Preparing Christmas dinner is a massive undertaking. On a day when you are celebrating the season with the one you love, you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen lamenting over the stove. That’s why we’ve constructed the perfect dinner for two that can easily be prepared and ready in under two hours. Hosting someone other than your significant other or roommate? This menu is easy to scale so you can make it for more! Have even less than two hours to pull a meal together? Try last year’s “Christmas Dinner for Two in Less Than an Hour”.
The meal starts with sweet piquante peppers stuffed with herb goat cheese—it’s a crowd pleasing appetizer that only requires a couple minutes of assembly time. The main course is garlic and mustard rubbed beef tenderloin with a red wine mushroom sauce with a side of brown butter mashed potatoes. It’s a restaurant quality meal that doesn’t require much active preparation time. To finish, we have a recipe for individual no-bake Nutella cheesecakes.
To prepare this meal in less than two hours, work backward:
• prepare the cheesecakes first
• next the beef and potatoes
• make the stuffed peppers last
Goat Cheese Stuffed Sweet Piquante Peppers
Total time: 5 minutes | Difficulty: Easy
Sweet Piquante Peppers are commonly referred to as Peppadew Peppers, so keep your eye out for either name in the grocery store. Chances are they will be near the olives—they are usually sold in jars marinated in olive oil. The peppers are available in different spice levels; we recommend the mild for a sweet and spicy flavor.
Sweet Piquante Peppers (Peppadew Peppers)
Garlic Herbed Goat Cheese
1. Start by scooping the goat cheese into a pastry bag or plastic bag. Snip the end of the bag with scissors.
2. Individually pipe the goat cheese into the center of the peppers and arrange on a platter. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
The Main Course
Beef Tenderloin with a Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Total time: 90 minutes | Difficulty: Medium
Beef tenderloin is easy to prepare and this reverse sear method will ensure the beef is medium rare throughout with a nice crust on the outside. The mushroom red wine sauce makes this dish extra special, although you could simplify the meal by leaving it out. The only trick to this recipe is making sure that you do not over cook the beef. If you want medium rare beef tenderloin, cook it until the center reaches 125 degrees, and then turn the broiler on for 3-4 minutes. Searing the beef under the broiler will bring its temperature up to 135 degrees while creating a crust on the outside. If medium rare isn’t your thing, remember: rare is 125 degrees, medium is 145 degrees, medium well is 150 degrees, and well done is 160 degrees.
For the beef
1-2 pounds beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon whole grain or Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 sprigs of rosemary
For the Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces sliced Cremini mushrooms
¼ cup red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)
¼ cup beef or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon whole grain or Dijon mustard
1. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Either finely chop the garlic or crush it with a garlic press. Place the beef in the center of a roasting pan on top of the sprigs of rosemary. Spread the butter, garlic, and mustard evenly over the beef. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over.
2. Place the beef on a center rack in the oven to roast. For medium rare beef, you want to roast the beef until it reaches 125 degrees before you sear it. The cooking time will depend on the size of the beef tenderloin, but it took about 1 hour and 20 minutes for a 2 pound beef tenderloin to reach 125 degrees. The key is to keep your eye on the temperature of the meat; this is the time to use an in-oven digital thermometer if you have one.
3. While the beef is cooking, sauté the mushrooms for the red wine sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat low. Once the butter has melted, added the mushrooms and dust with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute the butter, and add the red wine. Sauté the mushrooms until half of the liquid has been absorbed. Then set aside for later. Once your mushrooms are ready, prepare your mashed potatoes (see recipe is below).
4. Once the beef reaches 125 degrees, increase the temperature of the oven to broil (or high broil if you oven has multiple broil settings). If your potatoes are in the oven with the beef take them out at this point. Broil the beef for 2-4 minutes, keeping a close eye on the beef. You want a slight crust to form on the beef.
5. Place the beef on a platter and let it rest while you prepare the sauce. Place the beef on a platter and let it rest while you prepare the sauce. It is important to let the beef rest before slicing it. This way the beef will lose less juice, resulting in more flavorful meat.
6. To prepare the red wine sauce, scrape up any brown bits from the pan you used to roast the beef and pour them and any juice into a small saucepan. You can discard the rosemary. Heat the saucepan over medium heat, and add a tablespoon of butter and whisk in 1 teaspoon of flour. Once combined, pour in ¼ cup stock, 2 tablespoons cream, and ¼ teaspoon mustard. Mix and let slowly bubble for 1 minute, and then add the sautéed mushrooms and the liquid with them. Stir together until warm. Note: If the sauce is too thin, mix 1 teaspoon of melted butter with 1 teaspoon flour and add it to the sauce, let bubble and thicken for 1 minute (if the sauce is too thick add extra stock).
7. Slice the beef in pieces 1 inch thick and serve with the red wine mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes.
Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
Total time: 30 minutes | Difficulty: Easy
Brown butter is simply butter that has been browned. The act of browning butter makes it richer and more flavorful.
2 Yukon gold potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese
¼ cup light sour cream
1. Peel the potatoes and loosely chop them into even pieces. Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are very soft—this will take about 20 minutes. Then drain the potatoes.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. It’s best to use a pan with a light colored bottom so that you can see the butter browning. Stir the butter frequently, letting it bubble until it beings to brown. Reduce the heat to low, and remove it from the heat once it is golden brown. Butter can go from browned to burnt quickly.
3. Pour the butter over the potatoes and add the cream cheese and sour cream. Use a masher to mash the potatoes and stir the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place the mashed potatoes into an oven safe dish and put them in the oven to keep them warm while the beef cooks.
Individual Nutella Cheesecakes
Total time: 5 minutes, plus 2 hours to chill | Difficulty: Easy
The individual Nutella cheesecakes do not require baking and use store bought piecrusts so the recipe comes together in just minutes. The result is a smooth creamy chocolate cheesecake.
2 individual sized graham cracker pie crusts
1/3 cup Nutella
1/3 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 can of whipping cream
1. Mix the Nutella and cream cheese together, stirring until they are completely mixed.
2. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the piecrusts, and let chill for at least 2 hours.
3. When you are ready to serve, top the cheesecakes with whipped cream and raspberries.