Christmas is the time of year that brings families together, more so than any other holiday throughout the year. This is a holiday that allows for quality time to celebrate the birth of Christ and rejoice over an extra special meal with both family and friends.

Making the meal special with each passing year can be a bit difficult, whether you’re looking to reinvent your holiday menu or just add some dishes that can become a new favorite. Take advantage of the many different options available to make this year’s Christmas meal extra special.

Put Some Meat on Your Veggies

While many people won’t think of a vegetable dish when dreaming of a holiday meal, combining meat with veggies can put an extra touch to make it much more memorable.

Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto by Giada De Laurentiis cooks in just 15 minutes. Simply wrap asparagus stalks with thinly sliced prosciutto and drizzle them with olive oil. After 15 minutes of roasting in the oven set at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, your guests will have a vegetable dish that is much more than just a filler.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon by Rachael Ray puts a grownup twist to a vegetable that can often be dreaded by children and adults alike. This dish takes only 15 minutes to cook and combines bacon, extra virgin olive oil, Brussels sprouts, a cup of chicken broth and a shallot. The Brussels sprouts will be tender and flavorful, while the bacon adds a touch of saltiness and crunch to make it stand out among the other dishes during the meal.

Fresh and Light

While many people think of holiday meals as being heavy and filling, not all the dishes at the table need to be so overwhelming. Adding some fresh and light options to the meal will help to create more diversity and make for a more interesting table.

Crunchy Avocado Salad by Bobby Flay features avocados, tomatoes, olives, chickpeas, parsley, champagne vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, cumin, paprika and blue corn tortilla chips. The result is a salad that is far from ordinary with a rich amount of differing textures to create a fresh and light contrast to the other heavier dishes in your holiday meal.

Mango and Red Cabbage Slaw by Ingrid Hoffman features red cabbage, mangoes, cilantro, lime, sugar and cider vinegar. Combining the sweetness of the mango with the fresh taste of lime and cilantro gives this dish a kick of a summer taste, even in a winter meal.

Start from Scratch

While the main focus of your Christmas meal can often be the main dish — usually the turkey or ham — putting that same attention on some of the side dishes can put the meal on top of the charts for your guests. It can be easy to fall into the habit of making dishes with easy to use ingredients and products, but making things from scratch can add a touch of quality and home-cooked deliciousness that will make your meal extra memorable.

Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls by Emeril Lagasse contains milk, butter, nonfat dry milk, sugar, yeast, eggs and flour. While the recipe takes about a half hour to prep and while for the dough to rise and bake, the result is well worth it when your guests can enjoy fresh homemade rolls rather than the store-bought kind.

Green Pasta Dough Fettuccine Verde by Mario Batali features baby spinach, eggs, flour and extra virgin olive oil. Making your pasta from scratch adds a delicacy and texture that goes far beyond any dry pasta you might find out of a box. The pasta takes about an hour to make, features a festive green color and can be used in a number of different dishes. Toss this was a homemade pesto sauce or whatever you think your guests might enjoy and see that the turkey isn’t the only thing people are raving over.

Make your holiday meal extra special by creating some dishes that will keep guests coming back year after year and always make sure to add love to the recipes.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Proverbs 15:17

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