This year, thanks to the vaccine, we can return to somewhat normal holiday traditions. That means bigger gatherings and more mouths to feed so I’m helping to make things easier by sharing several menu ideas. Find everything from classic recipes to ones with a combination of unique flavors.
While you can mix and match, I have chosen recipes with a cohesive theme. Each menu includes a recipe idea for Christmas Eve dinner; my family typically likes to eat seafood for Christmas Eve and meat on Christmas Day, so most menus offer a similar practice, while also including a full vegetarian menu. For your Christmas Day feast there is a recipe for each of the following: breakfast, appetizer, entrée, side, vegetable and dessert.
This menu consists of recipes that my family serves every year for our Christmas celebration. We always have shrimp stuffed with a buttery crab filling on Christmas Eve. It’s also a recipe my dad has been making for years. Prior to opening our presents on Christmas morning my mom makes a batch of orange rolls (while we used to have Pillsbury we now make my recipe below!). Much like Thanksgiving, we typically eat some appetizers earlier in the day like rack of lamb followed by an early dinner of beef tenderloin, creamy dauphinoise potatoes, green beans and a dessert of cream puffs.
Make this recipe for Christmas Eve. Colossal shrimp are stuffed with cracker and crab filling, then drizzled with butter and baked until cooked through but still moist.
This orange roll recipe is a staple for Christmas in my house. We always eat them before (and sometimes after) opening our presents on Christmas morning.
With its savory combination of herbs, mustard and breadcrumbs this rack of lamb makes for either the perfect appetizer (or even an impressive holiday entrée).
The roasted tenderloin entrée is great for family gatherings because it serves a lot of people. This is also one of those meats that may taste even better as leftovers the next day! In fact, I prefer to eat it cold the next day with horseradish mayonnaise.
Thinly sliced potatoes covered in a mixture of cream and cheese and baked until golden brown on top and bubbling,
Blanching gives beans a fresh flavor and the perfect texture. This process is also easy to do if you want to make beans to serve later. In addition, the simple vegetable side complements the other rich dishes.
Choux pastry, the dough used to make the cream puffs, relies on rising steam to create a hollow center that will be filled with a cream filling. This family recipe is perfect for the holidays.
If you are looking for some new takes on some classic recipes, I recommend choosing this menu for your festivities. This pescatarian menu focuses on seafood dishes. Beginning with my favorite risotto topped with sautéed shrimp and butter sauce, a twist on shrimp scampi, I follow up with a DIY breakfast bagel spread the next morning to take pressure off the cook! This breakfast is great for large groups since it is made casserole-style. Make whipped ricotta toasts for an appetizer. Then follow up with the show-stopper, crispy salmon with rich beurre blanc sauce and fennel. I also pair the seafood with fancy smashed, fried small potatoes, creamed spinach and a dessert of orange olive oil cake.
Serve this seafood favorite for dinner on Christmas Eve. Sautéed shrimp are served in a white wine and garlic scampi sauce served over creamy Parmesan risotto.
A bagel brunch spread is a great way to give any houseguests a luxurious DIY breakfast option. It feeds a crowd without putting extra stress on the cooks in the house!
Toasts topped with whipped creamy ricotta and finished with toasted and candied hazelnuts, fresh rosemary and a drizzle of truffle honey for a Christmas-y appetizer.
Beurre blanc translates to “white butter” and while this isn’t the healthiest sauce, it is definitely delicious paired with crispy salmon fillets. While many opt for meat on Christmas day this seafood dish makes for an impressive entrée option.
These buttery, crispy smashed potatoes topped with luxe contrasting textures of creme fraîche, caviar, salmon roe and chives is one of my favorite ways to eat potatoes.
This simple yet rich classic is made with blanched spinach leaves in a creamy mornay sauce. It’s also a great way to use up any wilting spinach on its way out!
This olive oil-based cake is dense and moist with a touch of orange zest and juice for acidity, served topped with a whipped mascarpone cream.
Opt for a more “out of the box” Christmas menu with a unique combination of flavors. The pepperoni fried rice topped with scallops is always a hit for Christmas eve – the scallops can even be swapped with shrimp or another favorite seafood. Gingerbread waffles smell amazing cooking in the house on Christmas morning and can be made ahead of time and reheated. The star of this menu is braised balsamic and caramelized onion lamb shanks. Pair them with cheesy twice baked potatoes, charred cauliflower and salted butterscotch pots de creme for dessert.
Pan-fried crispy rice served tossed with cubes of spiced pepperoni and herbs, then flavored with tomato paste and topped with garlic aioli and scallops in this Italian-American-inspired spin on Spanish paella.
Serve this waffle recipe topped with a generous amount of whipped cream and maple syrup, accented by vibrant sugared cranberries. Use any leftover sugared cranberries to decorate your holiday table for dinner.
I love a sweet and savory combination so the smooth creamy soft-ripened cheese with it’s buttery flavor makes the perfect contrast to the caramelized sugar.
Braising is one of my favorite methods of cooking. I know this is a strong statement, but not only is braising practically foolproof, but the meat is so incredibly tender that you end up with a perfect serving sauce with tons of flavor and practically no additional effort!
Potatoes are roasted and scooped out and then mixed with a combination of sour cream, milk and lots of cheddar cheese.
Charred cauliflower is served tossed with red pepper romesco sauce, crispy chickpeas and golden raisins in this vegetable dish.
The custard has a rich velvety texture similar to crème brûlée and the flavor is a light butterscotch that borders on caramel.
This menu features a combination of my favorite meatless recipes. They may be meatless, but they are full of flavor and will be a hit with meat eaters and vegetarians alike (rather than cooking multiple menus!). Start with individual servings of eggplant parmesan with burrata on Christmas eve followed by a fragrant chai French toast on Christmas morning. Crispy fried arancini are a great appetizer choice made from leftover or fresh risotto. An entree of baked stuffed shells shines paired with roasted beet salad, broccolini and a dessert of baklava.
Crispy slices of dredged and fried eggplant are layered into serving dishes for individual servings. I serve them topped with marinara and creamy burrata for a comforting Italian vegetarian entree great for Christmas eve.
This chai spiced French toast adds a twist to a classic breakfast recipe. Make the masala chi in advance so the batter for this French toast can be assembled quickly.
Arancini are basically cheese stuffed rice balls that are coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. The Sicilian appetizer is one of my favorites, you can’t go wrong with crispy rice and cheese!
Large shell pasta is stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, smoked mozzarella and parmesan in a homemade vodka sauce. The dish can be assembled in advance and cooked just before guests arrive to cut down on the prep time.
Earthy, yet sweet, roasted beets are paired with creamy burrata and a bright orange vinaigrette for a side dish in which winter produce shines.
This recipe brings out the flavors of the broccolini while the acidity of the red wine vinegar works to offset its bitterness.
With it’s buttery, crispy layers of phyllo dough, nutty filling, and sugary honey syrup, this sticky sweet Greek dessert is one of my favorites.