Joining the Christmas Party

Thought I’d give this a go; I’m joining the party over at Lilliput Station.

 And, of course, I’m going to go with food. (I do have teenage boys you know!)

For Christmas Eve we have a “middle eastern type” dinner.

I stole borrowed this idea from someone else.

We do this to remind us of where Jesus came from, and it’s fun.

I’ve done this a couple of years now, but I still don’t have a set menu, so we are constantly experimenting.

Now, I’m supposed to add photos, but that will be a bit awkward as we don’t do this but once a year.  I will give it a shot though.

This year we will have kabobs, hummus, cous-cous, gyros,  tzatziki sauce, pita bread, green beans with pine nuts. . .and baklava.  I am also going to attempt this lady’s recipe for the holiday Challah bread.  It will serve to remind us that Jesus was Jewish; and it looks terribly yummy.

Okay, I ‘fess.  The cous-cous will come from a box, and the pita bread will be bought.  Everything else will be coming from me though.

Gyro meat:

1 & 1/2 pound ground lean lamb
1/3 pound hamburger (to help keep it all together)
1/2 c. minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. ground oregeno
1 Tbsp. ground rosemary
2 tsp. salt (sea salt is good)
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cut the lambs in cubes, getting rid of most of the fat.  Grind lamb in food processer till “minced”.  Add other ingredients and grind until meat mixture is a paste consistency.  Let sit in frig for approximately 2 hours.  Then, press into a lightly oiled loaf pan (be sure to press firmly).  Bake 325 (F), for approximately 60-75 minutes (internal temperature of at least 165).  Slice thinly to serve.

Tzatziki Sauce:

2 cup plain yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated (~1 cup)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (to taste)
1 to 2 tsps. of red wine vinegar (to taste)

Drain yogurt.  (The professionals are serious about this, but I just drain off the stuff at the top of the container.)  Put yogurt in bowl. Place cucumber in towel (I use paper towels) and squeeze all juice from them.  Place them in the bowl along with garlic and red wine vinegar.  Stir and allow to sit in frig a couple of hours before serving.

I do have a picture of those two.  Now, I asked Jay to take a picture so I could post it.  I don’t know why on earth he put the gyro off the side of his plate!  We are certainly not food photographers here.  (And one could possibly question our table manners as well!)


Here you see the gyro (meat with Tzatziki sauce) in pita and the cous-cous (on the plate). 

However, for the Baklava, you will have to wait till the 13th for that photo.  Jay will be making some for his office party (he does this annually) and I can get a photo then.


Now, I have to tell you, my Baklava recipe is “da bomb”. 

Generally, I’m not one to brag; however, in this one instance, I have yet to hear of anyone ever having better.  However, if you’ve had better, you can ‘fess to it. 

I have kids; my feelings really are toughened!  I’d hope you’d share the recipe though!


1 lb. phyllo leaves (thawed, you usually find this in the freezer section)
3 c. walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1 c. real butter, melted
10 ozs. honey (by weight, not by liquid measure!)

Butter bottom and sides of 13×9 inch pan; set aside.  In large bowl combine walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cloves; set aside.  In pan place 1 sheet of phyllo, allowing it to extend up sides; brush with butter.  (Phyllo is a pill to work with, and for that reason we usually have 2 of us working on it.  Although we are each proficient at making it ourselves, it’s more enjoyable together.) Repeat for 5 more layers.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of walnut mixture.  Cut remaining phyllo leaves in half.  Layer 6 phyllo leaves, buttering between each one, over walnut mixture; then cover ith walnuts for a total of 3 more layers.  (Four walnut layers in total.)  For top layer continue layering phyllo brush with butter until there is none reamining.  Trim away phyllo that extends over dish with sharp knife.  Cut 1/2 way through all layers in diamond pattern.  Bake 350 (F) for ~40 minutes.  Heat honey till hot (not boiling).  Spoon over baklava after baking.  Cool at least one hour — finish cutting through.

Again, I’ll try to post a picture the 13th!

ETA:  Pictures added.


Sadly, for the hummus, I don’t think you’ll be getting a picture (unless I decide to on Christmas Eve) but I’ll share the recipe anyway.


1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Saute onions and garlic in sesame oil until just tender.  Puree beans in food processor.  Add onions, garlic and reamining ingredietns and blend until desired consistency.  More sesame oil may be added if mixture is too thick.  Garnish with parsley and addtional toasted sesame seeds, if desired.  Serve with pita bread.


Now, I will be making Christmas goodies between now and then, and I may feel inclined to post recipes and pictures at that time. . . You’ll just have to check back and see what’s cookin’!


7 comments on “Joining the Christmas Party

  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks for joining the party! What a great idea! Our extended family always gets together for Christmas eve, but we may give this a try another time.

    My husband loves baklava. My 10 year old son has made it for him a couple times, but we haven’t been really satisfied with the recipes he’s tried. I’ll definately have to print yours off for him to try.

    Melissa Telling

  2. Melissa says:

    I’m sending a copy of my new Salvation Army lapbook to Christmas Party participants, but can’t find your address. Please email me. My address is on my blog. Melissa

  3. Sunshine says:

    That sounds SO cool! I’m gonna have to see about doing a raw version for Christmas Eve (don’t think hubby’ll mind). We’ll see. We do a birthday cake for Jesus each Christmas. But seeing how everyone is so excited over the pies, I might have to switch it to a birthday pie now that we’re raw. I think He’ll understand! 😀

  4. Sonia says:

    What a great idea…and we love Mediterranean food. 🙂 I may have to steal…er…”borrow” your idea. 😀 Thanks for passing it on.

  5. We make lamb for Easter every year. The leftovers are to die for! We make pita sandwiches & gyros smothered in feta cheese. I’m glad that Easter is early this year!

    Hop on over to for my Kiss Me I’m Irish Beef & Cabbage. Want to know why they called it “corned” beef? Come on, I’ll tell ya….

    P.S. I’m a military wife & a military Mom too- husband and son are Army. Hooah!

  6. Jeni says:

    Your recipes look good! When I make tzatziki, I always salt the cucumber to make the juices come out more completely, and I also add very finely minced onion, some fresh dill, and a dollop of olive oil. It tastes a bit more like what we had when we lived near Athens, but it may be one of those things that varies regionally.

    And your baklava recipe makes me want some sticky goodness!!

  7. Ummmmm. Baklava. I never thought about actually making it myself……

    Now, the hummus sounds wonderful, too!

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