Happy Holidays to you!! I hope you’re enjoying this interlude between Christmas and New Years’. It reminds me a bit of long summer weekends like Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day, where there seems to be an infinite amount of time. It’s especially inviting since the hullabaloo of the the holidays is over, many folks are on vacation, and there are few outdoor chores to do.
There’s not much to do except eat Christmas cookies, use your Christmas presents, cozy up with a book, or hit the slopes. Even though I still had to go to my day job this week, it felt like a vacation.
Before we head into 2018, let me tell you what we did for the holiday and more importantly, what we ate!
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Since moving into our home, we’ve started to host Christmas Eve dinner. This year we had 12 guests for dinner and dessert. It works out well as we can then sleep in a bit on Christmas morning and have flexibility for other family members to stop in. We often see in-laws on Christmas eve, on Christmas, or on the preceding weekend.
My parents still host Christmas dinner as they have the most space for house guests and my mom makes a world-renowned entree. My mom still makes her traditional “gooey buns” and sends us home the weekend before Christmas with magical packets of cinnamon deliciousness for us to warm on Christmas morning. This year, we did the Polish traditional oplatek and had British crackers.
Christmas Eve Menu
Brie, covered in cranberry sauce, wrapped in phyllo dough, brushed with egg wash and baked at 400F for 40 minutes.
Sliced summer sausage
(I made a toddler-friendly plate of these items cut much smaller for Little Miss C.)
Salad of spring mix, roasted diced butternut squash (made a day ahead) and Craisins
Roasted green beans (trimmed two days before)
Chicken Cordon Bleu with prosciutto and mozzarella
Orzo with steamed broccoli, seasoned with lemon and thyme
Coffee & Yule log cake (Tried this Yule Log recipe this year and got so many compliments!)
Time Saving Strategies
Butternut squash – I bought the pre-cut packages of butternut squash. A whole squash is hard to cut and peel. Although it’s not impossible, I just wanted to save some time. I did cut these large chunks into much smaller bite-size piece and roast them the day before with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin.
Green beans – I bought the pre-trimmed beans but ended up trimming them again since they didn’t look very nice. I could have purchased the regular ones for a cheaper prices since it didn’t save much time. The day before, I seasoned them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Yule Log – I made the cake the day before. Since I’ve done this before, it didn’t take as much time as last year.
Coffee- We had both regular and decaf. Start one coffee while you’re making dinner, then pour it into a carafe, and start the other pot (regular or decaf). That way, you’ll have both types of coffee for your guests at the right temperature. For some reason, I can no longer drink regular at any time of day or night. (Children change you in the strangest ways!) So we definitely need a decaf option for an after-dinner delight.
We kept decorations simple with a small pillar candle center-piece, colorful food (e.g. Craisins, squash, red & green appetizers, etc.), and our simple Christmas tree.
The evening was overall a big success. We had some very helpful guests who did some dishes despite our insistence. No major spills. Little Miss C was the center of attention. And I even had the energy to attend the late Christmas Eve church service, filled with quiet carols and candlelight.
Tell me about your Holiday meals! How did they go? Did you host? What saved you some time this year?