Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmastime is my favorite time of the year. It is a time to be with our loved ones, enjoying each other’s company over wonderful meals, great wine, and delectable treats in celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is the time of year that I go all out with home decorating, especially with my nativity set obsession. As my husband likes to joke, “Mary is giving birth in every room in our house!” It is also during this time that I spend days in the kitchen with my kids, sister-in-laws, and mom baking and cooking all of our family’s traditions. I have taken recipes from my family and my husband’s family and found ways to incorporate as many of them as I can into our holiday meals. I make everything from the Kolackys (Polish cookie) that my mother-in-law, Nancy, always made to the Bracioles (Italian meat roll in red sauce) that my grandmother made. Traditionally, I grew up having a big Italian meal on Christmas Eve, so, naturally, I do that too. This Christmas, I am excited to share two of my favorite traditions with you: Gluten Free Chicken (or Veal) Parmesan with Vodka Sauce and Gluten Free Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.

On a side note, many of my readers are probably wondering why I make/convert all my recipes into gluten free versions. About 2 years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac. She loves to bake with me, so I made it a mission not to lose that special time with her that I was blessed to have with my mom and grandmothers in the kitchen. I have been slowly converting our family recipes into gluten-free ones for her to enjoy for a life-time.

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan with Vodka Sauce

Vodka Sauce:

This recipe makes 8-1 cup servings. Calories per serving: 255; Fat per serving: 20g; Carbs per serving: 16g; Protein per serving: 4g

  • 2 TBS butter
  • ¼ small sweet onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • *optional ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1-28 oz can of crushed tomato
  • 1 ½ cups of red sauce (from meatball recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup fresh basil chopped

In a large pot, heat butter, add diced onion and garlic, sauté for 4-6 minutes. Add vodka, simmer to reduce, about 4-6 minutes. Add heavy whipping cream, bring to a simmer and turn heat down to low. Be sure not to overcook the cream sauce. Add crushed tomatoes and red sauce. Stir in fresh basil. Cook on low for 20 minutes so all the flavors come together.

Chicken Parmesan (or Veal)

This recipe makes 8 servings, calories are an estimation as it is hard to get exact measurements. Calories per serving: 451; Fat per serving: 24; Carbs per serving: 18g; Protein per serving: 37g

  • 2 lbs. of thin sliced chicken breast or chicken cutlets (8-10 cutlets)
  • 1 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 eggs beaten and salted
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 ½ cups of Vodka Sauce, see above recipe
  • 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 375. Tenderize chicken, salt and pepper both sides (see video below). Mix breadcrumbs and grated parmesan in shallow bowl. Beat eggs with salt in a separate shallow dish. Heat oil and butter together in a cast iron pan on medium heat. Dip chicken in egg wash, then in bread crumb mix, repeat back to the egg mix, and then the bread crumb mix (see video below). Place in the hot oiled cast iron pan. Fry both sides of the battered chicken until browned and crispy on both sides. When done remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels while continuing to batter and fry the rest of the chicken.

Tenderizing chicken
Coating tenderized chicken

Place 1 ¼ cup of previous made vodka sauce in bottom of a 13×9 baking pan. Place breaded chicken on the vodka sauce, pour 1 ¼ cup or more of vodka sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes

Serve over your favorite gluten free pasta.

Gluten Free Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

This recipe comes from my mom’s side of the family. Both her mother and grandmother made these. I vividly remember my brothers and I frosting these cookies in my Grandma Jo’s kitchen out at the ranch whenever we were there for Christmas. Now, carrying on the tradition, my daughter and I make them with a few changes so she can still enjoy them too. This recipe is near and dear to me; I hope it brings the same Christmas spirit and joy to your family too!

This recipe makes 30-40 frosted cookies depending on size of cut shapes. Macronutrients are an estimation, I divided it into 30 cookie serving sizes. Calories per serving: 184; Fat per serving: 7g; Carbs per serving: 31g; Protein per serving: 1g

  • ½ cup softened, salted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups of Namaste perfect flour blend + ¾ cup for rolling out cookies
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer, like a kitchen aid, stir in egg. Whisk together 2 ¼ cup of flour, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium sized bowl. Combine sour cream and vanilla in a separate bowl. Alternate adding flour and sour cream mix to butter mix, starting and ending with flour (see video below). DO NOT MIX HARD! Spread ½ cup of flour directly on counter or wood cutting board. Place ½ the cookie dough on flour and work some of the flour into the dough to avoid sticking to counter. DO NOT over mix, dough/cookies will become to stiff if over worked. Roll out dough on the floured counter/board (see video below). Cut favorite shapes out. Place on a parchment/silicone lined baking sheet. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10-11 minutes, 10 min for smaller shapes and 11 or more for larger shapes. Bottom of the cookies should barely be brown. Let cool and frost with the frosting recipe to follow.

Mixing Dough
Dough roll out


  • 3 TBS softened butter
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS Heavy cream
  • 3 TBS + 1 tsp half and half
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

In stand mixer like a kitchen aid mix butter, sugar, cream, and vanilla with the paddle attachment. Whip on medium speed until light and fluffy. Frost with white frosting or divide between bowl and add food coloring. If frosting is runny add more powdered sugar 2 TBS at a time. If too dry add 1 tsp of half and half at a time.

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Tessa Ludwig

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