Saturday, December 12, 2015

At a Christmas party this week one of my friends and loyal blog followers, Leslie Peek, asked me if I had ever made pasta for Christmas dinner.  She was tired of always serving turkey.  I laughed and told her my story.  Thanks, Leslie for inspiring this blog post.

I have a blended family of picky eaters.  This makes Christmas dinner complicated for a people pleasing foodie like myself.

I spent the first years trying to make everyone conform to the Prime Rib, Turkey, Ham tradition. That was a disaster.  Then I went completely the opposite direction and killed myself trying to please everyone.  Disaster number two.

I finally settled on Italian Pasta Dinners for Christmas.  Everyone loves pasta and it is one of the easiest meals to make that brings happiness to your table.  I usually serve a meat sauce, a pesto sauce, and cream sauce pasta.  All my bases are covered.  Although - this year I am going to test the envelope with a smoked prime rib - ssshh - don't tell anyone.  I will report back on the reviews and the results.

Here are some of my very favorites - thanks to Rachel Ray.

Christmas Pasta

This pasta is always a big hit with a rich and delicious meat sauce.  Better than spaghetti and meatballs and way easier.  Don't forget a good caesar salad and bread sticks to compliment this great dish.   GET IT HERE

I have a lasagna critic among my five children.  Joshua has always been the royal taste tester and that hasn't changed now that he is away at college.  One of his most requested dishes is this lasagna.  It always makes it to our dinner table when he is home for a visit.

Mile High Lasagna

The combination of red sauce and bechamel sauce makes this dish stand out. It really is the best lasagna ever.  You could, of course, make this meatless or use eggplant or zucchini in place of the noodles. The options or endless.   Don't be afraid to assemble it in a large pan for a crowd.  But, the mile high presentation of the loaf pan is pretty spectacular.   GET IT HERE

Everyone has that one vegetarian at their holiday table.  If you are not a vegetarian it can be difficult to find a good main dish. This pesto dish is perfect!

Roasted Garlic Pesto Cream Pasta

The roasted garlic makes all the difference here.  Shrimp or chicken would be a good add-in to this recipe. You could even make this dish gluten-free by substituting zucchini noodles (zoodles) for the pasta.   GET IT HERE

Just a few thoughts:  Always use fresh herbs - When a recipe calls for San Marzano tomatoes DO NOT SUBSTITUTE - Freshly grated parmesan cheese is the only parmesan that should be in your kitchen - Fresh pasta...dried pasta...zoodles...use whatever your family will eat - Do not overcook your pasta...that is a al dente.

These are just a few of my favorites that I have used during the holidays.  I am sure that no matter what you cook it will be a hit.  Remember that there is nothing that strengthens the bond of a family than a meal that is shared.  Enjoy.

eat. love. live well.

all images and recipes courtesy of

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