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Christmas dinner help!

I need some advice on Christmas dinner at my in-laws and I'm sure I'll find some help and sympathy amongst other CH'ers.

Here is the situation: my incredibly lazy mother-in-law (yes, she has a history of being incredibly lazy) has decided that she doesn't want to have a traditional sit down Christmas dinner, just a Honey Baked Ham served cold and some lunch meat, cheese and bread (aka Wonder White Bread) and anyone can eat whenever they are hungry as our family Christmas dinner. The real kicker in all of this is "she doesn't want to be rushed to cook anything on Christmas" even though every year, it has been a pot luck Christmas dinner, with my husband and I providing most of the food! Now, I know some of you will think that she is being nice and trying to save us the trouble, and I wish that was the case with her, but it really boils down to she doesn't want to have to take 10 minutes to cook stove top stuffing as her contribution to a real sit down dinner, so instead of looking like she is being outdone, she would rather avoid a traditional dinner.

As a response, my husband suggested that he could bring a standing rib roast and then brought up with me later that I could make all the side dishes and then there is no excuse for her to not have the sit down dinner. I agreed since we want a traditional sit down dinner on Christmas for our family and if we can't get one there, we will have one alone with our kids at our house (we had to do that for Thanksgiving--we butted heads on that one, too). Apparently, my sister-in-law and father-in-law both suggested to her that she should ask me to cook the meal so that we can have a traditional dinner, but her ego got in the way and she went ahead with this idea of the lunch meat trays. This time, knowing that when she refused to have a sit down Thanksgiving dinner, we had our own Thanksgiving alone, she agreed to the idea that my husband and I can cook the whole meal, but we are not allowed to use her kitchen--even if we clean up the mess!

So I need some ideas for good side dishes that reheat well. It looks like the main course will be Honey Baked Ham and a rib roast. The only thing that is completely out is asparagus (I got the stomach flu last year and asparagus came up the same as it went down and I still don't think I could stand cooking it). Bonus points for dishes that I can make a day ahead and get better the next day! My husband and I feel that the family bonding experience over a big holiday meal is so important, we don't want his mom to mess it up for us or anyone else in the family!

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  1. You can bake winter squashes, scoop the insides out of the shells, mash, and season with salt and pepper, maybe a little butter and cream. You can make it the day before if you like. This reheats really well (oven or microwave) and any leftovers make terrific soup.

    For thanksgiving I made this with Kabocha squashes seasoned with a little garam masala and people loved it.

    I've never tried this, but I bet you could make scalloped potatoes the day ahead, as long as you didn't cook them quite all the way. Then cover with foil and finish baking at your MIL's house (as long as you're allowed to use the stove).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Euonymous

      I'm going to use the stove and microwave to reheat whether she likes it or not. We are not going to have all cold food. :)

      1. re: Euonymous

        I keep running across a number of sides that can be cooked in a slow cooker, such as scalloped potatoes, stuffing/dressing, "casseroles" such as ratatouille. I've also tried some, and they work, and saved some to my hard drive to try sometime. Would that be an option?

        AnnieG

      2. buttermilk biscuits
        green salad with pomegranate seeds and pumkin seeds
        brussel sprouts
        yams
        spinach gratin

        1. Would this work? I know it would be a double exposure with your MIL, but could you let her do a ham, cheese, etc at her house on Christmas Eve and you and your husband do the Christmas day dinner. You could open a few presents each time and make it a festive 2 day affair. It would be one her way and one yours with presents for fun too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gail

            No, we go to FIL family on Christmas eve. It is an appetizer only event because too much alcohol is consumed to have any room for a sit down dinner. She brings a store bought cheese ball to that!

          2. No reason you can't make a mashed potato casserole the day before and then re-heat that day. I would be doing yorkshire pudding, but I don't think that would go down with your MIL. Why not along with the potatoes, a simple arranged salad, fresh green beans (perhaps almondine or with wild mushrooms), dinner rolls.

            1. I assembled this Cooking Light sweet potato casserole 2 days before Thanksgiving this year and didn't cook it until dinnertime on Thursday. It was a huge hit:

              Ingredients
              3 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)
              1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
              1/3 cup skim milk
              2 tablespoons reduced-calorie stick margarine, melted
              1 teaspoon vanilla extract
              1/2 teaspoon salt
              2 egg whites, lightly beaten
              Vegetable cooking spray
              1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
              1/4 cup all-purpose flour
              2 tablespoons chilled reduced-calorie stick margarine
              1/3 cup chopped pecans

              Preparation
              Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, and stir well. Spoon sweet potato mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.
              Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and flour in a bowl, and cut in 2 tablespoons chilled margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the chopped pecans, and sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

              Yield
              8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)