My Christmas Eve Menu 2014 with a recipe for Lentils with Winter Vegetables.
I hosted Christmas Eve dinner this year for my mom and her husband. It’s so lovely to be able to get together with family. That’s really true for any time of the year, but especially during the holidays.
This Christmas Eve I broke one of my main rules for entertaining … “Don’t make new dishes that you’ve never made before”. One or two in a big spread is fine, but never, under any circumstances, should you make all new dishes when you have company coming. What if they don’t come out right? What if they’re bland or burned or undercooked? Then you’re stuck with a boring, or worse yet, barely edible meal! And, yes, that’s exactly the rule I broke.
The husband requested Braised Beef as the main dish. So, I built the menu around that. Well, in looking at my old cut out recipes that I keep in 3 ring binders, I decided on three new recipes, and one that I have made many times before. Yep, not only did I break the “No new dishes” rule, but a Really broke it! 3 new ones and only one that I’ve done before!
I guess I got lucky! All of the dishes were great! Everyone loved them. And, I’ll be making all of them again! Whew!
This menu would work really well for any gathering, like a birthday celebration or any holiday family get-together. So, here it is, with the recipe for Lentils with Winter Vegetables (and the Braised Beef and Roasted Carrots to follow)…
Christmas Eve Menu 2014
Braised Beef with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes. I found a wonderful recipe that included Sun-dried tomatoes. Dan asked if I would please make my Balsamic Tomatoes instead of simply buying jarred tomatoes. Making the tomatoes isn’t much work at all, so that was a request I could go for. And this Braised Beef smelled so awesome while it cooked. Dan loved this dish! He totally wants to make it again, which is great, so that I can get a good picture of it. Find the recipe here.
Maple Roasted Carrots. I’ve made a different recipe for Maple-Thyme Roasted Carrots for a few years now. The reason I decided to try this new recipe was that it’s all hands-off time in the kitchen. It takes a bit longer to roast them like this, but there’s no real work for the cook during that roasting time. I peeled and cut the carrots, and measured all the ingredients into the pan the day before, refrigerated it overnight, and just popped it into the oven when it was time to cook. And, voila! Perfectly roasted little glazed carrots of goodness! This was awesome, and I’ll make this one again! I posted this recipe here. I also used my Roasted Herb Oil in this to boost those herby flavors!
Chipotle Seasoned Rice. I wanted to serve the Braised Beef with some starch, but mashed potatoes seemed to be a bit heavy for this meal. So, we decided on rice, and I love how easy and full of flavor this is. I posted this recipe a few weeks ago, and you’ll find the recipe here.
Dessert was Coconut-Oat Bars from Tasting Page. This was the perfect little sweet dessert bite that wasn’t too sweet or too filling. I loved it. I swapped the chocolate chips out for carob chips because my mom can’t have chocolate. Her husband (who doesn’t really eat dessert) ate a few of these while we sat there, so I know it was a hit!!
Lentils with Winter Vegetables. My main dish. This was so yummy! Of course, I love lentils, and think they simply are delicious! The winter veggies make this a whole meal in one dish, like a stew, but a little less liquidy. I’m not a huge fan or red wine, so I was a little hesitant to use it, but I’m really glad I went ahead with it. It was delicious! Full flavored, earthy, with the great flavors of basil and rosemary to balance the whole dish so it wasn’t too heavy as some winter stews can be. I also used my Roasted Herb Oil in this to boost those herby flavors!
- 3 cups water
- 1 ½ cups dried lentils, French lentils preferred
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or oil of your choice
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, divided use
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Combine water, lentils, ½ teaspoon salt, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes. Remove from heat, do NOT drain, and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat pan. Add yellow onion and red onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. If onions start to cook too quickly, add about ¼ cup water to slow the cooking and allow caramelization. Add carrot, and rosemary, and sauté 10 minutes or until browned.
- While vegetables cook, pierce sweet potato with a fork or knife several times, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Heat on high in the microwave about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Cut cooked sweet potato into 1-inch dice. Set aside.
- Stir ½ teaspoon salt, tomato paste, and garlic powder into cooked veggies, and heat through 1 minute. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cover with aluminum foil, and reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add lentil mixture and cooked sweet potato, and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf, and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil, basil, and pepper.
- Garnish with additional rosemary and basil if desired.