Growing up in an Italian and Polish family meant that Christmas Eve dinner was the usual tradition of different seafood, salads, and delicious eats of all kinds except for meat. My family raised me in the Catholic church, so not eating meat the day before Christmas was something that we have always done and continued to do to this day. Fortunately enough for me seafood definitely sits high on the list of my most adorn foods in the world, so this dinner has always been one of my favorite meals of the entire year. Usually we have fried fish, crab au gratin, and lots of dishes that have very high fat content. There’s nothing wrong at all with indulging in that stuff on a holiday, but as I had mentioned in one of my previous posts.. my mother had to get surgery so she has had some food restrictions ever since. Before writing the menu I took into consideration that I could not serve any fried or greasy food this holiday. However, that did not mean that the food we’d be enjoying would be any less amazing, luxurious, or flavorful than years prior. I truly think I did an outstanding job putting together my holiday menus this year! My family bragged about how the food looked, smelled, and tasted so that’s really all I needed to be happy about the end result.
The menu I created:
- Whenever I serve or eat any type of seafood I love pairing it with cold bites of deliciousness, and cold creamy salads. If you never had this type of combination before, you must! It’s always so satisfying to the palette.
From left to right in this four bowl platter I have:
- Potato salad
- Pickled eggs with red beets
- Vegetable pasta salad
- Caesar salad is the ultimate salad to pair with any seafood! You must make the croutons and dressing from scratch though! It makes a world of difference!!
- I used freshly chopped romaine hearts, finely grated parmesan cheese along with bigger shreds of parmesan cheese to top the salad off with, and as I said above, my homemade dressing and croutons.
- Crab cakes! One of my all time favorite seafood dishes, especially my recipe! 😉 Crab cakes might seem impossible to perfect when you don’t have much experience in making many seafood dishes, but they’re really not as difficult as you might think even if you’re not too savvy around the kitchen.
- Shrimp cocktail! Ice cold fresh shrimp has got to be one of the best seafood appetizers out there! Very few people turn there noses up to this one! Unless they are allergic of course.
- COCKTAIL SAUCE!
- What would shrimp cocktail be without cocktail sauce?! It has got to be one of the most easiest sauces to whip up!
- I always thought that cocktail sauce looked fantastically fancy in a gravy boat, so that’s exactly what I had to serve it in!
- Fill the boat up with ketchup, 1/2 cup of horseradish, 8 dashes of worcestershire sauce, and a good squeeze of lemon juice! Lastly, season with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of paprika.
Seared scallops was the last entree to make it to my holiday table!
- Scallops are one of those things that are super simple, yet definitely quite difficult to make. The reason being is because scallops can be overcooked in a second which changes their whole taste and texture! You also want to be able to get a good sear on them. I begin with a nice hot pan with two tablespoons of vegetable oil, and place the scallops in one by one. Be sure to not over crowd the pan. Season how you prefer and finish with a pad of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice. Scallops only need to be seared two minutes a side.
Sweet raisin filled Paska bread.
You can buy one of these babies from your local bakery, deli, or supermarket.
The key to getting ready for a big holiday dinner, a giant gathering, or a pretty huge party you’re deciding to throw is to PREP PREP PREP! You can start your prep a few days ahead of time depending on your daily schedule, but I did my prep the day before Christmas Eve as I always do.
I strongly believe that prepping your ingredients, making dishes ahead of time to be put in the fridge, cleaning, organizing, and setting tables are all things that will absolutely make your life easier when preparing for events like this. Especially events that you want to set high standards to!
Everything that I prepared ahead of time to make my Christmas Eve day go a little smoother:
- These are something that you could actually get ready days in advance as long as you store them correctly so that they do not get stale.
Steps to making the perfect croutons:
- Buy bread that you want to use days before you make your croutons since you’ll want the bread to be more on the stale side and not fresh. Stale bread makes better croutons!
- Cut the bread into slices, then cube each slice into an appropriate crouton size.
- Toss the bread cubes into a mixing bowl and season with sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, oregano, and parsley. After seasoning, drizzle with olive oil and 1/4 stick of melted butter.
- Once everything is all mixed together spread the cubes all across a baking pan into a single layer.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes depending on how crispy and golden brown you like your croutons.
My crazy delicious crab cakes:
Steps to making these glorious cakes:
- First things first! Be sure to lay out your crab on paper towels to drain out any liquid and to pick out any shells that may be floating around.
- Some use breadcrumbs in their crab cakes, but the day I started using crushed buttered crackers in my cakes was the day I never ever looked back!
- Medium dice one small orange bell pepper, one small red bell pepper, and one white onion. If you come across a huge onion, you can just use 1/2 of one.
- In a large mixing bowl- toss in two large cans of lump crab meat.
- Two eggs
- The sauteed veggies
- 1/4 box of crushed crackers
- A handful of freshly chopped dill and chives
- 1 1/2 cups of mayo
- Four tablespoons of yellow mustard
- Six dashes of worcestershire sauce
- Nine dashes of old bay hot sauce
- Finally, season with sea salt, freshly cracked, garlic powder, onion powder, lots of old bay, paprika, a dash of cayenne pepper, and a sprinkling of parsley.
My Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing:
Steps on whipping up this thick, yummy, and flavorful dressing!
- Start with smashing up three anchovies in a glass mixing bowl.
- 1 cup of good heavy duty mayonnaise. Some people use eggs instead, but I always just preferred to use mayo as thickness for the base.
- Two tablespoons of dijon mustard.
- One teaspoon of yellow mustard.
- 5-8 dashes of worcestershire sauce
- Squeeze in the juice of one lemon. If the lemon is really big and is filled with too much juice be sure to save half until after whisking to see if you need anymore.
- Five dashes of hot sauce.
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese or a whole handful!
- Season with lots and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
Remoulade sauce for the succulent seafood:
Ingredients for the remoulade:
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- 1/8 cup of ketchup
- Three tablespoons of yellow mustard
- A tablespoon of capers
- A few dashes of worcestershire sauce
- A few dashes of hot sauce
- Freshly chopped dill weed
- Freshly chopped chives
- Season with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, old bay, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
This by far as I said.. is one of my favorite meals, but you don’t have to celebrate a holiday to celebrate life with an incredible, outstanding, mouthwatering dinner like this! You can for sure recreate this amazing food to kick off all of your New Years resolutions and goals to start with a fresh, clean slate for a rich filled life. Although rich doesn’t always have to mean rich in money, but rich in love, happiness, and health.