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Help me think through some holiday menus, please!


Monica_in_Switzerland
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So, I've got two events to host in the next two months.  We're having friends over for Thanksgiving (they are British, so I don't need to make a traditional TG meal, just something in the ballpark...) and Christmas with family-in-law.  Both events are about 10 people.  I could theoretically make the exact same meal both times because only our nuclear family will overlap.  

 

Parameters:  I have a small oven (one shelf, or two can be squeezed in if browning isn't involved, just heating), a grill, and a stovetop.  

 

I've got it into my head that I want to make deconstructed chicken pot pies.  If you google it, you'll find some images.  Basically a hearty creamy chicken soup, with puff pastry (separated cooked) popped onto the bowl to serve.  I like this idea because I can completely make the soup the day before, heat on stove, ladle, and the only last minute item is the puff pastries.  I can also get ready-made puff pastry both with and without gluten, so low labor.  

 

The issue is though, that I also like meals with lots of side items, and chicken pot pies might be too much one-pot-meal.  I don't have fancy dishes, but I could use large dinner plates with smallish bowls so there is room for side items.  If I do that, here are some possible side ideas:

 

- roast sweet potato cubes (these could also be prepped early on and just popped into oven to reheat)

- potato skins

- bacon wrapped green beans

- biscuits/rolls of some kind (too much considering the puff pastry on the pot pies?)

- apple celery stuffin' muffins (saw a recipe and they looked cute)

 

 

But maybe I'm just being crazy with my pot pie obsession.  Maybe I should just roast a couple chickens on the grill and make a gravy and do stovetop mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, bacon green beans.  

 

Question:  Can I make the pot pie thing work?  What sides should I serve with them, if any?  

 

Things I definitely WON'T do:

- a whole turkey

- a large cut of beef

(Never done either, so too nervous to experiment on guests)

 

 

 

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Do you have ramekins that you could serve the pot pie in so it would need side dishes?  I think it would be lovely with some seasonal sides!

 

 

I don't have oven-safe ramekins, and I've been EVERYWHERE and cannot find any!!!  Otherwise I'd do traditional pot pies.  The deconstructed ones look like this and have the advantage of not taking up oven space at the last minute (Soup heats on stove, pastry can be puffed a half hour out or so) and can be served in usual bowls.  

 

If you can think of any tabletop item from Ikea that might work, feel free to link.  I've been scouring the website but didn't see anything particularly better than what I already have, which are just standard cereal bowls on dinner plates, which would leave room for sides.  I'm just not sure if sides with soup is weird.   

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The pot pies look great. I don’t think you really need any sides - the pot pie has all the veggies and the puff pastry takes care of the bread. I would serve them with a salad, and I would just use salad plates. Or, serve in courses and serve the salad while the puff pastry is baking, and then serve the pot pies.

 

Enjoy!!

 

Anne

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I don't have oven-safe ramekins, and I've been EVERYWHERE and cannot find any!!!  Otherwise I'd do traditional pot pies.  The deconstructed ones look like this and have the advantage of not taking up oven space at the last minute (Soup heats on stove, pastry can be puffed a half hour out or so) and can be served in usual bowls.  

 

If you can think of any tabletop item from Ikea that might work, feel free to link.  I've been scouring the website but didn't see anything particularly better than what I already have, which are just standard cereal bowls on dinner plates, which would leave room for sides.  I'm just not sure if sides with soup is weird.   

 

I was thinking ramekins not to bake in, but to serve. The pic you linked is ramekin shaped, just larger.  A smaller size would mean sides aren't too much food. 

 

I think they are cute but not enough sauce...I'm sure yours will have more sauce since you are calling it soup. 

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The pot pies look great. I don’t think you really need any sides - the pot pie has all the veggies and the puff pastry takes care of the bread. I would serve them with a salad, and I would just use salad plates. Or, serve in courses and serve the salad while the puff pastry is baking, and then serve the pot pies.

 

Enjoy!!

 

Anne

 

 

This was my original idea- go for simple with a one-pot meal!  But then my kids were like, "No bacon wrapped green beans???"   :cursing:  :nopity:

 

And then bacon made me think of potato skins.  

 

And my train of thought has just spiraled out of control from there.   

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I was thinking ramekins not to bake in, but to serve. The pic you linked is ramekin shaped, just larger.  A smaller size would mean sides aren't too much food. 

 

I think they are cute but not enough sauce...I'm sure yours will have more sauce since you are calling it soup. 

 

Gotcha, I could look for straight-sided bowls... good idea.  Do you think 1.5cup capacity is too small?  Having them deconstructed does mean it's easier to refill for the hungry...

 

I'm only using the pastry idea from that picture, I'll use the simply recipes pot pie recipe, which is fantastic and more soupy.  

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The pot pies look great. I don’t think you really need any sides - the pot pie has all the veggies and the puff pastry takes care of the bread. I would serve them with a salad, and I would just use salad plates. Or, serve in courses and serve the salad while the puff pastry is baking, and then serve the pot pies.

 

Enjoy!!

 

Anne

 

What kind of salad would you serve?  I'm a bit salad-ed out from summer, but I'm willing to reconsider!  

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I did pot pies for Christmas dinner one year and it was so filling that very little of the side dishes were eaten. 

 

If it were me, I'd do one holiday with the pot pies and go low key on the sides (salad, green beans, fresh fruit/salad), and plan the other with a different entree and go to town on the sides. 

 

 

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I did pot pies for Christmas dinner one year and it was so filling that very little of the side dishes were eaten. 

 

If it were me, I'd do one holiday with the pot pies and go low key on the sides (salad, green beans, fresh fruit/salad), and plan the other with a different entree and go to town on the sides. 

 

 

Oh, you and your common sense!  Hmph!  

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For salad, you could do fresh spinach, chopped tomatoes, a little chopped onion, bacon pieces if desired, and oil/vinegar dressing with salt and pepper.

 

Another one we like around the holidays is fresh chopped broccoli, chopped tomatoes, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, and mayo.

 

For dessert, you could have several types of cookies baked ahead. 

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Try searching for oven safe soup crocks like this:

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B007P6N09K/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1510515181&sr=8-2-spons&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=oven+safe+soup+crocks&psc=1&smid=A2YD1L68H2K7UN

 

I think it sounds delicious. I’d probably have a back-up large pie for seconds or leftovers. For simplicity I’d do:

 

Pot pie

Baked sweet potatoes

Green beans

Stuffing muffins

 

That should cover the basic flavors. Maybe cranberry relish too. All that and dessert is more than most can eat in a meal. In fact, I’d do a pumpkin pie and an apple-cranberry crisp. This way I could skip cranberry relish and feel I’ve covered every flavor.

 

I like your individual pot pie idea. It’s festive without too much work. I have a friend who serves pumpkin soup in pumpkin shaped bowls on holidays and it’s fun for her guests.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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Since the kids ask for the green beans, I'd make those since I'd never turn down a kid who wanted to eat more veggies.  If not for that,  I would have suggested a heavier salad, like shredded broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts etc with dried cranberries.  Then I would either serve a fruit plate or a mixed fruit salad.  Bread and potatoes seems a bit overkill to go with pot pie in my opinion.

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What about green peas as a side dish? Or snow peas? Sugar snaps?

 

I am really loving this idea!!

 

 

There are peas in the soup!

 

 

 

 

Ok, I think I've got it planned now!

 

Individual chicken pot pies with pastry crust cooked separately (and I'm going to cut it into star shapes! :thumbup: )

Gluten free cornbread muffins for my ds (gluten free) and dh (allergic to apples and celery) and apple-celery stuffin' muffins because I like saying stuffin' muffins

bacon-wrapped green beans

Pound cake or lemon poppyseed cake, gf chocolate roll-up cake

 

 

If I panic at last minute and decide that's not enough food, then I'll throw together a waldorf salad for an entrée.  DH can just watch us all eat it.   :seeya:

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Since the kids ask for the green beans, I'd make those since I'd never turn down a kid who wanted to eat more veggies.  If not for that,  I would have suggested a heavier salad, like shredded broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts etc with dried cranberries.  Then I would either serve a fruit plate or a mixed fruit salad.  Bread and potatoes seems a bit overkill to go with pot pie in my opinion.

 

I once served my ILs a bowl of cut strawberries as part of a summer lunch.  They looked at me like I was a lunatic.  Apparently fruit is NOT served with meals in Switzerland!!!  But a good complement to dessert!  

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I make my chicken pot pie that way, with puff pastry squares instead of a traditional crust. We love it. I don't know that I would try to cut the pastry into stars; you are going to lose a lot of pastry that way when you discard the parts that you cut off. I think squares or rectangles are fine. I cut one sheet of puff pastry into twelve rectangles for my family of six, and we each have two servings. For my casual family, I just spoon the filling onto our plates and top with the pastry, but you could use any bowl that is the right size for a serving.

 

Because the pot pie contains both veggies and the pastry topping, it really is a one-dish meal. I usually serve with some fruit -- usually apples cut into wedges. For company, I think serving the pot pie in a bowl, placed on one side of a plate, with a salad presented on the other side of the plate, would be lovely. A fresh fruit salad or a baked fruit dish, such as baked apples, would complement the other components of the meal. With the fruit included, you can make the dessert very simple -- maybe some cookies -- because the fruit is already a sweet side.

 

Although I think all of the things you list in your final menu sound great individually, it seems like too many bread items for me. If you can do gluten free puff pastry, I don't think you need any sort of muffins or other bread.

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I make my chicken pot pie that way, with puff pastry squares instead of a traditional crust. We love it. I don't know that I would try to cut the pastry into stars; you are going to lose a lot of pastry that way when you discard the parts that you cut off. I think squares or rectangles are fine. I cut one sheet of puff pastry into twelve rectangles for my family of six, and we each have two servings. For my casual family, I just spoon the filling onto our plates and top with the pastry, but you could use any bowl that is the right size for a serving.

 

Because the pot pie contains both veggies and the pastry topping, it really is a one-dish meal. I usually serve with some fruit -- usually apples cut into wedges. For company, I think serving the pot pie in a bowl, placed on one side of a plate, with a salad presented on the other side of the plate, would be lovely. A fresh fruit salad or a baked fruit dish, such as baked apples, would complement the other components of the meal. With the fruit included, you can make the dessert very simple -- maybe some cookies -- because the fruit is already a sweet side.

 

Although I think all of the things you list in your final menu sound great individually, it seems like too many bread items for me. If you can do gluten free puff pastry, I don't think you need any sort of muffins or other bread.

 

You are probably right, the muffins would be the first thing to take off that list to simplify my life.  

 

I'm always nervous serving a one pot meal to non-nuclear-family... what if someone doesn't like it?  Then they're a bit stuck.  For my ILs, I'm sure they'll like it, I'm the only person in the entire extended family who cooks AT ALL, so everything I do is like a miracle to them.  But for our friends, there is one picky-ish kid coming, so I want to know she could at least just eat cornbread and not starve all afternoon.  :-)  

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If for Christmas you wanted to be more traditional you could do just a turkey breast, rather than a whole turkey. Although honestly, a whole turkey isn't that hard. 

 

Or a ham. 

 

 

My mom keeps telling me turkey breasts are easy, but I don't like turkey enough to do a trial run beforehand plus another for the party.  I'll make her cook one while I'm in CA so I can decide if I'm capable or not.  :-)  

 

Did ham last year, big hit.  

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My mom keeps telling me turkey breasts are easy, but I don't like turkey enough to do a trial run beforehand plus another for the party.  I'll make her cook one while I'm in CA so I can decide if I'm capable or not.  :-)  

 

Did ham last year, big hit.  

 

What's funny is cooking a turkey breast is way easier than say, chicken pot pie, lol. You rub some oil on it, some salt and pepper, and then stick it in the oven until done. That's it. 

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What's funny is cooking a turkey breast is way easier than say, chicken pot pie, lol. You rub some oil on it, some salt and pepper, and then stick it in the oven until done. That's it. 

 

LOL.  For some reason, I'm just fearful of large cuts of meat!  I'll make a beef bourguignon with 20 ingredients before I'll try to make roast beef.  

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Large cuts of meat are much less scary if you own a thermometer that you can leave in the meat and set to beep at you when it’s just right.

 

Also, a turkey breast is super easy. A whole turkey isn’t hard. They just take longer than a chicken. I spatchcock my turkeys now. They cook much faster and take up less oven room. You just remove the backbone, open the bird like a book skin-side up, and break or cut through the center of the breastbone so it all lies flat. It stays juicer this way because it’s not in the oven as long.

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You are probably right, the muffins would be the first thing to take off that list to simplify my life.  

 

I'm always nervous serving a one pot meal to non-nuclear-family... what if someone doesn't like it?  Then they're a bit stuck.  For my ILs, I'm sure they'll like it, I'm the only person in the entire extended family who cooks AT ALL, so everything I do is like a miracle to them.  But for our friends, there is one picky-ish kid coming, so I want to know she could at least just eat cornbread and not starve all afternoon.  :-)  

 

I totally know what you mean. There's always that person who doesn't eat carrots or peas or something. They won't actually complain about the meal, but you can tell they aren't enjoying it. 

 

I don't eat canned cream of whatever soup, but I will eat sauce made from butter, flour, broth, etc.  

 

So I totally get your desire to have a bit of variety. 

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Yum, those look delicious!  They remind me of Chicken a la King.

 

I'd say those sides would be too much though.  You already have potatoes and vegetables and bread in the dish itself.  Plus, you have a lot of flavors in the chicken dish, and it's pretty heavy on its own.  Maybe a spinach salad with sliced strawberries or peaches and slivered almonds in it, plus a real simple dish of sliced cucumbers.  

 

You might want a larger, backup dish of the chicken in case people want seconds.

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I don't have oven-safe ramekins, and I've been EVERYWHERE and cannot find any!!!  Otherwise I'd do traditional pot pies.  The deconstructed ones look like this and have the advantage of not taking up oven space at the last minute (Soup heats on stove, pastry can be puffed a half hour out or so) and can be served in usual bowls.  

 

If you can think of any tabletop item from Ikea that might work, feel free to link.  I've been scouring the website but didn't see anything particularly better than what I already have, which are just standard cereal bowls on dinner plates, which would leave room for sides.  I'm just not sure if sides with soup is weird.   

 

IKEA has microwave/dishwasher safe bowls that I'm assuming would work in an oven too.

 

Check out VINTER 2017 (name of a bowl.)

 

I would definitely serve a nice salad...maybe add cranberries and candied pecans to make it more Christmas-y?

 

Maybe a butternut squash soup as a starter or shrimp cocktail or ????

 

 

Then of course a lovely dessert and coffee. 

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I think I need this recipe! Do you have a link?

 

I like the pot pie with the roasted sweet potatoes and the muffins. If you do the muffins, don’t do the other bread.

 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/apple-and-onion-stuffin-muffins-recipe-2273307  

 

If you try them, let me know if they're worth it!

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IKEA has microwave/dishwasher safe bowls that I'm assuming would work in an oven too.

 

Check out VINTER 2017 (name of a bowl.)

 

I would definitely serve a nice salad...maybe add cranberries and candied pecans to make it more Christmas-y?

 

Maybe a butternut squash soup as a starter or shrimp cocktail or ????

 

 

Then of course a lovely dessert and coffee. 

 

I've been eyeing those bowls... I need to go in person and see if we bond.  :-)

 

Spinach salad with candied pecans, cranberries or grapes, red onion...  that could be good.  

 

Does anyone have a good poppyseed dressing recipe???  

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