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Planning and managing a perfect Christmas dinner can be a true challenge. We all have too much on our hands, and yet we all want to decorate every single room in our house with festive decorations, amaze our family and friends with beautiful hand-made Christmas cards, cook the best food. It all looks so easy and simple when you see it online.
However, when it comes to hosting a Christmas get-together for family and friends, no one ever said it was easy and simple. That is why the first commandment for preparing a perfect Christmas dinner is: Write a plan!
Having a plan in written will relieve the stress and make you more efficient in the realization of what is actually a big party culminating with an over-the-top feast.
Your plan should comprise of a shopping list and a recipe list. It is wise to include a time plan for each recipe you’ll be cooking on the Christmas day. This will keep you calm and focused.
In order to draw up a shopping list you need to know two things:
- How you want to decorate your festive Christmas table
- What you want to cook
Let’s go step by step.
Perfect Christmas Table Decoration
3 weeks before Christmas
To make your Christmas dinner truly perfect, you need to decorate the table. It will contribute so much to the festive spirit. The golden rule is: keep it simple. Bear in mind that the table will be filled with plates, glasses, napkins, cutlery and food (and food can be decoration itself!), so you don’t have to over-do it.
You can arrange a very simple and effective centerpiece by filling a glass compote dish with fresh tangerines, pine boughs, and candles.
Another idea is to use Mason jars and fill them with salt (to represent snow), cranberries (or other berries, it’s all about the red color), juniper, or red and gold jingle bells. Line or group several of them at the center of the table.
Decorate the napkins on each guest’s plate with a DIY ring made with wide wired ribbon and jingle bells attached to it with hot glue. You can also add a name tag placed on a pine bough on each plate. Have your kids paint them in advance with golden paint and make sure they are well cleaned.
Once you have decided on what decoration you are going to use, make a shopping list. While you are at it, check the number of silverware elements, candles, and candlesticks and buy extra if necessary.
Perfect Christmas Dinner Menu
2 weeks before Christmas
Compose your menu and start crossing things out from your list by buying the non-perishables first.
Buy all the drinks, both booze and non-alcoholic beverages. Order the meat or buy the turkey and place it in the freezer. The advantage of buying in advance is double – you will avoid panic buying in crowded supermarkets, and obtain the products at lower prices. Another option is to order everything online and have it delivered whenever you find it appropriate, preferably the week before Christmas.
Buy and prepare everything that can be stored in the freezer until the day D. One such item is the turkey stuffing. Here are some other suggestions:
Patés are another easy and simple starter to store in the freezer.
- Christmas cake can be made months before Christmas and kept covered in the freezer. Try these recipes:
Christmas puddings can also be prepared weeks or months in advance. Try the Sticky Toffee Pudding or the Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pudding, a rich and buttery mix of flavors, ready in no time.
While we are at the sweets compartment, you can also make and freeze mince pies. Make, cook, freeze and reheat them before serving.
1 week before Christmas
Now is the time to buy fresh food. This is the moment when the shopping list will be of a great use to you. To make it easier for you to navigate in the supermarket, divide the list into categories: meat, vegetables, dairy, and sweets.
Take the turkey (or any other meat you plan to cook) out of the freezer, salt it and place it the fridge. Turkey does need some time to defrost well, especially if it is a big one, usually two full days.
Everything that can be done on Christmas Eve, should be done. It will take most of the pressure off the following day and leave you some time to make yourself presentable. After all, you are the host-ess and you deserve to look and feel good! Maybe you will even have time for a glass of wine before the guests arrive!
- Defrost the turkey stuffing in the morning. Before you start preparing the turkey, check the inside for ice and use a fork to see if the meat is still frozen. Rinse it, pat it dry, and stuff it.
- It is also smart to prepare the gravy before the main event. Heat in the microwave just before serving.
- Decorate and set the table ready for dinner.
- Prepare all the necessary pans, tins, dishes and glasses you will need in the kitchen for the following day.
- Put beer and wines in the fridge to cool.
- Parboil the potatoes, cool and keep them in the fridge in a covered bowl.
- Chop up the vegetables and herbs and store in the fridge.
Take out all the prepared frozen dishes from the freezer: cake, pudding, soup, and pies to start defrosting. Heat them in the microwave or in the oven before serving.
Pin your time plan for the day somewhere you’ll be able to see at all times. You don’t want to lose it now that you need it most.
If you want homemade bread on your festive table, it is best to prepare it in the morning to make sure it is fresh and soft. Keep it covered with a cloth and warm it up in the oven at a medium-low temperature before serving. Here are some great ideas for both sweet and savory bread recipes:
If you are cooking а turkey, you probably know that it takes several hours to be cooked thoroughly. It will need approximately 45 minutes cooking per 1 kg meat, give or take. Make sure the turkey is well cooked before you serve it. Use a cooking thermometer or cut the meat to check the color. If it looks pink, return it to the oven for about 5 more minutes.
Although turkey is the traditional option, it is not an obligatory choice for Christmas. Here are some other delicious meat dishes you can try:
If roast meat is your centerpiece, you need to have some great sides to trim it with. Potatoes and the most common choice and they come in so many forms and sizes:
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to potatoes. Other vegetables can serve as components for great side dishes, such as:
You can also combine fresh vegetables to your taste in various salads.
No roast meat dish can go without sauces. Be wise and choose recipes that are quick and easy to make in order to save you time (if you have the ingredients at hand, of course, hence the importance of the shopping list once again). The fact that they are ready in no time does not mean they are not tasty. On the contrary. Here are some ideas that will be ready in 5 minutes from scratch.
Oh, and please, please don’t forget the perfect traditional Christmas cranberry sauce.
We already talked about desserts. They were prepared in advance and frozen, which now gives you some time to play with the beverages. Instead of simply pouring booze or juices in a glass, combine them together to create great holiday cocktail mixes:
There you have it, a perfect stress-free Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays!
If we had to choose between Christmas presents and Christmas cakes, we’d definitely go for the cakes! Because there is no better way to round off a festive dinner than with loads of sugar and frosting.
All the other foods are just an intro to the moment everyone expects – the moment when the Christmas cake is cut. What a way to gather the family (too) close together! After devouring the exquisite sweet creation, everyone, including the exhausted hostess, can sit back and relax.
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A traditional Christmas cake is loaded with a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants, nuts, cherries, and orange zest, all soaked in sherry or brandy for a beautifully soft and moist texture. But if you are not into this traditional recipe, you can choose from our selection that includes red velvet cake, cheesecake, ginger-y cake, and more! Don’t get us started on the frostings and icings. Just read!
Red Velvet Cake
Is there a cake that works for every single Holiday (from Christmas to Valentine’s)? ‘Tis this one – a Southern classic beauty favorite among all family members. Its’ smooth texture and rich frosting make it a dramatic dessert for any occasion!
Cherry Explosion Cake
Looking for the perfect celebration cake? Look no more! The best variation of the traditional fruity Christmas cake is here – swirled marble layers, brimming with sweet maraschino cherries and cloaked in beautiful pink cherry frosting, this cake is like a party on your plate! Talk about using food as a table decoration!
Black Forest Roll
This variation on the classic German dessert is a lighter cake with more cream per bite. It’s great for special occasions. Tip: To make individual tortes, cut the base into about 20 small squares. Sandwich together with jam and whipped cream and decorate with more whipped cream and chocolate flakes.
Italian Cream Cake
Bring snow to your festive table with this rich Christmas cake! This fabulous three-layer creation made with buttermilk, pecans, and coconut is topped with a velvety cream cheese icing. If you don’t like pecans, you can substitute chopped walnuts.
Pecan Chocolate Layer Cake
For all chocolate lovers, we offer four chocolate Christmas cake variations. The first one is a sweet and nutty layer cake sure to impress guests of all ages. Tip: In a hurry? Bake the cake in a 13- x 9-inch baking pan according to package directions. Drizzle with sauce, frost, and top with pecans.
Chocolate Pudding Cake
This luscious chocolate dessert is baked in a rich sauce that runs through the cake to create a melt-in-the-mouth center. Note: Semolina is a coarse, pale-yellow flour ground from hard durum wheat. It’s used to make pasta and gnocchi, and can also be added to cookies and cakes to give a slightly crunchy texture.
Chocolate Raspberry Cake
Chocolate and raspberries are a match made in heaven on top of a luscious, dense cake ﬂavored with coffee and ground almonds.
White Chocolate Heaven
A smooth, velvety cake with a subtle white chocolate ﬂavor is coated with a creamy ganache—it’s truly divine. Tip: f you have any of the white chocolate left over, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until melted, about 1 minute. Hold large strawberries by their hulls and dip them into the melted chocolate to half coat, then place on a sheet of waxed paper and let set.
Classic Coconut Cake
If you are favoring something lighter, here is the perfect Christmas cake for you – light and fluffy, just like tasting a coconut cloud— every bite of this classic cake is (almost) indescribably delicious! Snowflakes you can actually eat!
Need a foolproof Christmas cake recipe? Cheesecake is always a good idea. Especially if your originally planned cake fails (speaking from experience here). Smooth and creamy cheesecake is a real delight! A glossy raspberry topping gives this cake a beautiful look and a wonderfully tart ﬂavor.
Brownie Swirl Cheesecake
But cheesecake has so many varieties, we just can’t decide which one to make this Christmas! Tip: If by any chance you run out of chocolate chips (with so many kids in the house, that’s totally possible), simply substitute 6 squares of semisweet chocolate for 1 cup of chocolate chips. Chop the chocolate squares slightly so they melt more evenly.
Pear & Ginger Cake
For those tired of making gingerbread every year, here comes a Christmas cake you’re gonna love! This simple yet rich, moist cake is lightly spiced with ginger and filled with a layer of juicy pears for a sweet harmony of ﬂavors. Tip: Chopped canned pears will work just as well as fresh pears in this cake. Remember to drain them well.
Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake
Speaking of wintry spices (and simple desserts), here is another Christmas cake. Sour cream is the secret ingredient in the batter, and an irresistible pecan streusel is the “frosting on the cake.” Tip: Always use a wire rack when cooling cakes; air can circulate all around the pan and the bottom of the cake won’t get soggy.
Lemon Layer Cake
Oh, that combination of sweet and tangy! Lemon curd adds a tangy surprise to this delightful layer cake. Tip: Instead of frosting, use whipped cream to frost the cake. Garnish with fresh strawberries.
Praline Layer Cake
We’ve got more layer Christmas cakes for you! This one, under its decadent white chocolate and cream cheese frosting, reveals a sweet praline ﬁlling—a delicious and good-looking dessert!
Triple Berry Cake
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Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries star in this beautiful three-layer cake that is a celebration of summer but will totally work on your festive table since it incorporates the colors of Christmas with a dose of healthiness. Just add fresh mint leaves on top for the green!
Brazilians are not only excellent in soccer (why do I know this?) and dancing the samba; they’re also great in cooking and enjoying delicious foods.
Let’s go to sunny Brazil and pick out 10 dishes. It’s not going to be easy, I warn you, since Brazilian food, just like Brazilian people, is one of the best in the world.
Brazilian food is a patchwork of native traditions and influences from European, Asian, Arabic, and African cuisines, with great varieties from region to region.
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The cuisine has preserved some of the ingredients used by the native peoples like cassava, cumaru, guaraná, cashews, and açaí. European immigrants introduced their own favorites like wheat, leafy greens, dairy, and wine.
Besides all the delicious Brazilian foods mentioned below, we mustn’t forget the national beverage – coffee, as well as Brazil’s native liquor – cachaça.
Pão de queijo – Brazilian cheese bread
Two staples in Brazilian cuisine – cheese and bread – are combined an unexpectedly delicious delight. Soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, these gluten-free cheese puffs are enjoyed any time of the day. They are made with tapioca flour, eggs, and grated cow’s milk cheese. They are usually rolled into small balls (even though there are varieties as big as cakes) and stuffed with meat or cheese fillings.
Make your own: Pão de queijo
Espetinhos – Brazilian Kebabs
Espentihos are a Brazilian food found at almost every public event throughout the country. The word translates as “little skewers” and these kebabs can be made with many different things, including spiced chicken or beef, hot dogs, sausages, fish, shrimps, and even cheese. Espetinhos are usually served with hot sauce or manioc flour (an ingredient that accompanies many other Brazilian foods). In addition, icy beer is almost always at hand when eating these Brazilian kebabs.
Make your own: Espetinhos – Coconut Milk and Lime Shrimp Brazilian Skewers
Feijoada – Brazilian Black Bean Stew
Feijoada is the Brazilian food which ‘unites’ the so-different regions in the country for the simple reason it is eaten literally everywhere. It is a stew composed of sausages, chopped pork, and black beans. Traditionally, the recipe calls for less usual parts of the pig as well, like ears and feet! It is usually served with rice, toasted manioc flour, oranges, kale, and cachaça liquor on the side. Brazilians must really love this food, bearing in mind that its preparation takes 24 hours. Luckily, most of the restaurants in the country have Feijoada on their menu so you can skip the cooking and just enjoy.
Make your own: Feijoada
One of the most popular superfoods and the star of many Instagram accounts, açaí is a fruit native to the Amazon. Native peoples used to consume it for energy and prepared sauces to serve with fish dishes. Today, it finds its way to the omnipresent acai bowls, smoothies, breakfast granolas, frozen sorbets, and even beer!
Make your own: Autumn Acai Bowl with Vanilla Bean Cashew Butter
Brazilian Sticky Coconut Rice
One of the most common side dishes in the country is coconut rice. But what makes the Brazilian version different from all the other similar recipes out there? Brazilians have a special method of preparation – first, they toast the rice; then they add brown sugar. In addition, there is also canned coconut milk, and just a little bit of salt to balance the sweetness of the sugar, plus some more toasted coconut on top (if you wish).
This Brazilian food is very easy and simple to make. The final result is creamy and flavorful rice that pairs especially well with pork dishes.
Make your own: Brazilian Coconut Rice
Soup is the food of choice for the ceia, late-night supper, but also on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The recipe we’re offering here is a delicious tomato creamy soup with shrimp, coconut milk, and various seasonings. There’s nothing better for the cold, winter nights here up North!
Make your own: Brazilian Shrimp Soup
Top Brazilian Drinks
As mentioned before, cachaça is considered a national drink in Brazil. It has been around since the early 16th century and accompanies many Brazilian foods. It is made from fermented sugarcane juice and is the main ingredient in Brazil’s national cocktail – caipirinha, which is made with lime slices, brown sugar, ice, and uncolored, unaged cachaça. However, this is the basic version; we’re offering one made with strawberries! Other popular drinks are the Brazilians favorite soda – Guaraná, Caldo de Cana (pressed sugar cane juice), and água de coco (coconut water).
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Make your own: Strawberry Basil Caipirinha Cocktail
Limonada Suíça – Brazilian Lemonade
Have you ever had a creamy lemonade? Well, it’s high time you did. Actually, this is a limeade, since the original recipe is made with limes. However, if you are a lemon person, who’s to stop you from using them. Because the ingredient that makes it special, creamy, and sweet isn’t the fruits but the condensed milk. Another paradox about this popular drink is its name – Limonada Suíça means Swiss lemonade, which is completely weird. Nevertheless, make yourself a big glass of lemonade and bring summer to your home!
Make your own: Brazilian Lemonade
You can’t go wrong with Turkish food! This Mediterranean cuisine has something for everyone – from spicy meat-based dishes to sinfully sweet delicacies like baklava. Foods are often combined with Turkish yogurt or ayran, a cold yogurt beverage mixed with salt, while Turkish coffee is an absolute must any time of the day!
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Though it was hard to select, here are the 10 Turkish foods you will absolutely adore.
Just when you thought that you’ve tried all possible ways to prepare eggs, you discover this Turkish food. Menemen is an unexpected combo of scrambled eggs and a veggie stew. To compose it, start by cooking tomatoes, peppers, and onions to a broth, then quickly whisk in the eggs, which are basically broiled by the heat of the veggie mixture. Optionally, you can add sausages or cheese. Serve menemen hot with bread on the side.
This traditional savory Turkish flatbread and pastry dish is made of hand-rolled leaves of simple, unleavened dough brushed with butter and eggs and then filled with various ingredients. The most common fillings include meats (minced beef, lamb, seafood, or sucuk sausage), veggies (spinach, potatoes, yams, eggplant, radish, zucchini, mushrooms, leek, onions, peppers, garlic), cheese, eggs, herbs, and spices. The dough pieces are sealed and cooked over a griddle, then served as a breakfast or snack.
Also known as Turkish meat pie or Turkish pizza, lahmacun is basically a crispy flatbread topped with minced meat (usually beef or lamb), combined with a salad (onions and cilantro are a must), lemon juice, and heavily seasoned. It can be wrapped, folded, or simply eaten by pulling it apart.
This Turkish food is not only delicious but also very easy to make! It is a puree made of red lentils and various spices, garnished with cilantro and complemented with lemon juice on the side. This fulfilling meal is rounded with slices of hot pita bread.
Dolma refers to all stuffed foods in Turkish cuisine. It uses a rice-based mixture with spices, nuts, and sometimes dried fruits to stuff vegetables like courgettes, bell peppers, cabbage leaves, or grape leaves. Istanbul and the bigger coastal towns offer more modern takes on this Turkish food, such as stuffed mussels, which are a street food staple in the country and favored by night owls.
This Turkish food is known as Şiş köfte or kebab. It is made of minced meat, usually lamb, mutton, beef, or veal combined with herbs, often mint and parsley, grilled on a skewer (şiş) Köfte dishes are usually served with ayran, salad, and/or pilav (read below).
Yogurt is one of the most beloved Turkish foods. Turks have been consuming it in large amounts (over 2 million tons a year) for over a millenum. It can be eaten plain, used to accompany many dishes like meats, salads, and soups, but also serve as a base for ayran.
Pilav is the Turkish version of roasted rice. If you are a fan of simple things, smother the buttery rice in yogurt or use it as a side dish for meaty dishes such as kofte. Probably the most popular pilav variety is Nohutlu Pilav, which means “rice with chickpeas”. This Turkish street food is composed of layers of rice and chickpeas topped with roasted chicken.
This dessert can be found in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. It is believed that it originated in Central Asia and spread throughout all Ottoman countries, all the way to Europe. The most delicious variety of this sweet Turkish food is made of fine filo pastry, soaked in honey, and covered in pistachio.
Turkish coffee and Turkish delight
The beautiful sweet cubes we know as Turkish delight are called ‘lokum’ in Turkey. They can be found in many flavors, shapes, sizes, and colors but probably the most authentic variety is the one flavored with rosewater, once a very popular ingredient in Ottoman desserts. Lokum is dusted with coconut flakes or icing sugar and sold in beautiful boxes to take home as a souvenir.
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Turkish delight is often served alongside Turkish coffee at the end of a meal. Kahve, as the Turks call it, first appeared in Istanbul in the 16th century, and ‘conquered’ many of the Balkan countries where it is still served on a daily basis.