Holiday Recipe Essentials

With the holidays fastly approaching, so is the need for festive dishes. Yes, there is the traditional 20 lbs. turkey cooking in the kitchen all day on Thanksgiving, there are the stuffing and the mashed potatoes with a big bowl of gravy to go on top of the whole plate. Then there are holidays in December, like Christmas, where families celebrate with a big slow roasted ham. But with the traditional dinner food, it is always fun to try new things with fun holiday treats and drinks.

With this simple yet delicious treat, it makes for a great grab-and-go dessert. Fudge also makes for great office gift baskets or as a contribution to a holiday party. When making fudge, you can make a couple different flavors, either chocolate or white chocolate, or use one of those flavors and add peppermint for taste.

Yield: 40 servings
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
– 3 cups sugar
– ¾ cup butter or margarine
– 1 small can (5 ounces) evaporated milk (about ⅔ cup) (Do not use sweetened condensed milk.)
– 3 pkg. (4 ounces each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
– 1 jar (7 ounces) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
– 1 cup chopped PLANTERS Walnuts (optional)
-1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Line 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.
2. Bring sugar, butter and evaporated to full rolling boil in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.
3. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Add chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Add nuts and vanilla; mix well.
6. Pour into prepared pan; spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift fudge from pan before cutting into squares.

Recipe found on back of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme jar.

Homemade almond biscotti. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Homemade almond biscotti. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

This holiday cookie is another great treat to go as well as another work gift basket stuffer. This cookie can be made as vanilla flavored, almond, or you could even make it more festive by making it pumpkin flavored. Another simple add-on to spice up the cookies is to add a chocolate drizzle on top of the cookies after baking them. To make the biscotti almond flavored, add sliced almonds as the nuts and replace the vanilla extract with almond extract.

Yield: 45 cookies
Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes
– 2 eggs
– 2 egg whites
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup sugar
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ¼ teaspoon salt
– ¾ cup nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, toasted
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly spray or wipe a large baking sheet with vegetable oil.
2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, egg whites, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add the sugar, flour, soda, and salt; beat until dough forms. Stir in the nuts.
3. Turn the sticky dough onto a lightly floured board. With clean floured hands and with the aid of a spatula or pastry scraper, knead the dough several times. Divide the dough in half.
4. With floured hands, form the dough into two flattish logs, about 15 inches long, and 2 inches wide. Place the logs on the baking sheet, 3 inches apart. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes
5. Reduce the heat to 275°.
6. On a cutting board, cut the logs diagonally into ¾-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the heat off, and leave the biscotti to crisp in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Recipe found in “Great Good Food” cookbook by Julee Rosso.

Homemade gingerbread cookies and hand decorated with icing and sprinkle candies. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Homemade gingerbread cookies and hand decorated with icing and sprinkle candies. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Gingerbread Cookies:
Gingerbread cookies along with gingerbread houses are a staple when it comes to holiday treats. Without gingerbread house contests and decorating contests the holidays would not be complete.

Yield: 24 four-inch cookies
Preparation Time: 4 hours (includes chilling)
– 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– ¾ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– ⅔ cup unsulphured molasses
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
– 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon allspice
– ½ teaspoon ground cloves
– Easy Royal Icing
Other equipment need:
– Cookie cutter(s)
– Rolling pin
– Large baking sheets
1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy.
2. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
3. Beat in the egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that’s ok.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky.
5. Divide dough in half and place each into a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each tightly and pat down to create a disc shape.
6. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. Easy to cool overnight and bake in the morning.
7. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
8. Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Don’t be afraid to continually flour the work surface as needed, this dough can be sticky.
9. Roll out disc until ¼-inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches bake for about 11 minutes.
10. Allow for cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.
Note: This recipe does not make cookies sturdy enough to build gingerbread houses.

Recipe found on

Peppermint bark made with a layer of semisweet chocolate and a layer of white chocolate, then topped with crushed candy canes. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Peppermint bark made with a layer of semisweet chocolate and a layer of white chocolate then topped with crushed candy canes. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Peppermint Bark:
This minty-chocolate delight is a simple dessert that is popular with anyone and everyone. It always finds a spot on the holiday dessert table. When making the bark the candy canes could even be different colors to add a pop to the treat.

Yield: about 2 pounds of bark
Preparation Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
– 12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
– 1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
– 1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
– 3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed
1. Line a 9-by-13 baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles.
2. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming. Put all but ¾ cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until ⅓ of the chocolate is melted.
3. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved ¾ cup of chocolate into the bowl until all the chocolate is melted.
4. Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5-10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate if needed. It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
5. Wipe any moisture from the bottom of the bowl.
6. Stir ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer.
7. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl.
9. Stir in the remaining ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer.
10. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate.
11. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour.
12. Lift the bark out of the pan using foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe found on Food Network

As easy as hot chocolate is to buy prepackaged in stores, so is pre-made eggnog. But for those that like the challenge for all homemade treats and drinks in the house, making eggnog isn’t as hard as it may seem.

Yield: 5 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
– 6 large egg yolks
– ½ cup sugar
– 1 cup heavy cream
– 2 cups milk
– ½ teaspoon nutmeg
– Pinch of salt
– ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
– Ground cinnamon, for topping
1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy.
2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until mixture reaches a bare simmer.
3. Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisk vigorously. Repeat, adding a big spoonful at a time, to temper the eggs.
4. Once all of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove.
5. Whisk constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened, just a few minutes (or until it reaches about 160℉ on a thermometer).
6. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
7. Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or other container and cover with plastic wrap.
8. Refrigerate until chilled. It will thicken as it cools, if you want a thinner, completely smooth consistency, I like to add the entire mixture to a blender with 1-2 Tablespoons of milk and blend until smooth.
9. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and fresh whipped cream, if desired.
Optional: To make this a holiday cocktail, suggested alcohol to mix in is either brandy or rum.

Hot Chocolate:
Hot chocolate is something that people drink all year round but it especially makes for a nice cozy warm-up drink on cold winter nights. To add more of a holiday flavor to it some people will either buy peppermint hot chocolate packets or stir in a candy cane into their drink. Hot cocoa is a really easy basic drink to make, or for those who have troubles in the kitchen, it is also easy to find at a local coffee shop as well. But for those who love to make the ultimate cup of hot chocolate here’s a recipe to try out.

Yield: 2 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
– 2 cups of milk (any kind, by preference)
– 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
– 2 teaspoons cornstarch, sifted
– ½ teaspoon vanilla
Optional Garnishes:
– Whipped cream
– Marshmallows
1. Put all ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium, stirring or whisking constantly until it comes to a simmer and thickens
2. Pour into mugs, and top with choice of garnishes
Options for flavor: adding a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon or substituting almond or peppermint extract with the vanilla.

Recipe found on

Red wine hot chocolate made with a syrah red wine and semisweet chocolate topped with marshmallows. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Red wine hot chocolate made with a syrah red wine and semisweet chocolate topped with marshmallows. (Ally Beckwitt/Lariat)

Red Wine Hot Chocolate:
Just as children need a cup of cocoa to warm up on cold nights, adults need it too but with a little extra something to warm them up. The recipe makes for rich hot chocolate so to make it less strong add more milk, tasting as you go.

Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
– ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
– ⅔ cups dry red wine(merlot, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon)
– ½ cup milk
– ½ cup half and half
– 2 Tablespoons sugar (optional)
– Pinch of salt
– ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine the chocolate chips, wine, milk, half and half and sugar(if using), in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
2. Heat, stirring constantly until chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is hot.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
4. Pour into mugs and serve.

Recipe found on

Cranberry Mimosas:
Want a holiday drink for morning Christmas breakfast? Try this flavorful mimosa! Want to include the kids? Just substitute the champagne for sparkling cider.

Yield: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
– 1 lime, halved
– 2 Tablespoon sugar
– 1 cup sweetened cranberry juice
– 1 bottle champagne
– 12 fresh cranberries
– 4 small sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Rub rims of champagne flutes with lime and dip in sugar. Pout ¼ cup cranberry into each glass and top with champagne.
2. Use a toothpick to poke a hole through cranberries. Thread rosemary skewer through cranberries and garnish mimosas.

Recipe found on