Holiday Recipes

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Cranberry Bars with Chestnut Spread and Crushed Pecans Recipe

As Thanksgiving approaches, I've been giving more thought to new dessert recipes to go with the traditional pecan and pumpkin pies that we make each year. I recently had an absolutely delicious lemon bar, and it occurred to me that a modified cranberry sauce would be a good substitute for the lemon curd.

I used shortbread as the cookie layer. Shortbread is very easy to make, and the buttery and crumbly texture is a nice foil to the sweet and tart flavor of the cranberries. Once the shortbread had baked, I spread a thin layer of chestnut spread over it. The chestnut spread balances the tartness of the jellied cranberries.

To make the cranberry jelly, I added guava in place of the usual orange juice to give the jelly sweetness as well as a more complex flavor. (It also reminds me of our recent anniversary trip to Cancun). Guava is not really in keeping with the season, so if you prefer, apple juice would be fine, but I think the guava has more depth. The goal is to limit the sourness of the jelly because after all, we're making a dessert.

After applying a generous layer of the cranberry spread to the bars, I finished them with a sprinkling of chopped pecans.


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Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce with Kumquat and Jalapeno Recipe

We make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving every year, and every year at the end of the meal there's a bowl full of cranberry sauce left-over. It's not that we don't like cranberries; they have a great flavor that I make user of in stuffing, cakes and drinks. Cranberry sauce, though, is a bit one-dimensional, so I've been on a quest to come up with a version that is more food than Thanksgiving table ornament.

After several trials, I think I've come up with some small additions to a traditional cranberry sauce recipe that really give it new life. I added roasted and chopped jalapeños for a little heat, kumquat zest for a touch of citrus, and brown sugar to mellow out the sweetness with hints of caramel. I knew I was on to something because Lulu was eating it all by itself!

If you're like me and the idea of cranberry sauce has been more appealing than the reality, I can tell you that with a few simple modifications you may actually come to enjoy some cranberry sauce with your turkey.


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Pecan Stuffing with Rosemary, Fennel and Fresh Water Chestnuts Recipe

Here's a stuffing recipe that really packs a crunch. Pecans and water chestnuts provide flavor as well as a nice texture contrast. I added a fennel bulb for a mild licorice flavor, mushroom salt and a small amount of jalapeño for a bit of heat.

For a fancier stuffing, you can add some crumbled blue cheese to the croutons. I finished the pecan stuffing with a little parmesan for a salty (but not overpowering) note.

This recipe is far more savory than the cranberry apple stuffing I made last week. The differences between the two versions really demonstrate the versatility of stuffing. Whatever your preference, there's a stuffing that you and your family will love.


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Cranberry Apple Cider Recipe

Cranberry Apple Cider

11.18.09 by Jackie

Cranberries and apples are a great flavor combination. In the past, I've made a cake and stuffing with this dynamic duo that both turned out wonderfully. I usually make a large pot of hot apple cider for Thanksgiving, but I thought this year it would be fun to add fresh cranberries to the drink.

The tartness of the cranberries is a nice foil to the apple cider spices. And the color is a glorious crimson, which is perfect for the season. I couldn't think of a better cure for the absolutely freezing weather we've been having here (which in the Bay Area means a 65°F daytime temperature). Don't laugh; last night it got down to 40°F!


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Homemade Pecan Pie with Nutella Recipe

Homemade Pecan Pie with Nutella

11.14.09 by Jackie

We always prefer to make pecan pies from scratch. Pecans are fairly expensive, and I've found that the pies sold at stores really skimp on the namesake nut to cut costs. They tend to be very egg-y, almost like a lemon curd, with only a layer of pecans on the top. This recipe, by contrast, is richer and absolutely loaded with pecans.

Molasses, dark corn syrup and brown sugar combine to form the base of the pie filling. To this, I whisk in eggs and chopped pecans. I also add a touch of anise extract to the filling. The licorice flavor really accentuates the molasses. When it's fully baked, it has a wonderfully dense and gooey texture.

Even the crust is flavored with pecans. To the flour, butter and sugar I added some pecan mill.  I first baked just the crust and then smeared it with a thin layer of Nutella. Nutella has hazelnuts in it, but I think it provides a nice flavor contrast to the pecans. And seriously, what does Nutella not go with?

If you make just one homemade pie for Thanksgiving this year, make a pecan pie. It will cost about the same as a store-bought version, but there's no comparison.

Pecan Pie Recipe


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