Essential holiday dinner checklist


By Maddie Bane

As things get more hectic around the holidays, planning your trip to the grocery store for a festive feast can be somewhat of a nightmare. Take some of the pressure off by getting some ideas for starters, protein, sides and condiments, fruits and veggies, sweets, drinks and utensils with this essential holiday dinner checklist. Complete with recipes from local chefs and restaurants, planning your holiday dinner will be a breeze.


Sausage balls: A simple recipe that just uses sausage, cheese and biscuit mix. Serve with a smooth mustard sauce.

Crab artichoke dip: Who doesn’t love a seafood twist on a party classic?

Stuffed mushrooms: The stuffing possibilities are endless — cream cheese, crab, spinach, salmon and more.

This recipe from Charlie’s L’Etoile Verte is the perfect start to any feast. Did you know that parsnips are one of the most popular foods consumed on Christmas Day?
Carrot & Parsnip Bisque
1 1/2 pounds carrot
1 1/2 pounds parsnip
1/4 cup butter
1/2 ounce fresh ginger
1 medium yellow onion
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups water
2 quarts heavy cream
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 each star anise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
DIRECTIONS [1] Take carrots and parsnips in a large mixing bowl and drizzle some oil until veggies are coated. Lay on sheet pan or cookie tray to roast in a 350-degree oven for 45-60 minutes or until they are nice and roasted. [2] In a soup pot, start by adding butter in a cold pot. Put on medium heat and once butter is melted, add onions and ginger. Stir often to make sure there is no uneven cooking and cook for 10-14 minute until nice and tender to the point of the caramelization process beginning. [3] Add roasted veggies to the pot and fresh thyme. Cook for 5-7 minutes and add spices and seasonings. Stir once more and add wine. Cook for 2-4 minutes until wine has chance to simmer. Add the rest of the liquid and bring to a boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes and then let cool for 5-10 minutes. [4] Now pull out thyme sprigs and star anise. With a ladle, add the soup base in batches and pull the center piece slightly out so the pressure does not blow the top off blender. [5] Blend each batch until smooth and pour into another container. Do this until everything has gone through the blender. [6] Mix everything together and run through the blender one more time. It’s ready to serve.
Chef’s tip: top with crisped prosciutto or bacon.


Chef Scott Hastings from Lulu Kitchen shares one of his favorite seafood dishes — Spanish octopus. The delectable sauce is sure to make this intriguing dish a hit with your guests.
Spanish Octopus
2 pounds Spanish octopus
4 quarts water
3 tablespoons salt
2 large red peppers, roasted
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 cup chickpeas, fried
1/2 cup diced chorizo sausage
1/4 cup piquillo peppers, sliced
Italian parsley
DIRECTIONS [1] Bring salted water to a boil in large stock pot. Add octopus and cover. Turn heat to low and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until tender. [2] Remove from water and cool to room temperature. [3] Place red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, sherry vinegar, almonds, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic to a processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add oil and adjust seasoning with salt. Set aside. [4] Place octopus tentacles on hot grill and sprinkle with salt. Char on all sides. [5] On a larger platter, spread sauce and place octopus on top. Sprinkle chorizo, chickpeas, and peppers about, garnish with parsley and serve with toasted baguette.

Turkey: A holiday classic, this meat gets gobbled up quickly.

Lamb: Boost the flavor profile by adding a warm couscous salad, roasted vegetables, Dijon mustard and red wine sauce.

Honey-glazed ham: Be sure to wrap in foil to prevent drying out the meat.


Turn your marmalade up a notch with this smokey pepper recipe from executive chef Jeremy Halker at Spring Island. Chef Jeremy recommends the Camerons Large Stovetop Smoker to get the best results.
Smokey Farm Pepper Marmalade
4 cups small diced peppers (choose your favorite varieties)
1 cup small Vidalia onions, diced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
3 tablespoons fresh cracked black peppercorns
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 cups agave
2 cups fresh basil, chopped
1 cup maple or pecan wood pellets
Tabletop smoker
DIRECTIONS [1] Combine peppers, onions, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Turn tabletop smoker on low and place pepper mixture in pan provided. [2] Smoke on low heat for about 10 minutes until you see a light smoke film on the pepper mixture. [3] Remove from smoker, making sure to save the residual juice from peppers and place into a saucepan on the stove. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. [4] Lower heat to medium low and continue to simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until mixture becomes syrupy. [5] Once cooled, add fresh basil and serve this on your favorite dishes.

Potatoes: Mashed, scalloped, roasted, au gratin… the list goes on!

Flakey buttermilk biscuits: The flavor of buttermilk will add that tangy yumminess to everyone’s favorite side.

Cranberry sauce: Try something a little different and add orange juice into your favorite recipe.


Sweet potatoes are the staple of many holiday celebrations. Wow your family with this simple recipe that includes cranberries, walnuts and marshmallows. The dish takes just a few minutes to prep ahead of time so you can simply throw it in the oven and bake to perfection.
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
3 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup candied walnuts
1 bag marshmallows
Sea salt, to taste
DIRECTIONS [1] In a baking dish, evenly spread sweet potatoes and drizzle over butter. [2] Sprinkle brown sugar evenly, and then top with cranberries, walnuts and marshmallows. Add a little salt if you prefer. [3] Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until marshmallows are browned.

Baked pears: Bake with Ricotta cheese, nuts, honey and cinnamon for delightful flavor.

Brussels sprouts: Roasted or toasted, they go great with a little Parmesan cheese.

Green beans: Add a little butter and garlic to the dish and top off with Parmesan.


Enjoy this sweet and refreshing dessert recipe from Vineyard chef Pascal Vignau. Who doesn’t love a good Pavlova?
Delectable desserts
Berry Pavlova
(Serves 6)
4 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 skin of zested lemon
1 pint assorted berries
2 tablespoons rum of your choice
1 tablespoon honey
DIRECTIONS [1] Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place egg whites in bowl of electric mixer and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed and gradually add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, slowly. [2] Scrape down sides of bowl and add lemon juice and cornstarch. Whisk for 2 minutes or until glossy and combined. Add lemon zest. [3] Spoon 6 rounds of meringue onto large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Using a small spoon, make an indent in the center of each meringue. [4] Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake for 30 minutes or until crisp to the touch. [5] Cool in the oven for 1 hour. [6] Whisk yogurt and icing sugar until soft peaks form. Top meringues with yogurt cream and rum-marinated berries. Drizzle honey and dust with icing sugar to serve.

Fudge: The beauty is how customizable it can be — nuts, peppermint, toffee, etc.

Thumbprint cookies: These cookies are totally everyone’s jam.

Yule Log Cake: It can be a bit tricky to make but totally worth the oohs and ahhs.

Roasting pan: How can you properly roast without one?

Arte Italica vintage butter tray with spreader: What’s more fabulous than a pewter table accessory? Available at Fetch Market.

Kitchen scissors: You never know how much you need them until you’re without them.

Stainless scooper/disher: For all of the yummy cookies to bake. Available at Cassandra’s Kitchen in 2-ounce, 1-3/8 ounce, 7/8-ounce, and 9/16-ounce sizes.

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