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save me from a food-sad Christmas

my mother, who is a very good cook, recently informed us that she will not be cooking Christmas dinner this year. instead, she said she will be 'picking up trays' from the grocery store. i am guessing there will be cold cuts, rolls, cheese platter, etc. we are all disappointed, having had great christmas dinners in the past. when i asked if i could bring something, i was given the limitation of 'not getting in the way in the kitchen'. since she isn't cooking, i don't know what this means except not making a mess or asking for too many tools to cook with. does anyone have any suggestions on a side we could bring (or make there) that would bring back some of that Christmas spirit? it should be easy to make and take less than an hour to prepare. DH and my sister both want a ham, but I do not eat pork, so that it out. please save me from a food-sad holiday.

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  1. Oh dear. Could you whip together a dessert? If this were us (my mother was a great cook too, but now I do the cooking), I'd doctor up some mincemeat, buy pre-made dough, and make some mince tarts and hard sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      what about a nice bread pudding? could be prepped ahead of time and just shoved in the oven when you get there.

    2. What did Mom usually prepare for Christmas?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        sam fujisaka- mom usually made a ham, turkey breast with gravy, mashed potatoes or potatoes au gratin, fresh flaky rolls, and green bean casserole. nana, who won't be there for the first time in 27 years, made sweet potato casserole and an assortment of homemade cookies, including a great cream-cheese based fold-over cookie with raspberry and apricot filing. thanks for all your suggestions, i am really chapfallen about this.

        1. re: njchowgal

          That does sound great. Give Mom a big hug and enjoy the get-together. Be glad to be with family! I'd still do chickens, potatoes, veggies (see below). That cookie, however, might have to be enjoyed in you collective memories! Merry Christmas!

          1. re: njchowgal

            I don't know how old your mom is but at a certain age we (includes you) come to a point where our "executive abilities" fail us. Putting together a huge dinner for a lot of people at an important time requires a great deal of this ability. Each person deals with this in their own way. I watched my mother-in-law do this without realizing what the problem was. Towards the end each brought a dish, or two, and the dinners were perfect; still the organization, for her was a misery.
            Thinking about that, perhaps you could tell her how much her dinners meant to you and offer to take over the organization, each of you learn a dish, and promise to put her kitchen back in apple pie order when you are finished. Working well in advance for next year you might get back to a facsimile of what you had.
            Good Luck ps, don't tell her she is lacking any ability, though!

        2. i would definitely try to do an amazing dessert. You could bake a cake of time, or a pie. You could also make some cookie dough ahead of time, then throw it in the oven towards the end of the meal. Nothing beats a home baked cookie.

          English trifle is a very good, very pretty dessert. If you don't have time to bake, all the ingredients can be bought at the grocery store. Here's a recipe that looks pretty similar to the one I've made. I use fresh berries though, and will make the custard, instead of using instant pudding. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Berry-Tr... You can also use angel food cake, if you want something lighter.

          1 Reply
          1. re: northside food

            northside food- i like your idea of bringing making a trifle. one stop at wegmans, our local semi-gourmet grocery, should do the trick for the ingredients. then i could put it together without much fuss on Christmas day.

          2. yes, it's very sad. thanks for the suggestions so far, but i forgot to mention that any beef dish and egg-based dishes are also out. also, family is not very fond of anything ethnic. sorry to be so picky, but it is what it is.

            1 Reply
            1. re: njchowgal

              No pork, no beef, no eggs, no ethnic! Is that why your mother quit cooking Christmas dinner? Could you roast a couple of chickens, a bunch of potatoes, and strips of bell pepper and chunks of onion? All takes almost no prep time, very little counter space, just a bunch of oven time. Can do the chicken and potatoes together, followed by the peppers and onions (coated with olive oil).

            2. Go to the local supermarket and buy a ready roasted chicken and salad ingredients. Tear meat from the carcass and chop the salad ingredients. Use romaine lettuce. Get red and green ingredients for the salad like red onion, stuffed olives, green bell pepper, and carrots. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and malt vinegar, the latter having a better flavor than plain old white vinegar.

              Buon appetito e buon natale! Mangia bene!