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Less stress Christmas meal ideas?


PeterPan
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Title says it all. We did a Less Stress kinda Thanksgiving (pre-cooked meats, things from boxes, etc.), and it was our most pleasant, calm, joyous Thanksgiving ever! Now I need a stress-less kinda Christmas. It will be the 4 of us plus 1, which means we can innovate or do whatever we jolly want. I was thinking we should do brunch and then a late meal at like 3. For the brunch, I think we want to do the (frozen, dump in a pan and call it good) cinnamon rolls and maybe some kind of egg casserole. Maybe we could do some really sinful bacon? Regular would do, lol. Any favorite stressless brunch dishes? Maybe a predone fruit salad with pomegranate? That would be fun. Some little spinach things? I have no clue, but something with puff pastry would be festive and simple.

 

Then what about that 3pm really alternative, really don't want to be stressed, something special but different kinda meal? Like if it were just me and dd, we'd get bags of Chinese stuff from Trader Joes and call it good. :D  Actually anything TJ would be fine if I get my fanny in there. The traffic will get bad soon. Dh wasn't keen on chinese, because he doesn't like it anyway. The +1 person is diabetic, so it's ideal if we have a low carb component. 

 

I thought about maybe an italian bar, with hoagie buns and Boars Head lunch meats. Don't laugh, but we never eat lunch meat. I thought that could be kind of fun and different somehow, with all the flavors. Or maybe go kinda Viking with some kind of barbaric turkey leg preparation? Something I could make in the Instant Pot could be good.

 

I don't know, throw me out your festive, Stress-Free Christmas meal ideas. :)

 

PS. Is Turducken good? I have no clue what I'm talking about. I mean, if I just went into the grocery and bought some random kind of novel thing we've never eaten before and cooked it, that could be good. If I served mac & cheese, ds would say it was a great holiday, lol. Maybe there's a way to do scalloped potatoes with no stress? I usually turn it into a 1 1/2 hour production, mercy. 

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Edited by PeterPan
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I was thinking sandwich platters as a suggestion, too. Although it might not work for the one person counting carbs.

 

What about an easy big piece of meat -- like a ham or a rib roast (yummy and so easy), paired with some simple sides? Basically pop it in the oven and forget it until it's time to eat.

 

I make quiche for breakfast ahead of time and freeze it, so all we have to do is warm it in the oven.

 

I also usually make lasagna ahead of time (a month or two ahead) and freeze it for our Christmas Eve meal. I have even put it in the crock pot, so that it is warm when we get home from our church service. But I haven't made it yet, so I may come up with a different plan this year.

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I do a late brunch and then dinner in the evening. That reduces stress, as no rushing.

 

What about a spiral cut ham? They are already cooked. I can't remember if you have to heat them or not. I've only served one once, many years ago. But I remember it was so easy. More expensive than regular ham, but festive and no work.

 

Check out the freezer section of TJ or supermarket -- things like spinach soufflé, ready to heat. Dress up the table with an array of mustards or other condiments. Get things in attractive jars, so you can serve right out of the jars.

 

I like your puff pastry idea, always a treat.

 

I couldn't find the recipe I was looking for, but here is a spinach artichoke puff pastry wreath.

 

http://www.yummymummykitchen.com/2017/11/spinach-artichoke-puff-pastry-wreath.html

Edited by Alessandra
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There's Julie in CA's scalloped potatoes.

 

If you cook quite a bit and make good food, then I bet you DO have WOW recipes, you just aren't thinking of what they are right at this moment. :-)

 

The comment about the rolls makes me lol! For family gatherings I was always the one to bring scalloped potatoes. Got rave reviews each time. One year one of my sisters-in-law asked me how I make them and if I'd be willing to share my recipe. I told her that, of course, I'd be glad to share how I made them. I proceeded to tell her that I use boxed scalloped potatoes, but add about 4 oz. of cream cheese per box, add extra garlic & minced onions (dried), and sub cream for the milk called for on the box.

 

They didn't ask me to bring scalloped potatoes again for 3 YEARS! It was just unacceptable in their world that boxed could be better than homemade, so from then on for each holiday someone would bring homemade, greasy, curdled cheese/cream scalloped potatoes. After the three years were up, someone quietly asked me to bring them again for Easter, and no one ever mentioned the issue again. Now I have to bring them every single holiday, so I guess that's a mixed blessing--I get a 'lil tired of bringing the same thing every time. ;-)

 

The recipes will be in your pm soon, because not only did you give me a recipe, but you also gave me an entertaining story. :D

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A ham (precooked, from the store), nice rolls, fancy mustards, etc? With waldorf salad or something?

 

Or, one of those fancy meat and cheese meals.....basically the wolds fanciest deli platter, lol. Charcuterie ??? Like this:

94361376bbcf9a51e75aafd2fc4edaff.jpg

 

Elegant, diabetic friendl, and yummy. And EASY, lol. Oh,and add some of those crunchy breadsticks or fancy crackers or really good bread for those that eat carbs. 

 

I think I might do this for our own Christmas Eve dinner. We usually do puff pastry style appetizers and such from Trader Joes, but everything ended up needing different temperatures and cooking times and it left me frazzled. This would be easier. 

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Yum, that platter that Katie posted looks good.  I know DH would be happy with a charcuterie platter.

 

We usually do some sort of egg casserole and cranberry bread for breakfast.  If we want a full meal and not just a collection of snacks later, we've done chili before; it cooks the night before and simmers in a slow cooker all day, so it's ready whenever anyone wants.  A couple of times, MIL has also brought some soup.  The kids don't really want to sit down to a big dinner, and DH and I would rather hang out with them, so it works out well.

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We've grilled steaks the last couple of years and that has been good and easy. Prime rib roasts have too much leftover for us--steaks are perfect, and if there is any leftover, I know what to do with it (freezer--steak tacos at another time). Ham is easy but the sodium is too high for dh, and since we've been watching sodium it now tastes way too salty to me too. But if you don't have those issues, it's good and easy.

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My plan is to have a spiral sliced ham with buns and cheese for sandwiches and then to have a lot of the fun extras that I would only make for a holiday.  I'm NOT going to make mashed potatoes, hot vegetables etc.  We have a meat and potatoes type meal at least twice a month, so that doesn't seem very special to me.  All the fun appetizers and munchies that are only made for Christmas are what I want!  The best part about it is that almost everything I want can be made a day or two before, so on Christmas I'll just have to put the ham in the oven for few hours in the morning before lunch.  So easy.

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Has anyone baked and frozen a breakfast casserole?  Did it turn out ok when thawed and re-heated?

 

I have frozen leftover breakfast casserole and it was fine reheated.  It had eggs, sausage, cheese, and bisquick.  

Edited by Kassia
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First, I'm glad to know I'm not crazy!! My inlaws always had a noon Christmas meal, and it was this whole strain to the morning to get ready. Now that they're gone and we're on our own, I was kinda whacking myself wondering why I would do that. ;)  So brunch and a later easy meal it is!  And I'm LOVING the lasagna idea and the ham plus cheater scalloped potatoes. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I think we'll prep both, as they'll both get eaten, either for Christmas eve, like you're saying, or day of. Perfect. Dd makes killer lasagna. Or maybe somebody has a killer lasagna recipe? Sometimes my dd does things and I have no clue how. Like she makes a vege soup in front of my very eyes, and it's always way better than mine.  :D

There's Julie in CA's scalloped potatoes.
 

Ok, dumb question. I get that you buy a box that says scalloped potatoes on it and you add the add-ins, but what do you DO with it? You bake it? You cook it on the stove top? Crockpot? Will the box tell me? :lol:

 

Has anyone baked and frozen a breakfast casserole?  Did it turn out ok when thawed and re-heated?

 

You can make it a day or two ahead. It's actually better that way anyway.

 

Ktgrok, you're cracking me up with the charcuterie. They had that everywhere at Disney, and I was like why are people doing this?? Like do people really sit around eating just lunch meats? I'll have to quiz my family. Me, I would, cuz I'm munchie like that, yum yum. I could set it out for New Years. Our company is coming over, and I haven't decided a food plan. I keep finding ideas, and they're the kind of friends where it's fun to try something crazy and new. Of course, if I set out lunch meats and a mediterranean salad, the women will be saying it's great and the men will be ordering pizza. :D

 

Anyways! Love the waldorf salad idea. That would be just special enough and not too hard to pull off, and it would be my something green for the meal. Very healthy green.  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

 

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I am planning to make cinnamon rolls in the morning but then we are just doing appetizers for the rest of the afternoon.  Each person has requested their favorite.  There will be deviled eggs, meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, pigs in a blanket and some veggies.   I have to be at work at 9 PM on Christmas night so this will be easiest for me and everyone can just graze all day. 

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Christmas morning is eggs or egg sandwiches for all with everyone making their own; sometimes my dh fries up some bacon.  Dinner is people from church over later in the afternoon with everyone bringing an unbaked pizza or two that they'd purchased the day before and cooked up just before coming over. Ice cream for dessert.  Everyone's happy!

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Dh bought these quiche dishes at Sam's recently. I don't normally get that interested in quiche, but the bacon one was sooo good. I wish you could buy both bacon. I didn't care for the broccoli version. So maybe you could do a bacon quiche/find one or make a breakfast casserole.

 

For those in a Shoprite region, their Shoprite Home Kitchen (or whatever they're calling their deli area brand... it's something like that,) has REALLY GOOD quiche.  Now I'm thinking I might do that, lol.  

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I like a meat and cheese plate/ antipasto salad thing. Basically lettuce and veggies cut up and then meats and cheeses and variety of dressings. Then everyone can make their own salad or sandwich if some nice rolls are put out. It is low stress and can be done ahead. I actually like this for a relaxing day when everyone eats when they want and can help themselves. I like to put out different and more expensive meats and cheeses than we normally would have. I might do prosciutto and fresh mozzarella balls, nice thick cut peppered bacon, etc. basically whatever looks good in the deli case. You can always do the standard mild cheeses and meats for kids and account for a variety of tastes. Add some homemade dressing or something special you don't normally have like real blue cheese. I actually love this meal and the leftovers make good salads and snacks for days.

 

I actually do a nice meal on Christmas Eve and more relaxing on Christmas Day. My Christmas Eve meal is easy though. I just do a prime rib with a simple rub that seems fancy but is very easy. I make up some kind of potato and green beans and a leftover pan of Thanskgiving stuffing that had gone in the freezer. Add bread either homemade or from the bakery. Leftover prime rib can be put on a sandwich for the relaxing Christmas Day meal.

 

We usually have about half of a Honey Baked Ham that we bought at Thanksgiving leftover. That goes in the freezer to reappear for Christmas sandwiches too. We dress that up over a standard leftover ham sandwich. We would put out nice deli cheese that we don't normally have and a variety of fresh sandwich veggies and bakery rolls (ciabatta or pretzel or whatever) and again some kind of interesting spiced mayo or mustard or dressing.

 

So sandwiches and salads I guess! I will say we pretty much shop on a budget at Aldi so interesting or expensive cheeses, dressings, rolls, etc. seem like a special splurge and are easy.

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We have done a taco bar the last couple of Christmases. It works well because we have some vegetarians in the mix and it's super easy for everyone to pick just what they want. We set out a bunch of different toppings, most of which we can prep the day ahead. 

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We have done a taco bar the last couple of Christmases. It works well because we have some vegetarians in the mix and it's super easy for everyone to pick just what they want. We set out a bunch of different toppings, most of which we can prep the day ahead. 

 

This is what we're doing when my family comes over a couple of days before Christmas.  When I made the announcement via text that we would be having a taco bar instead of Christmas food, reaction was a little, let's say, muted.  But then it had time to sink in, and now everyone's on board and excited.  I love my good china and, besides, that's all I have enough plates of to serve everyone, so we'll be eating tacos on the good china.  I may even bring out the silver, 'cause Trader Joe's guac deserves nothing less.

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Ok, dumb question. I get that you buy a box that says scalloped potatoes on it and you add the add-ins, but what do you DO with it? You bake it? You cook it on the stove top? Crockpot? Will the box tell me? :lol:

 

 

 

Yes, cook it according to the box directions.  I make a double batch and bake it in the oven a little bit longer than the box says.  It is usually a little loose when it comes out of the oven and firms up once it sits out for a bit.  Do you need the recipe?

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Yes, cook it according to the box directions. I make a double batch and bake it in the oven a little bit longer than the box says. It is usually a little loose when it comes out of the oven and firms up once it sits out for a bit. Do you need the recipe?

Expanding on your reply...

 

Here on the directions from Betty Crocker's box:

 

"Heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir potatoes, sauce mix, boiling water, milk and margarine in ungreased 1-1/2 quart casserole. 2. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown (if you'd like the top more golden brown, bake 5 minutes longer [potatoes will be softer]) and potatoes are tender."

 

I'd dice the cream cheese that Julie recommends, and mix that with the sauce mix, cream (Julie's sub for milk), butter (instead of margarine), and the seasoning Julie recommends. Then, I'd add the potatoes and bake according to directions.

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Expanding on your reply...

 

Here on the directions from Betty Crocker's box:

 

"Heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir potatoes, sauce mix, boiling water, milk and margarine in ungreased 1-1/2 quart casserole. 2. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown (if you'd like the top more golden brown, bake 5 minutes longer [potatoes will be softer]) and potatoes are tender."

 

I'd dice the cream cheese that Julie recommends, and mix that with the sauce mix, cream (Julie's sub for milk), butter (instead of margarine), and the seasoning Julie recommends. Then, I'd add the potatoes and bake according to directions.

 

See that's what I was trying to figure out, what I'd do with the cream cheese. I splurged and got "Idahoan" boxed scalloped potatoes instead of Betty Crocker, haha, so we'll see how they are. I got 4 boxes, so apparently I'm planning on us liking them a lot. Maybe it should be two meals. :D

 

 

I like a meat and cheese plate/ antipasto salad thing. Basically lettuce and veggies cut up and then meats and cheeses and variety of dressings. Then everyone can make their own salad or sandwich if some nice rolls are put out. It is low stress and can be done ahead. I actually like this for a relaxing day when everyone eats when they want and can help themselves. I like to put out different and more expensive meats and cheeses than we normally would have. I might do prosciutto and fresh mozzarella balls, nice thick cut peppered bacon, etc. basically whatever looks good in the deli case. You can always do the standard mild cheeses and meats for kids and account for a variety of tastes. Add some homemade dressing or something special you don't normally have like real blue cheese. I actually love this meal and the leftovers make good salads and snacks for days.

 

I actually do a nice meal on Christmas Eve and more relaxing on Christmas Day. My Christmas Eve meal is easy though. I just do a prime rib with a simple rub that seems fancy but is very easy. I make up some kind of potato and green beans and a leftover pan of Thanskgiving stuffing that had gone in the freezer. Add bread either homemade or from the bakery. Leftover prime rib can be put on a sandwich for the relaxing Christmas Day meal.

 

We usually have about half of a Honey Baked Ham that we bought at Thanksgiving leftover. That goes in the freezer to reappear for Christmas sandwiches too. We dress that up over a standard leftover ham sandwich. We would put out nice deli cheese that we don't normally have and a variety of fresh sandwich veggies and bakery rolls (ciabatta or pretzel or whatever) and again some kind of interesting spiced mayo or mustard or dressing.

 

So sandwiches and salads I guess! I will say we pretty much shop on a budget at Aldi so interesting or expensive cheeses, dressings, rolls, etc. seem like a special splurge and are easy.

 

Thanks for explaining this! It's definitely on my option list. I thought I'd give dd a vote, now that she's home. :)  Maybe I should try a HoneyBaked Ham. I usually do Trader Joes, but I just got it at Walmart for Thanksgiving. People at it, but apparently they didn't LOVE it. SIL said the mutant,precooked, tastes like a ham, smoked turkey that I got was better than the actual ham. Maybe they have more of the mutant birds and it would go well with scalloped potatoes? LOL

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Expanding on your reply...

 

Here on the directions from Betty Crocker's box:

 

"Heat oven to 450 degrees. Stir potatoes, sauce mix, boiling water, milk and margarine in ungreased 1-1/2 quart casserole. 2. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown (if you'd like the top more golden brown, bake 5 minutes longer [potatoes will be softer]) and potatoes are tender."

 

I'd dice the cream cheese that Julie recommends, and mix that with the sauce mix, cream (Julie's sub for milk), butter (instead of margarine), and the seasoning Julie recommends. Then, I'd add the potatoes and bake according to directions.

 

Thank you!  I need to buy my boxes this weekend LOL!

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Our traditional meal on the 25th is fairly easy/low-stress and still festive: Pork loin basted with a mustard/herb mixture, rolled in puff pastry and baked (just about 30 minutes so fairly quick). You can add some pre-made sides and have a tasty, nice dinner with a minimum of work (like 15 minutes prep and then 30 minutes in the oven).

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Our big meal is usually on Christmas Eve, but for years dh's family would gather for a Christmas Day meal too.  That started changing as families got older, and now our Christmas day dinner varies from year to year quite a bit.  Last year we found a Middle Eastern restaurant that was open on Christmas Day and ended up getting take-out.  It was delicious!

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We do a bunch of appetizers and soups in the crockpot. THere is  a good bit of advance prep. I have also gathered various warmers, etc.. to make it easier. 

 

We used to have a our big meal on the 24th and then the kids got involved in the church services so that meal was pushed back to the 23rd. Now, I don't know when we will have it. We have a brunch on the 24th that is a favorite of everyone and is a signal that Christmas is here. 

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If you do a taco bar and make an extra bowl of lettuce, people who want to skip the grains can make a taco salad for themselves.  We love tacos on Christmas.  

 

 

When we are home with just immediate family, we volunteer for Christmas dinner at our local Friends of the Elderly chapter.  We are vegetarians so do not actually eat there, just work.  Once home we crash with movies and pure junk food, which is a rarity in our house.  It could be frozen pizza or bean dip or cheesecake.  Whatever!  I do make a big breakfast but that never takes much time for me.  Some years I pre-make quiches so I can just pop them in the oven while we open stockings.

 

But I often do a bar similar to the above for bigger occasions.  With almost no extra work, I expand it to be taco/salad/burrito/tostada/nacho bar.  I keep the oven on and serve with oven safe plates and a stack of hot pads.  People can create whatever they like but have the option of heating or melting their creation if they choose.  I always have the refried beans in a crockpot so those are hot but it is nice to broil some cheese on the top of a plate of nachos or a tostada or to heat burrito wraps.  Another crockpot of simple winter squash soup rounds out the meal nicely.

 

Make your own pizza and baked potatoes are two other ways I address the feed-a-crowd but don't want to be in the kitchen during the whole day issue.  In the summer, I use the charcoal BBQ for pizza heating.  It is faster than the oven, outside, and pretty do-it-yourself.  Again, I try to have a crock of soup (or a cold soup/salad in summer) to round out the meal and provide alternatives.

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I don't cook on Christmas Day.  We have fondue on Christmas Eve with various sauces and dips for the meat.  I precook the meat and have in simmer in a little bit of broth in the slow cooker to keep warm.  We also have cut up veggies for dipping in the sauces and dips.  For dessert, we have cut up fruit and marshmallows to dip in chocolate and caramel.  We enjoy the leftovers on Christmas Day.  I prepare cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve and put them in the oven to bake on Christmas morning.  We have always enjoyed a relaxing Christmas Day where everyone can eat when they want to.

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