There’s something about the holidays that makes family meals more special – and few holidays are more important to many families than Christmas. Whatever your stance on faith is, it’s hard to deny the allure of having a delicious meal with the people you love, then heading to bed so you can hand out gifts the next morning.

Here are some recipes that you have to try at least once.

Main Dish: Pancetta-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream



This delicious beef tenderloin goes a step above by wrapping it in pancetta, a rich Italian pork belly bacon that imparts extra flavor while it’s being cooked. One of the things that makes this dish so ideal for Christmas Eve dinner is that it has a unique twist on what’s otherwise a fairly common dish – without too much extra work. When you’re busy preparing the perfect holiday meal, anything that limits the extra work is worthwhile.

Total Time: 1 Hour and 25 Minutes

Servings: 8


  • One 5-6 lb beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • Two teaspoons kosher salt
  • One teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • Fourteen very thin slices of pancetta
  • Wax paper
  • Three cloves of minced garlic
  • Two tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
  • Kitchen string
  • Whipped Horseradish Cream


Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. While you’re doing that, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a pan on the stove.

Sprinkle the tenderloin with the full amount of salt and pepper (or a little more pepper, if you enjoy that flavor). Once you’ve done that, cook the tenderloin for 5 minutes on each side. You can take a little more time if you need to, but all you really need to do here is brown it. Remove the tenderloin from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.

Set out a large piece of wax paper and arrange the pancetta into two rows. Overlap them so they form a rectangle about the same length and width as your tenderloin. If you’re not sure how big to make it, use a kitchen ruler (or a plastic one you can wash) to check.

Sprinkle the garlic and rosemary all over the tenderloin. Then place the tenderloin on its edge on one of the long sides of the pancetta and roll it up, using the wax paper as a guide. Discard the wax paper after this.

Tie the tenderloin with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals, then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and brush the last tablespoon of oil over it.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the pancetta looks crispy and the inside of the tenderloin registers 120 degrees. Let it stand for 10 minutes – it will finish cooking out of the oven – and discard the string before slicing and serving. Top with the horseradish cream, to taste.

Side Dish: Christmas Salad


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This simple salad is easy to make and enjoy. Even better, each of the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time, making it simple to toss this together right before you eat… without taking time away from any other dish you’re making.

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Servings: 8-10


  • Eight ounces of coarsely chopped thick bacon
  • One cup of red onions, sliced
  • One and a half teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Three-quarters teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Half a cup of red wine vinegar
  • Two tablespoons of honey
  • One bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped (about 7 loose cups)
  • One bunch red Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped (about 8 loose cups)
  • Two thinly-sliced small beets
  • Half a cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Half a cup dried cherries
  • Half a cup feta cheese, crumbled


Cook the bacon over medium heat, 6-8 minutes or until done. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and try them on paper towels. Leave 6 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan and cook the onion, half a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of pepper for 2 minutes. Remove them from the heat.

Add red wine vinegar and stir it, taking care to loosen the material that’s crusted onto the bottom of the pan. Whisk the honey into the onion mix.

In a large bowl, toss together the kale, chard, onion mix, and remaining salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, then top it with the bacon, beets, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and feta cheese. Serve the mix immediately.

Side Dish: Easy Butter Rolls

Easy Butter Rolls Recipe


Every good Christmas Eve dinner has at least a few rolls on the table, and these delicious homemade treats are sure to be a hit. They can be frozen to prepare ahead of time, but we don’t recommend that.

Total Time: 9 Hours 40 Minutes, or up to 5 days

Servings: 2 Dozen Rolls


  • One cup low-fat milk
  • One cup butter, divided (two sticks)
  • One 1/4-oz. pack of active dry yeast
  • Half a cup of warm water (about 105 degrees)
  • Half a cup of sugar, plus one teaspoon, divided
  • Two large eggs
  • One teaspoon table salt
  • Five cups bread flour
  • Vegetable cooking spray


Heat the milk and half a cup of the butter (one stick) in a small pan over medium-low heat, just until the butter is melted. Remove it from the stovetop and cool the mixture to about 105 degrees. This usually takes 10 minutes but may vary based on the temperature of your kitchen.

While it’s cooling, stir together the yeast, the warm water (take the temperature right before you add it!), and one teaspoon of the sugar in a glass cup. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

While that’s cooling, beat the eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer, then add the remaining sugar and one teaspoon of salt. Continue beating until they’re fully combined. Add the milk and yeast mixes, continuing to beat them until fully combined. Reduce the speed to low, then slowly add the flour and ensure it’s all well-blended.

Put the dough in a large, lightly-greased bowl, and turn the dough to ensure all sides have been greased. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 8 hours to 5 days.

When you’re ready to cook, set the dough on a floured surface and knead it up to three times. Then shape it into 72 balls, each one-inch big. Place three balls in each cup of two 12-inch muffin pans. Microwave the rest of your butter in a microwave-safe bowl until melted (usually about 1 minute on high, but cover it in case it explodes). Brush the rolls with half of the butter.

Using plastic wrap, cover the muffin pans and let the bread rise in a draft-free place, about 80 degrees, until they’ve doubled in size. This usually takes between 45 minutes and 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes, brush with the last of your butter and serve at will. Most people prefer to serve immediately, but you can let them cool first.

Dessert: White Chocolate-Cranberry Crème Brûlée



This delicious crème brûlée is easy to make and even tastier than it sounds. Consider asking your kids to help – making dessert is always fun, and it’s a great way to keep the family together.

Total Time: More than 9 hours

Servings: 6


  • Two cups whipping cream
  • Four ounces of high-quality white chocolate
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Five egg yolks (these can be bought separately if need be)
  • Half a cup of sugar, divided
  • Fifteen ounces of whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • Six ramekins (small, individual oven-safe dishes)
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: Sugared cranberries and mint, to garnish


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine half a cup of the whipping cream and the white chocolate in a sturdy saucepan and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the chocolate is melted. Make sure to constantly stir the mix. Remove it from the heat, then add the vanilla and the rest of the whipping cream, stirring to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and a quarter cup of sugar together. Keep whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the overall mixture is thick and pale yellow. Add the cream mixture you made earlier, then whisk the concoction until it’s fully blended.

Pour the mix into a large bowl, using a fine wire-mesh strainer to catch any large clumps. Squish these through the strainer to ensure the mix is the right consistency.

After that, spoon one and a half tablespoons of the cranberry sauce into your ramekins. Pour the cream mix evenly into the ramekins, then put the ramekins into a large roasting pan. Add half an inch of water to the roasting pan.

Cook at 300 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, until the edges of the crème brûlée are set. Keep them in the pan and cool on a wire rack for 25 minutes. Then remove them from the water, covering and chilling for at least 8 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle up to two teaspoons of sugar over each ramekin. If you have a cooking torch, use that to caramelize the sugar. Otherwise, fill the roasting pan you used before with ice, arrange the ramekins in the pan, and broil them 5 inches away from the heat for three to five minutes. Let them stand for five minutes, then serve. The garnish is optional but festive.


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