it's time, 'kay?

Is your place looking all Christmas-y? What's your favorite thing about this time, two weeks out? Do share! ♥

Our place has transformed into a lovely, glittering spot, the second year aiming for a simple(r), (more) minimalist look. It helps that last year, I packed things away separately with labels like "used in 2018" and "not used in 2018". Basement organization for the win!

We do like to start with a blank canvas. For us that means cutting back to bare counters and bare walls. Visually, that "clears the deck" for Christmas and after the holidays when everything gets boxed back away, we live with the bareness for a week or more before starting afresh, often finding new spots for art and more. It's an annual room refresh, no $ required.

If it sounds like I've got everything together, LOL, definitely n-o-t. Yesterday I found two clocks still set to daylight savings time, ooops.

Two girls with Santa, one crying, one bemused

My sister and I had a big laugh this week when three grandsons visited Santa. The baby, just 16 months, w-a-i-l-e-d, just like his Nana did once-upon-a-long-time-ago when Mom gathered us up for the annual trek to see Santa at Eaton's or the Bay in Winnipeg. (The look on my sister's face is one thing. What about Santa's?!!)

Our world has changed so much, isn't it kind of charming that kids still get perched on Santa's lap for pictures and some, yes, still volubly make their objections known?

I hope you like today's collection of recipes and ideas. It's such a busy time for many of us ... let's get to it, shall we?


Pick One is for those of us who are overwhelmed by life's choices. If that resonates, then check out this one recipe and then call it a day. It's one that I think could make the most difference, the one I hope will become a regular in your kitchen, as it is in mine.

Christmas Banana Bread ♥, everyone's favorite banana bread all dressed up for Christmas! Recipe, insider tips, nutrition, Weight Watchers points included.

Banana bread isn't the epitome of Christmas-y, not until you throw in some fresh cranberries, that is. Use my recipe or yours, it's a wonderful marriage, banana bread and winter's best berry.

Homemade Holiday Conversation Starters

When does Christmas "start" for you? Is there a special event, a particular moment that every year, it just feels like, okay, Christmas is here? When does the Christmas spirit strike?

I'd love to know how this goes for you ... please do share! ♥

But as I ask (and I really do want to know!), I realize that this question is certainly in a pack of "holiday conversation starters" I've built up over the years. I cut up the front of last year's prettiest Christmas cards and then write open-ended questions on the backsides and keep them handy! The stack of questions is nice even for the two of us but also for groups: for years, conversation starters were an annual tradition at my cookie swap brunch!

Something for Supper & for the Freezer

Finnish Meatballs ♥, light and tender meatballs, draped in a cream sauce.

I'm beginning to "meal prep" for the holidays, putting meal starters in the freezer without particular purpose except the comfort of their very existence for whenever they're needed but won't go to waste should they not.

Make a big batch, have a few for supper then freeze the rest for serving later as "Finnish" meatballs in a creamy sauce with other Scandinavian foods or in a kid-pleasing comfort spaghetti 'n' meatballs meal.

Once I have some staples aside, let the cookie-baking begin!

  • Finnish Meatballs, light and flavorful meatballs, perfect for make-ahead entertaining.

Seasonal Showcase: Fresh Cranberries

Cranberry Recipes & Ideas ♥, Savory to Sweet. Recipes, tips, nutrition & Weight Watchers points included.

How many bags of cranberries in your fridge and freezer? Me, I think it's six and that's probably not enough, given the number of my recipes that start with the words "fresh cranberry" – think cake and cookies and bars, all made with fresh cranberries. Which to make first?! (Cookies, I think ...)

  • All my cranberry recipes, savory to sweet, fresh and frozen and dried and sugared and ... even pied!

Something New

Cranberry Walnut Bread ♥, special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.

This is my fourth year to make a yeast bread special for Christmas, lots of wintry spices and studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. Anyone familiar with Great Harvest's seasonal cherry walnut bread? That was my target, even though I adapted my Our Daily Bread: My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe, it takes anything I throw at it.

  • Cranberry Walnut Bread, special for the holidays, a barely sweet yeast bread studded with dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.

Something New: Shakshuka Starter from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's Shakshuka Starter product review ♥ A Veggie Venture. Filling. Weight Watchers Friendly.

LOL, nobody thinks about vegetables in December, the traffic at A Veggie Venture d-i-e-s at the end of the year. This year, I decided to explore something new that I hope will prove useful (and traffic-generating) throughout the year, favorite vegetable products from Trader Joe's.

If you have a favorite, let me know! ♥ I've got cauliflower gnocchi, mashed sweet potatoes and roasted root vegetables in the freezer ...


Are you??? ♥

I'm just not into decorating with pillows. Bed shams live in the closet or go straight to Goodwill. Pillows move to the floor when they're in the way of, you know, sitting! Why is it, I wonder, that our chairs and couches aren't good enough the way they are without pillowy embellishment?

And yet? This week I came home with not one not two but three Christmasy pillows!

Two were oh-so-so pretty and of unusual HomeGoods quality but I fully believed intended expected they'd go back because despite good looks and good quality, I was 90% sure they wouldn't work in our family room.

But they did! They do! I cut off the labels and now, forever and ever, they're ours.

Do three pillows make a not-a-pillow-person an, ewww, pillow person? Heaven help me.

Something for the Cookie Plate

Perfect M&M Cookies ♥, classic Tollhouse cookie recipe with M&Ms, perfected by my friend Kathy.

M&M cookies are my dear friend Kathy's signature cookie, she's famous for them! I've made my own adaptations, smaller cookies, seasonal M&Ms but M&M Cookies are a definite favorite in my kitchen too.

Homemade Food Gifts

Hot Chocolate Mix ♥, how to make it from scratch, for a crowd, for gifts, for home.

Who's into homemade food gifts? Do you have a favorite? ♥

I always have big ambitions and then, woof, Christmas is over.

So this collection of recipes is for those of us who are long on intention and short on time, all the recipes are quick to make, easy to package and call for often-on-hand pantry ingredients.

Let's get gifting!

Just Updated!

Elk Meatloaf ♥, also works with beef, bison, venison, turkey, the Quaker Oats recipe, totally tasty. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein.

  • Elk Meatloaf, adapted from the Quaker Oats meatloaf recipe, easy meatloaf made with ground elk, bison, venison, beef or even turkey.
  • Family Shortbread, all the family tips and tricks to make simple, ethereal English shortbread.
  • Gingerbread Pudding Cake, layers of cake and pudding. It's magic!
  • Sugared Cranberries, just two ingredients and a few minutes of time. So festive for the holidays!
  • Fresh Cranberry Cake, best made a day ahead so a special choice for food gifts and a dessert to carry.
  • Christmas Banana Bread, my favorite banana bread, all dressed up for Christmas.

Soups & Salads Especially for December

Here are a few favorites from the December collection at A Veggie Venture, Seasonal Soups & Salad for December.

Cabbage & White Bean Stew, another easy, healthy vegetable soup ♥ Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegan. Gluten Free.

Quick Navigation Tips

It's called "UX" for User Experience and it's something that writers like me give a ton of attention because we hope visitors like you will click-click-click around our sites, easily finding exactly what you want. Every so often, I'll share an inside tip about my sites' UX. I hope these features are obvious but just in case, here they are!

Is there something that would make Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture work better for you? Let me know! ♥

  • IMAGES Images are hyperlinked, even on email and RSS subscriptions. That means when you click on an image, either with a mouse or your finger on a phone, you'll click straight through to where you wanna be.
  • "STICKY NAV" stands for sticky navigation. See that rhubarb-colored horizontal bar at that top? how it's always there, even when you scroll down the page. Sticky Nav means that wherever you are on my sites, on whatever device, that main navigation bar at the top remains visible. And that means no matter where you're starting from, it's easy to find your way back to the home page or to another Recipe Box page.
  • "MORE" On our phones' small screens, that main navigation bar at the top is pretty small! But just click or touch the "More" button on the right side and you'll see a dropdown box with more navigation options. Cool, eh? I load the navigation bar with my sites' top starting pages plus a few seasonal ones. Check it out, it's different nearly every week!

Text Me Back!

I'd love to hear from you. ♥

Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, channel Dr. Dolittle, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.