Christmas Dinner

A few days before Christmas, Matt and I volunteered to be the cooks for our Christmas dinner with his family. A lot had been happening in Matt’s extended family that was causing stress, so we thought we’d try to alleviate some of the stress of needing to plan a menu, shop, and cook for Christmas dinner.

At that point, we were both really tired of Thanksgiving food. We had just had it, and we had so many leftovers, it felt like we had been eating them for days! Plus, we did a completely traditional menu last Christmas (turkey, dressing, etc.)…so, we decided to go the non-traditional route, at least for us(!), and came up with an Italian theme. Which, now that I write that down, you should probably interpret it as very loosely Italian. We tried, and everyone enjoyed the food, but let’s be real, we’re not Italian in the slightest.

Christmas Menu

Appetizers
Spinach & Artichoke dip from Costco with pita chips and veggies
Flatbread options (one gluten free) from Trader Joes

Main Course
Lasagna
-Gluten Free Spaghetti & Meatballs
-Salad
-Garlic Bread

Dessert
Cheesecake
-Gluten Free Apple Crisp (note: I modified this recipe to be gluten free)

We decided to let things primarily center on the lasagna and spaghetti; I found a recipe that claimed to be the “world’s best”, and with almost 10,000 reviews on AllRecipes, it certainly seemed to trump any others that I came across. Now, I know you’re not supposed to make a new recipe and immediately serve it without trying it…but we did that anyway…thank goodness Christmas wasn’t ruined by a terrible recipe choice! Regardless, I doubled the ingredients needed for the sauce in anticipation of making it twice for both the lasagna and spaghetti and thankfully none of the ingredients were too hard to track down.

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Sauce for the lasagna.

We also decided that we’d make a cheesecake from scratch as well, so that was our other challenge ahead, especially since I’d never made a cheesecake before (cringe!). As I think back on this, I’m not really sure if we had a lapse in brain activity because we broke that cardinal rule not once but twice. I ended up selecting a recipe for the cheesecake based on reviews again and came up on a Tyler Florence recipe from Food Network. The yield was an extremely rich, lemon-y and silky cheesecake that could have easily been made gluten-free had I used gluten-free graham crackers.

Based on timelines for most of the food we needed to make, and really wanting to be able to actually enjoy Christmas day as a family, we did the majority of the prep for our Christmas dinner the night before. That meant we prepped the veggies, made one batch of sauce, assembled the salad, readied the garlic bread, and completed both desserts before ending the day on Christmas Eve. Yeah…it was very busy…but we’re glad we did it that way: because we really only had to heat the flatbreads, assemble the lasagna, and make the spaghetti, all of which were relatively easy. I’m pleased to share that everything turned out absolutely delicious albeit without a few harried moments in the kitchen and a semi-ridiculous amount of flurry before needing to pack up and head out.

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Finished lasagna.

Have you ever made a whole Christmas dinner before? What was your contribution to this year’s Christmas dinner?

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