Holiday Dinner Ideas

By Chandler Henry

It’s that time of year again – let’s get to cooking!

Thanksgiving happened in the blink of an eye and Christmas decorations quickly scurried out of the woodwork onto everyone’s Instagram feed. We’re still wondering where Halloween went! But now the merry part of the year is in full force and we are here for your holiday dinner ideas.

We’ll keep the intro short this time. Who has time to read this time of year? Just give us the good stuff! Well here you go folks, this year’s holiday dinner ideas comin’ up!

Sweet n’ Salty Dates

Dates reign in as one of the top ingredients for holiday dinner ideas. This palm tree fruit grows in clusters that hang high out of reach. Once harvested they are dried, concentrating the flavor and sweetness packed inside. Dates offer a subtle sweetness and gooey center when bought correctly. Dates have a pit in the center, but don’t go thinking you’re smart buying the pitted dates. Those are consistently dry, cracked, and overall unpleasant as far as texture goes. Take the time to pit the dates yourself and you’ll be rewarded with the gooey-crisp sweet ‘n salty battle that is this “devils on horseback” with the addition of a persimmon crunch inside. Opposite textures, opposite flavors, these quick bites could be your favorite appetizer OR dessert. Or both; nobody’s telling. Get your fancy toothpicks ready and add this to your holiday dinner ideas. 

Holiday Dinner Ideas - Sweet n' Salty Dates

Sweet n’ Salty Dates

(serves 5-6)

  • 12 medjool dates, with pit
  • 3 Fuyu persimmons, cut into ½ inch rectangles 
  • 7-8 slices of bacon, cut in half
  1. First things first, preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Remove the pit from the dates. 
  3. Replace pit with rectangle shaped persimmons.
  4. Wrap the dates with a ½ slice of bacon. Place bites on a parchment lined sheet tray and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the bacon looks crisp.
  5. Pierce with a festive toothpick and you’ve got yourself the first flavor bomb of the evening.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with All the Toppings

Sweet potato casserole tends to be a recurring dish for holiday dinner ideas. The classic marshmallow-brown sugar-topping to sweeten the already sweet, sweet potato seems like a trick that a group of kids got away with once, then it caught on with all their friends and it traveled to homes across the country. “Hay check this out – tell your parents to put marshmallows and sugar on the bland sweet potatoes. My parents went for it and now I get to eat dessert with dinner. And they don’t even realize! Mwahaha!” Marshmallows. On the dinner table! Tsk tsk. ‘Cmon parents, get with it!

This sweet potato dish takes the holiday dinner idea of sweet potato casserole and transforms it into its sophisticated older cousin. You know the one who maintains a steady job, dresses to the nines, keeps up with a list of hobbies, and still finds time to volunteer.. The one who managed to get their head screwed on right despite your family dysfunctionality? Yeah, that one. Let’s keep that cousin in mind as we elevate those taste buds with this holiday dinner idea.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with All the Toppings

(serves 5-6)

  • 2 purple sweet potatoes
  • 2 orange sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp toasted coconut shreds
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp date syrup
  • ¼ tsp ancho chile powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork, allowing steam to scurry through the sweet potato and out through the skin. Roast in the oven for 30 mins, until easily pierced.
  3. Let cool slightly then finish with the toppings listed above. Easiest holiday dinner idea yet, amirite?
Holiday Dinner Ideas - Roasted Sweet Potatoes with All the Toppings

Cabbage Agrodolce

Red cabbage offers a whirlwind of opportunities. Shredded? Wedged? Chunked? Braised? Roasted? You get the idea. Agrodolce is a tangy condiment that gives sweet and sour a playing ground for tête-à-tête on your tongue. For this holiday dinner idea, we’ve complimented the earthy undertones in the red cabbage with brightness offered from vinegar, lemon zest, and pomegranate molasses. Soaking the dried cherries in a vinegar water mixture plumps them up with flavor for a juicer bite. Matched with the cabbage, you’ll be itching to make this holiday recipe idea all through the new year!

Holiday Dinner Ideas - Cabbage Agrodolce

Cabbage Agrodolce

(serves 5-6)

  • ⅔ cup dried sour cherries
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 onion, julienned 
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¾ head of red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2.5 qts sliced)
  • ½ rosemary sprig
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp date syrup
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp cherry soaked vinegar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp salt
    1. Add cherries, vinegar, and water to a small bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes. 
    2. In a medium saucepan, pour EVOO over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft and relatively translucent. Add garlic and rosemary and stir for a few minutes until fragrant.
    3. (When somebody says omg what are you making in here?! You know that you’ve only sautéd some onions, but they can keep on thinking you’re working some magic over the stovetop!)
    4. Toss in the cabbage and a hefty pinch of salt (~½ tsp). Cook the cabbage until it wilts down, keeping close to stir occasionally. 
    5. Add soaked cherries, sugar, butter, and a splash of vinegar from the cherries. Taste for any adjustments. 
    6. Discard rosemary sprig and platter this holiday dinner idea up!

Holiday Sous Vide Pork Loin 

Nothing like a pork roast to be shared with family around the holiday table. The ultimate holiday dinner idea brings people back for slice number three and four. Especially when it’s cooked to perfection. That’s where the Joule steps into play.

The Joule allows home chefs to cook perfectly temped meat, that with the equivalent ease of controlling the television. All you have to do is set up a pot of water, clip on the Joule, set the temperature on the app on your phone, add your product, and let it ride. That’s it! And you’ll get exactly what you want every time. The Joule keeps the water at a constant temperature to not overcook your meat. This handy tool allows you to infuse flavor into just about anything and is equally dependable as that responsible cousin mentioned earlier. No fuss, no muss with this gadget. Be sure to add it to your holiday wish list if it doesn’t already live in your kitchen. 

For this holiday dinner idea, we’ve added aromatics, some sugars, and acids to ensure the pork comes out with a well rounded flavor. Let it cook then remove from the water bath and rapidly cool in an ice bath. Letting this sit overnight in the bag gives the flavors a chance to really set in. We also want to cook the pork to an internal temperature a few degrees lower than your desired doneness to give you a little wiggle room when searing in the oven. This prevents over cooking and drying out of the meat. Ergo, the perfect pork loin. Comin’ up!

Holiday Sous Vide Pork Loin 

(serves 5-6)

  • 3-4 lb pork loin
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves cut in half 
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • ¼ bunch of parsley, stems for sous vide and flower for garish
  • 3 strips of lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins
  • ¼ tsp peppercorns 
  • 2 ½ tbsp EVOO
  • Salt (½ tsp for sous vide, more for initial seasoning)
  • Maldon salt
  1. Season pork loin generously with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Set up the Joule for pork loin. It will give you options as far as how rare/well done you want it. We’re shooting for around 136°F. 
  3. Add all ingredients to a gallon zip lock bag including the seasoned pork. Push the air out of the bag making a nice tight jacket for the pork and seasonings. 
  4. When the sous vide bath is up to temperature, add the bagged loin to the bath and let it ride 45 mins-1 hr (depending on thickness of the cut). 
  5. And that’s it! Even when it reaches your desired temperature, the bath remains at a constant temperature so it won’t over cook as long as you leave it in.
  6. This can be done a few days ahead of time. If you are to do so, make sure when the pork is ready to plunge the bagged pork into an ice bath so it cools down quickly. 
  7. When ready to serve, crank your oven up to 500°F. Roast the pork until you get a nice golden crust on top. 
  8. Let rest for 20 minutes. Slice, sprinkle with Maldon salt, and serve! 
Holiday Dinner Recipes - Holiday Sous Vide Pork Loin

Purslane Persimmon Poppy Seed Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Quite the mouthful, huh? We worked hard to bring you the ultimate alliteration salad, a conversation starter to add to your holiday dinner ideas that works. Starting with purslane, this weed grows around the world, though you may have never heard of it. It has many different names like verdolagas, pigweed, little hogweed, etc. and tastes slightly bitter, slightly sour. Think of its flavor as a cross between arugula and watercress. This antioxidant rich green has many other health benefits, giving you the boost you need around this pass-along-the-unwanted-cold season.

Persimmons are just finishing up their delicious season, leaving us with daydreams of hoshigaki views, slices smeared with tahini, and a desired crunch on the go (we’ve been eating them like apples, devouring multiple a day!) There are a few different varieties. The most popular tend to be Hachiyas, which tend to ripen until soft or else you’ll bite into an unpleasant astringent bite. These are also the variety used to make hoshigaki, which is the process of peeling, massaging, and hanging the fruit for weeks to enhance it’s delicately enveloped flavor. Fuyus on the other hand can be eaten while still firm, and we like it that way. Subtle flavor with cinnamon undertones, this fruit is begging to be added to your holiday dinner ideas. Purslane, persimmons, and blood oranges are at peak seasonality this time of year, so enjoy them all together while you can. This holiday dinner idea will be a repeat for many holidays to come. 

Holiday Dinner Ideas - Purslane Persimmon Poppy Seed Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Purslane Persimmon Poppy Seed Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

(serves 5-6)

  • 2-3 bunches purslane
  • 2 persimmons, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • ¼ tsp Maldon salt

 

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup blood orange vinegar
  • 1 blood orange, squeezed
  • ¼ tsp dijon
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

 

  1. To make the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, blood OJ, and dijon together. Slowly pour the EVOO in and continue to whisk. Season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Lightly toss purslane in the vinaigrette. 
  3. Arrange on a platter with persimmons, pine nuts, poppy seeds, and Maldon salt. 
  4. Season to taste and enjoy!

Eggnog White Russian

Ah, the time of year when it’s socially acceptable to drink milk and cream blended with eggs. Eggnog sparks debates left and right – some hate it and some countdown the days until it’s available in stores. Bring on the family debates! Either way, your family will need something to sip on before and after the feast, giving you a creamy way to start or end the holiday dinner ideas with this dessert-y cocktail. If you haven’t been sipping on the family liqueurs while you’re home, you’re doing the holidays wrong! This holiday dinner idea is a nice twist on the classic White Russian, making The Dude proud. Let’s get to shakin’!

Eggnog White Russian

(makes 1 drink)

  • 3 oz Egg nog
  • 2 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Tiniest pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
  • Tiniest pinch of freshly grated Cardamom
  • Tiniest sprinkle Cinnamon
  1. Add egg nog, Kahlua, and vodka to a shaker and shake it up! Pour over ice in your fanciest glass. 
  2. Top with just a touch of freshly grated nutmeg and an even smaller touch of cardamom and cinnamon. Slurp!

Holiday Dinner Ideas - Eggnog White Russian

The holidays bring family together. Whether a good thing or a bad thing, you have to find a way through it. And honestly, what better way to finish off your year than with the ones you love, excellent holiday dinner ideas, a creamy stiff drink, and memories to last you until next years gathering!

In need of a last minute gift? Need something to do with the family during the awkward days before New Years? Grab a gift card for a Stretchy Pants Food Walk around San Francisco and soak in the many corners of this pulsating city while highlighting the best spots to grub. And grub hard. It’s been a long year; time to indulge.

Happy holidays to you and yours from the Stretchy Pants team!

~Created and written by Chandler Henry