I’m genetically predisposed to be a procrastinator, which is pretty inconvenient this time of year when gifts need wrapping, cards need sending and the fabulous holiday feast I’m making needs to grace the table—all in a short period of time. This year, I’m fighting my tendency to put everything off until the last minute by preparing some of my Christmas recipes ahead of time. The holiday side dishes and desserts I’m making can all be started a day or more in advance. That way when I look at the calendar and realize that Christmas is practically on top of me, I can give myself the gift of knowing that at least some of the work is done.
Pomegranate Poached Pears—This dessert takes only 30 minutes of active time and makes a striking finale to any festive meal. Pears simmered in a blend of tart pomegranate juice and sweet dessert wine are served with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds. A touch of tangy reduced-fat sour cream adds even more flavor.
Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes—Roasting sweet potatoes is even easier than boiling and mashing them—this yummy dish requires just 10 minutes of your attention. Maple syrup glaze transforms this ultra-simple dish into something sublime.
Garlicky Green Beans—We quick-cook and cool the green beans in advance so they can be heated up and seasoned moments before the meal.
Holiday Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Bars—It only takes 20 minutes to pull together these tart-and-tangy bar cookies, stuffed with bright red cranberries and toasted green pistachios. They hold well in both the refrigerator and the freezer so they're an excellent make-ahead option.
What are your "must have" Christmas sides and desserts? Tell us what you think below.