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Complete Holiday Recipe Guide: Appetizers, Desserts & More

By Deirdre Haggerty

The holidays are here, which means it is time to plan the menus. Beginning with Thanksgiving and culminating on New Year's Day, the next 8 weeks are a flurry of activity. Whether you are hosting the feast or bringing a side, the following holiday recipes are simple, yet delicious. Below you will find at least one of each to be used for either Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve. Because the tastes of the season sometimes overlap, they could also be appropriate for any of these major holidays.


Side Dish: Cranberry Sauce

The following is a common recipe handed out in many kindergarten classes. For the past 7 years, it has been a staple at our Thanksgiving table. It's also a great way to have children help prepare the Thanksgiving meal. We love it!

Sean's Cranberry Sauce

  1. 1 ½ cup sugar in pan
  2. Add 1 cup water
  3. Add 2 cups fresh, washed cranberries
  4. Boil for 10 minutes
  5. Add 2 packages cherry Jello (or for fun, raspberry or strawberry Jello)
  6. Chill

Dessert: Dairy-Free Chocolate-Pumpkin Parfait with Cashew Cream

This Dairy-free Chocolate-Pumpkin Parfait comes from Kristin Sheehan of Kristin's Healthy Kitchen, a New York-based personal chef specializing in healthy alternatives. It takes a little preparation, but removes all the guilt. The healthy holiday treat makes 6 parfaits and is perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

First, you'll make the cashew cream, avocado chocolate pudding, and pumpkin mousse, then layer about 1/3 cup of each concoction in an 8-ounce glass, creating six layers total in each serving. Refrigerate before serving and garnish with whipped cream and cacao nibs.


Appetizer: Potato Latkes

Potato latkes are delicious any time of year, but especially during Hanukkah. This recipe from is both simple and yummy, and requires minimal ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs potatoes
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons matzo meal
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt & pepper to season

Follow the complete recipe here.


Dessert: Cookies

As a diverse family of many nationalities, this author tries to incorporate all her children's origins during the holiday season. At Christmas, Snickerdoodles are a necessity, which celebrates our German/Austrian background. They disappear as fast as they are baked.


  • 3 cups of flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ tsp baking soda (fresh)

Topping (in a separate bowl)

  • 3 tbs cinnamon
  • 3 tbs sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375degrees
  2. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Soften and cream butter in large bowl, add sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in vanilla, beaten eggs, milk then dry ingredients from medium bowl and stir well.
  4. Grease cookie sheets and drop large teaspoonfuls of dough onto sheet and sprinkle well with topping. Cook for 10 minutes or until edges are brown. Finally, loosen when warm.


Dessert: Sweet Potato Pie

The weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa is one of African heritage, culture, unity and community. What better way to celebrate than with a delectable sweet potato pie? This dish is also ideal for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Additionally, this holiday recipe from provides details on where to purchase the ingredients at affordable prices.

The recipe requires sweet potatoes and pantry and refrigerator staples such as butter, eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. Simplify this recipe by buying a pre-baked pie crust from the story, or bake your own!

New Year's Eve

Beverage: Coquito

Coquito is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday beverage (think of it as a coconut egg nog) served up at Christmas and New Year's Eve. This is a rich, creamy coconut and rum drink, enjoyed by all.


  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can cream of coconut
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cup white rum

Blend all ingredients at high speed and refrigerate and shake well before serving. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

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