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Christmas Dinner in 2020: Merry Menu Ideas to Bring Joy to Your Table

Christmas Dinner in 2020: Merry Menu Ideas to Bring Joy to Your Table
Flat lay of Delicious Christmas themed dinner table with roasted meat steak, appetizers and desserts. Top view. Holiday concept.

By Sharon MacGregor, Fed Well

Considering making a change to your Christmas menu this year? Have you scrolled through tons of ham Christmas dinner ideas and other typical Christmas dinner recipes and thought, “I am ready for something different!” 

Moving away from traditional Christmas dinner ideas might seem scary at first but if any year cries out for change it is this one. Whether your gathering is going to be smaller and you are considering adding some Christmas dinner to go items from a local restaurant or grocery store, or are looking to completely reinvent your family Christmas dinner, inspiration and solutions can be found here. 

The key lies in a little creativity and elevating ingredients and voila – a brand new Christmas dinner menu tradition is born. These Christmas dinner recipes can be customized enabling you to make your own Christmas dinner list of items for this year’s holiday table. 

SHRIMP COCKTAIL SLEIGHS

Nestle grilled or roasted shrimp in a bed of silky mashed avocado or festive cocktail sauce and present your guests with a colorful holiday platter of red and green appetizers to get dinner started. The shrimp can be cooked in advance and simple assembly can be completed just before serving. 

What you need: 

  • 1 lb. medium sized shrimp – deveined and peeled 
  • 5 avocados 
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion 
  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa 
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes – halved 
  • 1 – 2 limes 
  • 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic 
  • ½ cup of olive oil 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of either chopped cilantro or parsley 
  • 1 bag scoop shaped tortilla chips 

For the shrimp: 

  1. Combine olive oil, garlic, and the juice of 1 lime, salt, and pepper to taste, in a large plastic bag or bowl, 
  2. Add shrimp to marinate – ½ hour or less. (Not too long as the lime juice can start to cook the shrimp.) 
  3. Grill shrimp on the barbecue or roast in a 400-degree oven for 8 minutes or so (watch closely so they are not overcooked) or until pink. 
  4. Once cooked put shrimp aside to cool until ready to assemble appetizer. 

For the mashed avocado: 

  1. Place avocado, onion, the juice of one lime, salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. 
  2. Mash mixture with fork until smooth with some visible chunks of avocado. 

To assemble: 

  1. Line up chips and arrange to fill half with avocado mixture, then alternate the other half with salsa. 
  2. Place 1 teaspoonful of mashed avocado in half of the chips. 
  3. Place 1 teaspoonful of salsa in the others. 
  4. Top all with one shrimp. 
  5. The final layer for the avocado filled chips is one-half slice of cherry tomato. 
  6. The final layer for the salsa filled chips is a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley. 

*Option: ½” cucumber slices may be used as the base instead of chips. 

CHOPS WITH CHEERFUL CHERRY SAUCE

What is our association with Christmas and cherries? Is it the bold red color? Chocolate covered cherries as gifts? Or the selection from A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore that reads,  

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! 

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! 

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, 

And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; 

For those who have deep roots in tradition and want to see things like a ham Christmas dinner on the table but are not opposed to making a few tweaks – pork chops with cherry glaze is the perfect swap! 

Pork Chops 

What you need: 

  • 4 – 6 pork chops (many prefer bone in) 
  • Olive or vegetable oil 
  • Salt and Pepper 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Onion powder 
  • Paprika 
  1. Mix 1 tablespoon each garlic powder, onion powder and paprika in a small bowl.  
  2. Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and let pan warm.  
  3. Rub seasonings on pork chops and place in heated pan. Let sear and brown for 4 – 5 minutes untouched.  
  4. Flip and cook an additional 4 minutes (if chops are very thick allow extra cooking time on each side or place chops in a 350-degree oven for a few minutes to finish cooking at the center).  
  5. Remove chops and set aside.  
  6. Use the same pan the chops were cooked in for the cherry sauce without cleaning the pan. 

Cherry Sauce 

What you need: 

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed  
  • 1 cup red wine a bit sweet/fruity (port would also work) 
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves  
  • Pinch of kosher salt 
  1. After cooking pork tenderloin, chops, or roast, remove meat to rest and use the same pan to make the cherry sauce.  
  2. On medium heat, add the cherries, red wine, thyme, and salt while stirring pan juices and scraping up bits of pork to incorporate in the sauce.  
  3. Let simmer approximately ten minutes until sauce reduces and deepens.  
  4. Add butter one tablespoon at a time to add depth of flavor and silky mouth feel as well as a beautiful glossiness.  

Side Dish Options: 

Simple green choices:   

Wilted spinach  

  • One bunch spinach 
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Warm olive oil in a large frying pan. 
  2. Add spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  3. Wilt greens and remove from heat. 

Sauteed Green Beans  

  • 1 – lb. fresh green beans  
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons of minced, fresh garlic 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Warm olive oil in a large frying pan. 
  2. Add beans and season with salt and pepper to taste.  
  3. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes before adding garlic so garlic does not burn. 
  4. Cook additional 2 minutes and remove from heat. 

Mashed Turnips 

  • ½ pound turnips per person 
  • 1 teaspoon butter per person 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  1. Peel and cut turnips into chunks 
  2. Boil turnips until tender (10 – 15 minutes or until fork tender) 
  3. Drain turnips and return to hot pan for mashing 
  4. Add butter, salt and pepper, mash and serve 

Friends and family hoping for a ham Christmas dinner will not be disappointed with this twist on a classic. Most likely, this version may be requested again well before the next holiday season. 

BLITZEN BAKED BANANAS

Baked bananas can provide many tasty options for customizing your Christmas dinner menu while still feeling fun and festive. Think of this as a warm reverse banana split with the fruit as the focus. Offering a variety of toppings is what turns this basically healthy treat into a decadent holiday sweet. 

What you need: 

  • One banana per person 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Honey 
  1. Line a baking pan with foil while oven heats to 400 degrees.  
  2. Split bananas lengthwise and arrange in pan.  
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon and drizzle honey over the fruit to taste and bake about 12 minutes depending on ripeness and softness desired. 

Topping Station Ideas: 

  • Ice Cream 
  • Whipped Cream 
  • Maraschino cherries 
  • Caramel Sauce 
  • Chocolate Sauce 
  • Butterscotch Sauce 
  • Nuts 
  • Red and green sprinkles 

Toppings can be arranged in an assembly line style with individual spoons and bowls so guests can make their own creations.  

Do what is best for you when planning your Christmas dinner list of items. Whether you are mixing a traditional Christmas dinner with restaurant or grocery store Christmas to go components, or redefining what makes a special Christmas menu, know that you are doing a wonderful job putting together a holiday filled with magical and loving memories that happen to include some really great food! 

Sharon MacGregor

Writing from her desk in New York, Sharon MacGregor is a contributing reporter, freelance writer, and blogger with a passion for human interest stories as well as meals shared with friends and family. Her blog, Fed Well includes recipes with upcoming tips to prepare foods for infants and toddlers, simple and seasonal cocktails, and easy modifications to create dishes respecting dietary restrictions including dairy and gluten intolerances. She loves entertaining for the ones she loves including her new grandbabies!

About The Author

Casey Christiansen

Casey supports the PR team at Zulily.

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