Seasonal Sundays (Week 51) Mid December

This week's recipe collections reflect seasonal flavors of December: think gingerbread, think red and green, think holiday breakfasts. PS Is "Joy" a seasonal flavor?
Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

What does "joy" look like in 2020?

All week, I've been thinking about a minimalist Christmas.

But minimalism sets a high bar and it's not Marie Kondo.

Instead it's my mom's English cousins, married 70 years and still giggling about their WWII wedding trip. Vic and Lyla lived in a small garden flat with four rooms. The sitting room held two comfy chairs, a small settee and a telly. Every week, she baked the same cake. Just think. The very same cake, every week, baked in a small kitchen with a two burner-stove and a doll-size table. The bathroom needed no drawers or storage: the sink counter held all their toiletries: hotel-sized soap and toothpaste, two toothbrushes and a straight razor. Now that's minimalism. But these two traveled the world, many trips to Spain and Italy plus regular visits to Canada and the U.S. to visit family.

Since March, I've worn exactly two pairs of shoes, flip flops and flats. Since fall, I've worn exactly two pairs of pants, one black, one denim.

But even these don't come close to matching the minimalism of Veijo, a boy from my school when I lived in Finland who wore the same sweater every day. He wasn't a finicky dresser with a favorite sweater: he only needed one sweater. It got washed once a week.

Or a man from South Africa I dated who'd arrive for a week's time carrying a laptop bag (heavy) and a small duffle (light and not even jam-full). He owned two "jumpers" but liked the maroon one better.

And what does all this have to do with a minimalist Christmas? Perspective.

Like many of us, I am a woman ISO JOY. (FYI, ISO = "in seek of" in online dating).

For three years now, I've pared back our Christmas decorations. Afterward, boxes are labeled" all used 2018" and "all used 2019". In each subsequent year, I ignore all the other boxes.

This year, our pared-down if not exactly one-sweater Christmas decorations just work. Putting it up was fun, no chore. It felt magical to transform rooms with a mix of big statements and small details. As Christmas approaches, window candles and twinkly lights soften the house when winter skies turn dark each afternoon.

But now, just this second, a revelation.

The word "iso" also means "big" in Finnish [it's pronounced ee-so]. It's accidental but yeah, this woman is seeking Big Joy and discovering it in small moments, small things.

We are pared back by the pandemic but feeling more, accepting more, contemplating more. Less, it turns out, just might allow for more.

Thank you for reading, for inviting me into your kitchen. I'd love to know more about yours, what's moving you this year, what's inspiring you, what's connecting, what you're missing, how you're coping ...

About the Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: At the corner of our kitchen counter: a dour-looking Santa from a thrift shop, a boiled-wool tablepad from Trader Joe's, a wooden JOY cutout from Walmart. Can a small corner deliver "Iso Joy"? Yes, it can ...


Pick One is for those of us overwhelmed by life's unending 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.

Molasses Cookies ♥, my favorite recipe for classic molasses cookies, make them soft, chewy or crisp, your choice.

Flavors of the Season: Gingerbread!

Frosty Christmas Trees ♥, my long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough, lovely gingerbread flavor and just a touch of chocolate.

Gingerbread Pudding Cake ♥, an old-fashioned recipe, magical layers of cake and pudding!

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies ♥, half spice cookie, half chocolate chip cookies, 100 percent surprising. Perfect for dunking.

Seasonal Colors: Red & Green

Red & Green Warm Spinach Salad, another simple but special salad ♥

Healthy Red & Green Green-Bean Salad ♥, pretty for Christmas, healthy for year-round. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. Vegan.

Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥, topped with a lemon butter sauce. Dramatic to serve. Tastes great! Easier than it looks! Low Carb!

Seasonal Showcase: Holiday Breakfasts

Overnight Coffeecake ♥, easy, adaptable coffeecake recipe, mix it the night before, bake to serve hot and fresh in the morning.

Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions ♥, a make-ahead breakfast casserole, layers of sausage, apple and caramelized onion. Unusual and addictive!

Light Tomato Basil Quiche Recipe ♥, a make-ahead, healthy, vegetarian and light quiche recipe.


My Top 10 Recipes are predictable, hello Ham 101: What to Know Before Buying a Ham and Weight Watchers Zero Points Garden Vegetable Soup. But every week, seasonal recipes catch the internet's attention and start to trend.

How to Brine Pork Chops ♥, my favorite brine for pork chops, adding moisture and flavor to pork that's bred, these days, for leanness.

How to Make Green Smoothies with Leafy Greens ♥ 14 Tips + 5 Sample Recipes.

What's New?!

Cranberry Salsa ♥, raw cranberries plus an explosion of seasonal flavors for a Christmas salsa vibe. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegan. Gluten Free.

Spinach Quiche with Red Pepper & Feta, another classic spinach recipe ♥, creamy custard packed with fresh or frozen spinach in a homemade or refrigerated crust. Budget Friendly. Company Worthy.

Just Updated!

Mashed Potatoes & Carrots ♥, a family favorite recipe, potatoes and carrots mashed together, requiring virtually no added fat.

Fast Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, another basic vegetable cooking technique ♥

Don't Be a Stranger. (Or a Lurker?)

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, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, 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.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

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