Holiday Fruit Slushies

Holiday Fruit Slush

Traditions. Everyone has them, and they come at all times of the year, whether it means you go to the same restaurant for dinner every year for your birthday or your family has an annual vacation spot you flock to year after year. Those traditions – they all give us some level of comfort, but holiday traditions, for me, those are the ones that are especially comforting. Of course as we grow older our traditions evolve, but the foundation of ours has always stayed the same.

As a kid we’d go over to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve, open presents and go to midnight mass. We’d groggily make the trek back to our house after church and get tucked in our beds, eagerly anticipating the crack of dawn so we could see what gifts Santa brought us. Santa always left our “bigger” gifts out, unwrapped, and it was always so exhilarating to peek down the steps from my bedroom to see if I’d received what I asked for. After my brother finally woke up we’d inspect our gifts, then open presents from our Mom and Dad. Although, we do things a little differently in my family; since there were only four of us, we’d all take turns opening gifts one by one, so we could see what everyone received, it’s a tradition that’s stuck over the years – plus it makes the gift unwrapping last infinitely longer.

After gifts – stockings! This has become one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning, the stocking, while small in size, holds all kinds of goodies like small pieces of jewelry, ornaments, my favorite lip glosses, CHOCOLATE, and pretty much anything you can imagine that happens to pocket-sized.

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Once all the presents are unwrapped, and the stockings are emptied, we take a picture from upstairs to document the mess, and then breakfast is served. The main event for breakfast can change from year to year, but the meal always starts with this fruit slush. I’m not even sure when or why my Mom starting making it, and it seems kind of odd to have a slush in the midst of winter, but we all love it, and it wouldn’t be Christmas morning without it.

It couldn’t be easier to make. Frozen orange and lemonade concentrate are mixed together with crushed pineapple, frozen strawberries and fresh banana slices. It’s popped into the freezer until “slush-like” and then ladled into pretty dessert glasses. So simple. So delicious.

The rest of the morning is spent being lazy, until we all finally get the motivation to get out of our pajamas and make ourselves look presentable. My Mom and I prepare Christmas dinner for the better part of the afternoon while the guys are put to work assembling and setting up gifts. Around 3-4pm, we have fancy appetizers and then all sit down at the table for a fancy dinner.

And just like that, Christmas is over.

While we don’t receive “Santa” gifts anymore or torture ourselves with midnight mass, the important traditions, those are the ones that have stuck over time. What are your holiday traditions??

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, I’m taking the rest of the week off to relax and celebrate the holidays with my family, and I hope you all do the same!

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Shrimp and Roasted Red Pepper Falafels

Roasted Red Pepper and Shrimp Falafel 9_edited-1

Fa-la-fel. Falafel. Falafel. Falafel.

It just rolls off the tongue so funny, doesn’t it? I could say it over and over and over and over…but I won’t.

Roasted Red Pepper and Shrimp Falafel 8

I LOVE falafels. The first time I had one was actually not that long ago, around the time that Kevin and I first started dating; we had spent the better part of an evening up in his college town for a concert, basketball game or something of that nature. As we were leaving around 1am, it was the point in time where all the college students were slowly filing out of the packed bars, onto the sidewalks and directly to a small window adjacent to where our car was parked. I squinted my eyes to see what had all of the drunken kids lining up down the block. After a short stakeout, I finally saw a teeny tiny menu posted outside the window and faintly saw the minuscule words, pizza by the slice, gyros and…falafels..

I immediately dragged Kevin out of the car, and begged him to stand in line with me so I could try my inaugural falafel, because what better time to try one, than a few beers deep amongst a gaggle full of drunken college students – this was an experience. Of course I was only two or three years removed from college at this point in time, but in my eyes, I was just light-years ahead of the “kids” I was surrounded by – oh how time can change your perception.

After waiting in what seemed like an endless line – urgency is not a college town’s forte – I finally got my falafel fresh from the fryer, and tucked into warm pita. We immediately raced back to the car and headed out of town. By the time we reached the highway I had polished the whole thing off, including the side of tzatziki sauce and pita bread that came with it. I’ve been stalking tiny windows and street vendors ever since trying to get my hands on the perfect falafel.

Roasted Red Pepper and Shrimp Falafel 2

For those of you not familiar, a falafel at its simplest form is just a mixture of ground up chickpeas and spices formed into a ball or patty, deep-fried and served in a warm piece of pita bread. Oftentimes it’s served with tahini sauce, but I prefer mine to be smothered in a tangy tzatziki instead. They’ve been on my mind to make for quite some time, and each time I open my recipe idea notebook full of hundreds of sloppily written out ideas, I always come back to the falafel. I toy around with idea of finally making them, but then cower away after I convince myself it’s beyond the scope of my capabilities.

The other night I cowered no longer, I snatched up a bag of dried chickpeas and was determined to make it work. And guess what?? They are so ridiculously easy; I’m almost ashamed I didn’t try to make them sooner.

While they do require a bit of preparation, as the chickpeas have to soak overnight, once the soaking process is complete, the mixture comes together in mere seconds. If you have the time to chill the batter for an hour, I’d do so, but I was pretty impatient to get some falafels into my belly, so I skipped the chilling and they turned out just fine.

For a little twist on tradition, I added in about a cup of roasted red peppers, and at the very end, folded in some raw shrimp. At this point you can either shape them into balls or patties, I went with a patty because I wanted to top each one with a little bit of sauce and feta cheese, but if you’re serving them at a party, round balls would be perfect for small bites.
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Lastly, you have to fry them! It’s important to keep your oil at 375 degrees, you don’t want the outside to crisp up too fast, while the inside (including the shrimp) is till raw, plus the longer they fry, the crispier they get. I whipped up a quick roasted red pepper and feta topping to drizzle on top, and then sprinkled them all with a little bit more feta cheese, and then they were ready to be devoured.

Don’t let the ambiguity of falafels discourage you from making them, they’re SO easy and perfect for bite-sized apps at your holiday parties!

Roasted Red Pepper and Shrimp Falafel 4_edited-1

Shrimp and Roasted Red Pepper Falafels
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Classic falafel is taken up a notch with the addition of plum shrimp and sweet roasted red peppers!
Serves: 36-40 falafels
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ to ½ cup flour
  • ¾ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers
  • 5 ounces greek yogurt
  • ½ cup feta, plus more for garnish.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Soak chickpeas for 24 hours in water. Drain and dry completely.
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet with an inch and half of oil. Heat to 375 degrees.
  3. In a food processor, add chickpeas, onion, green onion, garlic, red peppers, cumin, coriander, salt and flour. Pulse until mixture resembles a coarse paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you have time, chill mixture for 30 minutes to 1 hours.
  4. Form into small 3inch patties.
  5. Fry in batches until dark brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
For the sauce:
  1. In the food processor add all ingredients. Pulse until pureed.
  2. Serve falafel with sauce and feta cheese.
*This makes A LOT of falafel, feel free to half the recipe

Brie, Cranberry and Pancetta Phyllo Bites

Brie, Cranberry and Pancetta Phyllo Bites 3_edited-1

I got blasted this weekend. With the flu. Not exactly the picturesque Saturday and Sunday I had in mind.Although, that’s what I get for thinking I’m invincible and refusing to get a flu shot, even though common sense advised me otherwise. The worst part about it was we had Kevin’s fraternity … Read more»

Quinoa Cajun Jumbalaya

Quinoa Jambalaya 3

Sometimes I come up with really brilliant, creative recipe ideas. Annnnnddd sometimes I don’t. On the days when I don’t wake up in the middle of the night or pause my favorite TV show because a new potential recipe pops into my head, inspiration comes anywhere from restaurant menus, magazine … Read more»

Spicy Poblano and Sausage Chowder with Sharp Cheddar Crostini

Spicy Poblano and Italian Sausage Chowder with Sharp Cheddar Crostini

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Whipped Goat Cheese with Honey and Pomegranates

Whipped Goat Cheese with Honey and Pomegranates

Who needs dinner when you have appetizers?? Seriously, I’m pretty sure if every meal were full of small plates instead of obscenely large entrée sized portions, the world would be a better place, and I wouldn’t obsess for entirely too long over what to order at restaurants. In fact, some of my … Read more»

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