Every year, I get my December issue of Southern Living and see terrific new recipes to try for Christmas, and I never make them. I just keep coming back to these menus because they are reliable and I can do much of the work ahead of time. Everyone likes them, so why mess with success?

Here are the menus and recipes or links to recipes.

Christmas Eve Menu

  • Ritz Carlton Turkey
  • Pecan Cranberry Wild Rice
  • Strawberry Salad
  • Allen’s Green Beans (open the can and heat on the stove)
  • Bread
  • Red Wine
  • Pecan Pie
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Christmas Morning Menu

  • Paula Deen French Bread Casserole (Three notes: 1 – I don’t do the extra syrup because this is plenty sweet without syrup. 2 – There also is a “light” version if you are horrified by the calorie count. I say just don’t look at the calories once a year. 3. Use the super skinny French bread because it’s easier to completely cover with the cream mixture.)
  • Leftover strawberries
  • Bacon
  • Mimosas (OK, I’ve never actually made Christmas morning mimosas, but a girl can dream.)

Christmas Day Menu

  • Lasagne
  • Caesar Salad
  • Leftover Bread
  • Leftover Wine
  • Leftover Pie

Here are the recipes.

Ritz Carlton Atlanta Slow Cooker Turkey

(I have modified this one slightly. It’s a favorite and we also make it at the beach. LOVE this turkey, especially because you can put it in the Crock Pot in the afternoon, go to Christmas Eve services and come back to dinner already made.)

  • 1 boneless turkey breast, about 5 pounds
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Madeira wine
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Remove netting from turkey and rinse turkey. Cut off excess skin. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Place plastic liner in oval slow cooker. Place breast side up in slow cooker. Pour Madeira over the turkey; add onion, thyme, garlic and honey. Seal with lid and cook on high heat for 3 to 4 hours, turning once.

Remove turkey to a cutting board and drape with tin foil. Let turkey rest before slicing. Pour broth into a fat separator or remove grease with a spoon. Strain the broth into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

When ready to serve, thinly slice the turkey, then spoon Pecan Wild Rice onto the plate. Place turkey on top of rice and spoon over some of the reserved warm broth. Serve immediately. (It was suggested that you serve with Persimmon Creek Riesling, $22.99.)

Ritz Carlton Atlanta Pecan Wild Rice

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups cooked white rice, such as basmati
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 dried cranberries (optional: add apricots and currants also)
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat until melted. Add rice, wild rice, pecans and dried fruit. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serves six. You could make this ahead of time and reheat it.


For lasagne, I just follow the recipe on the back of the Barilla no-boil lasagne noodle box, but I make my own sauce. Here’s the recipe.

Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s w/o Italian spices)
  • 1 can tomato paste (again, Hunt’s, no Italian spices)
  • 1/2 medium to large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/2 t basil
  • 1/4 t thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t garlic, diced
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of cooking wine (or the real stuff)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Over medium heat, in large skillet (that you can cover) or pot, saute onion in olive oil til onion begins to brown. Add meat and brown, segmenting meat as you go. Pour off grease. Add tomato sauce, most of tomato paste, and then all other ingredients.Turn heat to low, cover, and stir periodically.

Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

Pecan pie with a kick. Warn your tee-totaling family members.

  • 3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1 10-inch pie crust

Combine eggs, sugar, butter, syrup, vanilla and whiskey. Mix well, then strain. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust; cover with pecans. Pour filling over chips and pecans. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. Set aside for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Shopping List

My favorite part of using the same recipes each year is that I don’t have to make a new shopping list. Please note: this list assumes you have staples like spices on hand.

  • White rice
  • Wild rice
  • Dried cranberries
  • Chopped pecans (2 cups)
  • Whole pecans
  • Vanilla
  • Red wine
  • Madeira
  • Honey
  • Evaporated milk
  • Eggs (2 dozen)
  • Brown sugar
  • Dark Kayro syrup
  • Light Kayro syrup
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Stick butter unsalted
  • 5 lb. boneless turkey breast
  • Vidalia onion – 2
  • Red onion
  • Dinner bread
  • Refrigerated pie crusts (the kind you unroll) – 2 packages
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Jack Daniel’s whiskey
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Allen’s green beans
  • Arugula or bag of spring mix lettuce
  • Sliced sugared almonds or chopped walnuts (for strawberry salad)
  • Strawberries
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 lb. sweet potatoes
  • 1.5 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Half & Half (2 cups)
  • Heavy cream (3 cups)
  • Loaf French bread
  • Bread crumbs
  • 28 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Barilla no-boil lasagne noodles
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

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