Relieve some holiday stress and buy a spiral-sliced ham for dinner. Stop by the deli for potato salad and coleslaw. Add whole-grain rolls.
We always get in the spirit with peppermint ice cream cake. Horizontally slice a 10-inch angel food cake in three layers. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate. In a bowl, combine 1 quart fat-free vanilla ice cream (slightly softened), 3 (1.5-ounce) chopped chocolate-covered peppermint patties, 1/3 cup chopped pecans and 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract; mix well. Spread 1/3 mixture on bottom cake layer; top with second cake layer and 1/3 of the mixture; repeat for last layer. Cover and freeze; remove from freezer before slicing to serve.
Plan ahead: Save enough ham and refreeze the cake for Tuesday.
Try meatless Italian beans and vegetables (see recipe) for a change. Add a mixed green salad and crusty bread. Canned or chilled tropical fruits are good for dessert.
TUESDAY (Budget/Christmas Eve)
We always ate ham biscuits (use leftover ham) on Christmas Eve before we went to the children's service at our church.
And Mother always made this pineapple bake to serve on the side. (I still have the well-worn recipe in her unmistakable schoolteacher handwriting.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3 beaten eggs, 2 beaten egg whites and 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice; mix well. Add 7 slices cubed white bread (crusts removed). Spoon into dish and drizzle top with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 1 hour.
Add a spinach salad alongside your meal. If you must have a little something extra, peppermint ice cream cake is in the freezer.
Plan ahead: Make Wednesday's strata this evening.
Everyone will be up early, so bake the mushroom, bacon and Swiss strata (see recipe) right away. Serve with Canadian bacon and fresh orange wedges. Munch on Christmas cookies to celebrate the holiday.
Enough of the fancy food! The kids will be ready for enchilada casserole (see recipe) tonight. Serve with a chopped lettuce salad. Sliced peaches are dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough casserole for Friday.
FRIDAY (Heat and Eat)
Take the evening off and heat the leftover enchilada casserole for dinner. Serve it with an avocado and grapefruit salad on the side. Make flan (from a mix) for dessert.
Plan ahead: Marinate Saturday's chicken overnight.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Entertain friends with Mediterranean chicken. In a large bowl, combine 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar and 1/3 cup olive oil, 24 bite-size pitted prunes, 6 ounces pitted Spanish green olives, 2 tablespoons rinsed capers, 2 bay leaves; mix well. Add 8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs; turn to coat. Marinate 6 to 24 hours.
When ready to cook, transfer chicken and marinade to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup dry white wine together; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or until chicken is 165 degrees. Remove and discard bay leaves; serve chicken with fruit and juices. (Adapted from Slow Cooking for Two, Cynthia Graubart; Gibbs Smith, 2013.)
Serve with rice, mixed greens and Italian bread. For dessert, make it light with any sorbet and store-bought almond thins.
Tip: I adapted the recipe for 4 servings.