December 21: Eat Your Vegetables

All I want for Christmas is to cook the meals for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Perhaps one of these days I’ll actually get to do that, but in the interim I have to settle on a Christmas Eve feast.
Having to pack all of my holiday tricks into one meal is a challenge. Deciding on which meat to prepare is also a dilemma. Beef got crossed off the list first. I’m not a restaurant, so serving beef at everyone’s preferred doneness isn’t something I want to do. Plus good beef tenderloin is $30/lb so that would get very pricey.
One of my holiday favorites is Lion of Pork with Green Peppercorns, but I made that last year so Roasted Chicken was declared the winner.
Here is the official Christmas Eve dinner menu

My ciabatta recipe is from the King Arthur Flour cookbook, a must-have for anyone who bakes bread.
The pecan pie recipe is evolving. Keith loves pecan pie, so once I get it to his exact specifications I’ll let you know. I prefer to make my own crust, but since he eats everything BUT the crust I pushed the easy button and bought the dough boy kind.
While I would prefer to make a fabulous salad, he wants me to buy the mix stuff from Sam’s. See, I can compromise. I will make the salad dressing though.
chocolatecakeIf you would like to wow your crowd with an out-of-this-world chocolate cake, this Chocolate Frosting recipe is sooooo good! You don’t even have to make the cake, just buy a good mix.
I am not much of a vegetable eater, but you must include the obligatory vegetable. If you are looking for something different than the usual can-of-soup casserole, I can help you out.
Haricots verts are simply green beans with a fancy French name. But when you make something really good, it needs a fancy name.

haricotsHaricots Verts

  • 5lb frozen green beans (I buy these at Sam’s
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, divided
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Partially thaw beans. Bring chicken stock, shallots, salt and 1 stick of butter to boil. Add beans. Cover and boil slowly for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally until beans are just tender. Remove cover and rapidly boil off most of the remaining liquid.

If serving immediately, liberally salt and pepper, distribute remaining butter over them and serve. They can also be rewarmed in a skillet before seasoning and adding butter.

You can also do this with fresh green beans, but they are not in season this time of year.

When preparing vegetables, my go-to resource is Julia Child. She also inspired this broccoli recipe, that’s always a huge hit.

Pan Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Browned Butter

  • broccoli4lb frozen broccoli (again, I get it at Sam’s)
  • 2½ sticks butter, divided
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2½ tsp garlic, minced
  • 1½ T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh minced thyme
  • salt and pepper

Allow broccoli to thaw, just enough to separate. Fill a large stockpot with water, 2 tsp salt and 1 stick of butter. Bring to boil, add broccoli and boil slowly for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Drain, then spread broccoli in one layer in large serving dish.

Melt 1½ sticks butter in skillet over medium-high heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally until butter is just brown and releases a nutty aroma (about 1.5 minutes). Off heat add shallots, garlic, ¾ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and stir until garlic and shallots are fragrant (about one minute). Stir in lemon juice and thyme. Add to broccoli, toss to coat and serve immediately.

Spinach GratinOne thing I like about both of these vegetable dishes is that they are quick to prepare and do not take up oven space.
If your oven isn’t poked full of other dishes, Ina Garten’s Spinach Gratin is another outstanding dish. It can be prepared a bit early, and refrigerated until time to bake. So that’s a big plus.
I may also make Cheese Straws, if I have the thyme. Get it? My lame attempt at cooking humor?
It is true, I haven’t been out in the back yard to see if any of my thyme survived the last cold snap. I’m not about to pick leaves off the wimpy thyme they have at the grocery store, and I do have a lot to do.
Enjoy the veggie dishes!


  • stephenia

    21.12.2013 at 06:23 Reply

    Thanks for the recipes. We have lasagne for Christmas, something my hubbies Italian aunt always made for us at Christmas we lived close to her. It is a nice change from the usual routine. Add a salad, garlic bread and usually Italian sausages on the side and we are ready to eat. Sometimes I’ll add another Italian dish like eggplant parm or stuffed cabbage to go with it. Plus dessert!

    • pindy4176

      21.12.2013 at 09:14 Reply

      I have WONDERFUL recipes for both lasagna and cabbage rolls that I haven’t made in years, because the are labor-intensive and there wasn’t an “occasion” for which to serve them. You’ve reminded me that *I* can declare an occasion anytime!

  • mbkinser

    21.12.2013 at 08:56 Reply

    We’re not cooking this year but I am on a roll baking Ina Garten’s sour cream coffee cakes for neighbors & family.

  • pindy4176

    21.12.2013 at 09:07 Reply

    My dad does the cooking for himself and my mom. He has a utilitarian style, shall we say. So when I visit, I like to make things a little off their beaten path; and you’ve provided some wonderful recipes for me to keep in mind! Mom is lactose-intolerant and Dad has celiac disease, so I’m always on the prowl for recipes they can both enjoy.

  • pharris824

    21.12.2013 at 09:42 Reply

    You know it’s a good holiday menu when the number of desserts equals the number of other stuff!!!

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