Christmas is coming, and that’s not news for any of us, but it’s never too soon to start planning your festive meal. For me, coming up with main dish ideas is a lot easier than it is with side dishes. That might be because there are a lot more options for sides, and I have a harder time choosing. If you are thinking about what to cook and serve, I hope you will find something to your liking in this week’s “recipe box.” I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving Day and are looking forward to Christmas. And for those who do not celebrate the Christmas holiday, I know you still appreciate some warm, hearty food no matter if there’s a celebration or not.
Brussels sprouts glazed with cider
The addition of bacon may appeal to many folks, but if not, you are free to leave it out.
4 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp (save 1 tablespoon drippings)
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. In the same skillet you cooked the bacon (bacon having been reserved and set aside), add butter, Brussels sprouts and onion to the 1 tablespoon drippings. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until the sprouts begin to brown, stirring often.
2. Mix the apple cider, sugar, salt, nutmeg and pepper; pour over the sprout mixture. Cook until the liquid is evaporated and the sprouts are evenly glazed, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure all is well mixed and glazed.
3. Add the reserved bacon and mix well. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top. Makes about 8 servings of 2/3 cup each.
Couscous with herbs
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups plain couscous
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, bring broth, butter, olive oil and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let mixture stand 10 minutes.
2. Uncover and stir in parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest. Season to taste with additional salt and some freshly-ground black pepper. Makes 6 servings.
Spinach-apple salad with maple-cider vinaigrette
Adapted from Southern Living.
Sugared curried pecans:
1 package (6-oz.) shelled pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 package (10-oz.) fresh baby spinach leaves, washed
1 apple, such as Honey Crisp, Fuji or Gala, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 package (4-oz.) crumbled goat cheese
1. For the pecans: Preheat oven to 350. Toss pecans in butter. In a bowl, mix together sugar, ginger, curry and cayenne. Add pecans, mixing to coat. Spread in a single layer in a foil-covered pan (I spray the foil with nonstick spray) and bake 10 to 13 minutes or until pecans are lightly toasted. Cool toasted pecans about 20 minutes, separating with a fork.
2. For the vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil until mixture is well blended.
3.For the salad: In a serving bowl, mix spinach leaves, sliced apple, sliced onion and crumbled goat cheese. When ready to serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, mixing well to coat evenly. Sprinkle with pecans and serve along with any remaining vinaigrette. Makes 8 servings.
Easy to make, but looks like you spent a long time on these.
1 can (13.8-oz.) refrigerated classic pizza crust dough
1/4 cup store-bought olive tapenade (at most deli sections)
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 450. Unroll pizza crust dough and spread olive tapenade over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border along the sides. Sprinkle Asiago cheese and chopped rosemary over the tapenade.
2. Starting at the long side, gently begin to roll up the dough. Cut into 10 slices about 1 1/4-inch thick.
3. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan and place the slices, cut side down, then brush tops with melted butter.
4. Bake in preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Makes 8 to 10 servings.