Vegetarian or meat-loving. Gluten and dairy free. Low FODMAP. Here is what our family is cooking (and eating) for the holidays to keep everyone full, happy, and healthy!

Cooking for the Holidays

The kitchen is my happy place.

Life doesn’t get much better than when I am standing in front of Bluebelle (my big BlueStar range), cooking utensils at the ready in crocks lining the counter, a row of pans hanging above my head, a fire going in the stone fireplace, and a view across the dining area out to the ocean.

The only thing that makes this any better, is when the kids are home and join me there — just as they will later this week!

We love to cook together as a family.

And then gather around the table to enjoy good food and conversation.

Life, and cooking, has gotten a bit more complicated, though.

There are babies now, so time and attention can be in short supply.

We have three vegetarians and others who enjoy a special roast for Christmas.

There are glucose, dairy, and low FODMAP dietary restrictions.

Today I am sharing our menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas day — two dinners and a breakfast.

We planned these carefully to be festive, but still relatively easy to prepare. Nothing requires too much tending and there are dishes that can be made in advance.

We certainly have plenty to keep everyone’s bellies full, no matter what they can or cannot eat!

Let’s get cooking!

Meet me over by Bluebelle!

Christmas Eve Dinner

Chili for Christmas eve dinner is a tradition with our family. I can’t remember why, but this is what we have done for years.

We cook both vegetarian and meat versions.

The veggie has some interesting ingredients — tempeh, beer, chocolate, chipotle peppers, and shiitake mushrooms, in addition to the standard tomatoes and beans. Don’t let the ingredients put you off; it is delicious!

The meat chili is a classic, Cinci served over spaghetti.

On the side, a green salad with lots of herbs and seeds and a toasted cumin vinaigrette that goes nicely with the spices in the chilis.

Dessert is an easy but festive gingerbread cake.

Christmas Eve dinner recipe links

Black Bean and Stout Chili

Copy Cat Skyline Cincinnati Chili

Herby Seed Salad

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze

Christmas Breakfast

This breakfast has also become a tradition for our family. It was developed and is cooked primarily by my husband and son, Jack.

When I called Jack today to talk about the beans, he was reluctant to share any details. So, “peppers, onions, and questo fresco” is alI I got. I guess it has become proprietary. Sorry, you will have to figure out your own recipe.

I am, however, sharing the recipe for the Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, which I got from a co-worker many years ago.

When I pointed out to Jack that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy this coffee cake every Christmas if the recipe had not been shared with me, he still wouldn’t spill the beans… on the beans.

Oh well!

Chocolate chip coffee cake recipe

Chocolate Chip Coffe Cake

This coffee cake recipe was shared with me by a co-worker many years ago. It is a tradition for our family to have it for Christmas breakfast.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 12


  • 1 Tube/Angel Food Cake Pan. Mine is approximately 10" wide X 4.25" tall.
  • 1 Electric mixer
  • 1 pastry blender


  • 1 C sugar
  • 3/4 C butter, divided
  • 2 1/2 C white unbleached flour, divided
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Butter/oil a tube/angel food cake pan and set aside.
  • In an electric mixer, cream sugar with 1/2 C butter.
  • Add 2 C flour + the next 5 ingredients (through the vanilla).
  • Beat on low speed until blended, then on higher speed for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 C chocolate chips. (This is half of the chocolate chips.)
  • Spread 1/2 of batter into prepared pan.
  • Combine remaining 1/2 C of flour, brown sugar, and cocoa in a medium bowl
  • Cut in remaining 1/4 C butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  • Add remaining 1/2 C chocolate chips and nuts (optional).
  • Pour half of the the topping mixture over the batter in the pan and then repeat the layers with the remaining batter and topping.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Christmas Dinner

I think I have mentioned before that. our daughter Zoë worked as a cheese monger at the Greenwich Cheese Company for a while after college. Since that time, an artisanal cheese platter has become a thing when we gather together. Zoë’s husband, Sam, will stop in Greenwich CT, on his drive up from D.C. to pick up some cheeses, crackers, cornichons, nuts, and a few spreads.

We are trying some new things this year.

A cheesy butternut squash in filo dough “pie”, an entree for the vegetarians and side for those who eat meat.

A beef rib roast instead of the more common beef tenderloin. The local butcher sold it to Jack as a more “sustainable” cut, since you are eating a part of the cow that is less popular, but just as tasty as the tenderloin. I might not be in for meat, but I am all in for sustainability!

I love a salad with a robust lettuce. Even better with citrus fruit. (Goes with my orange decor theme….)

The roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts are made a little festive with the addition of lemon and pomegranate seeds.

I made the blood orange cake last year for fun and it definitely deserves a spot on the holiday table. It also goes with my decorating theme! (Call me crazy!)

The flourless chocolate cake is a new one, but it is from King Arthur, so I figure it has to be good. The vegan chocolate ganache frosting is also new. It is made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream. We will see how it is!

Christmas dinner recipe links

Butternut Squash & Fondue Pie

Rosemary-Pepper Beef Rib Roast with Porcini Jus

Winter Citrus & Red Chicories Salad

Roasted Broccoli & Brussels sprouts

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate ganache

Blood Orange-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Christmas 2023 Menus Pinterest link

All the recipes I have linked in this post are also saved to my “Christmas 2023 Menus” Pinterest board.

There is also a fun bonus cranberrry cocktail, which can be made with or without alcohol.

This Week into Next

I did a bit of a dry run for the upcoming festivities on Sunday, when I had friends over for dinner after touring the Christmas lights in our town.

With the fire ablaze, the Christmas tree lights twinkling, and the glow of candles reflected in all the glass on the table, there was definitely some holiday magic in the air.

And the warmth of friends gathered around the table certainly filled my heart to the brim.

So, the centerpiece and place settings are ready to go. I have some real greens that I will swap in for the artificial greens on the table on Christmas Eve.

Until then, they will stay outside to keep fresh. They certainly got a good soaking on Monday! I kept checking to make sure they didn’t blow away. Wow, did we have wind too!

And now for the final push. Zoë and Poppy are the first to arrive on Friday. The others follow on Saturday, except for Leah’s husband, Adam, who will make a grand appearance on Christmas morning.

I am ready for some family (and grandbaby) time!

I definitely plan on making the most of it.

Wishing all of you whatever it is your heart needs.

I will be back here with you in 2024!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Highlighting coastal decor and lifestyle, Maddie and Cisco, and the way life should be...