Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Looking for Christmas cooking ideas

12-07-2007, 12:38 PM
I hope this is the right section of the board to post this. I couldn't find any other. And before I start writing my novel of a post: thanks in advance to whoever will be able to give me tips and help me. :)

Summary in a nutshell: my mother was sick at the end of November (phlebitis), and since this area of health is one of her 'weaknesses' and we're close to Christmas, I said she'd better rest in December, and I'd take care of most of the meals on the 25th. We're supposed to host for both lunch and dinner, and I don't want to see her standing on her legs all day long to prepare the food. Therefore I'm going to be the cook. And I'm looking for nice ideas, because frankly, it's necessary.

So... My parents insist to do a raclette for one of the meals. They had originally planned it for dinner, but there's no way I want to serve raclette after a stuffing lunch where everybody will already have gorged on foods until 4 pm. It's just too heavy. I'm willing to compromise and serve the raclette for lunch, since they really want that meal, but not in the evening. Meaning... I need to find a 'light' dinner (complete set of courses) following those requirements:

a) Not too expensive. (Last year, my mother added some sauce-stuff made with orange peels, which meant we had to buy organic and in a very specific place to make sure said peels were clean. Not. Convenient. At. All. Actually, we even got into a family argument about this on the morning of the 25th; I don't want such crap to happen again.)

b) Must be "traditional", because of course there'll always be the family members who, when they don't know a food, decide they don't like it. I mean, no Japanese or Indian food or whatever. Let's say it must remain "western". (For info, we live in Alsace, in the east of France, right next to the German border. That's our kind of "traditional".)

c) Not too complex. I can do the basics in terms of cooking, but I'm not a chef, and I think Christmas is not the time to dive head first into very complicated recipes that take three hours to complete, lest I want to give food-poisoning to all the diners.

d) I don't plan on preparing "diet food" -- it's Christmas, after all, and I'm not here to impose such choices on anyone! -- but I want to make it healthy all the same. I.e. I'll choose brown rice over white, sweet potatoes over the usual bland starch, etc. I'm also afraid low-fat butter and the likes won't be an alternative (I won't be the one doing the shopping, if my father decides lowfat is crap, he won't buy it... and I'll be stuck with what he buys), so I don't want to decide on a recipe that involves a lot of butter, for instance, or a lot of <insert any other very fattening food when used in more than very light quantities>.

My main problem, in fact, is that I'm a very simple person when it comes to foods. Stuff like rice with Provence herbs, green beans and fish without sauce is "good enough for me", but not for my family. Hence why my current lack of imagination in terms of cooking is annoying. But I still want to help my mother, and adding a few more recipes to my slowly growing arsenal can't harm, can it?

Anyway... Thanks for any suggestion you might offer. They would really be of great help. :)

12-12-2007, 04:50 AM
Maybe check out Cooking Light ( They have whole menus planned out--I'm sure you could find something that meets all of your criteria. I use Cooking Light all the time; almost every recipe comes out great and they hardly ever taste like diet food. They also have a whole section on quick and easy meals.

12-12-2007, 08:25 AM
Sighs...I am also cooking the X-mas dinner this year, and am looking around online for ideas. Here in America it's generally traditional to go with a ham, or even chicken as the main feature with a lot of side dishes, but I don't want to do that. I'm checking into a lot of vegetarian dishes online, as well as the for some ideas. Sorry I'm not more help, but I would recommend that you start off your search online with the traditional foods, and then see how you can mix it up. For instance, instead of plain ole steamed green beans, try a recipe that has them steamed and then later with a sauce over it. That way, your family and friends will still recognize the dish enough to try it. :)

12-13-2007, 01:42 PM
Thank you for the suggestions and the website address, I'm definitely going to check that. :) Now I'm thinking that maybe I can simply put sauces aside, and whoever wants some can have as much as they like... Maybe it's not too traditional, but it can't be less than not giving them what they're expecting (the fattening stuff, haha).