I hosted a small holiday dinner party for some good friends of mine from Jacksonville, Florida over the weekend. It had been quite some time since we’d seen each other with such busy schedules, and I was so excited to spend some quality time with a few of my favorite people. We enjoyed dinner at home, followed by a Christmas musical at the local theater, and even more fun singing karaoke at a dive bar after midnight. What can I say? When we get together, we paint the town.
If you’re hosting friends and family over the holidays, I’ve got a menu that doesn’t disappoint. It’s well balanced with a few make-ahead dishes to keep the work light and the flavors Some Kinda Good.
I love anything festive, and to kick off the evening, I served an appetizer (from Maegan Brown’s Beautiful Boards book) of hummus with vegetables, cheese and crackers in the shape of Santa Claus on a large cutting board. Boards are such a fun and tasty way to keep things interesting, and the ideas are endless. Let your imagination run wild with candy canes made of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil, Christmas trees with broccoli, olives and tomatoes, and even snowman shapes made of cinnamon rolls.
With a combination of fresh ingredients and store-bought hummus, the Santa board was not only healthy, but assembled in no time, and is a perfect activity for kids to help with in the kitchen. My little nieces helped assemble a turkey shaped board for Thanksgiving, made with red grapes, cheese and crackers, and I’m not sure which we enjoyed more — putting it together or eating it.
A couple of other highlights from the meal included sugar cookies from a local bakery which doubled as name cards and dessert. The cookies were shaped like Santa hats and ornaments with first names piped in icing and used at the place setting for a personal touch to make the guests feel special.
The main course was my go-to Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, and I served three sides with the meal: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with lemon zest, toasted pine nuts and dried cranberries (this was my favorite!), Pan Seared Acorn Squash with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate, and the classic Sweet Potato Casserole.
For dessert, my friend helped me toss some tart Granny Smith apples with a little sugar, flour and vanilla, which we piled into homemade pie dough to make a Cinnamon Sugar Apple Galette. It was a fun and festive meal, fit for company.
I hope you’ll consider making some of these dishes for your Christmas gatherings. You can find these recipes and more by visiting SomeKindaGood.com.
Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.