Most Christmas customs in the United States have been adopted from those in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, the mainstays of the British table are also found in the United States: roast turkey (or other poultry), beef, ham, or pork; stuffing (or 'dressing'), squash, roasted root vegetables, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes are common. Common desserts include pumpkin pie, plum pudding or Christmas pudding, trifle, marzipan, pfeffernusse, sugar cookies, fruitcake, apple pie, Gooseberry Pie, carrot cake, bûche de Noël, and mince pies. In the south, coconut cake and sweet potato pie are also common.
The centerpiece of a sit-down meal varies on the tastes of the host but can be ham, roast beef, or goose, particularly since turkey is the mainstay at dinner for the American holiday of Thanksgiving in November, around one month earlier. Regional meals offer incredible diversity. Virginia has oysters, ham pie, and fluffy biscuits, a nod to its very English 17th century founders. The Upper Midwest includes dishes from predominately Scandinavian backgrounds such as lutefisk and mashed rutabaga or turnip. In some rural areas, game meats like elk, opossum or quail may grace the table, often prepared with recipes that are extremely old: it is likely that similar foodstuffs graced the tables of early American settlers on their first Christmases.
Christmas is a time for family and friends, making joyous memories and delighting in succulent food. Create a Christmas-specific menu to make your Christmas dinner a standout.
Determine how you'd like to start dinner off. Drinks like egg nog as well as appetizers or hors d'oeurves are classy additions to a Christmas gathering, or maybe you'd like to begin dinner with a freshly tossed green salad. Choose what side dishes you'd like to serve. Those based on fruits, vegetables and potatoes are popular, but the room for creativity is endless.
*Cajun Style Baked Sweet Potato*
"Tired of the same old baked sweet potato? Great for holiday get togethers, these sweet potatoes are seasoned with a homemade herb and spice mix."
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- In a small bowl, stir together paprika, brown sugar, black pepper, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Slice the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Brush each half with olive oil. Rub the seasoning mix over the cut surface of each half. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, or in a shallow pan.
- Bake in preheated oven until tender, or about 1 hour.
*Green Bean & Mushroom Medley*
"This is a great vegetable side dish. This is always served at our family gatherings with no leftovers."
- 1/2 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 2 carrots, cut into thick strips
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- Place green beans and carrots in 1 inch of boiling water. Cover, and cook until tender but still firm. Drain.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms until almost tender. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in green beans, carrots, salt, seasoned salt, garlic salt, and white pepper. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
*Apricot Glazed Carrots*
"Carrots are cooked tender then mixed with a tangy apricot sauce. Serve cold or slightly warm."
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Add carrots to a pot of lightly salted water, and bring to a low boil. Simmer until carrots are tender. Drain.
- Put melted butter in a bowl, and stir in apricot preserves. Stir in nutmeg, salt, orange zest, and lemon juice. Add carrots, and stir well to coat. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
"Lyonnaise potatoes recipe is sliced cooked potatoes and onions and butter cooked with seasonings and parsley."
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups cooked sliced potatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- chopped fresh parsley
In a large heavy skillet, heat butter over low heat; add onions and sauté until golden brown. Add cooked sliced potatoes to the browned onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
When getting your ingredients together for your Christmas dinner ideas, be sure to check a few things before hand.
- Are all the recipes for the same amount of servings? You may need to increase or decrease the recipe depending on how many guests you are planning to serve.
- Do you have all the equipment you need? Carefully read through each recipe and make sure that you have all the gear that is noted. If you are making three recipes that call for 9x13 baking dishes and you only have one, that could be a problem.
*Roast Leg of Lamb w/Rosemary*
"This leg of lamb is marinated overnight with fresh rosemary, garlic, mustard, honey and lemon zest. Be prepared for many requests for seconds!"
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 pounds whole leg of lamb
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, rosemary, ground black pepper, lemon zest and garlic. Mix well and apply to the lamb. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
- Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt to taste.
- Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and roast for 55 to 60 more minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) when taken with a meat thermometer. Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
*Tangy Honey Glazed Ham*
"The glaze for this ham uses ingredients on hand and it's the best. If you have any glaze left over, you can add it to the pan drippings with a little flour or cornstarch and make a nice sauce to accompany the meat. Use the bone and ham trimmings to make soup afterwards."
- 1 (10 pound) fully-cooked, bone-in ham
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 large orange, juiced and zested
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place ham in a roasting pan.
- In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, honey, orange juice, orange zest, Dijon mustard, and ground cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
- Bake ham in preheated oven uncovered for 2 hours. Remove ham from oven, and brush with glaze. Bake for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, brushing ham with glaze every 10 minutes.
*Almond-Crusted Pork Loin*
"This pork loin topped with an almond crust turns into a flavor explosion when paired with homemade fresh salsa."
- Vegetable oil spray
- 6 ounces slivered California almonds (1-1/4 cups chopped)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 egg whites
- 1 1/2-pounds boneless pork loin
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a roasting pan with foil and place a meat rack on the foil. Spray with vegetable oil spray. Coarsely grind almonds in a food processor. Mix almonds, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.
- Whip egg whites to form soft peaks. Remove visible fat from the pork. Roll the pork in the egg whites and then in the almond mixture. Roll once more in the egg whites and in the almond mixture again. Place pork on the rack and press any remaining almonds onto the pork.
- Roast 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Mix the salsa ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with pork. Yield: 4 servings (2 cups salsa)
Dessert seems to be the whole point of Christmas. Everywhere you look, there seems to be cookies, cakes, and sweets galore. For the kids, a nice candy cane cake might do the trick. Or try these for the whole family!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Raspberries, for garnish, optional
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking sheet (otherwise known as a quarter sheet pan) with some cooking spray.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or you can use a food processor), cream your butter with the sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and salt in a small bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Turn the mixer speed to low, add the flour into your butter and mix until just incorporated. (Make sure not to over-mix.) Turn the dough onto the baking sheet, flour your hands and press it out evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Pop in the fridge for an hour (or overnight) to chill.
Pop the crust in the oven and bake until a light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the filling: While the crust is cooling, make your filling. Crack your eggs into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Whisk until combined. Pour into the crust and spread evenly. Put back in the oven and bake until the filling is completely set, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
*Apple Coffee Cake*
- 1 stick plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Brown Sugar Glaze:
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter.
In a large bowl, cream together the remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl or on a piece of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.
To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Serve warm.