Gather Round the Table

Recipes and tips to celebrate the birth of Jesus

We know Christmas entertaining can be stressful, but here are some helpful tips and delicious recipes to keep your gathering festive and focused on the joy of Christ’s birth.

 

Appetizers

Keep it simple with a combination of the following:

  •  Assorted Vegetables with Ranch Dressing
  • Assorted Cheeses (Smoked Gouda, Irish Cheddar, Pepper Jack) and Crackers
  • Antipasto Platter with hard salami, smoked mozzarella, prosciutto, olives, grape tomatoes, and peperoncini peppers
  • Warmed Brie with Sliced Granny Smith Apples

 

Christmas dinner recipes

 

Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Horseradish Cream

On a budget? Switch out the tenderloin with an eye of round roast. Use the same ingredients but slow roast the eye of round at 350 degrees until internal temperature reaches 130–135 degrees.

 

1 3 lb center-cut beef tenderloin roast

1/4 cup cracked black pepper

1 tsp granulated beef bouillon

2 tsp salt

¾ tsp cornstarch

¾ tsp dried oregano, crumbled

¾ tsp garlic powder

¾ tsp paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

Heat oven temperature to 475 degrees. Pat tenderloin dry. Stir together pepper, bouillon, salt, cornstarch, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub oil all over tenderloin, then sprinkle with spice mixture, rubbing it into the meat. Put tenderloin on rack in roasting pan and roast 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and cook until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 130 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes for medium-rare. Let beef stand on rack in pan 10 minutes before serving.

Cut beef into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve with garlic horseradish cream. Serves 8–10.

 

Garlic Horseradish Cream

 

1 head garlic

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup drained bottled horseradish

1/8 tsp white pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off and discard top fourth of garlic head. Drizzle exposed garlic with oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, then wrap head tightly in foil. Roast garlic until tender, about 1-1/4 hours, then open foil and cool. While garlic roasts, simmer cream in a nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3/4 cup (about 45 minutes), then transfer to a bowl. Squeeze garlic into a small bowl, discarding skins, and mash together with horseradish, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, using a fork. Stir garlic mixture into cream, then chill until ready to use. Can be made the day before. Bring to room temperature before serving (1–2 hours).

—Adapted from Bon Appetit

 

Mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots

This recipe adds a mouthful of flavor to your traditional dish.

4 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, quartered

1-1/2 cups whole milk

1 stick unsalted butter

2 cups sliced shallots

 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add sliced shallots and cook until tender and brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Transfer shallots to small bowl. Add milk to skillet. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place quartered potatoes in large saucepan. Add enough cold water to pan to cover potatoes by 1-1/2 inches. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Add remaining butter. Bring milk in skillet to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Add hot milk to potatoes. Mash potatoes. Stir in caramelized shallots and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 8–10.

 

Red Cabbage with Apples

This traditional German Christmas side bursts with color and flavor.

 

2-lb head of red cabbage

2/3 cup red wine vinegar

3 tbsp sugar (preferably brown)

2 tbsp bacon grease

2 medium-sized cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

1 whole small onion, peeled and pierced with 4 whole cloves

1-½ cups water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground pepper

 

Wash the cabbage, removing the tough outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters. Remove the core and cut the cabbage into strips or one-inch chunks. Heat the bacon grease in a heavy pot and add the cabbage, apples, onion with cloves, sugar, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and water. Stir so the cabbage is well coated. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about one hour until cabbage is tender. Remove and discard onion before serving. Serves 8.

—Recipe courtesy of Johanna Schuller

 

Baby spinach salad with oranges

Spice up your regular salad with a taste of citrus.

2 bags (6 ounces each) prewashed baby spinach

4 oranges, peeled, cut into segments

½ cup dried cranberries

½ red onion, very thinly sliced

½ cup toasted almonds (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

 

Place spinach, oranges, cranberries, onions, and almonds in large bowl. Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Toss with salad right before serving.

Serves 8.

 

There is always room for dessert!

 

Flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce

Rich, delicious, and made from scratch

 

Cake:

4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate

1 stick unsalted butter

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 

Sauce:

2 12-oz packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

1 cup sugar

 

For sauce: Puree raspberries with juices and sugar in processor until smooth. Set a strainer over bowl. Pour raspberries through strainer to extract juices. Can be made two days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

For cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a circle of wax paper. Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder into chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. Serve with raspberry sauce.

 

Setting the Christmas table

The beauty of a formal dinner table reflects the beauty of the season.

 

Table linen: Our family uses a beautiful red poinsettia tablecloth with a table runner made by my mother. She sewed together different-sized crocheted doilies that look like snow flakes, including doilies sewn by my grandmother that add to its special meaning. Other popular table colors: silver and gold; red and green; white and silver

 

Centerpiece: Our family uses a hand-carved German Christmas pyramid that my husband’s mom bought in the Erziberge region of Germany for our centerpiece. We light the candles and watch the carousel scene of the nativity spin around.

Other popular centerpieces: a hurricane filled with glass balls; candles surrounded by evergreen cuttings, pinecones, and berries; small, decorated Christmas trees

 

Table setting: A formal table setting adds to the beauty of your Christmas dinner. The silverware is placed from outside in according to the order it will be used. Place two forks on the left of the dinner plate: one for the salad, and one for the main course. Even if you are not clearing plates between courses, it still adds to the ambience. The bread and butter plate goes above the fork. On the right of the plate, place the knife with blade facing in towards the plate. If soup will be served, a soupspoon goes to the right of the knife. The water glass is placed to the right of the plate, just above the knife. All wineglasses are placed to the right of the water glass. After dinner, clear the dishes, and then set the table for dessert.

 

Cloth napkins: You can find step-by-step directions online on folding cloth napkins for each place setting. There are instructions for a Christmas Tree napkin, elf shoe napkin, Christmas tree fold, or an elf hat, among others.

 

After dinner drinks

Simple Mulled Wine

This seasonal drink is perfect for Christmas evening.

 

1 750-ml dry red wine

½ cup orange juice

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 orange, cut into slices

8 whole cloves

 

In a saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer. Push the cloves into the orange slices and add to saucepan. Add the wine and heat over low temperature. Remove the clove-studded orange halves. Serve hot in mugs.

 

Simple Grape Punch

This is great for the kids.

 

1 can frozen grape concentrate, thawed

1 2-liter bottle ginger ale

 

Add grape concentrate to a large pitcher. Carefully pour in ginger ale. Stir to mix well.

Christmas
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