Monday, December 29, 2008
As wonderful as Christmas day is, it takes second place to December 26 – my self proclaimed holiday of Pajama Day. It is a tradition the came into being entirely by accident about ten years ago during a particularly hectic holiday season.
That year, Christmas Eve found the Kitchen Genius and I staying up until close to dawn, wrapping presents and preparing for Christmas with our four kids. Just as our heads hit the pillow, the door to our two younger children’s bedroom opened and we heard them sneak out. I took a nap to the sound of their excited whispers.
Christmas day at our home is one long and joyous celebration that includes a revolving cast of family members from both sides that arrive in shifts. We host a breakfast for eight to twelve people, with a break for clean up and showers, and then begin prepping for dinner for up to 25 people.
That year I was so tired I found myself dozing off, head propped in hand, while sitting at the dining room table over shrimp cocktail and artichoke dip at 3:00 in the afternoon. Luckily the KG was in charge of dinner because I simply couldn’t do it.
The next day as poor KG headed to work, I slept late and cuddled on the couch with the new novel he had given me for Christmas. The kids played quietly with their toys and it was a lovely day all around. When KG came home for dinner, I was still in my pajamas and we had leftovers for dinner. The day ended with me finishing the novel in front of a cozy fire.
Afterwards I realized it was probably the best day I had had all year and declared it a yearly tradition. It has grown ever since. Now, I build a big fire in the fireplace early in the day and pull out the bed in the sleeper sofa.
Everyone brings his or her pillow and favorite blanket. We cuddle, snooze, watch movies, play games and read books. This year while I relaxed and read The Shack
on the sleeper sofa, Julie helped Melissa set up a MySpace page on the couch next to me.
Tommy played video games all day and KG went fishing (he’s never really figured out how to just lie around all day).
The beauty of a self-created holiday is you get to make all the rules. My rules are simple, but unwavering. On Pajama Day everyone sleeps as late as they want and no one wakes anyone else. There is no cleaning, no cooking and no hours spent putting together impossibly complicated toys with hundreds of pieces.
In the early years we simply ate the bounty of leftovers that always includes shrimp, prime rib, cheesy potatoes and dozens of cookies. The only exception to the cooking rule was roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in the fireplace, because that is just plain fun.
But about five years ago I decided that since I really like to cook, making a real dinner wasn’t considered work if I kept it easy. I began making beef stroganoff with the leftover prime rib for our Pajama Day dinner using a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 1965 Edition
my Mom had when I was growing up. The recipe isn’t in the updated version of the cookbook that I have, but I made this often enough during my young married days that I know it by heart.
The original recipe used sirloin steak, sliced really thin and quick fried to brown the outside while still leaving the inside medium rare. This can also be made with hamburger or any leftover beef. It’s easy, tasty and incredibly comforting – in short the perfect meal for a day set aside for pure relaxation.
2 pounds medium rare prime rib, sliced and cut into bite size pieces (or 2 pounds sirloin steak, sliced thin against the grain).
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced vertically
6 large mushrooms or 12 small mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 – 14 ounce can beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 pound egg noodles, cooked according to package instructions
Heat olive oil in pan and quick fry onions until crisp tender. Remove and place in bowl. Add mushrooms to pan and fry until tender. Place in bowl with onions. (If using sirloin steak, fry it now and add to bowl with onions and mushrooms)
Add a touch more olive oil and sauté garlic for a minute or two until soft. Add tomato paste to pan and stir to spread it around the whole pan.
Add beef broth and whisk until tomato paste is combined with broth and slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper and bring to low boil. Mix sour cream and flour together and slowly whisk into pan until combined. Add prime rib, onions and mushrooms and heat through. Serve with egg noodles.
For a printable recipe click here