By Selena Hernandez, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Looking to break away from the tradition turkey or ham at your Christmas table? Scott Gottlich, the chef and co-owner of The Second Floor in Dallas, offers some quick and appetizing ideas that will wow your guests.

A seasonal spread doesn’t have to be complicated, even though it may appear as such.

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“The idea here is to take something that was familiar and make it special – as opposed to what you would ordinarily have; like the turkey,” said Gottlich.

Not completely ready to chuck the poultry? Cornish game hens provide a nice break from the other Christmas bird. “It’s going to be very similar to a chicken, but cook it a lot less time because it’s smaller,” explained Gottlich. “You’d prep it the same way you’d roast a chicken.”

Gottlich suggests that the birds be seasoned to your liking, then roasted in the oven, at 350-degrees, until golden brown.

If you’re looking for something a little meatier try a French cut rack of lamb. Coat it in the spices and oil of your choosing. Then, “Sear it in a pan so it gets nice and brown on the outside of the lamb. And then we’ll finish it off in the oven,” Gottlich said.

He recommends buying the rack pre-cut. You can ask your butcher to prep your rack with the French cut.

Stuffing is always a nice side dish, but it doesn’t have to come in a box. Try substituting seasoned crumbs with some diced brioche. “What we’re going to do is use a more decadent bread,” explained  Gottlich. “We’re going to use a bread that’s made with eggs and butter.”

What’s dinner without dessert? Impress your guests with a savory croustade – a rustic French version of a pie. “This is just some granny smith apples roasted in butter and sugar and thrown in some fresh cranberries,” Second Floor Executive Chef, J. Chastain explained.

Place the mixture in the middle of a rolled-out crust, then fold the edges around the filling. “This shape is going to hold all that filling inside real tight,” Chastian said. A little egg yolk wash and it’s ready to bake for about 20 minutes, at 350-degrees.

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Simple, savory and something your holiday guests are sure to enjoy.

The recipe for the French Croustade is below.

♦Apple and Cranberry Croustade♦♦

Tart Dough
10 oz flour
6.5 oz butter
2.5 oz of water
1 tsp salt
(sugar optional)

Sift flour. Cube the butter and gently crumble butter into flour until it resembles heavy cornmeal. Place in the freezer for 10-15 min. dissolve the salt (and sugar if added) in the water. Mix the water and the crumble mixture until the dough just begins to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2 granny smith apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 oz butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Peal the apples. Cut them in cubes about 1in thick. In a medium heat pan place butter and apples in the pan. Then add all other ingredients, except the cranberries. Cook until the apples become tender. Mix the fresh cranberries in the apple mixture. When finished cooking place mixture in refrigerator until chilled.


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Roll dough to desired size round. Place filling in the center of the rolled dough. Allow for 2.5-3 inches for the crimping. Brush with egg wash and cook in the oven at 350 for 16-20 minutes. For finishing touch dust with powdered sugar.