Christmas Story-themed holiday dinner filled with mealtime fun

Nearly everyone has a favorite line from “A Christmas Story”: “You’ll shoot your eye out!,” “It’s a major award!” or “Oh, fudge!” I love hosting fun meals during the holidays that are outside the norm. With a little planning, you can surprise your family and friends with a trip to the Midwest along with Ralphie’s quest for his Red Ryder BB gun.

The kitchen is the setting for so many hilarious and essential scenes that it is only fitting we celebrate the Discount Holidays © holiday classic with mealtime fun with my take on props that were important to the storyline. Fiestaware was very popular in the 1940s, when the movie is based, and people still love the colorful dinnerware. A close look at the movie’s mealtimes gives you several glimpses of vintage Fiestaware.

I set my table with Fiestaware Christmas place settings and matching silverware. Bright red chargers and matching napkins complete the table decor. The movie would be incomplete without The Old Man’s Major Award.

I used a smaller replica of the infamous leg lamp staged on top of a crate purchased at a craft store and transformed with a marker with the “Italian” word F-R-A-G-I-L-E. On the opposite end of the table, one of my children’s childhood toys represents one of the Bumpuses’ hound dogs. If you solve the secret code on the Magic Decoder as Ralphie did, you’ll remember to drink your Ovaltine!

Of course, the Red Ryder BB Gun must take center stage for our table! And thanks to my husband for taking a nail punch to a pair of old eyeglasses to accurately create Ralphie’s mom’s worst fear: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Now, it’s time to enjoy our food.

For the appetizer portion of the meal, let’s remember poor Flick, whose tongue gets frozen to the schoolyard flagpole after a Triple Dog Dare from Schwartz. TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU DOGS

1 small package of Little Smokies Your favorite barbecue sauce

Put the sausages in a medium saucepan, over low heat, and add enough barbecue sauce to cover. Stirring occasionally, let the sauce come to a gentle simmer and allow the sausages to heat through. Place three on a fork to get the Triple Dog effect!

—— Remember when poor Mrs. Parker is attempting to get Ralphie’s little brother Randy to eat his dinner?

I believe every parent can understand her struggle to get him to taste a bite of anything on his plate and then having to resort to encouraging him to eat like “a little piggy from a trough.” His dad’s bewildered look at that spectacle is classic. Can you remember what was for dinner on their table that night? A typical family meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and red cabbage.

A special thanks to my friend for her Nebraska meatloaf recipe, which is definitely a hearty, Midwestern, stick-to-your-ribs dish. MEATLOAF TOPPED WITH BACON AND CHEDDAR

3 pounds ground chuck

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed Topping:

6 pieces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup grated mild to medium cheddar cheese Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients.

Place in a large, greased casserole dish. Arrange bacon pieces on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Sprinkle with cheese during last 10 minutes of cooking. Let rest 5 minutes or so before serving. MASHED POTATOES

5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream In a medium saucepan, add potatoes and water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt.

Bring to a boil and lower heat slightly. Let potatoes cook until tender. Drain potatoes and put back into the saucepan.

Using a potato masher, mash potatoes. I like to leave a few lumps just to prove to everyone that I’m not using the instant variety! Add butter and cream and stir until combined with the potatoes.

Taste and add salt to taste. Add more cream or butter if potatoes are dry. BOILED RED CABBAGE

1 pound purple cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, thinly sliced

2 cups chicken broth Salt to taste

1/4 cup diced uncooked bacon In a medium-size saucepan, add cabbage and chicken broth.

Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 15 to 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add bacon and cover, and let cabbage continue to simmer until tender.

Taste and add salt if needed. There are slices of white bread on the table during the meal, along with a bottle of milk ready to be poured into glasses. Tro-Fe Dairy Milk was bottled in my hometown.

I am proud to set the table with one of their original milk bottles emblazoned with their logo. —— And now we’ve made it to the dessert portion of the meal.

Poor Ralphie. He finally gets permission from his mom to help his dad change a flat tire, and then mayhem occurs. To his parents’ disbelief, he utters “OH FUDGE!” (Or something thereabouts.) Thanks to Nestle Carnation for this delicious fudge recipe.

‘OH, FUDGE’

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup (5 fluid oz. can) Nestle Carnation Evaporated Milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract Line 8-inch-square baking pan with foil. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan.

Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, constantly stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute, or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces. ——

After Ralphie’s mother gets him home, it’s punishment time! Trust me, you will not mind getting your mouth washed out with this Lifebuoy soap replica. To make your own bar of chocolate soap, you’ll need red melting chocolate wafers and a small mold in the approximate size of a bar of soap.

Following the directions on the package, melt the wafers, pour into the appropriately shaped form and allow the chocolate to harden. Carefully remove from the mold. ——

After the rough and rowdy Bumpuses’ hounds ruin the family’s eagerly anticipated Christmas dinner of roast turkey, they resort to dining in a Chinese restaurant. They are somewhat taken aback when the Chinese Turkey aka roasted duck is served while smiling at them with the head still attached. No worries.

The owner of the restaurant does quick work with a cleaver to resolve that situation. A honey-balsamic glaze gives this duck a beautiful deep color. Allow enough time to defrost the duck in the refrigerator for a couple of days before cooking.

Remove the giblets from the inside of the duck. Carefully rinse the duck with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Ducks have a considerable amount of fat, and you’ll need to score the breast side of the skin in a diamond-shaped pattern, being very careful not to pierce the meat, to allow the fat to drain during roasting.

This also will help the surface of the duck to crisp. Again, carefully prick the skin of other fatty parts of the duck, especially where the legs connect to the body. ROASTED DUCK

6-pound whole duck

1 lemon, halved

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife Salt Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub the outside of the bird with the lemon halves and then place them in the cavity along with the garlic.

Generously season the duck with salt and pepper, including the cavity. Actually, use more salt than you think is necessary as it helps to crisp the skin. Place the duck breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan sprayed with nonstick spray.

Truss the duck legs with butcher’s twine and tuck the wings underneath the duck. Place the duck breast side up in a large roasting pan with a rack. The rack will enable you to remove the duck from the pan and also will allow the fat to drip away as the duck cooks.

Roast the duck, breast side up, for 1 hour at 350 degrees. After 1 hour of roasting, flip the duck on its breast and roast it breast side down for 40 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven.

Carefully lift the rack holding the duck from the pan and place it on a heat-proof surface. Pour off all the duck fat from the roasting pan into a large heat-proof bowl. (As a side note, duck fat makes incredibly delicious fried potatoes.) Place the roasting rack back into the pan and turn the duck breast side up.

Brush all of the duck with the balsamic vinegar and cook for another 40 minutes, brushing every 10 minutes with the vinegar. Combine the honey with the remaining vinegar. Brush the breast side of the duck with the glaze, and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, brushing the duck breast side every 5 minutes with the glaze until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees with an instant-read thermometer.

Remove duck from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes tented with foil.

Remove lemon halves.

Carve the duck and serve!

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