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The Homemade Mom: Christmas Dinner


This week is a collection of treats for your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner. Download your shopping list now and Merry Chrsitams!

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Baked Brie

I wasn’t a fan of Brie on it’s own until I learned you can bake it in pastry. Once I tried it, it quickly became one of my favorite party appetizers. It’s beyond easy to make and it brings that wow factor to any party. It’s a beautiful package of creaminess sweetened by the nicest of jams and all rolled up into crusty puff pastry. Everyone loves to eat this around the holidays and no one wants to make it, until now!

Servings: 8+

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

1 piece of brie, 4 to 8 ounces, cold

1 sheet puff pastry, cold

2 tablespoons thick jam, any flavor

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the white rind off the brie and discard.

2. Roll the cold, but not frozen puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the rolled dough to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper of silpat. Place the brie at the center of the dough square and then spread the jam over the top of cheese. Drape the four corners of the dough, one at a time, across the brie to enclose it.

3. Brush the egg wash over the brie. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving warm. Enjoy!

Recipe from: cooking.nytimes.com

Christmas Tree Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are some of my favorite appetizers. But, do you ever want to eat one, but decide not to indulge because of all the mayonnaise? Health buffs rejoice! Here is an amazing HEALTHY holiday appetizer – just eggs, avocado, and some toppings. It’s festive and delicious all rolled up into one.

Servings: 5

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

5 large hard-boiled eggs

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, divided

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon minced red bell pepper

A sprinkling of paprika

DIRECTIONS

1. Once hard boiled, cut eggs lengthwise in half. Remove yolks, reserving whites, and place in a medium bowl. Mash yolks and add in the avocado. Continue to mash with a fork until smooth (if your avocado isn’t ripe enough, there won’t me enough moisture. You can always mix in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to help it along). Stir in 2 teaspoons cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Using a pastry bag or Ziploc plastic bag, insert a medium star tip. Transfer avocado mixture to bag. Pipe into egg whites, swirling it upward to resemble Christmas trees. Sprinkle trees with minced red pepper, cilantro and paprika.

3. Refrigerate, covered, until serving. Enjoy!

Inspired by: tasteofhome.com

Salsa Verde Roasted Beets

Beets take a lot of work to make well, but they are so worth it! Just the color alone screams Christmas. Roasting them brings out a deep flavor and helps you peel the skin more easily (win-win!). And there’s no waste because the salsa verde comes from the beet greens and stems. I like the crunch of the walnuts and pomegranates in every bite, but experiment – maybe try some red grapes or almonds. Even goat cheese would go nicely with the beets! It’s an easy dish to play with!

Servings: 8-10

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 pounds small or medium beets, scrubbed

1 pound fresh ricotta cheese

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cups beet greens, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons

1/2 cup minced beet green stems

1/2 cup chopped dill, plus sprigs for garnish

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup walnuts

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until tender when pierced. Unwrap and let cool.

2. Spread the ricotta on a platter. Cut the beets into chunks and arrange on the cheese. Season lightly with sea salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil with the vinegar. Add the beet greens, stems and chopped dill and mix well. Season the salsa verde with salt and pepper and spoon over the beets. Scatter the pomegranate seeds and walnuts on top, garnish with dill sprigs and serve. Enjoy!

Adapted from: foodandwine.com

Creamed Spinach & Roasted Cauliflower in Brown Butter Sauce

Creamed Spinach: If you search my archives, you’ll find that I love spinach. Fresh, frozen, creamed – you name it, I’ve made it. While frozen spinach is the easiest way to make creamed spinach (imho), using fresh spinach is a pretty close second. The addition of the egg yolks give this a slightly yellow tint, but that’s what adds to the decadence of this side dish. It would be great next to turkey or a roast at your Christmas dinner.

Servings: 6-8

Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, stirring, until the mixture lightens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in the milk, 2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Return to medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking. Remove from the heat again; stir to cool slightly.

2. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and cook about 3 minutes. Toss with tongs, then continue to wilt, uncovered, about 2 more minutes. Drain and cool slightly, then squeeze the spinach until dry. Coarsely chop.

3. Gently reheat the sauce, then whisk in the whole egg and yolks; cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the spinach; heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Adapted from: foodnetwork.com

Cauliflower: Cauliflower is an underestimated vegetable that needs more love! It’s so meaty and crunchy and can be used in a variety of ways – roasted, riced, pureed. Honestly, it’s so versatile because of how mild the flavor is, you can use it in just about any way you can think of. For the holidays, I love roasting it and giving that much need healthy crunch to what’s typically a heavy dinner. This recipe highlights how amazing a plain roasted vegetable can be. Every holiday dinner needs a good side dish, and roasted cauliflower is the one for me!

Servings: 10-12

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt, more for tossing

1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

3 medium-large heads cauliflower (about 3 pounds)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 lemon, zest finely grated

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 scallion, diced

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add cauliflower to pan and toss with oil, salt and pepper and gently until coated. Spread out on two large baking sheets. Bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes.

Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. When foam subsides, watch closely and stir often. When white solids are brown and butter smells toasty, turn off heat, squeeze in juice of lemon and stir well.

2. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl, pour butter over, and add lemon zest. Add thyme and scallion and toss until combined. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted from: cooking.nytimes.com

Christmas Tortellini & Spinach Soup

Another week, another soup! My favorite! This one is a good refrigerator dump – empty whatever you have in your fridge into the pot and you have one amazing soup! This one shines using the colors of Christmas, and is light enough to eat anytime of year. I used fresh cherry tomatoes today, but usually make it with canned diced tomatoes (as written below). It tastes very different with the fresh tomatoes and I love it both ways!

Servings: 6

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

1 (32-oz) box vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 package (14 ounces) frozen cheese tortellini

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups celery

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Add tortellini; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the beans, celery, tomatoes, salt and pepper and return to a simmer. Cook 4-5 minutes longer or until tortellini are tender.

Stir in basil and top with cheese. Enjoy!

Adapted from: tasteofhome.com

Eggnog Sweet Potato Casserole

Ever wonder what to do with eggnog besides drink it? I’ve got the answer – make a casserole! If you think of this casserole like mashed potatoes, the eggnog ends up acting like the butter and milk/cream. It also adds an additional sweetness to the sweet potatoes that leaves you asking ‘what is that amazing flavor?’. It’s so creamy and decadent and then you add the topping to is which is sweet and crunchy. Some would even go as far to say as this could be served as dessert. Regardless, it’s perfect at any holiday table. I know you’ll absolutely love this!

Servings: 8

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

For the casserole:

3-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 large)

2/3 cup eggnog

1/2 cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

For the topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub sweet potatoes; pierce several times with a fork. Place on a foil-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pan; bake 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven. Reduce oven setting to 350°.

2. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard peel. Mash potatoes in a large bowl (you should have about 6 cups mashed). Stir in eggnog, raisins, sugar and salt. Transfer to a greased 11×7-in. baking dish.

3. For topping, in a small bowl, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, pecans and spices; stir in butter. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until heated through and topping is lightly browned. Enjoy!

Adapted from: tasteofhome.com

Holiday Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those dishes I love making because it’s easy to make but always looks impressive. You can dump any veggies or meats in it and add as much or as little cheese as you want. I also used oven-ready noodles because it’s one less step, but you could use fresh or homemade lasagna noodles. And you could make homemade tomato sauce (see my recipe here) to use in this as well. It would taste so amazing!

Servings: 8

Time: 65 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

9 oven-ready lasagna noodles

3.5 cups ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I used a basil marinara sauce) or homemade sauce

1 5-oz container/bag fresh spinach

1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder; mix well.

3. Spread 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with a layer of noodles. Spread half the ricotta mixture over noodles and top with half the spinach. Add another noodle layer. Pour 1 1/2 cups of sauce over noodles, and spread the remaining ricotta over the sauce topping with remaining spinach. Top with remaining noodles and sauce and sprinkle torn pieces of mozzarella over all. Cover with greased foil.

4. Bake 45 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and top is golden. Enjoy!

Adapted from: allrecipes.com

Maple Salmon (Feast of 7 Fishes)

Trevor lovesssss eating sweet and sour chicken from Chinese restaurants, but I hate that it’s fried. So I came up with a sweet and sour sauce recipe that I use on lots of different proteins. This recipe takes elements of the sweet and sour chicken and elevates it to the next level. It touches all those feel good places in your mouth and begs to be devoured the minute it’s cooked! And if you have leftovers, eat it cold. It’s just as good.

Servings: 4

Time: 25 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

1.5 lb. salmon fillet (center-cut)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

From 1 navel orange: 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 scallions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/3 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS

1. Place salmon on large plate and salt and pepper each piece. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet and place salmon fillets skin side down in pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Turn gently and brown the second side (do not move fish while it is cooking). Remove fish from pan and set aside.

2. While fish is cooking, zest orange – about 1 tablespoon. Then, juice orange to fill 1/3 cup and set aside.

3. Place all ingredients (except salmon) in pan and stir to combine, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently until sauce is reduced and thickened.

4. Return salmon to the pan and spoon sauce on top of fillets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until fish is cooked to your liking.

5. Serve salmon with glaze from the bottom of pan and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from a family recipe.

Raspberry-Fig Rugelach Wreath

When I was a kid, my parents always bought rugelach for holiday desserts. My dad got me so hooked on it, that I will eat any flavor any time of day. If you don't know what it is, think of the softest, most buttery pastry wrapped around some kind of jam or chocolate. It's rolled in sugar and melts in your mouth. It's so delicious and it's one of my favorite desserts, EVER! I've made it before, but it's not easy rolling all of the individual cookie/pastries. This pull-apart wreath solves that problem so it makes it easy to make and even easier to eat!

Servings:15-20 cookies

Time:3 hours

Difficulty: medium

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

4 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled firm

Filling:

5 ounces dried figs, hard stems trimmed if needed

1/2 cup raspberry jam

1/2 cup cranberry-raspberry juice

Nonstick cooking spray

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons white sanding sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Pulse together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a food processor until smooth. Add the flour and butter and pulse until the dough just comes together in a solid mass (chunks of butter should be visible), about 6 to 8 long pulses. Shape the dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch-thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Wipe out the food processor.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the figs, raspberry jam and juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the figs are plump and the juice is syrupy, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree in the food processor until smooth and set aside to cool completely.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously spray the back side of a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

3. Put the chilled dough between 2 pieces of parchment. Roll out the dough into an 11-by-13-inch rectangle and 1/8-inch-thick (see Cook's Note). Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove the top piece of the parchment, to free it from the dough, then place it back on top. Turn the dough over and remove the top piece of parchment. Spread the fig mixture evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough into a log using the parchment as a guide (the dough is very soft and the parchment will make it easier to roll). Transfer the log to the prepared baking sheet, brush with the egg wash and coat with the sanding sugar. Cut 20 slits across the log, about 1/2-inch apart. Each slit should go about three-quarters of the way through the log so that it is still completely intact. Bend about a quarter of the log by turning some of the newly cut "tabs" out so that the pinwheels of filling are facing up. Continue turning the "tabs" out and bending the log until you have a ring. Butt the ends up against each other.

4. Spray the outside of a 3 1/2-inch round ramekin with cooking spray and place in the center of the ring. Chill the shaped rugelach dough for 30 minutes. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

5. Remove the ramekin and let the ring cool for 5 minutes then slide a flat spatula underneath to free the ring from the baking sheet. Gently slide the ring onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving. Enjoy

Adapted from: foodnetwork.com

Christmas Crack

A few years back, I went to this ugly sweater party and someone made a Chex Party Mix It was nothing fancy but everyone loved it. Call is nostalgia, but everyone gobbled it right up. Fast forward to now, and I wanted to make something like that for Amelia's lunchbox and a holiday party we were going to. It had to serve double duty, so I used kids cereal and covered it in white chocolate. I topped it off with some festive caramel M&M's and had the BEST sweet and savory party snack around. It was the first thing Amelia ate at lunch that day (go figure!) and the bowl was cleaned out by the end of the holiday party. It was the real winner at the ugly sweater party!

Servings:12

Time:10 minutes + 1 hour cooling

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

2 cups Cheerios

2 cups Rice Chex

2 cups Wheat Chex

1 cup Pretzel Sticks

1 bag red & green caramel M&M’s

10-oz White Chocolate

Red & green sprinkles

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl combine the Cheerios, Chex, Pretzels, and M&M’s. Mix them up a bit, making sure that everything is evenly distributed.

2. Meanwhile, over a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Once the chocolate has melted and is a smooth consistency, drizzle the chocolate over the cereal mix and combine with a wooden spoon or hands. Make sure all the cereal is covered in chocolate.

3. Once the entire batch has been combined, lay it out to dry on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle with red & green sprinkles and let dry for 1 hour so the chocolate is cooled and hard. 4. Break it up into medium pieces and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy!

Adapted from: whatsgabbycooking.com

Julie is a stay-at-home mom of two girls and with a passion for all things food. She loves growing, cooking, and, of course, eating food! She started meal planning years ago to stay organized and eliminate food (and money!) waste and started sharing it on her own blog, Season Generously.


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