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by Lori Herren November 12, 2020 8 min read

It’s that time of the year again: time to start planning your holiday get-togethers and draw up a menu with who is bringing what dish. Whether you are the host and thrive on holiday parties or one who attends and hopes to be assigned the paper products, there are some really good, easy, simple to make, delicious holiday recipes that will fool anyone into thinking you are a first class chef (or you at least know how to make a mean side dish). It doesn’t take nuclear engineering to put together some tasty holiday concoctions. Prove to everyone, and yourself, you can bring some show stopping items to your holiday parties without killing yourself in the process. There are plenty of easy, tasty holiday recipes out there, let’s pick a few and wow those naysayers who said you can’t cook!

Appetizers

Apple Salad (from Delish.com)

Ingredients:

  • For The Candied Pecans:
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 c. pecans

 

For The Salad:

  • 6 c. mixed greens
  • 2 apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries

 

For The Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

 

Directions:

Candy pecans: 

  • In a pan using medium heat, add together the water, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. 
  • Stir the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved, then add in the pecans to the mixture and stir until all are coated. 
  • Let them simmer for 5 minutes, or until sticky, then remove from heat and let cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. (Leftover pecans can be stored in a sealed container for up to 1 week.) And, if this step screams “too much,” buy some pecans already candied!

 

To Assemble the salad: 

  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients (except for dressing ingredients) and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the salad.
  • To make the dressing: 
  • In a bowl or container, mix together the olive oil, shallot, dijon and apple cider vinegar, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. 
  • When you are ready to eat,  add the dressing to salad and mix through. Serve immediately.

 

Smoked Salmon Dip (from FoodNetwork.com)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

 

Directions:

  • Let the cream cheese get to room temperature then beat it with an electric until it becomes smooth. 
  • Add in the dill, lemon juice, sour cream, salt and pepper, and horseradish and mix together. 
  • Add the smoked salmon to the mixture and incorporate well. 
  • Chill the dip and serve with fresh veggies, crackers or toasted bread.

 

Main Meal Side Dishes

Roasted Red Potatoes (from Delish.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil or olive oil
  • 12 large cloves garlic, crushed, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat your oven to 450°. 
  • Take your potatoes that have been cut in half and mix together with oil of your choosing, chopped garlic, chopped thyme, salt and pepper until all potatoes have been coated. Place potatoes evenly on baking sheets and roast in the oven, for 25-30 minutes, turning them halfway through with a spatula. 

 

Easy Roasted Brussel Sprouts (from Delish.com) 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt, for serving 

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat your oven to 425°. 
  • Mix the brussels sprouts in with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix them together until all the brussel sprouts are coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Place the brussels sprouts in the oven and roast until they are crispy on the outside, softer on the inside, for about 25 minutes, use a spatula and turn them half way through cooking time
  • Sprinkle with sea salt, then serve

 

Easy Cranberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce
  • I small can of crushed pineapple
  • I can of mandarin oranges
  • 1 and one half cups of chopped pecans

 

 DIRECTIONS:

  • Empty both cans of cranberry sauce into large mixing bowl
  • Add crushed pineapple, allowing some of juice from the can finto mixture, but not all
  • Add mandarin oranges, allowing some of the juice from the can into mixture but not all
  • Add pecans and stir
  • Chill before serving

(You can add as little or as much of each fruit and pecans as you wish, depending on which flavors are your favorite, these 3 fruits complement each other well. Don’t add too much juice, you don’t want the salad to be too much liquid, you want it the consistency of a gelatin salad).

 

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake (from Delish.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 large heads of cauliflower
  • 6 tbsp. butter, plus some extra for buttering the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped, minced or grated
  • 2 cups of grated white cheddar
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

 

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Preheat your oven to 400º. 
  • Boil the cauliflower in a large pot of salted water until it becomes tender, about 8 minutes. 
  • Drain the water from the cauliflower.
  • Take your reserve butter and apply it all over your large baking dish to prevent the cauliflower from sticking. 
  • Add half the cauliflower then pour half tor the heavy cream on top. 
  • Place half of cheddar, butter, garlic and thyme over the cauliflower and repeat this process again in another layer. Add salt and pepper to the last layer.
  • Bake until all the cheese is melted and a deep, golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.
  • Let the dish cool for at least 5 minutes before serving

 

Desserts

Easy 3 Minute Fudge (Easy Microwave Fudge Recipe from eatingonadime.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional if you don't prefer nuts)

 

Directions:

  • Use a cooking pan that measures 9″ x 9″ and spray with non-stick cooking spray, use parchment paper or aluminum foil to line it, so nothing sticks.
  • Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and then pour the can of sweetened condensed milk on top of the chocolate chips.
  • Microwave the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk for 60 seconds on high. Stir and incorporate everything together.
  • Microwave the mixture again for 60 seconds on high.  Stir and incorporate the mixture again.
  • If your chocolate chips are still not entirely melted, continue to microwave them for 30 seconds and check until you see the chocolate has been fully melted.
  • At this point stir in the walnuts if you are using them.
  • Pour the fudge mixture into then 9x9 dish that you sprayed or lined
  • Put the fudge mixture into the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour (or more) until it has become completely hardened.

 

Chocolate Toffee Crack (also known as Christmas Crack from instrupix.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (which should total about 16 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • candy of your choice for topping (if you choose to add candy, it can be optional)

 

Directions:

  • Heat your oven to 425 degrees and put parchment paper into a baking dish that measures 8x8.
  • Put crackers over  the bottom of the 8x8 pan. The crackers don't have to be stacked in a perfectly neat layer, just arrange them the best way you can.
  • Put the butter and brown sugar into a pot on the stove and bring it up to a boil.  Let it boil for 3 minutes and DO NOT STIR IT while it is boiling.
  • After the 3 minutes of boiling, quickly pour the sugar/butter mixture over the crackers you placed in your pan. Take a spatula or icing spreader and spread the mixture evenly over the crackers. until all are covered. Let the crackers and mixture bake for 5 minutes to set and thicken the caramel.
  • Take the pan out of the oven and then pour the chocolate chips on top of the crackers and caramel, making sure they are evenly spread out.
  • Put the pan back into the oven for about 2 minutes or until you can tell the chocolate is melted enough to spread out, then spread the melted chocolate evenly over the caramel and crackers so you have a nice proportionate chocolate layer.
  • Your top can be the candy (or nuts) of your choosing. Some like crushed candy canes or peppermints, while others prefer sprinkles or candies like M&Ms. 
  • Let your "Christmas Crack" cool for several hours before you try to remove it from the pan. Once removed, break it apart into little toffee-like pieces. 

 

Apple Pie Cake (from bettycrocker.com)

Ingredients:

Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, cut into small pieces

 

Apple Mixture

  • 6 apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons of lemon juice

Cake

  • Betty Crocker Super Moist yellow cake mix - 1 box
  • 1 and ⅓ cups of water
  • ⅓ cup of oil
  • 3 eggs

 

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (325 if you use a dark or a nonstick pan). Spray bottom and sides of a 13x9 inch pan with baking spray with flour.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together flour, ½ cup brown sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut the butter into the mixture until it is crumbly. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl gently stir together apple ingredients and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cake ingredients with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, then increase to medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into the cake pan.
  • Arrange the apple mixture evenly over the cake batter and then sprinkle with topping.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the middle and it comes out clean. Cool completely, at least for 2 hours.

 

Relax And Enjoy!

Cooking really isn’t all that difficult. All these recipes are easy enough that a first time cook can master as well as one with many years experience in the kitchen. Think of it more like a process or a science experiment. And like most everything in life, if you mess up, try again! These holiday recipes will make it look like you spent hours in the kitchen preparing culinary cuisine, when really it was just a little chopping, stirring, boiling or baking! And enjoy the acclaim you receive from these delicious dishes and don’t confess how easy it really was. That can stay our little secret!!

 

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Sources:

https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/christmas/g2575/classic-dinner-recipes/?slide=44

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a55335/best-roasted-brussel-sprouts-recipe/

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a29787990/roasted-red-potatoes-recipe/

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a50583/cheesy-cauliflower-bake-recipe/

https://www.eatingonadime.com/?s=3+minute+fudge

https://www.instrupix.com/chocolate-toffee-crack/

https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/apple-pie-cake/92032a9b-1144-41dc-bd22-871a2358615e

 

 

 

 

 

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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