How to make your Christmas meal unique and delicious
Reina V. Kutner
Creators News Service
Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean you can't use your imagination when it comes to food:
A beautiful beef roast instead of the same old ham, a variation on classics such as green bean casserole or a peppermint hot chocolate in lieu of eggnog.
Of course you want to keep the favorites, but why not create a great new tradition for your family? Here are some quick tips to make your holiday meal special:
* Spice things up: Spices complement the holiday season. Think cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. They may traditionally go with certain items, but don't be afraid to experiment. One idea: when stuffing your turkey, include an orange with cloves wedged into the rind to give it great flavor.
* Adopt new old customs: Research your family history and find recipes for the traditional Christmas foods. For example, if your family is of Italian heritage, celebrate by creating a feast of the seven fishes, a traditional meal served on Christmas Eve.
* Think outside the box: Sure, you've been making Aunt Martha's secret recipe casserole for years, but it's time to stir the pot. Re-imagine your favorite dishes. Instead of casserole, a couple of quiches with similar ingredients provide the same delicious flavor in a new form.
* Use what you have: A few simple pantry ingredients will add wonders to your table. Mayonnaise, garlic cloves, lemon juice, dill weed and salt may look ordinary, but mash up two to three garlic cloves and add 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a teaspoon of dill weed and salt to taste. Mix them together, and you have a tasty aioli to brighten almost any dish.
Here are some recipes to help make your Christmas dinner a special one:
HOLIDAY BEEF ROAST
1 beef prime rib roast (5 pounds), 2 to 3 ribs
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 1/2 cups Kraft mayonnaise, divided use
1/4 cup Kraft prepared horseradish
1/4 cup Kraft Honey Mustard Dressing
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Yields 15 servings
Place meat in large glass dish; sprinkle with pepper. Pour Italian dressing over meat to marinate; cover. Refrigerate 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Place meat fat-side up in shallow roasting pan. Bake 2 1/2 hours or until meat is 150 F, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 to 20 minutes or until 160 F for medium doneness before slicing the meat.
Mix 1 cup mayo and the horseradish in serving bowl, or substitute 2 minced cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for horseradish. Mix remaining 1/2 cup mayo, honey mustard dressing and thyme in separate serving bowl. Serve both sauces along with meat.
--- Recipe courtesy of Kraft
If you want to vary this recipe, use three cups cut green beans and three cups cut wax beans for color. Or to make this a main dish for a vegetarian meal, substitute a cup of soy protein strips for a cup of green beans. You can usually find them near the tofu in your local market.
TWISTED GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
6 cups green beans, cut and cooked
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom and roasted garlic soup (or one can cream of mushroom soup with 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
2 cups French fried onions, divided use
Yields 6 servings
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cooked green beans in a bowl with soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, nutmeg, oregano, basil and 1 cup of the French fried onions. Mix. Pour in large casserole dish and top with remaining cup of French fried onions.
Cover casserole dish with foil. Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Put back in the oven and cook for additional five minutes, until onions become golden brown. Serve hot.
To make this recipe for the 21 and over crowd, substitute the peppermint extract with 2 to 3 shots of peppermint schnapps.
PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE
4 cups milk
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Whipped cream, optional
8-10 crushed red and/or green mints, optional
Yields 4 cups
Heat milk over medium-high heat, making sure it doesn't boil. As it gets warm, add chocolate; stir. When chocolate melts, add peppermint extract.
Pour into mugs. Add whipped cream and top with crushed mints. Serve.