12/13/2012 11:57 am ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

4 Holiday Dinner Shortcuts So Delicious They'll Never Suspect


Written by Adriana Velez on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

Would you love it if on Christmas morning Santa left YOU a present -- a fabulous, fully cooked holiday meal? It's a little fantasy of mine. I love cooking, and I especially love planning big holiday dinners. But as the years go on, I'm less excited about spending whole days in the kitchen. It's time to simplify, right?

So I'm looking at ways I can deliver more bang for less time. No, I won't be ordering Christmas dinner from Boston Market (hee hee!). But I'm planning some shortcuts that don't mean a compromise in deliciousness and holiday glam.

1. Pre-seasoned holiday roasts. Creminelli (whose salami factory I toured this summer) sent me their porchetta holiday roast to try out and deliziosa! It was spectacularly tasty with cracking skin and the perfect herb seasoning. But even better -- basically all I had to do was re-heat it in the oven and open the jar of pepper jelly they send with it. It's at bit pricey, but it's huge and will serve an army. Be on the lookout for special deals on pre-seasoned holiday roasts at your local butcher or specialty shops.

2. Rolls from a local bakery -- or frozen. I cannot get bread or roll dough to rise to save my life, and I'm finished trying. So I'll buy my rolls from local bakeries. But if you love that fresh-baked smell in your own house, Alexia has these tempting sweet potato rolls, and of course people love Rhodes rolls. I'm looking for sweet rolls from Immaculate Baking Company for Christmas morning.

3. My favorite veggie formulas. I have two standard approaches to winter vegetables like Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. 1. The slaw: Slice or grate raw veggies, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, and lots of Parmesan cheese. 2. The roast: Chop veggies, toss with olive oil, paprika, whole cumin seeds, salt, and roast. Squirt a little fresh lime or lemon juice.

4. Cakes and pies, oh my! This is another food you can "outsource" to your local bakery. But this year I'm thinking of buying sponge cake, pudding, and maybe brownies to throw together for a big, messy Christmas trifle. Just top with cream and no one is complaining about that.

What are your favorite holiday meals that look and taste "fancy" but are super easy?

More from The Stir:

4 Tips for Stress-Free Christmas Dinner From a 'Top Chef'

12 Tips for Staying Sane While Hosting Holiday Dinners

The World's Most Expensive Christmas Dinner: What Do You Get for $200,000?

20 Easy Side Dishes You Can Make in Under 30 Minutes

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