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First-timer hosting Christmas dinner - critique my menu?

Hello hounds! This will be my first attempt at hosting Christmas dinner. We will have 22 adults and a handful of kids to feed. I've tried to choose dishes that are classic because there aren't too many adventurous eaters in the group. However, I think the group would be open to new/different dishes as long as the flavors are traditional/simple New England-ish (e.g., no French- Asian fusion, foie gras, or caviar) I'm also trying to choose dishes that can be prepped the day before as much as possible.

So here's my menu so far. Fire away!

Snacks:
-Stuffed mushrooms
-Sausage (salami or summer sausage), mustard, aged cheddar, Parmesan crisps, fancy store bought crackers
-veg n dip
-Spiced bar nuts (gramercy tavern?)
-Caprese sticks (skewered cherry tomato, mozzarella ball, basil)
-Puff pastry pinwheels or cheese straws

Main event:
-CI's grill-roasted prime rib with Horseradish whipped cream
-2x baked potato casserole
-Green beans w pine nuts and lemon
-Slow-roasted tomatoes with rosemary
-from scratch crescent rolls (MIL is bringing these)
-Waldorf salad

Sweets:
-Tiramisu
-Cookies
-Pecan pie
-Chocolate caramel tart or s'more pie
-Cheesecake (MIL is bringing this)
-carrot cake (SIL is bringing)

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  1. OK, but have checked the price of pine nuts recently? Last time I checked they are way to expensive due to a poor crop in China last year. Some people are substituting chopped walnuts for the 'pignoli.'

    Here's an excerpt from another website...

    While we firmly believe that the pinyon trees are the most environmentally sound choice for pine nut sourcing in the U. S. we are also sensitive to the economic conditions and people simply cannot afford $25 - $30 lb pine nuts. Maybe a few, but not mainstream U.S. The long and short of- the market is forecast for pine nuts is affordable shelled imported pine nuts to reach our shores in November, when the new harvests start arriving at the docks.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      Thanks for the heads up on the pine nut prices. I may swap them out for some toasted sliced almonds.

      1. re: bdegregory

        Not only are non-Asian pine nuts pricey, but the Asian ones have the risk of "pine mouth" - which you can google.

        1. re: greygarious

          Fair warning. After making LA Times' Zucchini with Mint & Pine Nuts, I developed Pine Mouth for about 2 weeks. Dreadful. I have not touched one since.

      2. re: ChiliDude

        I have to agree to nix the pine nuts. Last time I bought them was at Whole Foods and thankfully I only needed a little. You can get them in bulk there but they were $30/lb. I felt like I was buying gold! I really thought they were over rated in my pasta recipe I used them in.

      3. I think it sounds delicious! Enjoy!

        1. Sounds fantastic. Nice planning with lots of make ahead dishes!

          1. sounds lovely. recently a friend made cheese straws/twists with olives, just a smear of tapenade from a jar on one surface of the pastry before sprinkling the cheese. was a nice tweak of a classic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gembellina

              Ooh that sounds good and would be easy too!

            2. I think its good, bu since since you asked for critiques I'll just ask this. Where do you live that you're getting tomatoes in the winter for the caprese sticks and the roasted tomatoes?

              12 Replies
              1. re: schoenfelderp

                I agree on the tomatoes being the odd duck even though I'm still getting heirlooms at my Farmers' Market. It's certainly not something that would be traditional in New England at Christmas. What about roasted brussels sprouts on skewers with a balsamic glaze?

                1. re: escondido123

                  Good point about tomatoes. There are certainly no local tomatoes to be found in upstate NY, but the cherry tomatoes at the grocery store are usually OK. For the roasted tomatoes, I was thinking a drizzle of balsamic and a sprinkle of sugar would help rescue the supermarket plum tomatoes. Was looking for some color on the plate-- any ideas for something else that might work better?

                  Others may like Brussels, but have I have the "Brussels sprouts are gross" gene, so they are a no-go.

                  1. re: bdegregory

                    If you really want roasted vegetables, roasted peppers? Or what about making a ratatouille with canned roasted tomatoes?

                    1. re: antimony

                      Roasted peppers aren't in season either, and cost a pretty penny.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        No, but out of season peppers taste better than out of season tomatoes, and they are bright-colored. But it looks like the OP has a plan.

                        1. re: antimony

                          I'm with you antimony. And if she roasts the peppers that certainly has more of a not-summer feeling than the tomatoes--I can't explain why but that's how it feels to me.

                    2. re: bdegregory

                      I think your menu looks delicious. What about carrots instead of the roasted tomatoes for your color? This recipe is good and you can peel and cut up the carrots a day ahead. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                      1. re: GretchenS

                        I was also thinking roasted carrots--maybe in a nice mix of carrot colors if you can find them. I'm also a fan of roasted beets but realize those aren't quite as widely loved as carrots.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          Yes! Perfect! And I can still get a medley of carrots at the farmers market now. A little honey, thyme, and butter glaze and these will have a much broader appeal than the roasted tomatoes. Thank you!

                      2. re: bdegregory

                        Although harder to find, heirloom carrots can be absolutely beautiful in vibrant red, orange, yellow, and purple. I don't think they would work well on a skewer, but they would add the color for which you are looking.

                        1. re: bdegregory

                          Once summer is over and the memory of real tomatoes is not so sharp, I'm pretty happy with the kumatoes (correct spelling) at Trader Joe's. Not sure they're actual food, but they sure can play it on TV. Roasted, I bet they'd be fine if available in your area.

                      3. re: schoenfelderp

                        For the caprese sticks, I once used sun-dried tomatoes that were packed in oil instead of fresh tomatoes. I didn't use a whole sun-dried tomato per skewer, I think I cut them in 1/2 or 1/3 so they fit on the toothpick better.