When you are hosting a large meal for family and friends, the holidays can be both fun and terrifying.. Advance planning makes the difference in whether you enjoy yourself or spend your holiday in a panic.
Planning and Executing Your Holiday Meal:
1. Create the guest list and invite guests. Confirm any dietary needs, preferences, and what the guests would like to bring.
2. Determine main dish(es). Often this might be a turkey, roast beef, or ham. Select the specific recipes, and begin your shopping list.
3. Determine side dishes. Try to select mostly recipes which don't require a lot of last minute preparation. I use Google Images search for terms like ~ Brussels Sprouts Recipes ~ (see the list of ideas below for some good search terms). Keep adding to your shopping list.
4. Review your complete menu. Is there a good balance? Are there some light dishes? Some hearty ones? Spicy ones? Some colorful dishes? Is there enough variety to feed any picky eaters or those with diet restrictions. Adjust the menu as appropriate. Decide what beverages you want to serve.
5. Create time phased 'to do' and shopping lists. Take into consideration how much refrigerator space you have, and what you want to buy at the last minute so that it is as fresh as possible. If you are depending on critical specialty ingredients, you may want to special order them from your grocer or butcher.
6. Shop, clean house, select and inspect dishes and glassware. Begin preparation of 'do ahead' dishes.
7. Touch base with guests a day or two before the meal to confirm time and attendance.
8. Lock up any pets and/or children and begin final prep and cooking.
9. Greet guests and enjoy.
10. Clean-up. Free the animals and children.
Appetizer Ideas: Antipasto Tray, Artichoke and Jalapeno Dip, Brie or other cheese plate, Crab Stuffed Mushroom, Hot Crab Dip, Edamame, Garlic Aioli Stuffed Mushrooms, Hummus, Marinated Mozzarella Balls, Pot Stickers, Spicy Crab Cakes, Spring Rolls, Spicy Mixed Nuts, Stilton Cheese with Walnut Biscotti and Port Wine Reduction
Vegetable Ideas: Asparagus, Asparagus Risotto, Baby Peas with Fried Tofu and Pearl Onions, Battered Fried Okra, Broccoli Casserole, Butternut Squash Soup, Brown Sugar and Maple Baby Carrots, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Colorful Fried Peppers, Creamed Spinach, Fried Red Cabbage, Green Beans, Green Beans with Almonds and Fried Onions, Green Beans with Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts, Leek Casserole, Mushrooms Sautéed with Garlic, Pineapple Fried Rice, Roasted Fennel, Roasted Garlic, Roasted Garlic Cauliflower, Sautéed Zucchini with Bacon, Spaghetti Squash With Pesto
Carbohydrate Ideas: Garlic Bread, Crescent Rolls, Mushroom Stuffing, Sausage Stuffing, Corn Bread Stuffing, Candied Yams, Oven Roasted Red Potatoes, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Salad Ideas: Maple Flavored Cranberry Sauce, Avocado and Shrimp Salad, Tortellini Bacon Broccoli Salad, Wild Rice Pilaf, Apple and Cranberry Jello, Foamy Jello Salad, Jello Cottage Cheese Salad, Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Dessert Ideas: Pecan Pie, Dump Cake, Pinwheel Pumpkin Roll, Pumpkin Brownies, Lemon Meringue Tarts, Chocolate Cream Pie, Pralines, Rum Cake, Figs on a plate