Photo via idealbakery.net.

This year more than ever, the holiday season should remind us to focus on spending time with our loved ones by carrying out family traditions. Although an in-person capacity may be impossible to achieve, one way to put the love for family and friends first is to celebrate the holidays through tasty food. These recipes have been retrieved from an old family cookbook written by and belonging to my grandmother, along with two other websites.

Holiday Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a common dish, sitting in serving dishes on the endless tables of food at family reunions during the holidays, that is, if your family reunions are anything like mine. Any mashed potatoes are good mashed potatoes, but these bring surprise and a unique flavor combination to the table. Your friends and family members will be talking about these for weeks later, most likely, even into the New Year. This recipe was put together by my grandmother, so eating these is a great way to remember our history — isn’t that what the holidays are about?

Ingredients

3 pounds of mashed potatoes (peeled) 

One 8-ounce package of cream cheese

1⁄4 cup of butter

1⁄2 cup of sour cream

1⁄2 cup of milk

2 eggs

1⁄4 cup of onion (finely chopped) 

1 teaspoon of salt

A dash of pepper

Instructions

Peel potatoes and chop onion.

Boil potatoes.

Mix butter, sour cream, milk, egg, onion, salt and pepper into the potatoes.

Mix ingredients into the potatoes immediately after boiling and draining in order

to flash cook the egg properly. Mash the mixture.

(Recipe from the Martin Family Cookbook.)

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Santa’s Snacks Bar

This recipe originates from my grandmother’s handwritten cookbook. Therefore, this recipe is one of a kind, and a fun, delicious experience. This Santa’s snacks bar is a wonderful blend of crispy, flakey and smooth. For those who have random remnants from one-time baking projects, this is the perfect holiday treat recipe for you.

Although one wouldn’t necessarily think of blending these flavors and textures together, the result is magnificent. What more could Santa and families alike want to eat during the holiday season?

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup of butter

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

1 cup of coconut flakes

1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (depending upon personal preference) 

1 cup of chopped nuts

15 ounces of sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and the flaked coconut in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan.

Press the mixture down lightly.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips/chunks and chopped nuts over the mixture in the pan. Drizzle the pan with condensed milk.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting.

(Recipe from the Martin Family Cookbook.)

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Kolaczki (Filled Polish Cookies)

Kolaczki, a timely classic, makes for a fun breakfast treat as well as a delicious dessert in the winter months. Not only are these cookies common in Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia and Denmark, these cookies are quite common, and typically a tradition for many families in the United States during the winter holiday season. The bold flavor pallet of the fruit pairs nicely with the richness of the dough. The addition of lemon juice and water to the fruit and sugar ensures that this treat isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, so people of all ages, whose appetites vary, may enjoy these cookies.

Ingredients (Pastry)

8 ounces of cream cheese 

1 1⁄2 cups of butter

3 cups of flour

1⁄2 teaspoon of salt

Ingredients (Filling)

3⁄4 cup of dried apricots (or dried fruit of choice) 

1 1⁄2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Instructions (Filling)

Add dried apricots and water to a saucepan.

Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Simmer until the apricots are tender (takes around 15 minutes.) Mash or puree with an immersion blender.

If one doesn’t have an immersion blender, a food processor will do the job.

Instructions (Assembly and Baking)

Cream the cream cheese and butter until the consistency is light and fluffy. Stir in flour and salt.

Wrap what you’ve just made in plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 F towards the end of the hour.

Roll out the dough on a granulated sugar dusted surface.

Roll to 1⁄4 inch and cut the dough into 2 inch squares. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each square.

Fold over opposite corners and seal the individual cookies well. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the corners just begin to brown. Cool on a rack and dust with powdered sugar.

(Recipe from polishhousewife.com)

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Pizza Candy Cane Crescent

This pizza candy cane crescent from the Food Network is a true star. Designed to look like a candy cane, the colors of a few of the ingredients are green, red and white. These comfort food candy canes pizzas are simple and delicious and family members of all ages will enjoy. If only food could be hung on the Christmas tree. 

Ingredients

One 8-ounce tube of refrigerated rolled crescent dough 

1⁄3 cup of prepared pizza sauce (Be sure to have more than 1⁄3 of a cup so there’s dipping sauce.) 

1⁄2 cup of mozzarella cheese (shredded)

24 slices of pepperoni (Feel free to exclude or substitute the pepperoni dependent upon dietary restrictions or preferences.)

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (optional) 

2 large basil leaves (for decoration)

Instructions

Heat the oven to 400 F.

While waiting for the oven to reach temperature, roll out the crescent dough and separate the triangles at the perforated lines.

Cut the triangles in half, lengthwise, so there are a total of 16 triangles. Arrange the crescent triangles on 24 inches of parchment paper.

Arrange the triangles lengthwise in a row so the pointy ends are upright and the flat ends overlap slightly. This row should be as long as the paper. Gently press the pieces of dough together to seal.

Spread the pizza sauce over the thickest strip of dough.

Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer over the sauce.

Place the pepperoni or the substituted meat over the cheese. Fold the pointy ends of the dough on top of the cheese and meat.

Be sure to tuck the pointy ends into the other portions of the dough to ensure that the filling is enclosed.

Shape the dough into a candy cane shape.

Size of the candy cane is dependent upon the baking/sheet pan being used. Transfer the parchment onto the baking sheet.

Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the dough. (Optional)

Bake until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is melted (8-10 minutes). Tuck the basil leaves into the candy cane to create the appearance of a bow.

Serve with the sauce reserved for dipping.

(Recipe from foodnetwork.com)

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Snowman Banana Nog

Eggnog is a classic in December and January, however, eggnog tends to be served with alcohol. This recipe from Food Network allows for family members of all ages to enjoy an adult treat, as the snowman banana nog is a mocktail, as well as a simple craft. Another way this drink is perfect for the winter season is because of the winter flavors incorporated into the drink such as nutmeg and allspice.

Equipment (For mason jar craft)

Hot glue gun, hot glue, black buttons, red or green felt, and a ruler, scissors, and paper or metal straws.

Instructions for craft

Heat glue gun. 

Glue the buttons to the mason jars. 

Cut and glue the felt to the mason jars. 

Ingredients

5 cups of whole milk. (Oat milk can be used to substitute for those who eat dairy-free). 

1⁄4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. (Be sure to have more than 1⁄4 cup available for use, as this sugar is used as a garnish.)

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 

1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg. (Be sure to have a bit more than a teaspoon, as this is used in a garnishing capacity.)

1⁄4 teaspoon of ground allspice

4 bananas (frozen and sliced) 

Whipped cream (used for the topping)

Instructions

Put the milk, sugar, vanilla extract, nutmeg, allspice and banana in a blender.

Blend on high speed until the banana takes on a liquid form. The drink should be thick and creamy.

Pour into mason jars.

Spoon whipped cream on top of each drink so the whipped cream sits higher than the jar. Grate nutmeg on top and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar (the snow) over the drink.

Insert a straw.

(Recipe from foodnetwork.com)