Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Eve Table and Menu

Getting in my last few posts before Christmas! Can you tell that I get pretty excited about Christmas? :) I wanted to share the table settings and menus for Christmas Eve dinner (I'll share about Christmas morning in a separate post). Since my family is visiting from out of town, I'll be hosting all the meals here. I actually LOVE entertaining and planning menus, but I have also learned from experience that it's much more enjoyable when I can actually sit down too. So I try to limit myself to one or two more ambitious dishes per meal make anything I can ahead of time, and take some help from the store and my family!
We do have a family tradition of having tamales for dinner on Christmas Day. My parents are bringing a cooler full of tamales from the Dallas Tamale Factory, and I've enlisted help from them to prepare their specialties for the appetizers and sides, and dessert will be Christmas cookies, so that dinner requires no work from me :)
For Christmas Eve, we've never had a set menu in my family, we always change it up but it usually fits a "theme"- two years ago, I did a traditional English dinner with beef, Yorkshire pudding, and a trifle, one year we had a smorgasbord with smoked salmon, and we've had several fiestas, being from Texas. This year, we're going Italian. To fit the Italian tradition of fish on Christmas Eve, I'm making cioppino as the main course. I'm using seven kinds of seafood: two types of fish, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and squid. It's something I have cooked before, and I love it because it's very little prep and cooking time, yet with all the beautiful seafood it's definitely an impressive, special meal. I also love make one really fabulous dessert for Christmas Eve, and this year I'm making Montebianco. Martha Stewart had a recipe for it in a Christmas issue years ago, and I've been waiting for the right meal to make it. Here is the planned menu, along with links to recipes. 
Cocktails and Antipasti 
Antipasti Platter with Italian Cheeses, Salami, and Olives
Greens with Fennel, Orange, and Hazelnuts
Main Course
Cioppino (modified version of this recipe) and Garlic Toast
Fresh Fruit
One other thing that makes getting a big meal together easier is to plan the table and serving pieces ahead of time. Call me crazy, but I had a fun time planning my table setting...and took a few pictures to share, since I never seem to remember to take photos on the actual day of. I kept the Advent calendar as the centerpiece. I mixed up my china and everyday plates, and crystal water goblets with wineglasses from Ikea. I made simple napkin rings from some vintage sheet music, twine, glittered stars, and a sprig of greenery.

I am looking forward to attending a lovely Mass, then celebrating and sharing a delicious meal with my family!

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