You can chop it down, stand it up, string it with lights and dress it with tinsel. But did you also know you can eat it?! Christmas trees such as Pine, Fir and Spruce are actually very nutritious. It was discovered long ago that they are incredibly high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and flavonoids. Surprisingly, a cup of pine needle tea may supply five times as much vitamin C as a lemon!
But, if you'd rather just admire your tree in the living room instead of drinking it in a smoothie, don't fret. Check out these 7 creative ways to have your Christmas tree and eat it too:
Christmas Tree Beef Lasagna
1 lb Five Star sausage
1 lb Five Star ground beef
2 jars spaghetti sauce
4-5 cups mozzarella cheese
32 oz ricotta
1 package no boil noodles
1. Brown and drain the sausage and hamburger together.
2. Add sausage and hamburger to large bowl and pour in the two jars of sauce.
3. In separate bowl mix the ricotta, 2 eggs and 1 cup of cheese.
4. Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish.
5. Place noodles on top of sauce.
6. Spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture on the noodles.
7. Sprinkle with a little more shredded mozzarella.
8. Top with more sauce.
9. Do the following additional layers: noodles, cheese mixture, shredded cheese, sauce, noodles, cheese mixture, sauce, shredded cheese.
10. Arrange peppers into Christmas Tree shape.
11. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes at 350 till bubbly.
12. Remove foil the last few minutes of baking to let the cheese brown.
Christmas Tree Cheese Board
8 oz Cracker Barrel Extra Old Cheddar Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 oz Cracker Barrel Marble Cheddar Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 oz Cracker Barrel Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
8 oz Cracker Barrel Havarti Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 oz Cracker Barrel Mozzarella Cheese, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 lb (450 g) each seedless green and red grapes
1 pkg (40 g) fresh thyme sprigs
2 tbsp Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 piece celery (2 inch)
1. Arrange cheese cubes and grapes in rows on platter or cutting board to resemble a Christmas tree shape, ending with a row of mozzarella at the top.
2. Add thyme sprigs between rows as shown in photo.
3. Roll cream cheese spread into a ball, then coat with parsley; place at top of tree. Place celery at bottom for the tree trunk.
Ham Tortilla Christmas Tree
1 Five Star Ham
6 cream cheese, whipped
1 sliced sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
6 (6-inch) spinach flour tortillas
1. Slice ham into approximately 1/2" wide strips.
2. Spread an even, think layer of cream cheese over the entire surface of the tortilla.
3. Place two strips of ham side by side along the lower third of the tortilla, so that they extend from one end of the tortilla.
4. Line both sides of the ham strips with two strips of red pepper, and then one slice of cheese each; six strips total.
5. Fold tortilla edge over entire contents and roll tightly.
6. Cut into 1" pinwheels.
7. Stack layers of pinwheels in rings one on top of another, decreasing the size of each ring until you reach the top of the tree.
8. Dress your tree with cranberries, or star-shaped cutouts of red or yellow pepper.
Christmas Tree Pizzas
Makes 12 slices
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp sugar
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 500g packet of bread mix
handful grated mozzarella
2 peppers, one red, one yellow
1. Sweat the onion and carrot in a pan with the olive oil for 5 minutes until soft. Season, add the dried sage and then tip in both tins of tomatoes and bubble on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
2. Allow to cool and then blitz to a smooth paste with a blender.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas6. Make up the dough according to the packet instructions. Roll out to cover a floured baking tray 36cm x 28cm.
4. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until the dough as become firm.
5. Meanwhile steam the spinach until wilted, squeeze out all the liquid and set aside.
6. Make your tree decorations by cutting star shapes out of the yellow pepper. Then chop tiny jewels out of both the yellow and red peppers.
7. Take the pizza base out of the oven and then spread evenly with the tomato sauce.
8. Decorate evenly with the wilted spinach and scatter with mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes until golden.
9. Allow to cool slightly then slide off the baking sheet onto a cutting board. Using a pizza cutter, cut into triangles. Add your pepper tree decorations and serve.
Christmas Tree Potatoes
2 potatoes, peeled and each cut into halves
1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
1 can of tuna
fish eggs and mayonnaise for decoration
1. Boil the potatoes till their edge is a little soft (around 10 minutes), remove from water from the pan, place the lid back, shake the potatoes in the pot so that they turn floury. Remove and season them with salt and drizzle some olive oil onto your roasting pan and bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 30 minutes.
2. Make your spread. Mash the avocados, put in the lemon juice. In another bowl, mash the tuna till they become flakes, then add in the mashed avocado by spoonfuls till you get a spreadable or workable consistency. Mix them all together. Cut off a little top of the potatoes so that your spread can sit nicely on the potatoes. Using gloves, take a small piece of the spread and shape into a cone shape and place on top of the potato. Using a butter knife, slowly cover the base with more avocado spread and a little on the tree.
3. Sprinkle with fish eggs and pipe some mayonnaise around the tree.
Shrimp Christmas Tree
12-inch styrofoam cone
pins or staples
parsley sprigs (2 bunches of parsley)
Five Star medium shrimp, cleaned, peeled and cooked (about 3-4 lbs raw shrimp)
small pimiento-stuffed olives (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
1. Cover a 12-inch high styrofoam cone (approximately 5 inches in diameter at the bottom) with wide-mesh screening. Fasten with pins or staples.
2. Separate parsley into individual sprigs and insert stems in screening.
3. Cover entire cone with parsley sprigs.
4. Insert wooden picks in vertical rows in styrofoam cone, spacing picks about 1 inch apart.
5. Place a shrimp, curved-side up, on each pick.
6. Place additional wooden picks in the curve of each shrimp and fasten small pimiento-stuffed olives on each stick.
7. Top cone with an additional stuffed olive and surround with parsley sprigs.
8. Sprinkle or spray entire surface lightly with water and cover with plastic wrap. Chill until serving. Serve with Spanish sauce as a dip.
9. To make Spanish sauce (makes about 1 3/4 cup), blend together 1 cup mayo, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup chili sauce, and 1/2 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives. Add 1 1/2 tbsp brandy. Stir in 1/2 tsp each: Dijon-type mustard, Worcestershire, curry powder, paprika, lemon juice and a dash coarsely ground pepper. Chill.
Christmas Tree Bites
2 tsp lemon juice
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
some vegetables for topping
1. Cut avocados into half, remove seeds, scoop avocado pulp and mash in a bowl. Add lemon juice and cream cheese. Put into blender until creamy. Then put the mixture into a pastry bag.
2. Pipe the cream onto each cracker, shaping a Christmas tree. Place carrot, corn and grape tomatoes around the avocado cream.
And for those of you who are in fact brave enough, here's a beverage recipe that actually does use your real Christmas tree! (Come on, we couldn't leave it out!)
Pine Needle Tea
1/2 cup of pine needles (or other needles from fir or spruce trees)
1. Crush the needles slightly and add to a pot of boiling water (3-4 cups). Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or simply steep the needles in not yet boiling water.
2. Add a spoonful of honey, agave or maple syrup or even try adding herbs like rosemary.
How do you eat your Christmas tree? Any recipes we missed? Did you ever try other recipes using pine needles or other parts of the tree?
Tell us about them!