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Lacking Inspiration and Looking for Something New?

‘Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed, so if that chef knife is lying unused because you are out of inspiration on what to prepare for the upcoming holidays, then you’ve found just the right place!

Keep scrolling and discover the favorite winter holiday recipes of our guests from the Chef Conversations. Be it for Christmas or Chanukah, for meat-lovers or vegans and vegetarians, the list below has a recipe for every taste.

So keep scrolling and hear the jingle bells ringing, feel the sweet aroma of a home-cooked meal surrounding you, and get your festive mood on!

Traditional Dishes (with a Twist)

Dips

1.  Sally of Good Dinner Mom:

What better way to start a meal than with some tasty appetizers and yummy dips? Can you think of any, we can’t, and we’ll surely find it hard to do so after checking out Sally’s recipes. Simple and fast, we’re all ready to get started!

I love appetizer recipes, and with all the Christmas parties during the season, I’m making a lot of them. I have some sure-fire hits like my Hot Corn Dip and my Pretzel Bites with Garlic Caramel Sauce.

pretzel bites surrouding a cup of sauce and garlic
Source: Good Dinner Mom

My family insists on my Best (and easiest) Artichoke Dip recipe on Christmas Eve. It’s incredibly easy, but perfect during the holidays.

2. Kelley Wilson of Miss Information:

Kelley reminisces about not one, but two recipes that you can easily make during the holidays. The best part? You get both sweet and salty dishes, as the spicy, cheesy delights of the cheese straws will taste even better if you know they’ll be followed by gingerbread cookies and a glass of milk.

Good old Southern cheese straws! I remember my mother making them every Christmas, turning her old copper cookie extruder until her fingers ached.

There is nothing like them when they have the right amount of red pepper in them. I use Paula Deen’s recipe. My oldest son loves them, and they are a special treat.

decorated gingerbread men on a plate
Source: Miss Information

I also love to make gingerbread cookies with my kids every year. Even though they are picky eaters, (much to my chagrin) they love gingerbread.

It’s time that we get to spend together, let go of the holiday stress, talk, and have fun. We make them in all shapes (not just men) and decorate them with icing and sprinkles.

We got to chat about more than just this with Kelley in an interview, so be sure to check it out too!

gif of gingerbread cookies and gingerbread tree cookie being decorated
via Giphy

3. Michelle Goth of Blackberry Babe:

Our usual Christmas Eve meal consists of Butter Poached Lobster, Grilled or Seared Venison Loin, and an assortment of side dishes like these Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and these Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts.  And champagne, lots of it! 🍾

For some inspiration on how to make butter poached lobster, you can check out this recipe. Or you can go for the grilled or seared venison loin too, if you feel ready to spend the time and have the patience it takes to get this dish just right.

4. Tara Noland of Noshing with the Noland:

Tara offered us inspiration for a complete dinner, not just a recipe, as she went to tell us about her family’s favorite Christmas Day meal, their Boxing Day customs, and also mentions the showy, chef-worthy Croquembouche dessert.

I enjoy a very traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Day, there is usually just the three of us. 

Boxing Day explodes with company here and we pull out all the stops. I think this year, we will be having a prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings and as many sides as we can think of. 

Amber, our daughter, likes to bake and she has been known to pull off an amazing Croquembouche for dessert.

We got to chat about more than just this with Tara in an interview, so be sure to check it out too!

gif of croquembouche
via Giphy

Vegan

5.  Emese and Nandi of My Pure Plants:

Emese and Nandi, the cooking and baking couple behind this food blog, are here with a great alternative to the classic Sheppard’s Pie. They only needed a few words to tell us how you can transform this into a vegan-dish, how versatile it is, and perhaps even better, how great of an option it is if you’re hosting a larger dinner party. Got your chef ready yet?

Our current favourite is the Vegan Shepherd’s Pie. It is such a versatile dish. Instead of simple mashed potato, you can do a combination of cauliflower – potato or kohlrabi -potato.

For the veggie stew, you can add any veggies you like eggplant, zucchini, carrot, peas or other legumes. This meal is easy to make for a large dinner party – you just need a large enough dish.

slice of vegan shepard pie on plate
Source: My Pure Plants

We got to chat about more than just this with Emese and Nandi in an interview, so be sure to check it out too!

Gluten-Free

6. Connie L. Veilleux of Daily Forage:

My all-time favorite recipe to make every Christmas is Tourtière. It is a meat and potato pie wrapped in a flaky crust. And it is a must-have dish on our Christmas breakfast table.

You should try out Connie’s homemade gluten-free recipe too, while you’re at it.

I make three each year – one for Christmas, one for New Year’s, and one that parks itself in our freezer until Easter.

I love taking extra time on Tourtière baking day to decorate the pie crust. Some years the decorations are more elaborate than others. Always a delicious tradition.

For those of you who might be a bit unfamiliar with it, Tourtière is a traditional Canadian dish predominantly made in the French-Canadian provinces. It is usually served at Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, but it sounds delicious, so we wouldn’t mind eating it more often.

Fun Fact: The name of this meat pie reportedly comes from the dish it was originally made in – called (you guessed it) a tourtière. Also, you can pretty much fill this pie with any meat (or even veggies) you want.

Source: Pexels

International Flavors

Want to experiment a bit too? You already have some great, local favorites that you can easily adapt and make your own, but perhaps you are still looking for something a bit more exotic. Perhaps some hearty Mediterranean dishes, or maybe Asian flavors? Let’s check them out!

1. Ashley Covelli of Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen:

Ready for a little taste of Italy, mixed with some Midwest flavors too? In one of her posts, Ashley recounts how much she loved baking cookies with her maternal grandmother in her Midwest kitchen, and how she pretty much looked for any reason to make her grandma’s Christmas cookies

ricotta cookies in a green box
Source: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

In a separate but related series of posts, it is easy to see how Italian flavors started making their way in her kitchen, even for Christmas recipes, as Ashley recounts how she started making Ricotta Cookies, and then how her husband and in-laws make Calabrese Cookies and also Turdilli &Chinudille.

She also put together a masterpost of over 100 (!) holiday cookie recipes. Get the milk ready! 🍪🥛

We got to chat with Ashley in an interview, so be sure to check it out too!

gif of cookies disappearing of a table
via Giphy

Vegan 

2. Sophia DeSantis of Veggies Don’t Bite:

We’re keeping with the Mediterranean area but moving a bit lower as you’re about to find out more about a Greek favorite, Baklava.

In one of her May articles, Sophia goes to explain how she took this family favorite, a recipe perfected over the years, and adapted it to fit her lifestyle.

Healthy and delicious, she reimagined the classic baklava and transformed it into a vegan delight (an oil-free one at that too!). 

Our traditional Christmas recipe is my mom’s Baklava. We make it every year as Christmas dinner dessert.”

greek baklava pieces on a plate
Source: Veggies Don’t Bite

We got to chat with Sophia in an interview, so be sure to check it out too!

3. Makos Efthimis of The Hungry Bites:

We’re continuing our international Christmas affair and journey through Greece by learning about another honey-based and magnificent pastry.

Makos gave us the basics of making Melomakarona, a honey-sweet (actually made with honey) dessert that is full of flavors and frankly irresistible. 🍯  

When it’s Christmas in Greece, it is unthinkable for any household not to have a certain type of cookies called Melomakarona, which is also my favorite Christmas recipe.

Melomakarona is a type of Greek cookies scented with orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves. After they’re baked, they’re soaked in a honey-based syrup, something that makes them irresistible!

chocolate covered cookies stacked on each other
Source: The Hungry Bites

4. Vicky Pham-Le of Vietnamese Home Cooking Recipes:

Our list of international winter holiday recipes is waving goodbye to Europe as it’s reached its last stop on this journey. The last recipe in this section comes from fascinating Vietnam and is recommended by the lovely Vicky.

She was so nice as to tell us about the mouth-watering pork shrimp and pork rolls that she likes to have for the holidays. Let’s see Vicky’s recommendation:

My favorite Christmas recipe is Vietnamese pork and whole shrimp egg rolls. Everyone loves fried food in itty-bitty sizes, so this dish never lasts long at a Holiday party.

shrimp and pork egg rolls on a plate
Source: Vietnamese Home Cooking Recipes

Desserts

We’ve talked dishes, we’ve talked dips, we saw some international and also vegan options, but what do kids wait for more than everything (besides presents, and Santa, and snow, you get the drift)? Dessert!

They will be wrapping up this list of winter holiday recipes, just as they signal the end of a meal. These mighty two represent favorite, staple dishes as what is Chanukah without latkes, or Christmas without gingerbread?

1. Megan Giller of Chocolate Noise:

 

Megan tells us a bit about her Chanukah traditions and her family’s take on latkes, a delicious traditional Jewish dish that is nearly impossible not to like.

potato latkes with white sauce on a plate
Source: Wikimedia

You can find detailed instructions on the simplest, fastest ways to make latkes, and then get inspired by Megan’s recipe and perhaps even make a version of your own (or do tell us in the comments if you have one already).

I’m Jewish, so I will tell you about a Chanukah recipe. My mother makes vegan latkes every year, totally crisp and succulent potato pancakes, served with sour cream and applesauce. They are a real treat!

gif of happy hanukkah over menorah and gifts
via Giphy

2. Gail Dickinson of Chocolate, Chocolate, and More:

The gooey, heavenly goodness of chocolate sounds just about right now, doesn’t it? However, we’ll be putting aside this heavenly delight as Gail tells us about her favorite Christmas recipe: gingerbread.

Love it or not (!?) gingerbread is an intrinsic element of Christmas- just think of all the lovely gingerbread houses and figures. So it just couldn’t miss or not make a special appearance on this list of winter holiday recipes.

We always have prime rib for Christmas. I started making that after I moved to Texas and my kids always look forward to it. In addition to the prime rib, we have mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts.

I bake cookies and put some in the kids’ stockings along with homemade and store-bought candies. I think my favorite Christmas recipe is gingerbread men.

I always made a huge batch of those when I was young and still do each year. They make the whole house smell festive while they bake.

My kids gave me some St. Nicholas springerle molds and we use them for some of the gingerbread men, but most are the traditional sort.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free

3. Vicki Montague of the Free From Fairy

Vicki is the scientist that launched the first wholegrain, rice-free, and gluten-free flour blends, and a specialist in “free from” food recipes. But that doesn’t keep her from making Christmas specialties, with a twist! 

I love Christmas and I love Christmas food. My favourite Christmas recipe is probably my Christmas cake. It is incredibly moist and delicious but it’s gluten free and dairy free. I love giving it to people who can’t believe they are eating something ‘free from’. 

On Christmas day itself, we tend to have an organic chicken for lunch with all the trimmings…. stuffing, bread sauce, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, dauphinoise potatoes, a huge variety of vegetables and gravy.

Of course, it’s all gluten-free. Then we usually have a selection of puddings such as Christmas pudding, chocolate Yule log, and Sherry trifle.

Got Your Knife and Kitchenware Ready? 🍽️

We hope these personal tales have inspired and helped you all find the incentive you need for preparing the best winter holiday recipes for your family and friends. 

Who knows, maybe they will help you start a new tradition – although we’d be very happy to hear about your existing ones and your favorite winter holiday recipes in a comment!

This wraps things up, but before we head off to the kitchen, the Chef Knives team wishes you

gif of ribbon forming happy holidays
via Giphy
        🌟🎄❄️ Holly, jolly holidays and a Happy New Year! 🕎☃️🎁

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