Holiday Recipes in the Community

Holiday Recipes in the Community

Shortbread cookies
Shortbread cookies

The holiday season calls for lots of things, presents, family, love. One of the best things about the holidays, at least for me, is the tasty aspect. I love baking cookies with my mom during the season and it is always so fun. Two recipes we love to make are shortbread and sugar cookies!
Shortbread cookies
10 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
The cookies are such a fun recipe to make around the holiday season. They perfectly cater to fun holiday events, like parties or a dinner. The sugar adds a nice sweet taste, but it’s not too sweet, making it easy to eat a lot and hard to stop! They are the perfect snack to have during this season with your coffee, tea, or even hot chocolate!

Baking these with my mom during December surrounds me and my home with a warm atmosphere. In addition to the recipe being fun, they were super easy to make.
Making the dough took only five minutes, and once we were done, we let it chill in the fridge for an hour. When it was done cooling, we placed it on a board, cut it into rectangular pieces, and added holes. Baking took ten minutes, so when it was done in the oven, I was more than ready to start eating this delicious treat!

The subtle taste of this treat makes it a perfect one to make during the holiday season for your friends and family.

Shortbread cookies (Laavanya Viswanathan (’26))
Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies
1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup softened butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
The dough takes around five minutes to make, but after making it, you need to let it chill in the fridge for around two hours. Once it’s nice and cold, you can take it out and start the fun! Getting to choose the shapes and cookie cutters you can use for the dough, as well as picking the colors of the icing, make the experience all the better.

I always get nervous when icing the cookies, as I want them to look perfect. But as the holidays have gone by, I realized no matter how the cookies look, they’ll still be colorful and delicious!

My mom and I make and decorate cookies at least twice a year, but one of the times we always make cookies is around the holidays. It has been a recipe with my mom for years, a recipe even my grandma loves to eat whenever we make it!

Different from the shortbread, the sugar cookies have a much sweeter flavor, but just as addicting to eat. One thing I love about them is that none of them will ever look the same, each cookie provides the same taste but a unique look to it, providing more fun and joy into the process of making them.

Ricotta and Honey Spread and Ranch Pretzels
The ricotta and honey spread (Ava Crawley (’25))

Ricotta & Honey spread
Ricotta (1 cup)
Honey (4 tablespoons)
Bread (optional)
Pairing this ricotta and honey spread alongside warm toasted bread makes for a simple yet delicious holiday appetizer. The blend of salty cheese with sugary honey is perfect for anyone who loves the classic sweet and savory combination. Interestingly enough, this dish can also be seen as a homemade version of a popular appetizer from a local restaurant- Lascala’s Fire. What’s great about the Ricotta and Honey spread recipe is that whoever decides to make it can adjust the measurements or eyeball them to make as little or as much as they want.

Before beginning it’s important to drain the Ricotta because it contains a lot of moisture. In doing so, I used cheesecloth, a strainer, and even paper towels. Typically after twenty minutes, or once the cheese is firm, I place a hefty scoop in the bottom of the jar (I used ½ cup of Ricotta) followed by a nice layer of honey (I used 2 tablespoons). After a few layers are complete, a sprinkle of salt ties it all together and it’s officially time to enjoy.

Ranch Pretzels
1 bag of Sourdough pretzels
¾ cup of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of Ranch dressing seasoning mix
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes (I baked them using a pyrex tray)

Although these pretzels are more of a snack than an appetizer, they still offer a punch of flavor. Perfectly salty and a little tangy, they act as a tasty and addictive snack no matter the time of day. Before dinner as a snack alongside other appetizers, or after dessert to curb one’s craving for salt, these ranch pretzels can be enjoyed by everyone, especially considering the batch is quite large.

I began by crushing up a bag of sourdough pretzels into smaller bite-sized pieces and pouring ¾ cup of vegetable oil evenly over the pretzels. The next step required me to add the seasonings and mix, making sure each piece is perfectly coated by the seasoning. After only twenty minutes in the oven, the pretzels emerge as a tastier amplified version of an average everyday snack.

M&M Popcorn Balls on a festive plate
M&M Popcorn Balls

M&M Popcorn balls
M&M Popcorn balls are definitely not the most common dessert you hear around the holiday season. With an easy and fun recipe to follow, this dessert came through on being a delectable and exciting way to enjoy and cherish this season.

Although some of the recipes call for corn syrup as the binder and sweetener of the popcorn balls, there are many others that include marshmallows instead. I used marshmallows as my way to sweeten this dessert and make it stick together resembling a ball shape.
This recipe includes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan and hands
1 bag (10 ounces) marshmallows
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 cups popped popcorn
1 cups M&Ms
From Real Simple Magazine

When first trying the popcorn balls, I could taste the immediate resemblance to your average rice krispie treat. They had an extremely chewy consistency. The shape and size of the popcorn balls made for a great dessert proportion, and definitely something I could see being served at a festive holiday party.

My favorite part of the dessert was the flavor that the M&Ms brought to it. They added a sense of sweetness and fun to the popcorn balls, and it was definitely the most enjoyable part.

The overall flavor and consistency of the M&M popcorn balls made for a dessert all ages can enjoy. I can completely see this recipe being great for holiday gatherings, and I would encourage people to try it out to see if they share the same opinion and add a new recipe to their life.

Instead of the average cookie recipes you see while scrolling through social media during the holiday season, these M&M popcorn balls give people the chance to try a new and exciting recipe that can spruce up what they are serving and eating during this time of the year.

M&M Popcorn Balls on a festive plate (Gabrielle Levine (’26))
Caramel Brownies

Caramel Brownies
Many people have things special to their family whether it be a certain movie, a sports team, or a saying. One of the most known and special things in my family are my mom’s caramel brownies.

These brownies are enjoyed by our family and friends year round, but are especially prevalent during the holiday season. Whether it’s an expected heart of holiday gift tins or on a Hanukkah tray, loved ones know that they can expect these brownies. One of the places these caramel brownies are most enjoyed is at my lunch table. Whenever I have these brownies present, I am packing extra for my friends and getting several requests to bring them.

As many times a year as my mom makes the brownies, the excitement I have to eat them stays with me each time.

The ingredients that make these brownies so special are
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups pecan, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the caramel filling:
14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped*
1/3 cup heavy cream
From Everyday Annie
Among the elements that make the brownies special, the one that stands out the most is the way the caramel is sandwiched between two layers of chocolate fudge and chocolate chips. The caramel is sweet without being too sugary, and has a soft texture that compliments the chocolate well.

These brownies are such a special part of my life, and it fills me with joy everytime I see a friend or family member also enjoying them. They are great for both eating and giving out during the holidays to make a close one feel loved.

Hot chocolate bombs (Julia Rosten (’24))
Hot Chocolate Bombs

Measuring cups and spoons
Silicone sphere molds with 6 wells each, or 6 parchment paper cupcake liners
Large heatproof bowl
Melting chocolate
Powder hot chocolate mix
Icing (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)
Take 1 cup of melting chocolate and microwave it until it is melted
Once the chocolate is melted, coat the molds with it. Drop around 1 tablespoon of the melted chocolate into each mold and spread it around the sides and edges of the mold.
Freeze for 5 minutes
Fill half of the molds with 2 teaspoons of hot chocolate mix and around 5 marshmallows
Paint or pipe melted chocolate on the border of the unfilled shells and place it on the filled shells
Freeze for 5 minutes
For drinking, place one “bomb” into ¾ cup of warm milk and stir!

Nothing is more cheerful during the holiday season than a holiday themed drink.
From cookie flavored lattes to peppermint mochas, there are so many different types of drinks that are perfect for winter and the festive season.

Hot chocolate is undoubtedly a favorite by most. In addition to basic milk hot chocolate, you can make peppermint hot chocolate, caramel hot chocolate, white chocolate hot chocolate and more. Even frozen hot chocolate is popular!
The best and most festive way to serve hot chocolate however, is definitely in a hot chocolate “bomb.” A hot chocolate “bomb” is a chocolate sphere filled with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, and whatever you want! Hot chocolate bombs are not only fun and easy to make, but also entertaining to use.

When you are ready to serve the hot chocolate, put the “bomb” in warm milk or water. When it melts, it creates an “exploding” effect. I don’t know what is more festive than that! Since the “bomb” is made with chocolate too, the hot chocolate is extra decadent.

Throughout this holiday season, definitely try out this super simple and merry recipe!

Fun facts!

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