Special Holiday Dinner Ideas

Between Thanksgiving there are endless opportunities for holiday dinners and the following holiday dinner ideas will certainly help you put the happy in your holidays.

You can forget about traditional menus and have fun with your holiday dinner. Ideas can include seasonal ingredients like chestnuts or a classic entree like osso buco. No matter which way you decide to go with your menu, the warmth of the season is sure to shine through.

1. Herbed Olives

A big bowl of herbed olives will give your guests something to snack on while the first course is on its way. These tasty bites can be made up to three days before hand.


  1. 1 cup of black olives (Kalamata or a similar olive)
  2. 1 cup of green olives (not the kind with pimentos)
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. ¼ teaspoon of oregano
  6. ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  7. ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  8. ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  9. ¼ teaspoon basil
  10. ½ teaspoon of salt
  11. ½ teaspoon of pepper
  12. Zest of 1 orange
  13. ¼ bunch parsley chopped
  14. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix the olives, oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, fennel, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Pour onto a sheet pan or a cookie sheet with sides.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes or until the olives start to sizzle.
  5. Pour the olives back into the bowl and toss with the orange zest, parsley, and rosemary.

2. Chestnut Soup

You can either use pre-cooked chestnuts from a jar or use fresh chestnuts. If you opt to use the fresh chestnuts, they need to be boiled then roasted. Cut an “X” on each chestnut and then boil them for 6 minutes. Peel the chestnuts and then roast them in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. This recipe serves six.


  1. 2 cups of prepared chestnuts
  2. 1 carrot diced
  3. 1 celery stalk, diced
  4. 1 small onion, diced
  5. 1 cup port or sweet red wine
  6. 1 sprig thyme
  7. 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  8. ½ cup cream
  9. ½ stick butter
  10. Salt and pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, and carrot.
  3. Cook over a medium flame until the onions become translucent.
  4. Add the chestnuts and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and the thyme.
  6. Reduce the wine by half.
  7. Add the stock.
  8. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil.
  9. Reduce the flame to low and simmer the soup for half and hour.
  10. Remove the thyme.
  11. Add the cream to the soup and puree the soup using a stick blender or pour the soup into a regular blender and puree it in batches. Be careful as the soup will be hot.
  12. Add the cream to the soup and simmer for a few more minutes.
  13. Taste for salt and pepper.

3. Osso Buco

Osso Buco is made with lamb shanks and the marrow of the shanks is part of the appeal of the dish. While other holiday dinner ideas may focus on fish or birds, veal makes a tasty change of pace.

Before you start this recipe, there are some tricks you need to keep in mind. Making a bouquet garni is a simple trick that adds flavor to the dish. A bouquet garni is a small piece of cheesecloth that has rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and cloves in it. You tie the cheesecloth closed with some butchers twine and this makes it easier to remove the herbs before serving your osso buco. This recipe serves six.


  1. 3 pounds of veal shanks
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  4. 6 cloves of crushed garlic
  5. 1 small onion, diced
  6. 1 carrot diced
  7. 1 celery stalk, diced
  8. 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  9. 1/3 cup Marsala wine
  10. 1/3 cup of brandy
  11. 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  12. 3 cups of chicken stock (or veal stock if you can find it)
  13. 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  14. Zest of 1 lemon
  15. Salt and pepper

For the Bouquet garni you will Need:

  1. 1 4-inch by 4-inch square of cheesecloth
  2. 1 sprig of thyme
  3. 1 sprig of rosemary
  4. 1 bay leaf
  5. 2 whole cloves


  1. Place the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, and cloves in the center of the cheesecloth and pull the corners together to make a small package.
  2. Tie the top of the package so the herbs do not fall out.
  3. Pat the veal shanks dry.
  4. Tie some butchers twine around each shank.
  5. Using a large roasting pan or a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium heat.
  6. Brown the veal shanks on all sides.
  7. Remove the veal to a plate, cover loosely with foil.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter.
  9. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.
  10. Cook over low heat until the onions become translucent.
  11. Add the Marsala, balsamic, and brandy.
  12. Simmer for five minutes.
  13. Add the bouquet garni and the tomato paste.
  14. Stir to loosen the paste.
  15. Add the veal and stock to the pot.
  16. Increase the heat to high.
  17. Once the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot tightly.
  18. Let the osso buco simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Check after an hour, if the meat is falling off the bone your dinner is done.
  19. Remove the veal from the pot and discard the bouquet garni.
  20. Strain the remaining liquid and serve as a sauce for the veal.