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Traditions…they are woven into our holidays and are so much fun to create and continue with our families. Granted, December is a month full of traditions because of the holidays, but in our family, we squeeze one more little gathering in after the New Year. The Spanish start the new year with a bowl of lentils, (don’t ask me what it means because I have no idea) but I love lentils and I love family, so who am I to stop this awesome tradition? The New Year is a great time to reconnect with family and friends and here is an easy brunch to bring everyone together!
Sometime during the month of January (usually later than most), we put away all the Christmas decorations and it’s out with the red and in with my usual muted tones, which I miss after months of jewel tones and glitter everywhere. I actually end up finding glitter all over my home well into February! After I give the house a good cleaning, I will usually light a candle or in this case, use a candle melt. Again, after all the peppermint scented items from Christmas, I long for clean scents. Here I am using one from Glade® called Clean Linen®.
The trick with this brunch is to make it simple. After putting together so many holiday spreads in December, this needs to be really easy – hearty but minimal amount of food. We always accompany the lentils with a Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette). Again, when you think of these two items, they are not exactly a perfect pairing, but it’s just what my Cuban family has done for years and I am just following along. While not the perfect pairing, they are both delicious!
This omelette has lots of potatoes that are cooked in olive oil along with thinly sliced onions, before being incorporated into the egg – yielding a really thick and hearty omelette.
I make the lentils in a large pressure cooker and I add onions, garlic, green pepper, squash, carrots, potatoes, Spanish chorizo and Spanish paprika. I also add the ham bone from the honey baked ham that I serve during Thanksgiving. Every year after Thanksgiving dinner, I freeze the ham bone (that still holds quite a bit of ham) to use for my lentils brunch. This gives the soup a lot more flavor. The pressure cooker makes everything very tender and when the soup is done, I simply shred the ham that is falling off the bone and I add it to the soup, discarding the bone. We make lentil soup during the year, but none is as flavorful as this one.
Here is my mom serving my oldest a plate of lentils. Grandmas are always concerned about their grandkids getting enough to eat. I think that’s a universal sentiment.
We all sit in the dining room and eat and talk and go back for seconds.
Of course, the only thing missing is dessert. I added a little banner to this white cake to highlight what we are celebrating!
Putting together a little party like this is easy, it just takes a little planning. Here are some of the things that I do to ensure a relaxed atmosphere for my guests and even for myself.
1 – Choose a few items that can be served cold or room temperature. While the lentils should be served hot or warm, the Spanish omelette can be served at room temperature. That is one less thing to fuss over. Other food options that do well at room temperature are, homemade granola with yogurt drizzle; also a quiche or a strata usually hold up well on a buffet table.
2- Keep the decorations simple. Sometimes I just leave out the white and silver decorations from holidays and add some fresh flowers to the mix so it doesn’t look Christmas-ey. I love decorating, but the new year feels like a time to simplify.
3 – I purchase a store-bought cake. I think it’s a mistake to try to make everything yourself unless you feel like you have the time and desire to do so. If you are already making the first course and the side, buy the dessert or have someone bring it.
Tip: If your cake is small like mine, just place it on a pretty stand and add some greenery around the base.
4 – Have your dishwasher empty and ready to load. For a small gathering, like this one, I use “real” plates but I always have the dishwasher empty so that I can quickly load them in there. Otherwise, I recommend paper plates. Anything to keep it pretty and easy. If you use paper plates, you will also have more garbage. Make sure to have enough garbage bags under your trash bin so that you can quickly swap them out once full.
5- Stock up on candles and scents for your party and so that you can kick back once everyone has left. Candles and scents can transform your space. I placed a Glade® Wax Melts on the warmer tray and within minutes it was dispersing a clean scent throughout my home. These melts provide up to 16 hours of fragrance.
Here it is all melted.
You know who else melted? Me! Into my pajamas once everyone left. It was fun, it was yummy and I need a nap!
If you need me I will be here, continuing to write the wrong year on my checks.
Have you hosted any get togethers so far this year? Have you attended any?
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