published Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Side Orders: Where to go on Christmas if cooking is not on the menu

It's amazing to me the number of restaurants that are open today. While we're all at home, maybe still warm in our pajamas, servers and cooks will be ready for us should we venture from home. For most of the restaurants, it's a busy time.

"It's a great opportunity for us to open our doors to families who want to go downtown and go to the theater and take advantage of downtown Chattanooga," says Dan Potter, general manager of Big River Grille's Broad Street location. "We usually do pretty well on Christmas Day. It's a little slower, but it's still a good, strong sales day for us."

If you're hungry and don't want to do more cooking beyond the Christmas meal, here are some restaurants that will be serving today.

• Big River Grille, 222 Broad St. only. Limited menu served from 4-10 p.m.

• Broad Street Grill at The Chattanoogan, 1201 Broad St. Christmas Champagne Brunch, noon-5 p.m. Reservations: 424-3700.

• Chattanooga Marriott, 2 Carter Plaza. Breakfast in Terrace Grill from 6:30 a.m. to noon; lunch and dinner served in Kicks Sports Bar with regular menu, noon-8 p.m.

• City Cafe, 901 Carter St. and 7641 Lee Highway. Open 24 hours.

• Huddle House, 5611 Brainerd Road, 5237 Hixson Pike and 9401 Reco Drive, Soddy-Daisy. Open 24 hours.

• IHOP, 5113 Highway 153, 5814 Brainerd Road and 2047 Battlefield Parkway, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Open 24 hours.

• Eleven at DoubleTree Hotel, 407 Chestnut St. Breakfast buffet from 6-10 a.m.; regular lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; regular dinner menu from 5-10 p.m. Reservations: 308-2510.

• Fox and Hound Pub and Grille, 2040 Hamilton Place Blvd. Regular menu will be served from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

• Waffle House, all locations. Open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

• Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 2321 Lifestyle Way. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations: 602-5900.


If you, like many, find yourself with leftover ham in your refrigerator, this recipe from busycooks.about.com is one I tried last year with great results. I love the flavors of ham and Swiss cheese. Put them together in a large manicotti shell and you have dinner ready in minutes. Serve it with a salad and crusty garlic bread. The casserole freezes well, so if you have enough leftover ham, make two and freeze one for later. It's a good match with leftover turkey, too.

Ham and Swiss Manicotti

14 manicotti pasta shells

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

4 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1-2 cups cooked cubed ham (or turkey)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

6 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided

6 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Cook manicotti as directed on package. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic and green pepper in 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil until tender. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

In another heavy saucepan, cook 6 tablespoons butter or olive oil until foamy. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles, about 3 minutes. Add milk and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens. Stir in cheese. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.

Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture (your fingers work best for this; it's messy but most efficient). Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti. At this point, the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months.

To eat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.


That wraps it up this Christmas day. I hope all of you have a wonderful time spent with family. Eat well, my friends. And I look forward to celebrating great food with you in 2014.

Merry Christmas.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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