Settle in for comfort and joy with these Christmas food ideas

LARA CERRI   |   Times Bacon and Butternut Squash Hot Dish for Taste
LARA CERRI | Times Bacon and Butternut Squash Hot Dish for Taste
Published Dec. 18, 2017

After the presents and the cheer, you need something comforting to round out Christmas Day.

When it comes to food on Dec. 25, I always err on the side of being indulgent and lazy, choosing things that can be made in advance so that not much prep needs to be done amid the gift-giving commotion. All of these dishes fit that bill. It's a collection of pure comfort food that can be enjoyed throughout your Christmas celebrations. You could serve all of this as one big festive meal, or parcel it out during the day: bread pudding for breakfast, hot dish for dinner.

Or use one of these recipes to bolster your Christmas Day traditions. On this day intended for joy, there can never be too much food.

Michelle Stark, Times food editor

Croissant Chocolate Bread Pudding

Unsalted butter for the baking dish

6 large egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 croissants, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound)

4 ounces chocolate, cut into chunks

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square or other shallow 2-quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Add the croissants and chocolate and mix to combine.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake until set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Real Simple

Butternut Squash and Apple Hot Dish

1 pound bacon (I used turkey bacon)

2 large purple onions, thinly sliced

About 2 pounds squash, seeded, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes

6 sprigs fresh thyme

Kosher salt

Black pepper

Crushed red pepper

¼ cup white wine

1 cup vegetable broth (or more broth)

2 large apples, chopped into ½-inch cubes

For the biscuits:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

¼ cup heavy cream

1 large egg

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large skillet or pot, crisp the bacon. Transfer it to a paper towel. Drain off most of the fat from the pan, leaving a thin layer, then add the onions and cook over medium-high for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the squash, thyme, salt, a few turns of pepper and a few pinches of crushed red pepper and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the wine and broth. Give the bacon a rough chop and add it to the pan along with the apples. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while you make the biscuits.

Make the biscuits: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and, using a food processor, pastry cutter or your hands, incorporate the butter until the mixture is the consistency of oatmeal. Mix in the cream until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, pat it out to ¾ inch thick and then cut out round biscuits, rerolling scraps as needed.

Pour the squash mixture into an oven-safe dish and then top it with the biscuits. Brush the biscuits with the beaten egg and top with black pepper and grated cheese. Bake until the biscuits are golden brown. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes.

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Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Adapted from

Cheesy Kale Casserole

1?½ pounds green curly kale

4 slices bacon

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup chopped shallots

1 small red bell pepper

3 clove garlic

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons flour

2?¾ cups half-and-half

1?¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese

1?½ cups coarse fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove tough stems from kale and chop. Steam kale in a covered large Dutch oven or pot in ½ inch of water for 7 to 8 minutes until wilted and tender. Remove kale and drain well.

Cook bacon in Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in Dutch oven. Melt butter in drippings.

Saute shallots and the next three ingredients for 6 to 7 minutes or until tender and golden. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in half-and-half. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup Parmesan. Fold in kale.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased oven-safe baking dish. Stir together bread crumbs, olive oil and remaining ¼ cup cheese; sprinkle over kale mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Woman's Day

Bacon-Wrapped Dates With Goat Cheese

8 slices bacon

16 dates

4 ounces goat cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the dates lengthwise on one side to create an opening. Remove the pit.

Using a spoon, stuff a small amount of goat cheese into the cavity of each date and press the sides together to close.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each date with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Arrange evenly on a baking sheet with raised edges (otherwise grease will get everywhere) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dates and use the toothpick to turn each one so it's lying on its side. Bake for another 7 or so minutes, until browned to your liking, then turn the dates to the other side and repeat. Remove from the oven, place on a paper-towel-lined plate and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.