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FAMILY HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

Robyn Skrhak makes her family a special treat every Christmas called Chocolate Nut Tassies. The family favorite is like a cookie but stuffed with jam, covered in chocolate and decorated with red and green icing.

Temple families use special recipes to celebrate Christmas

DAVID STONE | OUR TOWN TEMPLE

While Christmas traditions such as exchanging gifts, putting up a tree, watching holiday movies and singing carols are practiced across the US and in many other countries, many Temple area residents have personal family traditions that have been enjoyed for years — in some cases decades. And, most of these local traditions involve food.

Growing up, my family consumed mass quantities of a casserole my Mom made every Christmas Eve. She named the dish Super Nachos, and it consisted of refried beans, beef or chicken, Rotel tomatoes, olives, jalapenos and lots of cheese baked in a glass cake dish. 

We would line up with a plate full of tortilla chips or Fritos and Mom would use a giant wooden spoon to top the chip pile with a heaping mound of piping hot Super Nachos. Of course sour cream and guac were added, and the dish was frequently accompanied by spicy tamales.

Janet Epperson of Temple also has a favorite family holiday dish.

“I have a Norwegian heritage, so we eat fish and lefse every Christmas,” she said. “The lefse is kind of like a Norwegian tortilla. We butter it up, spread on mashed potatoes and baked cod. Then we roll it up like a burrito.”

Karen Connell, also of Temple, has fond memories of her Dad’s chili recipe.

“We always had Dad’s chili on Christmas Eve because we knew we would be eating turkey, dressing and all the extras the next day,” Karen said.

Loney Johnson said her family enjoys dumplings with Christmas dinner.

“Growing up, we always had turkey, dressing and dumplings, and I never knew that dumplings weren’t part of everyone’s holiday until I was older and went to a friend’s home for a holiday meal,” Loney said.

“My Dad always made them — he would roll the dough out and cut them into strips,” she said. “That’s probably one of the few things he ever cooked. Those were the good ol’ days.”

The Troy family celebrates Christmas with varieties of shrimp.

“We always have shrimp gumbo,” said Phillip Troy, “and we usually have some fried cornmeal-breaded shrimp on the side. My better half cooks it — I eat and clean up.”

It’s not a holiday entree that steals the show at the Skrhak residence, it’s a special sweet treat that’s made annually.

“Christmas isn’t Christmas at our house unless I make jelly-filled Chocolate Nut Tassies,” said Robyn Skrhak. “They are a family tradition.”

Tassies are made with butter, cream cheese, a favorite jam and, or course, sugar. A cookie-like dough is placed in a muffin pan covering the bottom and sides of the pan. After they cool, Robyn spoons jam into each “Tassie” and covers the jam with melted chocolate. When the chocolate cools, they are decorated in holiday colors with icing.

Nancy Varley Smith enjoys a special version of Chex Mix during the holidays and at get togethers. 

“We have the best Chex Mix recipe ever,” she said. “The secret ingredient is bacon grease.”

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