Jenn is from Philadelphia but has been living in Ireland for the past ten years. She also has a food blog called Diary Of A Cookbook Addict. You might see her around on my photography website along with her husband and cute little boy as I had the chance to do a lovely family portrait session for them a little while ago.
Even though Jenn is mostly spending Christmas in Ireland nowadays, she still has beautiful stories about what her and her family would do back home in the USA.
Making cookies is a tradition in her family (as it is for many American families). They make a huge variety of cookies every year. One recipe is for beautiful soft sugar cookies but is only handed down through the generations and you would have to marry into the family to get the secret recipe!
Jenn told me that some groups of people organise a 'cookie exchanges' party at which they drink hot chocolate and swap cookies. You can then leave with a fantastic assortment of cookies. It sounds like a brilliant idea!
Jenn also likes to have an Open House on the Sunday before Christmas. She makes a lot of mulled wine and non-alcoholic spiced cider for the occasion, and buys a lot of cheese and sweet things. Then she opens the doors from 3pm to 6pm and friends and family are welcome to drop in. She sees it as a nice chance to catch up and relax.
When it comes to Christmas Eve, Jenn and her family would always end up going to her godfather's house. He and his wife have a lovely array of food and cocktails for the dinner. They eat ham, lots of salads and beautiful dips. His wife would make a lovely taco dip that has seven layers, and there would also be a delicious spinach and artichoke dip.
Everyone goes to Midnight Mass on their way back and then, they open their family presents at home.
On Christmas morning, for breakfast, Jenn and her family eat a cinnamon and walnut coffee cake. It has a yellow sponge and the filling is swirled through it. Jenn has German ancestors and a lot of her family recipes come from this ancestry.
In the morning they also open their Christmas stockings which usually have some amazing presents in it (including concert tickets!). Jenn's father always has delicious cashew nuts in his stocking and they all end up stealing it from him and eating them all.
Then they snack all day, mostly on delicious assortments of cookies.
What they eat for Christmas dinner is beef (the tradition of cooking turkey is reserved for Thanksgiving and ham for Easter). Sometimes it can be steak. But most of the time, it would be a beautiful pot roast. The beef is cooked in a slow cooker for six hours with red wine, mushroom cream soup and beef stock in the dish. It makes the house smell really nice all day. The meat ends up having the same texture as pulled pork and they serve it with mash.
As I am not married into Jenn's family, hence could not get the secret cookie recipe, I created a cookie recipe of my own. They are delicious and quite indulgent. I can assure you they did not last long enough to be shared with a lot of people. So, I will most certainly be making another few batches before Christmas.
Keep scrolling down to find some delicious recipes inspired by Jenn's Christmas in the USA.