It’s always great to see family and friends over the holidays. Seems like time slows a bit and we have more time to be together. Feeding a hungry crew can be a daunting task, however. Here is a menu of make ahead items that will give you time to enjoy your people and feed them well, too.
We tend to do a spicy dish or Tex-Mex on Christmas Eve to balance the decadence of the coming day’s meal. With that in mind, here are a few family favorites.
Appetizer: Sausage and Cheese Balls with Jalapeños (and without for the kiddos!)
Main Dish: My White Chicken Chili – truly a crowd pleaser.
Dessert: Apple Pear Crumble – one of my favorite recipes from Alex Hitz’ My Beverly Hills Kitchen
These Sausage and Cheese Balls are a family tradition on my side of the family. I’ve added jalapeños to the traditional recipe because, as you know, I just love a jalapeño. Theses are also made with Gluten-Free Bisquick (yes, Virginia, there is GF Bisquick!) but you can use the traditional as well.
My mom makes them before we arrive and freezes them. Just pull what you need from the freezer. This is a great idea during the holidays because you will always have something on hand….if you can keep your family from sneaking them, that is!
- 3 c Gluten Free Bisquick
- 4 c finely grated cheddar cheese
- 1 lb regular sausage
- ½ cup of finely diced jalapeños
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine all ingredients with a mixer.
- Form into balls about the size of a golf ball with your hands.
- Place on a baking sheet.
- (If freezing, place in the freezer for 1 hour and then place in a plastic bag or container.)
- Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool slightly.
- Serve warm or room temperature.
This White Chicken Chili is probably the most popular thing I have posted. Simple ingredients but an outstanding result. I’ve had so many emails, comments and texts from friends. A friend from High School I’ve not seen in years, messaged me saying her husband thought it was one of the top 5 things she’d ever made. Wow! That’s a testimonial! Take his word for it and serve this to your family and friends. This can be made the day ahead except for the cheese that you add in shortly before serving.
- 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 2 rotisserie chickens, deboned)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 white onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 small cans of chopped mild green chills, drained
- 1 cup mild green salsa plus more for garnish (You could use ¼ in the recipe and serve more for garnish to let guests control the "kick"
- 5 tsp ground cumin, divided use
- 1 tsp Tajin (a spice from Mexico that is chili powder and lime. It is found in the produce section of many grocery stores)
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cans of Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large box (32 oz) chicken broth
- 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded for divided use
- Salt and Pepper
- Jalapeños and Cilantro for topping
- Place chicken, 2 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of Tajin in a heavy sauce pan with a lid. Add enough water to just cover the chicken and poach the chicken breasts until cooked through - about 15 minutes.
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil.
- Saute chopped onions about 10 minutes or until tender.
- Stir in garlic, chilis, 3 tsp of cumin, oregano, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper.
- Saute for 1 minute.
- Add the beans, salsa and chicken broth.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- **If you are making ahead of time, pause here, cool and refrigerate.
- Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Add the chicken and 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese.
- Simmer and stir until cheese melts.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with garnish of green salsa, jalapeños, cilantro and additional cheese.
Alex Hitz’ Apple Pear Crumble is sure to be a hit as well. You can make this the day of your dinner and put in the oven while you are eating your bowls of steaming chili. Serve it warm with ice cream.
- Apple-Pear Filling
- 6 tbs salted butter
- 2 lbs apples, corded, peeled and sliced (I didn't peel because I like the peel)
- 1 lb pears, cored, peeled, sliced (same as above)
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- ¾ c sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ c Calvados (Apple liquor)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ntumeg
- ½ tsp allspice
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3 tbs flour (I used Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour)
- Crumb Crust
- ¼ c dark brown sugar, firmly, packed
- ¾ c sugar
- 2¼ c flour (I used Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour)
- ¾ c rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbs vanilla extract
- 22 tablespoons cold salted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch ceramic or glass baking dish.
- Peel and core the fruit.
- In a large heavy skillet over med-high heat, melt the butter.
- When the foaming has subsided, add the apples and the pears and sauté them for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft.
- Add the dark brown sugar, sugar, salt, Calvados, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and lemon juice and sauté for 8-10 more minutes until sauce is a rich caramel color and fruit is soft.
- Add the flour and stir thoroughly and sauté for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
- To make the crumb crust, in a large mixing bowl combine the dark brown sugar, sugar, flour, rolled oats and salt and whisk them together until blended.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- Cut the butter in to the dry mixture with a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form.
- Pour the apple-pear mixture into the baking dish and generously spread the crumbs on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust in brown and sauce bubbling.
- Remove from oven and serve warm with ice cream.
Add the Calvados Apple Liquor while simmering the fruits. Use a pastry blender or ford to make the crumble “crust.”
Layer in a dish and refrigerate until you bake. It’s a divine breakfast for the hostess….if there is a single bite left.
Hope this makes your holiday entertaining easier. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Juliska Baking Dish