Spend time with family, not the kitchen. While I love the beginning of the holiday season, let’s face it, it’s going to get busy—way too busy, and it’s hard to make time to think about a holiday menu.
Over the years, I’ve crafted a fairly simple way to stress less and savor more. I’m simply doing some prior planning. A few moments with my calendar means more time to sit by the Christmas tree that I so painstakingly decorate weeks before, take drives to enjoy the holiday lights others took time to display, and snuggle up with my hubby in front of a favorite holiday film while indulging in a decadent cup of hot cocoa. Once I figure out what I want to protect most, planning ahead becomes a major motivator.
The first step I take is to review my calendar two months in advance, highlighting what’s already scheduled. November is a doozy. We start the month off with a destination wedding, followed by a houseful of family gracing our doorstep during the middle of the month, and we top it off with a new grandbaby due. With those events circled, I give myself permission to lighten the load of a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings in exchange for a little comfort and joy.
Thankfully, I have a go-to holiday menu I’ve perfected for such an occasion, and I can’t wait to share it with you. It starts with vibrant flavors of citrus, Dijon mustard, ginger, and garlic, paired well in a savory sauce over oven-roasted pork loin, with in-season winter root vegetables (parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and beets). This holiday menu is a real gem to have up your sleeve as you work through your holiday calendar. It makes a fancy-without-the-fuss Christmas Day dinner, and it could easily be an upscale New Year’s Eve dinner party entrée.
These recipes are simple in preparation and elegant in presentation. This holiday menu can easily be prepped a day ahead, leaving free time to enjoy the festivities with family and friends, while your dish roasts (filling your home with an intoxicating aroma). For these reasons, it’s usually my Christmas Day menu, however, this year I’m bumping it up to Thanksgiving Day. I’m guessing that’s when our new grandbaby will make an appearance. And with a bun already in the oven, there’s no room for a turkey as well.
Hugs and happy holidays from our table to yours.
Orange Dijon Pork Loin
Makes 8 servings
Pork Loin Ingredients
4–5 lbs. boneless pork loin roast (rolled)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. rubbed sage
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp. butter
18 oz. jar orange marmalade
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
6 cloves garlic cloves (minced)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine all spices in a small bowl and rub evenly over the roast. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and place seasoned pork in the pan. Bake in the oven for about one hour. Cover and bake for 30 more minutes or until the thermometer reads 160 degrees in the thickest portion. For the sauce, add all ingredients to a saucepan and stir gently over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Slice roast and top with the sauce.
—Tip from Laura
Serve the sauce in a gravy boat and place it on the table. It’s yummy when added to the root vegetables.
Roasted Root Vegetables
Makes 8 servings
1 lb. bag parsnips (peeled and rustic cut)
6 turnips (peeled and rustic cut)
2 sweet potatoes (peeled and rustic cut)
1 rutabaga (peeled and rustic cut)
6 large beets (peeled and rustic cut)
1 tsp. salt (divided)
1 tsp. pepper (divided)
3 Tbsp. butter (melted)
Peel and cut all vegetables into large pieces. Wrap two large baking sheets with aluminum foil. Separate the cut vegetables between the two pans: parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, and rutabaga on one pan, with the beets on the other (because they bleed). Season evenly with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until fork tender. Arrange all the vegetables on a platter and drizzle with melted butter.
Makes 8 servings
2 c. self-rising flour
8 oz. sour cream
1 c. butter (melted)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease muffin tins and set aside. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients. Spoon batter into tins, filling them to the rim. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
I hope you enjoy my go-to holiday menu! Check out these recipes for some delicious holiday treat ideas.
These recipes originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of HomeLife Magazine.