A Taste of atHome for the Holidays

Treat your tastebuds to some of our all-time favorites

Cookie exchanges, holiday parties, family celebrations, potluck dinners...there's nothing that says "Home for the Holidays" more than food.

Home is what, and where, we make it...and it can be ornate or plain, loud and boisterous or quiet and reflective. But it is always delicious.

If the holiday season finds you searching for a delightful libation or an appealing appetizer for your festivities, check out some of our favorite recipes that we've featured over the years. There's something for everyone--new twists on old favorites, treasured family recipes, kid-friendly snacks...and adult-friendly beverages. Give one a try this season!


Spiced Cranberry Old Fashioned

A classic cocktail reimagined with a little festive flair.

For the spiced cranberry syrup:
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 cups fresh cranberries
• 2 star anise pods
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon whole allspice
• 1 teaspoon whole cloves
For the sugared cranberries:
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 12 ounces fresh cranberries (1 bag)
For the Old Fashioned:
• 1 ounce spiced cranberry syrup
• 2 dashes cocktail bitters
• 2 ounces bourbon
• splash of club soda
• orange peel
• maraschino cherries
• sugared cranberries
• cinnamon sticks for garnish, optional

To make cranberry syrup:

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar, cranberries, star anise, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves to a boil. 

2. Boil for 4-5 minutes, or until cranberries start to burst and the syrup is a rich red color. 

3. Set aside to cool. 

4. Once cooled, strain syrup through a fine mesh strainer and discard cranberries, star anise, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and clove. (Store extra syrup in fridge)

To make sugared cranberries:

1. Bring water and ½ cup of the sugar to a boil. Once boiling, stir for thirty seconds until dissolved. 

2. Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries. Stir until completely coated, then transfer to a wire rack to dry. 

3. Let dry for an hour, then roll in the remaining sugar, working in batches.

4. Transfer back to the rack, and let dry for an additional hour. (Store in a cool, dry place.)

To make the Old Fashioned:

1. Add ice cube or two to highball glass. 

2. Add cranberry syrup, cocktail bitters, bourbon, and splash of club soda.

3. Stir and garnish with an orange twist, a maraschino cherry, a handful of sugared cranberries, and a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Note: Recipe makes enough cranberries and syrup for several batches. Store extra cranberries in cool, dry place. Keep syrup refrigerated for up to two weeks in airtight container.


Adapted from Spice is in My DNA 



German Glühwein

This time of year, much of Germany is bustling with Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) [also called Christkindlmärkte (Christ Child markets) in some regions]--traditional marketplaces filled with shops, activities, food, drink, and good cheer. One of the most beloved traditions is warming up with a mug of Glühwein--a gently spiced mulled wine. This recipe is made with red wine--the traditional version; however, the markets also have white-wine versions, and many other flavors. There's also a non-alcoholic version, called Kinderpunsch.

• 2 cups water
• 1 cup orange juice
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 8 whole allspice berries
• 1 star anise pod
• 2 oranges, halved
• 10 cloves, whole
• 8 juniper berries
• 1 lemon, halved
• 1 1/2 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon
• Orange twists, for garnish
• Cinnamon stick, for garnish

1. Combine water, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice and star anise in a pot over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a mild simmer.

2. Juice the orange halves into the simmering liquid. Stud the remaining rinds with the cloves and gently place into the pot. Add juniper berries. Next, juice the lemon into the simmering liquid, and place the halves into the pot.

3. Reduce the mixture to half of its original volume, add the Cabernet Sauvignon and heat until just below simmering. Ladle into mugs. Garnish with orange twist and cinnamon stick.  

Tip: Want a no-alcohol version? Try this recipe for Kinderpunsch (a virgin version that's also popular in the German Christmas markets), courtesy of Daring Gourmet.

Adapted from Wine Enthusiast



Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Figs

A warm, creamy, rich combination of flavors...the traditional holiday fig and everybody's favorite cured meat, bacon, come together for an irresistable appetizer. 

• 4 to 6 slices of pre-cooked/ready-to-eat bacon
• 8-12 small, fresh ripe figs (try white or Calimyrna) 
• About 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled mild herbed goat cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350 F

2. Cut figs (you can halve them lengthwide, or make an X cut in the top and scoop out a bit of the insides), and brush cut side with balsamic.

3. Stuff opening with cheese.

4. Cut bacon into halves or thirds (depending on size of figs) and wrap a piece around each fig. Secure with toothpick.

5. Place figs on baking sheet and cook until figs are warmed, and cheese is browned/bubbly—around 8 minutes.




Sage and Prosciutto Pinwheels

All of your holiday-dinner flavor favorites, rolled up in festive bite-sized appetizer!

• 1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
• 1/4 cup honey mustard
• 1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
• 8 thin slices prosciutto or deli ham, chopped
• 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. 

2. Unfold one pastry sheet and spread 2 tablespoons mustard to within 1/2” of edges. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese; top with half each of the chopped prosciutto and sage. 

3. Roll pastry up, jelly-roll style, and then use a serrated knife to cut roll crosswise into 18 slices.

4. Place slices cut side down on a greased baking sheet. 

5. Repeat process with remaining ingredients. 

6. Bake until golden brown approximately 12-15 minutes. Serve warm. 

 NOTE: Unbaked, uncut rolls can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. To store: cover and freeze unbaked rolls on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet until firm. Transfer to resealable plastic freezer bags or other freeze-safe container; return to freezer. 

When you are ready to use, remove from freezer and let rolls stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cut and bake pinwheels as directed, increasing time as necessary.

Adapted from Taste of Home 


Sauerkraut & Mushroom Pierogi

If you've only ever had store-bought pierogi, you are in for a treat when you try homemade. Pierogi making is more of an art than science, and every family has their own traditions, tweaks, and favorite fillings. This is a great starter recipe--but don't be afraid to get creative! Oh, and even if you claim to hate sauerkraut, give this one a try. It adds just enough flavor to the dumpling without becoming overwhelming.

For the pierogi
• 6 cups flour
• 1 ½ cups warm milk or water
• 3 eggs
• 6 Tablespoons sour cream
• 1 ½ teaspoons salt
• 3 teaspoons butter

For the filling
• 1 ½ quart sauerkraut, chopped, rinsed, and drained
• 3 Tablespoons butter
• 1 medium to large sweet onion, finely chopped (or 1 ½ small onions)
• 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped (or substitute your favorite fungi)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
• ¼ to 1/2  teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
• 3 Tablespoons sour cream
Tip: This is just a suggestion--get creative! Other ideas include traditional cheese and potato; sausage; ham and cheese; or fruit fillings. The sky is the limit. Our family always does a sauerkraut, a cheese, a potato and cheese, and then one rotating flavor—this is my favorite. 
Make the filling

1. In a medium saucepan, add the sauerkraut and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain.

2. In a large skillet, sauté onion in butter until golden. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the sauerkraut, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the kraut turns golden, about 20 minutes. 3. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool.

4. Add sour cream (you might need less sour cream or more sour cream depending on the size of yoru onions and mushrooms) and mix well. The consistency should be like a paste. You should be able to form it into a ball. Set aside.

Make the pierogi

1. Mix pierogi ingredients thoroughly, until you have a pliable dough. Let rest at least 10 minutes.

2. Divide dough into 3-4 sections so that you can roll each section into a rope.

3. Cut rope into small balls, about the size of a walnut or ping-pong ball. Flatten into discs of about 1/8” thick. (NOTE: You can also roll the dough into sheets and cut circles with a cookie cutter or highball glass)

4. Place a dollop of filling in the center; fold dough over into a half-moon shape. Press edges together to seal.

5. Bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pierogi in small batches (make sure they do not stick together).

6. Boil until pierogi float to top; remove with slotted spoon and set aside (careful not to overlap). Keep boiling in small batches until all are done.

7. Serve as is or lightly pan fry in butter until golden. Serve with sour cream (or horseradish or your favorite condiment!) You can also freeze boiled pierogi and cook later.


Sage and Bay Prime Rib with Oven-Roasted Potatoes

An overnight marinade makes this prime rib succulent, juicy, and flavorful.

• 15 dried bay leaves, crumbled, plus whole leaves for garnish
• 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Coarse salt
• 1/3 cup finely grated orange zest, (from 3 oranges)
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1 (about 7 pounds) three-rib prime rib of beef, trimmed and frenched
• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and halved lengthwise

1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Stir together bay leaves, sage, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the orange zest in a small bowl. Season with pepper. Rub herb mixture all over the roast. Refrigerate roast, covered, overnight.

2. Put potatoes into a large pot of water. Bring to a boil; add salt. Cook 5 minutes. Drain. Score lines lengthwise in potatoes using the tines of a fork.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Transfer roast, fat side up, to a metal roasting pan; let stand until it comes to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Roast 15 minutes. Add potatoes; roast 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, turning potatoes after 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into meat (away from bone) registers 115 degrees for rare, about 1 hour. Let stand 20 minutes (temperature should rise to 125 degrees), and slice. Garnish with bay leaves and sage.


Adapted from Martha Stewart




Strawberry Santa Hats

These are as fun to eat as they are to make. Festive AND healthy, they're easy enough to make that kids can help, too!

• 24 strawberries
• 24 mini-marshmallows
• 1-2 bananas (cut into 24 round slices)

1. Hull strawberries and remove small portion of tip.

2. Slice banana(s) into 24 rounds

3. Make stack of banana slice, strawberry, mini-marshmallow and then skewer with a tooth pick or wooden skewer. 

Tip: Add a green grape before the banana bottom of Santa Hat, and you have Grinch snacks! 


Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Like pierogies, sugar cookies are another recipe that becomes a family heirloom. Soft, tender, and chewy...these are melt-in-your mouth tasty, and are just as good plain as they are with a dusting of sugar or even with icing,

• 1 1/2 cup white sugar 
• 1 cup butter, softened 
• 8 oz. package cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 3 ½ cup flour

1. Beat cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, almond extract, baking powder, and vanilla together in large bowl; mix well. Gradually add flour, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate until chilled.

2. Heat oven to 375°F. 

3. Roll out dough in thirds to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured surface (refrigerate unused dough for later use). 

4. Cut into desired shapes cookie cutters.

5. Leave plain for frosting or top with sprinkles or colored sugar.

6. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

7. Bake 7 to 10 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely before frosting.




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