Christmas is almost here. You can literally smell it in the air – the scent of the freshly-cut Christmas tree, the aroma of Christmas cookies baking in the oven, and the smell of burning logs in the fireplace on a cold winter night. As Christmas Day approaches, more smells will soon be wafting from your kitchen as you prepare for the big meal.
The most important part of Christmas is the company of family and friends, so don’t feel too much pressure to churn out the perfect meal. Consider a few simple recipes to make the day fabulously festive without having to spend your day in the kitchen.
Offer your guests a tasty appetizer with Oysters Rockefeller, named after one of the richest men in America – John D. Rockefeller. Start with fresh oysters shucked and sitting in their bottom shells. Top them with a mixture of finely chopped spinach, chopped bacon, bread crumbs, salt, a dash of hot sauce, and a generous amount of butter. Then bake them in their shells at 450º for about 10 minutes. Broil them briefly before serving.
Bring out the Oysters Rockefeller with a glass of dry Champagne or a Sauvignon Blanc. For your guests who are not into wine, you can offer them a Guinness or Kasteel Cru. For non-drinkers, serve iced sparkling water (Perrier or San Pellegrino) with a slice of lemon.
Winter Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic Fig Dressing
This is a very simple winter salad that contains few ingredients. You will need candied walnuts, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese and balsamic fig dressing. The bright colors evoke Christmas, and the salad provides a healthy counterbalance to heavy foods and sweets that are so readily available during this season.
Brown Sugar Garlic Pork with Carrots and Potatoes
Ham is typically served on Christmas Day, but mix it up with a pork roast. You need only a few ingredients and less than an hour of cooking to make a memorable holiday meal with caramelized brown sugar garlic pork and roasted vegetables. Start by preheating your oven to 375º. Mix sliced carrots and potatoes with salt and pepper and ¼ cup of canola oil. Put them in a roasting pan. Then mix 1 tablespoon canola oil with a couple cloves of garlic and ½ cup brown sugar. Rub the mixture over the pork loin and set it on top of the veggies. Roast the pork for 40 to 50 minutes. Check to make sure the veggies are done cooking. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
For a quick dessert, drizzle a plate with warm chocolate sauce and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs, coconut, or crushed peppermint.