Friday, January 8, 2016

Secret Subject Swap: Quiet Celebrations

Welcome to the January Secret Subject Swap. This month 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.

Secret Subject Swap | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

My subject is: You get to celebrate New Year's Eve wherever you like. Tell us about it!
It was submitted by: Confessions of a part time working mom.

I hate when I start a post with an apology. Yet that's how I'm starting this one. If I had gotten this prompt any other month, I'd be writing a completely different post. I can see myself indulging my imagination, coming up with lavish plans in exotic places. Or I could write a funny take on a New Year's Eve gone awry. 

Many of you who read this blog know that I'm really in the mood for neither of those scenarios right now. I'm feeling down and a little lost. So I'm coming at this one a bit differently than my norm. Life for me right now is a struggle for comfort. 

Pork Chop Dinner Casserole: A one dish flavorful and filling dinner. Easy to prepare on a busy night, just mix and bake. | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com |#recipe #dinner #casserole

Pork Chop Dinner Casserole
Pork Chop Dinner Casserole: A one dish flavorful and filling dinner. Easy to prepare on a busy night, just mix and bake. | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com |#recipe #dinner #casserole




Comfort is a relative thing. When I was in high school, in college, and starting out in my career, New Year's Eve was a big deal. I was comfortable in big parties, large celebrations, loud music, fancy clothes, screaming countdowns, cocktails, cocktails and more cocktails, standing room only, party hats and noisemakers, kisses right at the exact moment.

After Hubs and I got married, we were new to the Midwest and struggling to have children.  Most of the time I was at a point where I wasn't able to drink so New Year's Eve celebrations were more subdued. Dressing up, reservations, dinner out, casual conversation and great food, later a fire in the fireplace, watching the ball drop, kisses right at the exact moment.

When we had kids our celebrations changed once again. We were very fortunate to have friends with children about the same age as ours. We'd get Chinese take out at our house or theirs, eat a casual dinner, watch the kids play, talk, laugh, have a few cocktails. Depending on how the kids held up, sometimes we'd still be together to welcome the new year, other times we'd be home a little earlier, a fire in the fireplace, watching the ball drop, kisses right at the exact moment.

Although these quiet celebrations were the perfect way to welcome the new year with little kids, I also wanted to party with friends. I came up with a great way to do that. Every New Year's Day, I'd host a brunch. It was casual, family oriented, open house so people could come and go whenever they wanted. I served cocktails and champagne for the adults and punch for the kids. I'd set up big long tables in the living room so people could sit. The entire dining room became the buffet table. I cooked and baked and prepared for weeks. Friends would often bring a favorite dish or whip up a favorite cocktail or just pitch in with the heating and serving. The house was full, often I'd have over 40 guests. And late that afternoon my closest friends would stay and we'd critique the dishes, picking which ones were a definite for the next year.

New Year's Brunch | Secret Subject Swap: Quiet Celebrations | www.BakingInATornaod.com

Looking back through the years I can say that each of the forms of celebration, although not extravagant, was just the right fit for that particular time in our lives.

When our kids were about junior high school age we developed a new family tradition. At this point I not only didn't really want to be out on the roads on New Year's Eve, but I didn't want my kids to be either. They were young boys so obviously they wanted to party with friends, and I could accommodate that. The boys and their friends already had a well established hang-out space in our home. The walk-out basement has a 57 inch tv with game systems, a pool table, eating area with microwave, room with a spare fridge that I kept full of soda, water bottles and gatorade, and it's own bathroom. On New Year's Eve I'd line the entire kitchen counter with appetizers, hot and cold. A separate counter area was full of desserts. Kids would come and go from the basement, filling plates all night long and then disappearing back downstairs. There's couches in the basement and a bedroom too, anyone who wanted to stay over could. Hubs and I would stay on the main level, noshing on appetizers, drinking champagne, a fire in the fireplace, watching the ball drop, kisses right at the exact moment.

Honestly, especially this year, I cannot think of anything better.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out. See you there:





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Pork Chop Dinner Casserole
                                                                          ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
4 pork chops
garlic powder
1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut to florets
2 oz slivered almonds
4 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 can beef broth
1 can vegetable broth
paprika

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish.
*Sprinkle the rice over the bottom of the dish.
*Cut the pork chops in half and season both sides with garlic powder.
*In a large bowl, mix the broccoli florets, almonds, mushrooms, onion, pepper, onion soup mix, beef broth and vegetable broth. Careful pour over the rice in the baking dish.
*Place the pork chops on top and gently press down, just slightly into the soup mix. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes.
*Remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 375 degrees. Uncover the casserole, turn the pork chops over, sprinkle with paprika and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the pork is cooked through and the rice has absorbed the liquid.
 
 

22 comments:

  1. I am so making that dish next week, I'll send you a pic so you can have a good laugh at my attempt :P (I know you would never really laugh....right?) I love this, love you! Thank you for not pointing out that I blew the lid of my secret subject, you're the best xoxo

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    Replies
    1. I can't wait to see your pic. You'll do fine, my recipes aren't difficult or involved. Enjoy!

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  2. I love every single scenario you're outlining here, especially the last one. Mom of the year!
    Expectations change so drastically over the years. I remember having those huge ones as a teenager and still in my twenties. It had to be spectacular, sparkling, magic, bla bla bla. This year we went to sleep at 11pm.

    Dear Karen, I am so sorry you're feeling down. I can't take the pain from you, but I'm here to listen, to send good vibes and virtual glasses of wine, chocolate cake, the works! ♥

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tamara, you know how much I appreciate the support. ♥

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  3. This casserole looks amazing.

    You've described the perfect celebrations to me. I'm all for celebrating safely, surrounded by loved ones and food. I think I want to do family game nights for NYE, complete with comfort foods.

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  4. Our New Years celebrations followed the exact metamorphosis! This last New Year's was brought in playing a board game with our daughter and her husby. Wonderful company. Lots of laughter. Fire in the fireplace. And kisses at the right moment. Perfect!

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  5. I love a New Years celebration that is quiet and filled with the ones I love too. OMG...might have to try that pork chop casserole. Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Hope you try it, Karen, and hope you love it.

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  6. I think the way you celebrate the New Year is PERFECT. I love the pic of your brunch table----holy moly that's a LOT of food---my kind of party!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, such a fun day, sit around and socialize, eat, drink, socialize, eat, drink . . .

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  7. Dame biat, same choppy water here. Your New Year's celebrations sound just perfect! So does this pork chop casserole. I can't wait to give it a try.

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    Replies
    1. I know, I'm sorry Rena, that you're also suffering a loss.

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  8. My New Year's has always been one with kids, watching the ball drop on tv and turning in. This year was special and quiet.
    Your NYE may have been somber this year but it will not always be this way. Relax, recover, heal and celebrate how you feel comfortable. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you had a special New Year's Eve this year.
      I think mine was just perfect.

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  9. Traditions are great but there are times when you need to break them. There will be other years -- this one was for healing, right? This was our first one in 4 years we were able to celebrate. It was time.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you were able to celebrate this year, I loved being here with my family. I even loved having all the extra kids around.

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  10. WOW that's a lot of food.
    Sometimes quiet is a good thing. Regroup and recharge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was quiet but we had enough kids around that it wasn't too quiet. It was perfect.

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  11. Celebrations and routines have to change to suit who and where we are in life. I can understand you not feeling it this year, and I can also understand the nostalgia in this post. Peace and blessings to you, my friend.

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