I must say I’ve had an enjoyable time in the kitchen this year, re-inventing classic recipes, experimenting with different cuisines and trying out new cooking techniques. And with my new discovery of amazing flavours from all my eat-ventures and travels, I’m just so inspired to whip up more tasty dishes in the time to come. But for now, I’ve compiled 20 of my best recipes in 2016 which I think would make great alternative festive meals to host your family and friends this Christmas. They are delicious and very easy to make. Also, some of them are quite healthy too (if you want to avoid holiday weight gain, haha).
Seriously, who needs turkeys and hams (boring!) when you can have these? 😉
1. Steak Salad with Roasted Garlic Peppercorn Sauce
Inspired by the ‘steak frites’, my homemade and healthy version comes with plenty of greens and fruits (instead of fries) as well as a thick and creamy roasted garlic peppercorn sauce which works well with potato mash too. Keeping your main light simply means you can have an extra piece of that yummy chocolate log cake.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/02/29/steak-salad-recipe/
2. Baked Brown Rice with Chicken, Mushrooms and Cheese
Take the stress out of cooking with an easy-to-make casserole meal like this. In this baked rice, I used a mix of red and brown rice for added nutritional boost, lean chicken breast meat, juicy button mushrooms and finally, an irresistible layer of cheddar cheese on top. It’s simple comfort food at its best.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/02/11/baked-brown-rice/
3. Mackerel Fillet with Sweet Potato and Beetroot Salad
I pickled the beetroot and combined it with orange and purple sweet potatoes (colours were so pretty) and tossed everything up with a honey mustard dressing. You can serve the salad with oven-grilled (no oil, no salt) omega-3 rich mackerel fillet (or go for any fish you like – salmon and cod are good choices too). Absolutely healthy and yummy.
4. Spicy Prawn and Avocado Sandwich
Keep your guests happy with these canapés that not just look great but taste fantastic too. This is really easy to assemble with minimal cooking required. You can use focaccia, ciabatta or sourdough bread for this recipe. It’s all about spicing up that avocado and using it as a creamy spread. Pair with prawns or smoked salmon – both are delicious.
5. Eggplant Lasagna
This eggplant layer bake is made to resemble a lasagna except that there are no pasta sheets in it as I’ve substituted them with thick slices of eggplant. Also, I’ve not added any bechamel sauce so it’s a carb-free yet cheesy indulgence. Just another brilliant way to eat more vegetables during Christmas.
6. Stuffed Peppers with Salsa Rice and Chicken
A healthy and delicious one-dish meal. I stuffed red peppers with a mix of brown & red rice, chicken, kidney beans, cheese, tomatoes & chillies and then cooked them in the slow cooker. After 2 hours, these stuffed peppers came out beautifully without falling apart or turning mushy. Use both red and green peppers for a more festive feel.
7. Sausage and Cheese Strata
A ‘strata’ simply means a ‘layered casserole dish’. This is like a savoury bread pudding in which I’ve added Taiwan sausages, cherry tomatoes, egg and cheese. You can basically use any ingredients you like – rotisserie chicken meat, regular sausages, bacon – the possibilities are endless. Add green peppers or peas to this for a more Christmasy look.
8. Seafood Brown Rice Risotto
The key to this recipe is to make a really flavoursome seafood stock so before you cook this, make sure you set aside prawn heads, shells, fish heads & bones. The stock can be made in advance and stored in the freezer. You can use regular risotto rice or brown/red rice which would absorb all that seafood flavour in the stock. So warm and comforting.
9. Baked Ratatouille
A ratatouille is a French stewed vegetable dish consisting of an assortment of vegetables that are sauteed with olive oil and herbs and then simmered and/or baked in the oven. It makes an ideal vegetarian casserole that you can enjoy on its own or as a side dish to your main. I like to add grated cheddar cheese on top just to give it a nice cheesy crust.
10. Prawn Rolls
The poor man’s version of lobster rolls, lol. If you can readily get lobster or budget isn’t an issue, go with the real thing. But in terms of taste and texture, prawns work really well in this. Alternatively, you can use langoustines, scampis or slipper lobsters. The filling is absolutely moist, crunchy, creamy and delicious – one roll would not be enough.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/07/30/prawn-rolls-recipe/
11. KFC Style Fried Chicken
We all have guilty pleasures and mine is definitely fried chicken. I swear by buttermilk (not brine) as it makes chicken so much more moist, juicy and delicious. This may not be 100% KFC style but I think it’s pretty close if not better. Well-seasoned & tasty coating, crispy & crunchy skin, tender & juicy meat – what’s not to like, really.
12. Seafood Pie
While the top is cheesy-crispy, the seafood filling inside is fresh tasting and comes with an acidic twist from the lemon. It may be a pie with no pastry but when paired with creamy potatoes, all the different textures and flavours just marry perfectly in this one pie dish that’s fit for the whole family.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/08/23/seafood-pie-recipe/
13. Cornflake Fish Fingers
These fish fingers are made with flounder fillets and cornflakes. Even though they aren’t deep fried in oil, the cornflakes give a good crunch as though they have been fried. Definitely a hit with the kids. You can also use any white fish of your choice though I’m sure salmon will taste equally good too.
14. Fish & Shrimp Burger
Made from scratch using all fresh ingredients so we get delicious textures of flaky fish and crunchy shrimps in the patties. Not forgetting that topping of creamy guacamole and a sweet chilli mayo too. If you don’t fancy bread/burgers, you can enjoy these patties on their own with other side dishes of your choice too.
15. Ma La Xiang Guo
Love spicy food? This Ma La Xiang Guo will definitely impress your family and friends if you all are ma la fans. It’s not too complicated to make even though you do need a substantial amount of ingredients but it’s really gratifying to eat this especially on a rainy day. This recipe easily feeds 6-8 persons so it’s an ideal get-together communal meal.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/09/26/ma-la-xiang-guo-recipe/
16. Korean Army Stew | Budae Jjigae
Nothing can be more gratifying than having a homemade Budae Jjigae which is like the Korean version of a steamboat that’s filled with all kinds of ingredients in a spicy gochujang-flavoured broth. Everything in this pot is substitutable so go ahead and add in whatever you like. Gotta try ramen and cheese – so yum.
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/08/01/budae-jjigae-recipe/
17. Turkey Bacon, Corn and Cheese Muffins
This is the kind of comfort food that makes you feel really good especially when you dig into the muffins while they are still warm and fluffy inside. I added cheddar cheese, turkey bacon and fresh sweet corn kernels into the muffins to give them textures. Every bite was just so full of flavour – salty bacon, sweet corn, aromatic spring onion – absolutely yum.
18. Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
Dessert time! Bread pudding is like one of the easiest desserts to make because all we need are some kitchen staples like butter, milk, eggs and sugar. Nothing complicated. What we have to do is to dress the bread pudding up with extra toppings like chocolate chips, raisins, fruits, nuts, berries, etc and serve it with our favourite ice cream. Bliss.
19. Apple Crumble with Homemade Custard Sauce
A shareable and delicious crowd-pleaser to wow your family and friends. I used Granny Smith apples because their tartness made a great contrast with the rest of the ingredients that were on the sweeter side. The amount of sugar used was also reduced so this wouldn’t be saccharine sweet. Who says desserts can’t be made healthier?
Get the recipe: http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/02/07/apple-crumble-recipe/
20. Cranberry Walnut Bread
Fresh cranberries are awfully sour but they make the perfect complement to the walnut bread with a contrasting tartness. I used sunflower oil and skimmed milk just to give it a healthy touch. This may look like a bread loaf but it’s pretty much a dessert treat. Delicious when eaten warm with salted butter and paired with a cup of tea.
And there you are, 20 alternative Christmas recipe ideas to give you extra inspiration as you plan your festive menu. They may be non-conventional dishes but they are perfect for fuss-free entertaining so you don’t have to drive yourself insane in the kitchen. Enjoy!
Wishing all of you a blessed Christmas and hope you enjoy all the upcoming festive feasting. Eat, drink and be merry, folks! 🙂