This time of the year it is hard not to get Christmas songs stuck in your head. As I type I can hear Andy Williams singing “It’s the holiday season, and Santa Claus is coming around…” It goes on and on…. I don’t know whether it is because Patrick and I snuck away to Charleston last weekend, but the Christmas season feels short again this year and I feel like I’m far behind. I have to catch up, because for the first year ever Eliza fully understands that it is Christmas. It is adorable to watch – she loves the tree, the caroles and Frosty, but it also means that we better step it up and plan some fun activities and get her (or ahem, ask Santa) for some good presents!

Despite the busy season full of shopping, decorating, baking and general merriment I am still trying to slip a home-cooked meal in when I can. It isn’t as often as I’d like (there’s a pizza on its way while I type this), but I am hoping to get a few dinners made without the help of a microwave. Here are a couple of repeats, and two new meals that are delicious and perfect for the season. Enjoy!

The first snowman of the season (I know, he is a little scary)

The first snowman of the season (I know, he is a little scary)

Meal #1: Pork Chops with Apples and Onions + Braised Red Cabbage
Meal #2: Chicken Saltimbocca with Cheese + Sautéed Spinach
Meal #3: Brussels Sprouts and Pork (or Beef) Stir Fry + Rice
Meal #4: Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp + Green Salad

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

fresh sage – 1 bunch (or 1 tsp. dried sage)
white onion – 2
scallions – 1 bunch (approx. 4)
red cabbage – 1 head (2 1/4 pounds)
lemons – 3
spinach – 2 bags or bundles
apples – 5
brussels sprouts – 1 lb.
carrots – 2
jalapeno – 1
ginger – 1 small piece
fontina (provolone or gruyere work too) cheese – 6 slices (approx. 4 ounces)
pine nuts (optional)
apple cider – 1 cup
linguine – 1 box
dry red wine – 1/2 cup
rice (if you don’t already have it)
apple cider vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
oyster sauce (if you don’t already have it)
reduced-sodium soy sauce (if you don’t already have it)
unseasoned rice vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
dark-brown sugar (if you don’t already have it)
bone-in pork chops – 4 (3/4-1-inch thick)
flank or skirt steak – 1/2 lb.
bacon – 4 ounces (approx. 4 slices)
proscuitto – 6 thin slices
chicken cutlets – 1 1/2 lb.
shrimp – 1 1/2 lb.