Thursday, December 22, 2011

Simple Christmas

Sometimes, by the time we get to our Christmas dinner, we have indulged in so many tasty things that all we need is a simple dinner. Here are a few ideas to keep your Christmas dinner simple but also special.

Side Dishes:
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Serves 8+

These are the easiest potatoes, much less work than mashed potatoes with the same garlicky taste. Since they don't take much time in the oven, these can roast while your ham or turkey is resting.

3 pounds red potatoes
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rosemary

Wash the potatoes and cut into 2 inch pieces. Toss with remaining ingredients. Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet or roasting pan in a single layer. Roast at 400 degrees 20-30 minutes until they are tender and well browned.

Lighter Green Bean Casserole:
Serves 8+

Green bean casserole has been a favorite in our family for years. Here we can all enjoy a great green bean casserole without the heaviness of cream of mushroom soup.

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 pound mushrooms or onions
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup plain Greek or thick yogurt
1+ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds long green beans, defrosted

In a dutch oven or saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Wash and slice the mushrooms or slice the onions. Saute mushrooms or onions over medium heat, adding the vegetable stock 1/2 cup at a time to deglaze the pan.

This will take just a bit of your time, about 20-30 minutes, but is worth it. Don't stray too far from the stove, but you can double your duty by cleaning up the rest of the mess you've likely made in the kitchen -- if you're anything like me -- while your onions or mushrooms do their thing.

When you've added all of the stock, remove from heat and stir in yogurt and pepper. Toss with green beans. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Whew! Those are some steamy beans! If you must have fried onions on top, try tossing sliced onions with a bit of vegetable oil and flour and oven frying instead of the canned version. 

The Main Stuff:
Brown Sugar and Honey Glazed Ham

There are a lot of smoked hams out there with a package of gooey glaze with a long list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce. Try this four-ingredient glaze to give your ham a sweet flavor. 

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
pinch of salt

Stir all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Go easy on the salt, just enough to bring out the flavors as the ham is surely salty enough. 
You can glaze the ham early in the cooking process or just in the last 30 minutes. 

Sweet, Sweet Dessert:
Dipped pretzels are probably my favorite Christmas dessert. Sweet and salty are such a great combo and just a handful makes a cup of coffee that much more delicious. 

For an extra touch, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the melted chocolate before dipping the pretzels. Easy and without the mess of crushed peppermints (though delicious!), peppermint extract gives dipped pretzels a fresh taste. 


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