With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is starting to get into the holiday spirit and Netflix has put up some really cute holiday movies, and I’m forever stuck in group messages about who’s bringing what dish to the annual Thanksgiving meal on my dad’s side of the family. I (thankfully) haven’t heard from my mom’s side of the family yet, because let’s face it…one group chat is enough to drive a person crazy…let alone 2! Never you mind though, on to the topic of today’s chat! Food! We are sharing our favorite holiday foods and recipes with you guys so hopefully you won’t ever have to scramble last minute to figure out what you’re bringing to the table!
I really wouldn’t call these starters but they’re the foods that don’t really fit into the sides category but they’re just kind of there and really good hahaha.
This is something that you can make for a crowd pretty easily. It’s just iceberg lettuce cut into small wedges and whichever toppings you want. I’ve made this a lot for holiday parties and it always goes over well and I have maybe $5 in the entire dish.
Depending on the size of your guestlist…
2-4 heads of iceberg lettuce
1 bag bacon bits
1 packet buttermilk ranch powder
2 cups buttermilk
- Make your dressing according to the directions and place it in the fridge to cool while you prepare your salads.
- Cut the cores from the lettuce and cut them into wedges on the smaller side. You should get around 5-6 wedges from one head of lettuce. Place them on a platter and put your toppings and dressing in the center for people to get what they want!
Neiman Marcus Dip
This honestly isn’t just for the holidays. Any time I have to make something for a crowd…this is my go to. It’s super easy to make and it’s delicious!
4-6 cups Shredded Cheese (any variety)
1 bunch of Green onions
1-2 cups slivered almonds
Small package bacon bits
2 cups Mayo (any variety)
1 package of club or ritz crackers
Add more or deduct ingredients as needed to work for the number of people you have attending. Chop your green onions then put everything in a bowl and stir until combined. Serve with Ritz or Club crackers
7 Layer Salad
7 Layer Salad has to be my favorite starter dish. My aunt makes it every holiday and she always gives me what’s left over to take home with me and I’m usually good for a week as far as lunch goes
1 head iceberg lettuce
Small package bacon bits
1.5 cup frozen peas
1 cup red onion
2.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups mayo
4 hard boiled eggs (if you don’t want to bother making your own…supermarkets have started carrying premade ones over with the salad mixes)
Get your dish. I like to use a casserole dish or a trifle dish to make my salad in. Start by chopping your lettuce and making it the bottom layer of your salad. Next move on to your peas, evenly distribute them amongst the dish. After the peas, layer your diced tomatoes and red onion. Next comes your hard boiled eggs. Slice or chop them and make sure they are evenly distributed in the dish. After your eggs comes the mayo. Just make sure it’s spread out evenly. Top your mayo layer with the shredded cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Voila! You’re done! Just pop it into the fridge until you’re ready to serve!
I think that sides can make or break a meal. If the sides aren’t good then you’re disappointed for the rest of the meal! Here are my go to’s for sides!
Cheesy Broccoli is a staple at my house and it couldn’t be easier to make! I like to make mine in the crockpot so that I’m not using the oven just in case I need it for something else! *cough cough* cookies *cough cough*.
6 cups frozen broccoli (4 of the steamable bags)
1 cup shredded monterey jack*
1/2 cup shredded gouda*
1 cup shredded colby*
1 cup half and half, milk, or heavy cream (depending on how rich you want it…any liquid would work here though. Unsweetened almond milk works good here too)
½ cup sour cream**
1 Sleeve Ritz Crackers (crushed)
- Combine all your ingredients into your crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Once your broccoli is fully cooked and your cheese is melted, crush your Ritz crackers and add them to the top! (I wouldn’t add the crackers until about 15-20 minutes before your guests arrive or else they’ll get soggy)
- If you want to use a saucepan, cook your broccoli and add your half and half, and sour cream to the saucepan before adding your cheeses. Once everything is done and fully melted, dump it into a casserole dish and top with crushed Ritz crackers. (if you don’t want any mess…get pansavers or reynolds crockpot liners. I use pansavers and they even work in my big roaster for the oven as well)
* If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or lactose intolerant,(or just looking for a healthier alternative) Go Veggie has a fantastic shredded cheese that you can use here! 2 packages should yield the 3 cups of cheese needed for this recipe!
** If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or lactose intolerant,(or just looking for a healthier alternative) you can use a Silk unsweetened yogurt substitute here and it gives you the same consistency!
Being Southern, mashed potatoes are considered a staple.. I’ve gotten to where I use instant from Idaho Potatoes instead of making them homemade, because it’s just easier. BUT! That definitely won’t work for Thanksgiving…now with everything else that has to be cooked and with oven and stovetop space being so limited…I bring out the crockpot for these!
4-6 LBS peeled and cubed potatoes
2-3 cups chicken broth
Garlic, salt, and pepper to taste
1 stick of butter
½ pkg of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
- Add your potatoes, broth, butter and spices to your crockpot and make sure your spices are evenly distributed.
- Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 4-6 hours
- Once your potatoes are done, stir in your cream cheese and sour cream. Reseason as needed. Cook until cream cheese is melted and combined into the potatoes.
Ahh dumplings…in my opinion these are the real star of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Dumplings are hearty and a feel good food and they’re not as hard to make as you’d think! My great aunt taught me how to make them before she passed away. I’ll never forget her telling me that “At least one person in our family had to know how to make dumplings properly”. Now my mom and aunts know how to make them too. BUT none are as good as my Aunt Ruby’s recipe!
Starting with your broth…if you have any leftover from your turkey you can use that and add some water to it or if you need to use store bought that’s fine. (I know our broth gets used for several dishes so I just jazz up some store bought broth) I also save and freeze all my broth anytime I cook chicken or turkey to use during soup season.
1-2 cartons chicken stock
1-2 onions (depending on size)
3-4 large carrots, sliced. OR 1 pkg baby carrots will work too
3 stalks celery (if you’re using celery for other dishes… you don’t have to buy 2 just for this broth… just save the innermost part with the leaves and that actually works better in my opinion because it has more flavor)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 cups flour (save ¼ cup for dusting the counter so your dumpling dough won’t stick)
⅓ cup shortening
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups milk
- Combine all your ingredients and get your broth to a rolling boil.
- While your broth is cooking, make your dumpling dough. Take your flour, shortening, baking powder and salt and mix them together until combined and crumbly.
- Start adding your milk until you get a dough like consistency. Sometimes I will have to use more than 2 cups of milk and sometimes I don’t use a full two cups. Just go with your dough consistency. You don’t have to use the full 2 cups!
- Sprinkle the flour that you sat aside onto your counter. Place your dough on the counter and roll it out with a rolling pin until it’s about ¼ in. thick. (No..you don’t have to measure lol just make sure that they aren’t too thick or they will be chewy)
- Once you have your desired thickness, cut into 1in. x 1in. Strips. ( You can use a knife but I like to use a pizza cutter)
- Once your broth is boiling, start adding your dumpling batter in. Make sure you add them in single layers and not too many at a time or they’ll clump together and you don’t want that. Stir the dumplings to make sure they don’t stick or clump. (They shouldn’t sink but as you keep adding layers, they’ll move more and more to the bottom of the stockpot) Keep adding in layers until your dough is gone.
- Stir continuously for about 5 more minutes or until you see all your dumplings change consistency.
These desserts are my favorite go to’s when I have to bring a dessert to a holiday party.
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
These pretzel bars are a no bake dessert! Which in my book is a win haha.
2 cups crushed pretzels
½ cup melted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
¼ cup smooth peanut butter (for the chocolate topping)
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips (melted)
- Combine crushed pretzels, melted butter, confectioners sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter together in a bowl. Once combined mash into the bottom of a casserole dish (like a pie crust)
- Combine the ¼ cup peanut butter and melted chocolate. Once combined add to the top of the crust.
- Chill for 2 hours.
Turtles are the easiest desserts to make…ever. Plus they’re super yummy and will be gone in a flash!
One bag Square Pretzels
1 pkg Rolos
One bag whole Pecans
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with the pretzels and top each one with a rolo.
- Once the oven is preheated, put the baking sheet in the oven until the rolos are soft and pliable. (About 5-7 minutes)
- When the rolos are soft, take them out of the oven and top each pretzel with a pecan.
- Let the turtles cool and place them in the container you want to serve them in!
Drinking can sometimes be the only thing that gets you through the holidays with family. Here are my two go to drink recipes for the holiday season!
Boozy Hot Chocolate
This is a recipe that you can make for one person or an entire group! It’s rich and creamy and if you do it just right you can’t taste the alcohol which can be dangerous because it’s so delicious!
Recipe for One:
1- Milk Chocolate Bars (chopped)
1 Cup Milk
2 tbsp sugar (optional)
2-4 tbsp of your liquor of choice
Marshmallows or Whipped Cream as wanted
- Start with your milk. Place it on the stove and bring it to 180 degrees. Don’t worry if you don’t have a thermometer…you can tell it’s around 180 degrees when it starts to form bubbles around the outside edge of the pan. Don’t let it come to a boil or else your milk will get grainy.
- While your milk is coming to temperature. Place your chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until completely melted.
- Stir in your chocolate once it’s melted and VOILA! You have your hot chocolate!
- Now add in your booze! (Anything will work here. For my UK FAM Magnum’s caramel whisky would be absolutely delightful in this)
The guys over at delish knew what they were doing when they added this to their site!! This drink is light and refreshing (not to mention it’s just the right amount of boozy)
4 cups Cran-Apple Juice
2 bottles red moscato
1 bottle prosecco
1/2 cup vodka
2 cups frozen cranberries
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup sugar, for rimming glasses
2 limes, sliced into rounds
Combine all ingredients into a punchbowl and serve.