(Family Features) From the hors d’oeuvres to the main course and through dessert, creating a full holiday menu doesn’t have to be hard.
The key to a successful feast is focusing on dishes that can please loved ones of all ages and palates, such as a festive salad before the turkey or ham main dish, which complementary sides like au gratin potatoes can accompany. Finally, top off the celebration with a divine dessert featuring classic cranberry flavor.
To find more holiday recipe inspiration, visit Culinary.net.
Start Holiday Celebrations with a Salad
With a bed of tender, leafy green spinach and pops of red cranberries, a salad lends itself perfectly to the colors and flavors of the holiday season. Plus, as a lighter bite ahead of the big meal, it makes for a delicious introduction to festive dinner parties, family gatherings, and get-togethers.
This Spinach Christmas Tree Salad offers a fresh, festive option that adds a seasonal presentation to the table while inviting guests to take a bite. Harvested at the peak of flavor, tender Fresh Express Baby Spinach has a mild and delicate taste that makes it an ideal addition to recipes throughout the holidays.
Find more ways to freshen up your holiday menu at FreshExpress.com.
Spinach Christmas Tree Salad
- Two packages (5 ounces each) of Fresh Express Baby Spinach
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, divided
- 1/3 cup pistachios, divided
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, divided
- One red pepper, cored, cut into thin strips
- One large apple, thinly sliced, cut into star shapes.
- 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
- Three tablespoons cranberry juice
- Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- Two tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- One tablespoon of light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
To Make Salad:
- In a large bowl, toss baby spinach with 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/6 cup pistachios, and 1/4 cup feta cheese. Transfer to Christmas tree cake mold. Neatly arrange spinach leaves to create a smooth surface.
- Arrange red pepper strips, trimming as needed, to create a garland. Arrange remaining dried cranberries, pistachios, and feta cheese as “ornaments” on the spinach. Create a tree topper with one apple star; place the remaining apple stars around the “tree.”
To make the dressing:
- In a blender, process cranberry sauce, juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt until smooth.
A Hearty Holiday Side Dish
Almost everyone has a favorite holiday dish, from appetizers and snacks to the main course, sides, and sweets. However, the pairings and complementary dishes make festive get-togethers special.
This Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes with Kale and Gruyere is an ideal example of a savory side that goes well with various holiday meals, making it a perfect option for families seeking a versatile recipe to serve with dinner. Rosy-skinned and white-fleshed, Wisconsin Round Red potatoes have a firm, smooth and moist texture, making them well-suited for roasting in this hearty dish.
Visit eatwisconsinpotatoes.com to discover more recipes fit for serving your loved ones.
Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes with Kale and Gruyere
Recipe courtesy of Wisconsin Potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Two cloves garlic smashed
- Three sprigs of fresh thyme
- Two tablespoons butter
- Three cloves shallots, diced
- Four large kale leaves, finely chopped (discard stems)
- 2 pounds red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch
- 2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat oven to 325 F.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, salt, black pepper, garlic, and thyme; constantly stir until cream starts to bubble, 4-6 minutes. When bubbling, remove from heat and stir until slightly cooled. Let the cream sit.
- Heat large (12-inch) oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter. When the butter melts, add shallots and kale leaves. Saute until kale is tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Turn off the burner.
- Add sliced potatoes to skillet, fanning over top of kale.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove garlic and thyme from the heavy cream. Pour heavy cream over the potatoes.
- Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, 75-85 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and turn on the broiler. Discard foil.
- Sprinkle gruyere and Parmesan cheeses over potatoes, tucking some cheese between potato slices.
- Return skillet to oven and broil until top is golden brown, 5-6 minutes.
Dish Up a Divine Holiday Dessert
Give your holiday gatherings a new twist this year with a creamy cranberry delight that’s a cause for celebration all on its own. Smooth, divine taste at the dessert table can be the memorable moment your family craves year after year.
This rich, festive Cranberry Cheesecake combines classic flavor with a homemade cranberry compote-infused layer above a crust sweetly made using C&H Light Brown Sugar and graham crackers. Top it all off with fresh and sugared cranberries, rosemary springs, and whipped cream for a tempting treat that tastes as good as it looks.
To find more sweet eats to celebrate the holidays, visit chsugar.com.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup C&H Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- One teaspoon of freshly grated orange zest
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- Six tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.
- Three tablespoons C&H Light Brown Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Three packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 cups C&H Organic Raw Cane Sugar
- Three tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- Two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Four large eggs at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
- 1/2 cup cranberry compote
- fresh cranberries
- sugared cranberries
- rosemary sprigs
- whipped cream
To make cranberry compote:
- In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice, and orange zest to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until most cranberries burst. Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl; refrigerate.
To make the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix cracker crumbs, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan—Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.
To make the cheesecake:
- In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add cane sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour, vanilla, and salt. Beat for 1 minute until incorporated.
- Mix half of the cheesecake batter in a medium bowl Add one egg at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add sour cream and mix for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. In a medium bowl, mix half of the cheesecake batter with 1/2 cup of cranberry compote.
- Wrap the springform pan with aluminum foil and place it in a large roasting pan. Pour the cream cheese and cranberry mixture into the prepared pan. Top with remaining cream cheese batter. Place the roasting pan in the oven and add hot water to 1-inch of the springform pan—Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until the cake looks set in the center. Remove from oven and rest for 1 hour. Refrigerate in a pan overnight.
- Decorate the cake with fresh and sugared cranberries, rosemary springs, and whipped cream.