Our families' treasured winter holiday recipes

Suggested at the Dec. 2023 COTM nomination post, but it’s not appropriate for COTM so…

Might be fun for everyone to share the very best of what we’re cooking with recipes and stories about why they are special to us mandatory.

Needn’t be fancy: it could be your great-aunt’s pickles that she always served in a special relish dish, or your grandfather’s special roasted nuts that weren’t spectacular but remind you of special times with him and a funny story he would tell and retell, or a friend you met only last year but who shared a home-cooked dish with you that’s already made it into your heart and annual rotation, or your mom’s recipe for a cake that she tweaked just a little every year and then presented triumphantly to eagerly-waiting family and friends.

This overlaps with comments on the what’s for breakfast/lunch/dinner posts, but the emphasis here is on sharing the recipes and stories about why they are special to you.

Making our own HO holiday/winter community cookbook, if you will, from our collective family-and-friends favorites. Photos of the food, family, etc., gratefully viewed as well!


I love this idea!

I’ll start us off with something easy. When I was growing up, we always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it was 8 (my parents, me and my younger brother, and both sets of grandparents), sometimes aunts/uncles/cousins (including one who invariably spilled something on the carpet and himself), and sometimes stray friends and coworkers. One year we had 25 and so the kids table was 2 rooms away from the dining room. Anyway, my mom always made sure that as guests arrived, there were easy appetizers out - veggies and dip, crackers and cheese spread, and Chex Mix. This was the 80s iteration of Chex Mix, not the horribly mutant version they offer up today. I still use this version of the butter/Worcestershire/seasoned salt sauce, though I now vary the dry ingredients (corn and rice Chex only, and gluten free pretzels, plus peanuts).



I use Wheat Chex too and they are my favorite, I have a great recipe, I add TJ cheese crackers (like goldfish).

Now you’re making me want it!


Haha, sorry/not sorry! I loved wheat Chex and pretzel goldfish in mine - alas, no more wheat for me.

(Btw in case it isn’t obvious to everyone, the “Enjoy” in my original post is a link to the recipe.)


I will definitely post some recipes, but the first thing that came to mind was my mom’s “relish tray” that she put out every thanksgiving. She had a big round Tupperware serving tray with individual triangle shaped compartments. She put out a rather strange mix, including olives, carrots and celery, mandarin oranges and maybe a few other things. I always put the olives on all of my fingers and ate them off. I have to ask if she still has that serving tray,


Oh, clever, I didn’t know that about “enjoy”

I lovetupperware, lasts forever if you don’t put in dishwasher. (A few lids have cracked and they have replaced them)

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I stick with tradition - Trillin tradition, that is! www.iheart.com/podcast/8-burnt-toast-27868315/episode/calvin-trillins-thanksgiving-campaign-spaghetti-

Once I entered my dotage, admitting that I prefer roast chicken to roast turkey and that the only good things about the latter are sandwiches, croquettes, turkey divan, and my own take on French Onion Soup (half beef broth, half turkey stock), I embraced the Carbonara Heresy. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: If I see a marked-down fresh turkey thigh or breast next week, I know what to make with it.


Two treasured recipes, one old and one new. We’ve been making curried pearl onions for about 30 years. I thought the recipe came from my sister’s mother in law but she (sister) insisted last year that she’d been the one to bring the recipe to the table. Whatever. Delicious and we always make 3 times what you’d think is needed.

Second one is new to the table this year. For the past 8 years or so my mom has spent major holidays at her friend’s nephew’s house in West Hollywood but now she is in Virginia near me. We were talking yesterday about the meal and she said her contribution would be the “thai flavors” slaw that she had been bringing to the nephew’s house and which they all loved. Gratuitous story: Mom and the nephew were generally the only attendees who weren’t in recovery so the two of them would hang out in the kitchen sipping their wine, snacking on turkey skin, and bonding.


Do you have some stories for us, @Tex?

Please ask her if her recipe came from Martin Yan’s The Well-Seasoned Wok (as Thai Cabbage Salad, p. 72). I make that several times a year, especially in the summer, and it is delicious! If she’s using a different recipe, please share it!

I was going to wait to add a few recipes until I’d made them this year, so I could share photos. But here’s one to start.

My Mom made a fruitcake that even people who don’t like fruitcake, liked. She’d bring it to holiday potluck parties and there was never a single scrap left. What’s funny is that this recipe is still discussed online every now and then, people looking for it, people remembering it, many people unsure where it originated.

It was first published in the December 1954 edition of Woman’s Day magazine, in the cover article titled “How to Bake the Five Greatest Christmas Cakes”. It was republished in 1966, in *Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery", Volume 3, page 83.



In 2003, the Bismark Tribune reported that a woman made her fruitcake for a charity auction, and it sold for $600. In 2018, this blogger shares her recipe and that she soaks it in Calvados. They’ve forgotten or never knew, but the fruitcake they make, and the one my Mom made, was the one developed by Woman’s Day so long ago.

Maybe some of you HOs make this fruitcake, too?


Thanks for asking - I just added one. Tomorrow I’m making my cornbread for Thanksgiving’s dressing and I think I’ll share that, too. Does your family have a special dressing or stuffing recipe that you do all the time?

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Hers is a little different, see below:

Thai-Flavor Coleslaw


  • ½ c. dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 2 medium serrano chiles, seeds removed
  • 1 lb. Savoy or green cabbage
  • ½ lb. cucumber, peeled, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
  • 4 medium green onions, trimmed
  • ¼ c. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ c. oil
  • 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro


Insert metal blade in food processor and process peanuts to medium chopped texture with 6 to 8 pulses. Place in a large bowl. With machine running, drop garlic and serrano chiles through food chute, processing until chopped. Empty container into bowl with peanuts.

Change to medium slicing disc. Slice cabbage wedges across the grain with gentle push. Add to mixing bowl. Insert cucumber pieces upright in food chute and slice with gentle push. Dangle-slice green onions by lowering root ends through food chute while machine is running. Reserve green tops for other use or chop by hand and add to mixing bowl. Add cucumber and onion to bowl.

In measuring cup, mix vinegar, sugar, curry powder and oil. Pour over cabbage. Add cilantro and toss to mix thoroughly. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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I posted my friend Polly’s fruitcake method before. It expands the ingredient possibilities beyond the typical candied fruits and peels.

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forgot to note that the instructions are absurd. Why you would use a food processor to vertically chop scallions makes no sense. Mom possibly got it from a food processor promoting cookbook? Anyway, chop stuff the way you normally would if you ever make the recipe.


No one in our family ever made fruitcake as my Aunt Helen sent us a Collins Street Bakery one every Christmas, along with a basket of oranges from Texas which was a treat in the days before fruits and vegetables were available year round .

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Over the years I’ve made a ton of different dishes for Christmas, but, as I age, I long for (among) the easiest appetizers from the 60s/70s. Five slices of bologna or hard salami with cream cheese in the middle of the strata layers. I like pricier beef bologna, but whatever. That and cannibal sandwiches. Must have.