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Christmas Family Feast for Less than $80

After the presents have been unwrapped, the stockings taken down, and the eggnog served, it's time for Christmas dinner.

For this special meal, "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" invited Elizabeth Karmel, executive chef of New York's Hill Country restaurant to prepare a feast on a doubled "Chef on a Shoestring" budget of $80.

Check out Karmel's menu below, featuring a fabulous selection of traditional Christmas dishes, as well as some fun twists on old favorites.

"Early Show" Recipes Galore!


Texas Toast with Smoked Salmon

Have one of your guests bring a bottle of Domaine Carneros rose sparkling wine to serve with these festive appetizers - it's the perfect match and always a crowd pleaser!

1 5.2 ounce package Boursin cheese, at room temperature
4 slices of Texas Toast
1 4-ounce package thinly sliced smoked salmon
Lemon peel curls, optional (from one lemon)*

Toast bread and cut into triangles. Let cool to room temperature by placing on a rack or leaving in the toaster. If you put the hot toast on a plate, it will steam underneath.

Spread about 2-3 teaspoons of Boursin cheese over each piece of toast. Top with salmon, trimming to fit, if necessary.

Garnish with lemon peel strips-I love using Meyer lemons, if they are available. Arrange on platter and serve.

Makes about 16 pieces.

*Use a sharp citrus stripper peel long strips from a lemon. Make sure you only get the yellow peel as the white pith underneath is bitter. If you do this in advance, cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap so the lemon curls do not dry out before you use them.

Serves 6

Smoked Ham with Apricot Mustard Glaze
Sweet and tart apricot jam is mixed with two kinds of mustard for an unexpected and delicious holiday ham glaze. Your house will smell intoxicating while the smoked ham is roasting.

1 12-ounce jar of apricot jam with fruit chunks
3/4 cup whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Coleman's dry mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme or parsley
Pinch of dehydrated garlic
1 smoked ham, preferably bone-in, about 8-10* pounds
2 12-ounce beers or 24 ounces of apple cider

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a medium bowl, mix jam and mustards together until combined but still chunky. Add dry mustard and herbs and mix again until combined. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Just before cooking the ham, score the ham if it hasn't been scored and place ham on a rack in shallow roasting pan**. Slather the apricot-mustard evenly all over the ham. Pour the beer or apple cider in the bottom of the pan to keep the ham moist.

Save any extra for serving on the side as a condiment.

Bake ham for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until glaze is bubbling and ham is warmed through.

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Serves 8 - 12

* For a larger ham, double the mustard glaze and roast until the glaze is browned and the ham is warmed through.

** To keep the roasting pan clean during the cooking process, line with aluminum foil before placing ham in pan.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Roasted Red Christmas Potatoes
These simple red potatoes are slow roasted until the skin is crisp and the inside is pillowy soft. They are just right as is and don't need any extra butter or other flavorings-the trick is to eat them straight out of the oven or the grill; hot and puffy before they cool and wilt.

Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat

Oven Method: 350°F

24 new potatoes, cleaned
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Preheat your grill and set to Indirect/medium heat or your oven to 350°F.

Place the potatoes in a metal bowl. Pour oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and toss again to coat evenly. If cooking in the oven, set potatoes on a rack set inside a sheet pan. The rack allows the air to flow around the potatoes resulting in a crisp outside and silky inside.

If cooking on a grill, place prepared potatoes in the center of the cooking grate or on the warming rack over Indirect/Medium heat. The potatoes will take the same amount of time in the oven or on a grill, about 30-40 minutes.

The potatoes are done when the skin puffs slightly and the potatoes are very soft in the center. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

Recipe adapted from Elizabeth Karmel's "Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and- Slow BBQ," Wiley & Sons

Green Bean Casserole with Durkee Onions

Everyone's favorite vegetable casserole is dressed up with French-style green beans, shallots and fresh mushrooms. Double or triple this recipe to fit a crowd and your casserole dish!

1 28-ounce bag of frozen French-style green beans, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallot
2 cups sliced mushrooms
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup white Cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cans Durkee fried onion rings

Thaw green beans; drain and reserve. In a skillet, melt butter and a pinch of salt, stir and saute shallots for about 5 minutes or until translucent and beginning to color. Drain shallots and reserve for later use. Add olive oil if necessary to the skillet to saute mushrooms. Heat oil and add mushrooms; saute until golden and set aside.

Stir soup and cream together in a large bowl, add shallots and mushrooms and stir to combine. Stir in the cheddar cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in green beans and toss until well combined.

Transfer to a buttered 9x13x2 casserole pan. Bake for 20 minutes and then top with fried onions and continue baking for 10 minutes or until bubbly. The onions have a tendency to get too dark if you put them on top for the entire cooking time.

Serves 6-8

Recipe adapted from Hill Country Barbecue Market

For even more recipes, go to Page 3.

Eggnog Pudding Pie
Eggnog found it's perfect place made into a pudding and topped with spiked whipped cream. These individual "pie cups" are the sweet ending to hohoho holiday meal.

1/3 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 1/4 cups eggnog
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 pint whipping cream, whipped with Bourbon and sugar, if desired Bourbon Whipped Cream
Fresh grated nutmeg
6 pre-made graham cracker crusts

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk until incorporated. While whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the eggnog until mixture is smooth. Whisk in egg yolks and remaining eggnog.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the pudding begins to thicken and just starts to bubble, about 6-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir with a heat-resistant spatula, around the bottom and sides of the pan, until your finger leaves a mark along the back of the spatula but the pudding is still pourable, about 4-5 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat and stir in butter and vanilla paste or extract until the butter and vanilla is completely incorporated. Immediately transfer to clean bowl. Cover pudding with a piece of plastic wrap set directly on top of the pudding. This will prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.

When ready to make pies, scoop pudding out of the bowl, top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of fresh-grated nutmeg and set in the freezer until ready to serve, at least an hour but they can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored once frozen in an airtight freezer container. Remove from freezer, let thaw for 10 minutes if frozen solid and serve.

Serves 6

Recipe adapted from Hill Country Chicken

Karmel's Christmas Feast Budget:

Texas Toast with Smoked Salmon
Boursin Cheese 3.99
Texas Toast 1.99
Smoked Salmon 5.00
Total: $10.98

Smoked Ham w. Apricot Mustard
Smoked Ham 28.41
Apricot Jam 2.99
Total: $31.98

Green Bean Casserole
Green Beans 2.39
Shallots 1.50
Mushrooms 3.99
Cream of Mushroom .99
Heavy Cream 2.00
White Cheddar 1.99
Fired Onions 3.00
Total: $15.86

Red Christmas Potatoes
New Potatoes 3.29
Total: $3.29

Eggnog Pudding Pie
Eggnog 1.99
Whipping Cream 2.49
Graham Cracker Crust 12.99
Total: $17.47

Grand Total: $79.58

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