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SWOP Behind Bars Holiday Recipe Roundup

Yeah, it is THAT time of year! You know the one! It's the one where everybody else is taking a break for the Holidays, and you are the only person STILL checking your email when you know for a FACT that you won’t hear back from your political representatives at any level!

So while you’re waiting for that grant approval notification email, organizing the upcoming election year advocacy and strategizing every possible opportunity to further the cause of sex worker rights quietly in your own brain so everyone else thinks you are practicing self care, consider these amazing Holiday dishes recommended from the SWOP Behind Bars staff and board.

These folks don’t play when it comes to activism, advocacy or food!

Blair’s Louisiana Shrimp-Stuffed Mirliton

Blair Hopkins lives in New Orleans and her favorite Holiday Treat is a traditional Christmas Eve dish that visitors to New Orleans during the holiday season may want to sample almost anywhere in the French Quarter. This old Crescent City tradition dates back to the early 19th century. It is called a Réveillon (REV-ee-on) Dinner and here is the story behind it:

In French, New Orleans’ original language, the word “réveillon” means “awakening.” The Creole, some of the city’s earliest inhabitants, celebrated the start of Christmas in the early 1800s with a big family meal when they returned home from midnight mass.

It was a tradition the Creole inherited from their European cousins as a way of breaking the daylong religious fast leading up to Christmas Eve. Across Europe, Reveillon dinners still occur in France, Belgium, Portugal and Romania. Around the world, Reveillon feasts are popular in Brazil, Quebec and New Orleans. This delicious dish is one of several magnificent displays of New Orleans cuisine and a perfect main dish for your Réveillon celebration!

Mirliton, a squash variety that thrives in Louisiana, is stuffed with Gulf shrimp.

Queen Jean’s Sweet Potato Honey Cornbread

Queen Jean is the powerhouse leader from Black Trans Liberation Kitchen in NYC. She didn’t waste a MINUTE telling us her favorite Holiday Recipe and we can certainly see why!  

Sweet Potato Honey Cornbread originated in the Southern United States. Cornbread is typically a quick bread made with cornmeal, associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States, with origins in Native American cuisine.

But its origin story gets even better! The name “cornbread” came from the Algonquin word apan, meaning "baked." The Narragansett word for cornbread, nokechick, became no-cake and then "hoe-cake", making it a delightful addition in name and taste to our Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Almost everyone across the board agrees that Macaroni and Cheese is their favorite go-to recipe for holiday occasions (and any other times too!) And we got so many submissions for this dish that we decided it was worth sharing two of them! If you haven’t had a chance to try a new way to enjoy pasta and cheese - here are some tried and true recipes that are guaranteed to please!

Alexandria’s Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

Alexandria LaRue from SWOPUSA loves to serve a slightly spicy version of Macaroni and Cheese that has a delightful bite-back and has the addition of BACON - which honestly makes everything taste better! They’ll make it for any time of year but you can bet your bottom dollar that it's going to be a centerpiece at any Holiday gathering they are hosting, attending or just hanging out! Alexandria doesn't mess with the bread crumb topping but absolutely doesn't care if YOU do!

Nikis Roast Lamb

Niki is just finishing up a grueling last semester of law school and is truly ready to gt a break for studying for the bar. JUST KIDDING! We all know Nikki doesn't take breaks!

You may think she's got her nose buried in a cookbook for this delicious looking roast lamb, but you can bet your Pleasers she has a law book close by and she is itching to start working with sex workers and survivors once she gets past that bar exam! Niki takes cooking seriously - like everything else she does - and this delicious dish -served with hasselback potatoes and her favorite veggie is gonna be a really special Holiday celebration with her two kiddos!

Savannahs’ Roasted Root Veggies

Savannah Sly from New Moon Fund likes making roasted root veggies and being an expert farmer, she gets the best out of her own garden if she can. If not, she works really hard to buy locally grown veggies from local farmers markets.

Savannah is particularly fond of Root Veggies which are technically defined as underground plant parts eaten by humans as food. In agricultural and culinary terminology, the term applies to true roots such as taproots and tuberous roots as well as non-roots such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, and stem tubers, but you don't have to get all technical and you can add almost any kind of vegetable to this roasted collection and they will be certain to be delicious when paired with a nice creamy macaroni casserole! The recipe is pretty simple; the results are spectacular!

Patrices’ Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Patrice Smith lives in New York but is moving to Georgia. She picked up this delicious recipe for a traditional baked macaroni and cheese and her nieces beg for it on a pretty regular basis. What is "southern" macaroni and cheese? It's basically a custard-style baked macaroni and cheese with eggs and milk so it's really creamy and can be served alone, with any kind of main dish and it's the perfect leftover. This version uses three kinds of cheese and butter and the tang comes from a little sour cream added.  It bakes up firm, hearty and filling and absolutely delicious.

Doroshow’s Famous Stuffing

Ceyenne Doroshow of GLITSINC knows a thing or two about cooking and we have watched her whip up a variety of dishes while taking phone calls, fundraising and organizing her community to inspire others. Ceyenne cooks for everyone so this recipe will feed a small army of hungry community members! It's just about the most delicious flavor explosion you will eat at a Holiday meal and can be served with Turkey, Ham, Chicken or Pork.

Whatever you serve it with, do it with love!

Bella's Italian Sausage Lasagna

Bella Robinson makes no bones about her favorite Holiday dish and she owns it!  She usually makes it the day before and then pops it in the oven when she's ready to be the hostess with the mostest.

Now this is a significant amount of lasagna! Fortunately, it's almost better when it's reheated the next day while you are clearing the Holiday mess or just sipping on some eggnog.

M Dante’s Lavender Pork

M Dante likes to eat healthy but not to feel like she always has to be good and this dish works great!  Except, of course, that she likes to pair it with a macaroni and cheese side dish! We support this personally, professionally and organizationally! This pork tenderloin thing looks delicious even still on the baking sheet!

If you've never cooked with lavender before, you're in for a pleasant surprise. It's slightly lemony and just adds a really nice background note to whatever you're making. The caveat, however, is that it can be difficult to find. Yes, you can get it at one of those places none of us shops for groceries at OR you can get it on Amazon!  Don’t forget to thank your driver on the app so they can get $5 and some acknowledgement of all the labor they did this Holiday season!

Alex’s Cherry Peach Tapioca Pie

Yeah we know. Alex is a legendary bad cook who can’t find her way around any kitchen and we all know she really only drinks 7-11 coffee and eats Sweet and Salty trail mix! The kitchen fires, the burned grilled cheese sandwiches and hockey puck chicken poppers are widely known. Alex is the one person you just would prefer stopped by Publix on her way to a potluck! 

What you may NOT have known is that she does like to bake around the Holidays and her favorite dish is - well - in all truth - pretty much anything with sugar! She learned this recipe for from her fraternal grandmother as a teenager after spending afternoons picking bing cherries and peaches from a local orchard. It's an unexpected blend of two delicious fruits and will satisfy the sweetest of teeth!  Alex says the secret ingredient is the all butter pie crust, which she can still make from scratch.  

Regardless of what you cook for the holidays, we at SWOP Behind Bars wish you the happiest of Holidays and we look forward 2024, forever wishing Peace on Earth and that the innate goodness of mankind will show itself in the New Year!

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