Best Holiday Recipes

cynthia_gwDecember 15, 2005

Ok, you've all got some really special recipe that you have to make every December for sentimental or 'on demand' reasons. I've been making candy all week (to give away after I've quality tested it :)

This is the best penuche recipe I've ever found. It's from a 1983 Better Homes and Gardens Holiday edition. Most penuche is way too sweet. This one has coffee in it, so it's just right.

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup milk

Dash of salt

1 TBL light corn syrup

1 TBL instant coffee

Butter sides of two quart sauce pan, clip on a candy thermometer and add the above ingredients. Stir over medium heat until everything is disolved. Start watching the thermometer when the mixture begins to bubble. You want it to get up to 234F, but you don't want it to boil over.

When it gets to 234F, remove from heat and add 2 TBL of butter. Let sit until temp reduces to 110, and bottom of pan should feel just comfortably warm. Then add 1 tsp of vanilla, and beat with wooden spoon until it looses it's gloss and is getting too thick to beat. Pour into buttered 5"9" (loaf) pan and score into squares. Cut completely when it's cooled.

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Oops. 1 and a half cups of granulated sugar. It's a basic fudge recipe that gets modifed for penuche, so I got confused when I was putting the adjustments into the main recipe.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 6:25PM
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Cocoa Apple Cake

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1/2 pound) margarine
cup water
2 and ½ cups flour
2 TBS cocoa
1 teaspoon each baking soda, cinnaon, allspice
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups grated apple
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the eggs, sugar, margarine and water until fluffy. Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, cinnamon, and allspice. Combine with egg mixture. Fold in the nuts, chocolate chips, grated apple and vanilla . Spoon into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake 60 t0 70 minutes at 325 degrees F. Cool about 15 minutes before turning out.

Butter Cream Coffee Cake

1 cup sugar
¼ pound butter or margarine
1cup sour cream
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon each of soda and baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
3 teaspooons cinnamon

Cream sugar with butter until soft and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients, in order, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Pour ½ of the batter into spring form or bundt pan. Sprinkle with haf the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Nuts may be added if desired. Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Good warm or cold.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 11:26PM
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Tamale making has been a tradition in our family for decades. My eldest sister learned the procedure from a Mexican friend during the mid 1930s. Tamale making is basically a procedure and ingredients include many variations according to preference.

Basically, a tamale is a corn husk spread with prepared corn masa, then a filling, rolled, folded, and steamed.

Corn husks are available commercially in packages. One package usually produces enough husks for about 3 dozen tamales. The husks usually have a little wad of corn silk right in the center of the cluster of husk. The husks need to be placed in warm water just long enough to soften and separate the individual husks. The corn silk wad needs to be removed and the husks thoroughly rinsed, drained and dried until they are still damp and pliable. The husks may be rolled up in a towel to keep them damp. Any unused husks should be allowed to air dry before storing. To save time the husks may be cleaned before the procedure and allowed to air dry, then re dampened just before the tamale construction.

Masa harina, is a corn product of finely ground corn with added lime. It is used for tamales, tortillas, and corn chips. It is sold commercially like flour or meal. If not available corn meal may be substituted, but should be cooked into a mush.

I prefer to prepare the masa in small batches. This prevents having a lot left over if not needed.
For the masa mix I use:

¾ cup margarine (1 and ½ sticks)
3 cups masa harina
warm broth to make a spreadable mixture (3 to 3 and ½ cups)
salt as desired

Traditionally, some of the fat cooked out of the meat of choice could be used in the masa mix, for flavor.

Meat of choice may include beef, pork, chicken, or other. Basically, a tamale filling contains roasted shredded meat mixed with either red or green chili puree.

Some prefer using roasted pork rib meat mixed with red chili, with a green pimento stuffed olive in the center. Seedless golden raisens may be included if desired.

I have modified the amount of ingredients thru the years to make the tamales in smaller amounts. There isnt any wrong way to make a tamale.
I usually do it as a 2 day procedure. The first day, I roast the meat and prepare the meat filling. Then refrigerate the meat mixture overnight. I refrigerate the meat broth. When cold, I remove the fat from the broth. My basic ingredients using roast beef are as follows:

About 4 pounds of oven roasted boneless beef roast, shredded.
I roast the meat in a roast pan with cover, uncovered at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Then I add water to fill the pan about half way, cover, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and roast until the meat is well done. Remove meat from the broth. Cool the meat and shred it into small particles. Set aside the broth.

To shredded beef add:

¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup shredded colby-cheddar cheese
1 small can of pork and beans
½ cup seedless raisens
1 16 oz jar of Old El Paso Taco Sauce
1 medium size can of red enchilada sauce or chile puree
or 1 tablespoon of chili powder.
I prepare this and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2:

I clean off the dining table and cover with a plastic table cloth. I prepare the masa mix in batches as needed. Usually mix up about 3 batches.

I lay out the prepared husks about a dozen at a time. Lay out with smooth side up and wide end at the bottom. Spread bottom half of husk with the freshly prepared masa mixture. I am right handed so I place a tablespoonful of the meat mixture along the left edge of the masa spread husk. I then procede to roll the the tamale until all the filling has been enclosed. Then I fold down the narrow end of the husk and continue rolling to secure the folded husk. The tamales will be open at the lower end.

Place some clean corn husks over the rack inside the steamer kettle. Place tamales on end with open end up. Put more clean husks over the tops of the tamales. Place lid on kettle. Steam for about an hour. Check periodically to make sure the water doesnt evaporate away. Add more water to kettle if needed. Do not exceed the level of the rack when adding water.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 8:50AM
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taryn(S Ontario Z6B)

Mmm the tamales sound great EP! I like these spinach-parmesan balls for easy h'ordeurves. They are yummy any time of year, but are green, so work well at Christmas. Much of the butter remains on the cookie sheet so they're not really as high in fat as they sound either. Easy to make ahead and either reheat or freeze.


2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
2 c. packaged seasoned stuffing mix of choice
1 c. Parmesan cheese
6 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. softened butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine, roll into balls, bake at 350 degrees 10-15 minutes or freeze. They do well either way, but will need an extra 10 minutes or so in the oven if cooked from frozen.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 10:28AM
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Green Corn Tamales

The corn is the Mexican White Corn which is a coarse corn, not for eating like the yellow.

1 dozen ears makes about 8 cups and yields 3 dozen tamales.

½ half pound butter (1 cup melted)
1 pound longhorn cheddar cheese (3 cups grated)
2 cups cottage cheese (one pound)
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups diced green chilies

Save husks for wrapping, cut off kernals and grind fine. Mix all, wrap and steam one hour.

Another recipe for Green Corn Tamales

4 cups of fresh corn kernals, lightly packed
Husks from the ears of corn
¼ cup of melted butter
¾ cup of grated longhorn cheese
1 small can of chopped green chilies (drained)
salt for seasoning

Try to peel off husks of corn without tearing, remove silk and rinse.
Cut kernals from corn and run through a food processor until finely chopped.
Stir in melted butter, cheese, green chilies, salt to taste.
Spread mixture over one side of wide end of smooth side of husk. Roll to cover filling, fold down top of husk and continue rolling.
Place folded end down in steamer. Steam tamales in a 5 to 6 quart steamer on a rack just over boiling point. Tamales should be loosely packed so steam can circulate. Steam for about one hour. The tamales should be cooked until firm. Add boiling water to the steamer as needed.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 11:05AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Every year these have got to be made. (Sometimes requested as a gift too...)


Set the oven to 300F.
Cream 1 cup butter thoroughly.
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (pecans or hazelnuts are great too)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well. Shape into balls the size of large marbles. Roll in confectioner's sugar.
Place on cooky sheet and bake for 35 minutes. Cool. Roll in sugar again.
Makes about 36.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 1:20PM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

Here are a couple I will be making for the party tomorrow night:

Strawberry Punch

20 oz Frozen Sweetened Strawberries, slightly thawed
1-6 oz can frozen lemonade concentrate, slightly thawed
1 750 ml bottle of chilled rose' wine (I use non alcoholic)
2 liters chilled ginger ale
1 liter chilled club soda
orange slices and ice ring

In blender, blend strawberries and lemonade concentrate and pour into large punch bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Float ice ring and orange slices

Broccoli Casserole (I triple this for the party)

2 10 oz pkg frozen, chopped broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C mayonaise
1 C shredded sharp cheese
3/4 roll ritz crackers, crushed (oh-oh, here come the
1 stick melted butter

Cook and drain broccoli. Stir in soup, eggs and mayonaise and spread into a 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Mix crushed ritz crackers with melted butter and crumble on top.

Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes.

Sit back and listen to your arteries harden.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 7:58PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

GB - we made the nut balls this afternoon - yum! I divided the dough in three - made walnut ones with one part, pecan with another and hazelnut with the third. All are good but I think I like the pecan the best. My SIL makes something similar with almonds. I suspect these ones may not last until Christmas so I may make another batch 1/2 pecan and 1/2 almond. Definitely a 'keeper' recipe!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 4:26PM
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I'm making the broccoli casserole for supper tonight. And do plan to make the nutballs too. And the spinach balls, and the apple cake at some point! Everything sounds yummy. The tamales will have to wait for corn season :-)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 5:26PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Woody, I like pecan nut balls best but would never turn down the others.... They last no time at all at our house.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 5:32PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Please tell me how you store cookies. (Here they are eaten immediately) I'd like to make some cookies now for friends spending the Christmas weekend take back with them.

If I make Nut Balls for them, won't all the butter turn rancid by next week? Should I freeze them, refrigerate them or just keep them in a metal container?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 10:41PM
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Maybe you could freeze them before you cook them. Then thaw and cook when your guests arrive? I think cookies loose something when they've been frozen (after cooking) and then thawed....

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 10:49PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Good idea! Thanks Cynthia.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 10:55PM
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Woody_Canada(~USz5 - Canada)

If you keep the cookies in an air tight container, they will last a week or so. To be sure, you can also put the container in the fridge - think how long a pound of butter can be stored in the fridge in its wrapper without going rancid... Also think of how long commercial shortbread cookies stay in air tight packaging after manufacturing...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 7:31AM
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Does anyone use a percolator any more. This punch was originally made in one with the cinnamon sticks, spices , and sugar in the basket and the other ingredients in the bottom of an 8 to 12 cup percolator. Set heat on 'strong' and complete perking cycle. Hold on 'mild' cycle. we used to enjoy it a lot in winter but haven't made any in years. Now, I guess I could make it in a pan and strain it, then put back into the pan to keep it warm. Or it could be reheated in the microwave as needed..

2 and 1/2 cups pineapple juice
1 and 1/4 cups water
2 cups cranberry juice
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
3 sticks cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firm packed brown sugar

(when was clicking on preview noticed the ads at the bottom were for tamale making equipment)...

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 1:03AM
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Marie's recipe not the same as ours:

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix butter and 1/2 of sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and flour and hand mix. Cover for about one hour. Form small balls. Bake at 350 degrees F about 15 minutes. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Roll in remaining powdered sugar. Cool. roll again in sugar.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 11:18PM
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From a 1959 Newspaper clipping Tucson, Arizona

Chocolate Butter Fudge

3 cups sugar
1 envelope unflavored geletan
1 cup milk
½ cup light corn syrup (scant)
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 ¼ cup butter or oleo
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup miniature marshmallows or nuts

Butter a 9 inch square pan
Mix sugar and geletan, add milk, syrup, chocolate, and butter. Cook on medium heat stirring frequently to 238 degrees F / or tested by dropping a small amount of mixture into cold water to form a soft ball which flattens on removal from water. Remove from heat. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Flavor with vanilla. Cool 15 minutes. Beat until thick. Stir in nuts or marshmallows. Spread in buttered pan. When firm, cut into squares.


3 cups sugar
1 envelope unflavored geletan
¾ cup cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 large can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup raisens, miniature marshmallows, or nuts
Butter a 9 inch square pan
Mix sugar, geletan , milk , syrup, cocoa, butter. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently to 238 degrees ( or soft ball when tested in cold water). Remove from heat. Cool. Add vanilla. Beat until thick and creamy. Add raisens, nuts, or marshmallows. Pour into pan. When firm cut into squares.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 11:54PM
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honey_mi(Z5 MI)

I've adapted this recipe from one I cut from the newspaper and a similar one from a magazine. It looks like a xmas wreath and is just elegant on a Holiday Buffet!



Puff Ring

1 Cup Water
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Sugar
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
Sliced Almonds
Egg Yolk Wash
Red and Green Candied Cherries

Combine water, butter, sugar and salt in heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Add flour all at once, then beat with wooden spoon over low heat 1 minute or until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a mixture that does not separate. Remove from heat and beat about 2 minutes to cool mixture slightly. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each until mixture has a satin-like sheen.

Butter a 9" circle on cookie sheet. Drop paste by ¼ measuring cupfuls just inside circumference of circle so that it forms a ring. Top with sliced almonds and brush top and almonds with egg yolk wash. Bake in preheated 400 oven 40 minutes or until puffed and well-browned. Cool on wire rack. A few hours before serving, carefully slice ring crosswise with long, sharp, thin-bladed knife and gently lift off top.

Fill with Crème Patisserie see below -- (or other filling) and replace top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and place red and green candied cherries at intervals around the ring, decoratively spaced. Bottoms of the cherries may be touched with a drop of cold water to make them stick to the ring.

Crème Patisserie Filling

2/3 Cup Sugar
½ Cup Flour
2 Eggs
4 Egg Yolks
2 Cups Hot Milk
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Flavoring
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

In heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix sugar, flour, eggs and yolks. Gradually stir in hot milk and cook over medium heat, stirring continually until smooth and thick. This custard MUST NOT BOIL. Remember: you are going to add a cup of shipped cream so be sure the custard mixture is thicker than usual. Add the vanilla flavoring. Cool, stirring occasionally.

In a separate cooled bowl, whip up whipping cream until stiff. When custard Mixture is cool, fold in whipped cream until smooth. Fill puff ring.

It tastes as good as it looks. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 4:36PM
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Here's the recipe for the french toast I found over on the cooking forum. We had it this morning and we all loved it.

Creme Brulee French Toast
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbl corn syrup
1-10 inch round country loaf or 1 Lb French bread or 1 Challah
5 eggs
1 1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Grand Marnier (optional...NOT!)
1/4 tsp salt

1. Melt butter, sugar and corn syrup in saucepan over moderate heat. Pour into 9 X 13 pan.
2. Slice bread into 6 slices and place on top of the sauce in the 9 X 13 pan, press together to fit.
3. Whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt. Pour over bread.
4. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, until puffy and brown.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 5:09PM
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Is this a holiday recipe? I make it year round when I have the time :) It's from a 1999 Good Housekeeping magazine and the original was getting pretty tattered so did a web search for a fresh copy and found it,yay! I eliminate the onions, swap the jalapeno for those little tiny orange peppers that will give you a severe hot flash, add extra parsley (good source of vitamin k) and ignore any guidance to use 'fat free' products in recipes. (Believe some fat in the diet is normal). I also cook the chicken longer than they suggest. It's exceptionally good and I made it yesterday because I had the time :)

Cajun Chicken Salad with Green Grapes

1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves (1 3/4 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups green grapes (about 12 ounces), each cut in half
1 large red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 large pickled jalapeño chile, minced

1. In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 inch water with lemon slices, bay leaf, peppercorns, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme to boiling over high heat. Add chicken; reduce heat to low and simmer 12 to 14 minutes, turning chicken over halfway through cooking, until chicken just loses its pink color throughout. With slotted spoon or tongs, remove chicken from skillet to cutting board; cool slightly until easy to handle. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch pieces.

2. Discard poaching liquid and wipe skillet dry. Add paprika and remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme to skillet; toast over medium-low heat, stirring, 2 minutes.

3. Transfer paprika mixture to large bowl; stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until blended. Add chicken, grapes, red pepper, parsley, onion, and jalapeño; toss until evenly coated. Serve salad warm, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 9:34AM
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I'm putting this here in the holiday recipe thread since that's the only food thread we have going and this trifle would be good for a holiday.


1 angel food cake, torn into small pieces
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can mandarin oranges (drained well)
1 small box instant banana cream pudding (mixed)
1 jar strawberry jam
1 can pineapple chunks (drained well)
1 large container Cool Whip
1 6oz. pkg. mini chocolate chips

In glass trifle bowl layer all ingredients in order.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 1:24PM
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