Christmas holiday dinner and countdown

by Julie Snyder

Christmas DinnerWhile many Christmas dinners are more like a feast, you may be searching for a simpler option for your family and guests.

A busy morning opening gifts and even busier one cleaning up after the frenzy can leave little time for cooking.

We've chosen a menu that requires just a bit of "big day" kitchen time and delivers an elegant and comforting meal. We're pretty sure you'll be licking your lips. Our countdown tips will help you to stay as pretty as your holiday decorations!

Christmas holiday dinner menu

Appetizer

Tomato salad with mozzarella and basil salad served as individual salads or thread the ingredients on a kabob skewer, drizzle with oil and vinegar for guests to enjoy before dinner.

Main course and sides

Herbed Prime Beef always makes an impression on a dinner table. Our version is wonderfully flavored with lots of herbs. The meat is amazingly tender, like butter and the flavor will leave you all sighing with pleasure.

Brussel Sprouts with Pecans: A preparation that makes fans out of previous haters, this recipe infuses the little "cabbages" with better, not bitter flavor clear through.

Cinnamon Stewed Apples pair well with a savory entree like prime rib. That fresh apple pie fragrance can help guests feel comfortable and welcome.

Butternut squash risotto makes a comforting seasonal addition to the fall and winter holiday meals. Creamy and comforting, it may push cornbread stuffing and sweet potato casserole off the table.

Garlic and Herb Crescent Rolls: Their subtle, comforting flavor goes well with the different flavors on the table and you can cheat when you make them. Start with a pop-can of crescent rolls. Open it quietly; no one will be the wiser.

Desserts

Make it easy and offer a Christmas cookie platter and a post-meal pot of fresh coffee.

Countdown and tips

One to two days ahead of time
✓ Read through your menu and recipes one more time to be sure you have all the ingredients
✓ Check the cookie stash; purchase or bake more if someone has been hitting it
✓ Shop for groceries

The night before
✓ Decorate and set the table, unless you have tots who will help by removing everything
✓ Prepare the prime rib rub; cover and refrigerate
✓ Cut the apples; place them in a plastic bag, shake with 1 tablespoon lemon juice to keep them fresh and refrigerate
✓ Cut the squash into cube, place in a container and refrigerate
✓ Arrange and hide the cookie platter
✓ Check your ice supply; buy or make more if needed

Christmas morning
✓ Check the stockings and open presents
✓ Enjoy time with the family

3 hours before the meal
✓ Preheat the oven; bake the prime rib
✓ Eat the mandarin orange in the bottom of your stocking and have a drink of water
✓ Get ready to welcome guests

1 1/2 hours before
✓ Check the meat thermometer
✓ Peek at the table; replace anything that may have gone missing

45 minutes before
✓ Start the cinnamon stewed apples
✓ Put the broth on to warm
✓ Check the meat; when done, remove from oven, cover with foil and allow to rest at least 15 minutes