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joint-friendly holiday feast recipes

Fast, Delicious Holiday Feast Recipes

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Presenting a fabulous holiday meal is not out of your reach, even with the pain and fatigue that can come with arthritis. Plan ahead, take advantage of prechopped vegetables, and prepare the side dishes in the days prior to the big feast. These recipes will help you put a beautiful meal on the table with only about 20 minutes of active cooking time per day.

To make it even easier to prepare for your feast, we've prepared a handy holiday feast shopping list and preparation schedule to keep you on track and worry-free!

Crudités with Herb and Garlic Yogurt Dip

Active time: 15 minutes

A splash of color helps make people hungry, and this verdant, simple-to-make dip, which is reminiscent of the herb and garlic cheese spread so ubiquitous at holiday parties, is great with chopped vegetables (or even potato chips, but don’t tell your mother). Use those listed, or branch out and try snap peas, celery, cucumbers or bell peppers. The best part? You don’t have to chop the herbs.

1 pint (16 ounces) 2 percent Greek-style yogurt

1 (3/4-ounce) package fresh dill

1 (3/4-ounce) package fresh chives

2 tsp. prechopped garlic (or 2 cloves, smashed)

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 cups prewashed baby carrots

2 cups precut broccoli florets

2 cups precut cauliflower florets

Scoop the yogurt into the work bowl of a large food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the dill, discarding any big stems, and the chives, tearing them into smaller pieces by twisting the whole bunch with your hands, like you’re wringing out a towel. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and whirl until the mixture is smooth and evenly green, about 90 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.

Transfer the dip to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 5 days. (The flavor will improve as it sits.) To serve, stir the dip, then pour some of it into a bowl, and serve with a tray filled with the tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Bleu Cheese Butter

Active time: 10 minutes

For years, I thought my husband’s family served beef tenderloin at Christmas because it’s fancy. That may be true, but it’s also surprisingly easy. Ask your butcher to do the work for you. (Any good supermarket butcher will know what “trimmed and tied” means.) You’ll just need to smear it with a bit of olive oil, season it and pop it into the oven. An instant-read thermometer is a great way to guarantee a perfect roast.

Tenderloin

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. ground pepper

1 (3½-pound) beef tenderloin roast, trimmed and tied

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Bleu cheese butter

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

5 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Tenderloin: In a small bowl, blend salt and pepper. Place tenderloin on a rack in a roasting pan or on a high-sided baking sheet lined with foil. Pat meat dry and rub on all sides with the olive oil, then pat seasonings on, taking care to get the bottom and sides of the tenderloin. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Bleu cheese butter: While the meat sits, mash butter and bleu cheese together in a bowl. If you’re making it the day of the meal, serve it from the bowl. If you’re making this in advance, dump the butter onto one end of a 12-inch-square piece of parchment or waxed paper, then roll it up, forming a log, and twist the ends to contain the butter. (It should look like a giant Tootsie Roll.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate up to one week.

Roast beef for 40 to 50 minutes (timing will depend on the shape of your tenderloin), or until it reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare. Let the roast rest 10 minutes before slicing into inch-thick rounds.

Unwrap bleu cheese butter and slice into ½-inch-thick discs. Serve meat warm, and pass butter as a topping.

Bacon-Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Active time: 15 minutes

There’s an important distinction between liking Brussels sprouts and liking Brussels sprouts made with bacon. Adding pork is a game-changer. Talk your most dubious guests into trying one bite, and you’ll have eager converts on your hands. And for those who like sprouts anyway, this dish makes them that much more loveable.

4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced (or a 4-ounce package of diced pancetta)

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved through the stem

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread bacon in a large, ovenproof skillet or 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Roast 5 minutes, just until it begins to give off its fat. Stir bacon, then add sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper (without stirring, so bacon stays on the bottom at first). Roast 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sprouts are tender and browned in spots.

To serve immediately: Add vinegar, stir to combine, and roast another 2 to 3 minutes, just until vinegar has evaporated.

If making ahead: Let Brussels sprouts cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, add vinegar and roast in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until sizzling.

Tip: If you’re serving bread with the meal, heat it while the Brussels sprouts reheat or finish cooking.

Whipped Squash with Honey and Spice

Active time: 10 minutes

The secret to this ultra-smooth squash is the food processor. In goes plain, cooked squash and a dash each of curry, cardamom and ginger, and out comes a silky blend that tastes … well, more difficult to make. Don’t feel stuck with the spices I use here; any combination – plus cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cumin – would be delicious.

3 pounds peeled, precut squash

2 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4 tsp. curry powder

3/4 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom

Pinch salt

Place squash in a large pot, add water to cover, then bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the biggest pieces fall off a fork.

Drain, then transfer to a large food processor and blend until completely smooth, scraping sides with a rubber spatula, if necessary. Serve immediately, or transfer to an ovenproof, freezer-safe baking dish. Cover with waxed paper, and let cool to room temperature.

Wrap in plastic wrap (right over the waxed paper). Refrigerate up to three days or freeze up to three weeks. To serve, thaw in refrigerator for 48 hours before serving. Bring squash to room temperature about an hour before reheating, then reheat at 450 degrees, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until piping hot.

Bottom’s Up Green Salad

Active time: 10 minutes

When I throw a party, I reliably make the same mistake: In my effort to avoid soggy lettuce, I forget to bring the vinaigrette to the table. The perfect solution? Put the dressing in the bottom of the bowl, where it can lurk unnoticed (right under the chewy, tart cherries, pumpkin seeds and lettuce) until you’re ready to serve it.

Love cheese? Add 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese to the bottom of the bowl with the dried cherries and pumpkin seeds.

Balsamic-Dijon vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad

1 cup dried sour cherries or cranberries

3/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (also sold as pepitas)

2 (5-ounce) bags mixed baby greens

Vinaigrette: In a resealable bowl or jar, stir mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar together. Add oil (less for a tart vinaigrette, more for a milder one), close container and shake until ingredients blend into a smooth, brown liquid. (Vinaigrette can be refrigerated up to a week. Bring to room temperature and shake again before serving.)

Assemble salad up to two hours ahead. Pour ½ cup vinaigrette into salad bowl. Add cherries, then pumpkin seeds and then greens. Just before serving, toss.

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