Welcome to the first of a monthly series where we help you put together a dinner party from start to finish complete with recipes. With a little effort and some planning, you’ll become a whiz at hosting parties with family and friends lining up to come for dinner (or lunch!).
This month we’ve put together an easy and festive holiday menu for entertaining friends. While based on traditional holiday dishes, these offer a refreshing change from the typical. On the menu this month:
- Holiday Cranberry Mimosas
- Puff pastry tartlets
- Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Roasted Fall Vegetables
- Sugared Cranberries with Ice Cream
Many of these dishes can be prepared ahead of time with the final baking and process done the night of your meal. Anything that goes in the oven are all at the same temperature so you don’t need to worry about whether or not the oven is right.
Holiday Cranberry Mimosa
Kick off a holiday party with a drink that makes you think of the holidays. A little bit of cranberry and some sparkling wine make a perfect (and simple!) recipe for holiday cheer.
Frozen cranberries (or freeze your fresh ones after washing)
Champagne or your favorite sparkling white wine
Puff Pastry Tartlets
These tartlets are a great way to start off your party. They’re great to nibble on as guests mingle and chat with one another before sitting down to a meal.
You can make and cut all of the filling the day before. All you will need to do the day of your dinner party is to cut, fill and bake your tartlets. You can use your favorite ingredients to fill your tarts, so feel free to get creative and use what you have on hand.
1 pkg puff pastry, thawed
1 tbsp Olive oil
Bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
Mozzarella cheese, grated, as desired (approx 16 oz.)
Goat cheese, crumbled, as desired (approx. 6 oz.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Egg + 1 tbsp of water
For the mushroom & onions: Heat the olive oil in frying pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, until they become caramelized, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they’re soft. Season with salt a pepper.
Cutting the puff pastry: Cut the pastry into six equal pieces and roll each to a rectangle measuring 9 in. x 6 in. Cut each rectangle into six 3-in. squares, to make 36 squares. Using a sharp knife, make four small scores around the perimeter of the dough, about ¼ to ½-inch from the edge. Be careful to not cut through the whole piece. This will form an edge to keep the filling from spilling out.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
To Fill: Place a small spoonful of the onion and mushroom mixture into the center of 12 of the puff pastry squares. Top with some grated mozzarella cheese. To another 12 add the tomato slices and goats cheese. The last 12 can be filled with bell peppers with mozzarella. Brush the sides of each tartlet with the egg wash.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
If you want to be fancy, you could call it a roulade. Many people eat a lot of turkey during the holiday season. Add some variety by using chicken instead. Stuffing and rolling the chicken breasts turns the ordinary into something unique. Cutting the chicken shows off the beautiful layers and colours inside.
4 large chicken breasts
4-8 slices of ham (depending on the size)
2 cups steamed spinach, cooled and dried
4-8 slices Mozzarella
Salt and pepper, to taste
To flatten your chicken, butterfly it by slicing the chicken breast horizontally in half without cutting all the way through. To do this, if you’re right handed, put your left hand (and vice versa) on top of the chicken breast and slowly cut through the chicken with a sharp knife.
Place the chicken breast in between 2 pieces of cling wrap and pound it until it is about 1/2 a cm thick. If you don’t have a meat tenderizer, a rolling pin works well.
Season the chicken breast and season with salt and pepper. Place a slice of ham (or 2 if the ham slices are smaller), followed by spinach leaves on top. Season the spinach with salt and pepper and then place the mozzarella on top. Now carefully roll the chicken breast up. Repeat with your remaining chicken breasts.
Heat a non-stick pan to high and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Sear the chicken by carefully placing the chicken in the hot oil (seam side down) and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat for all sides of the chicken.
Once browned, turn the heat to medium low and cover half the pan with a lid until the chicken is cooked through – about 5 more minutes depending on thickness.
Remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice into rounds and enjoy.
Alternatively, instead of pan frying them, you can put the chicken into the oven with your roasting vegetables (see next recipe) at 400 F for about 30-35 minutes. Don’t forget to pre-heat your oven if you’re baking them!
If you’re making these ahead of time, you can have the chicken breast prepared and all you need to do is pan fry them. To help keep the chicken breast together, you can use toothpicks to secure the ends or tie them up. This recipe works equally well with turkey breast.
Roasted Fall Vegetables
A fall classic where you can’t go wrong. Use your favorite vegetables or anything that you have on hand. The seasonings will stay the same.
Carrots, chopped into 1” pieces
Brussels sprouts, halved
Potatoes, cut into 1 ½” pieces
Sweet potatoes, cut into 1 ½” pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place chopped vegetables into a bowl or directly onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Add in seasoning to taste and mix well. Spread vegetables in an even layer and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until vegetables are browned and fork tender.
Using the remaining cranberries from your mimosas, you can make a festive holiday treat. Your cranberries can be made the day before. Serve it with some vanilla ice cream for a sweet and festive dessert.
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Superfine sugar to coat, if desired
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add in cranberries. Pour into a bowl and set in the refrigerator overnight or 8 hours.
Drain the cranberries, reserving the sugar syrup if desired. Pour a small portion of the superfine sugar into a dish. Toss small batches of cranberries in the superfine sugar until covered. Set on a cookie sheet to dry for a few hours.
You can serve these cranberries with a scoop of ice cream or some pudding.
And there you have it! A simple, but delicious holiday meal for you and your guests.
What will you be serving this holiday season?