Holiday Recipes from Our Family to Yours

Have you ever had a dish or meal that was so amazing you just had to share it? In preparation for this year’s holiday feasts, we present you with a full menu of delicious dishes.

We’re a passionate staff at Northwest Quarterly Magazine. We’re passionate about our writing. We’re passionate about our page designs and photography. We’re passionate about each other.

But here’s something you may not know: We’re also pretty passionate about food, and for many of us, that passion spills over into the kitchen. We look forward to crafting a picture-perfect holiday spread every year.

To help you plan out a perfect holiday gathering with your friends and family, we’re passing along a full menu, from appetizers to entrees, desserts and drinks – all inspired by our families’ recipes and holiday traditions.

Happy cooking!

Preparing the Turkey

A juicy, golden-brown turkey instantly comes to mind when thinking about a holiday meal, but cooking it takes patience and some technique. There’s a fine line between a turkey that’s tender and juicy and one that tastes like shoe leather.

Sara Moorman, manager at 640 Meats, in Loves Park, Ill., uses the spatchcocking technique to cook her turkeys. She splits the turkey in half, then cooks it flat side down and breast side up.

“We’ll add water to the pan and season our turkeys with onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and bake them at 350 degrees,” she says. “If you cover it, the meat will steam, but the skin won’t crisp up, so we leave our turkey uncovered. If you have that water in the pan, you’ll have a juicy turkey.”

The other benefit to spatchcocking a turkey is that it allows the bird to cook evenly and more quickly.

“You need to have your mashed potatoes, your stuffing, your corn, your sweet potatoes and 18 other things in the oven, so you don’t always have the space,” she explains. “Just spatchcock your turkey, cook it in a couple of hours and just keep it warm. You can also spatchcock it and put it on the grill.”

As you’re cooking the bird, it’s important to keep an eye on the internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer, placed in the leg and thigh area, to ensure it’s cooked through. The magic number is 165 degrees, because that’s when it’s fully cooked. If the internal temperature gets up to 180 or 190 degrees, the turkey is overcooked, and it’ll end up tasting tough and try.

“It’ll look dried out and terrible,” Moorman says. “It won’t taste good at all.”

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes Moorman sees happens when people decide to deep fry their turkey. Although it sounds delicious, this technique is risky and can cause serious damage if done improperly.

Moorman says people will take their frozen turkey and put it directly into hot oil, which can then overflow.

“My dad was a fireman and he spent a lot of Thanksgivings fighting house fires because of deep-fried turkeys,” she says. “It’s dangerous and it’s a terrible idea, unless you’re a pro. The turkey has to be thawed and dried, and you have to be very careful.”

The best and easiest way to cook a turkey, Moorman says, is by putting it in the oven, the same way her grandmother baked hers.

“Just spatchcock it, throw it in the oven and check doneness at two hours,” she says. “If you’re going to stuff it and cook it whole, you’re probably going to have a 6 to 8-hour bake on that turkey.”

Before Dinner

Quiche Lorraine

From the Kitchen of Nate Pigee
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Pastry for a 9-inch one-crust pie
  • 12 slices of bacon fried crispy and crumbled
  • 1 cup natural Swiss cheese shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper

Instructions
 

  • Prepare pastry and preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in a pastry-lined pie plate.
  • Beat eggs slightly before mixing in remaining ingredients.
  • Pour egg mixture into pie plate.
  • Cook uncovered in oven for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
  • Cook uncovered until a knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Taco Dip

From the Kitchen of Samantha Behling
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened Let it sit outside the fridge a bit before mixing
  • 1 16 oz. container sour cream
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix Gluten-free options available
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded chedar cheese
  • Optional: black olives tomatoes, bell peppers

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning.
  • Spread mixture into a serving dish.
  • Lastly, top the mixture with lettuce, cheese and additional toppings of your choice.
  • Serve with tortilla chips.

Dinner Recipes

Cream Cheesy Corn

From the Kitchen of Marie Pigee

Ingredients
  

  • 4 4 bags frozen corn
  • 1 lb bacon sliced into chunks fried crisp
  • 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1 small box of Velveeta cheese Cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion Chopped if desired
  • 1/4 cup milk can also use cream

Instructions
 

  • Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside.
  • Place onion into bacon grease, then add corn, cheese, milk and sour cream.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then bake for 20 minutes. Crumble bacon over the mixture just before serving.

Beer Bread

From the Kitchen of Chris Linden

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tb dark brown sugar
  • 4 tb white sugar
  • 1 can beer 12oz. at room temperature Crystal Lake Brewing’s Beach Blonde Ale gives a nice flavor, though stouts like Guiness are a good alternative

Instructions
 

  • Blend ingredients in a bowl.
  • Bake at 350F in a greased and floured bread pan for 55 minutes.

Homemade Stuffing

From the Kitchen of Melanie Roberts, Manager at Kalck’s Butcher Shop, in Crystal Lake

Ingredients
  

  • 1 loaf of stale French bread shredded dried
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 4 cups chicken stock base prepared
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 6 celery stalks chopped

Instructions
 

  • Sautee celery and onion until softened.
  • Add rest of ingredients and let rest until everything is absorbed.
  • Can be served with cranberries and cooked pork sausage.

Hot Pineapple Salad

From the Kitchen of Jim Taylor

Ingredients
  

  • 20 oz can of pineabble tidbits with juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tb self-rising flour
  • 2 cups medium-sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers crushed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, sugar, flour and cheese.
  • Transfer to an 8-by-8 inch, 11/2 quart baking dish.
  • Top with crushed crackers and drizzle with melted butter.
  • Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Aunt Cyndy’s Cranberry Relish

From the Kitchen of Cyndy Singleton

Ingredients
  

  • 6 apples
  • 6 oranges
  • 2 bags fresh cranberries Freeze cranberries first they grind better frozen
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Instructions
 

  • Core apples and peel oranges.
  • Grind apples, oranges and cranberries, then stir together.
  • Add sugar.
  • Let set for 30 minutes so the cranberries can thaw and the flavors can come out.
  • Taste to check sugar level and add more to taste.
  • Enjoy now or freeze for later!

Save Room For Desert

Aunt Cyndy’s Pumpkin Cookies

From the Kitchen of Cyndy Singleton

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin 15 oz
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 cups raisins or craisins
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Instructions
 

  • Cream shortening and sugar.
  • Add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla, beat well.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.
  • Add in salt, then mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts.
  • Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 250 F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Cool on rack.
  • Can be frosted with vanilla or cream cheese frosting.

Swedish Almond Squares

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes

Ingredients
  

Dough

  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 package almond paste
  • 2 tsp almond extract

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sifted
  • 6-8 tsp milk
  • 4 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract

Instructions
 

Dough

  • Cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add eggs and flour.
  • Blend in almond paste and almond extract.
  • Put in jelly roll pan and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
  • Frost with icing. Cut into small squares.
  • Note: Almond paste is easier to work with if slightly warmed in microwave. Break into small pieces and add to batter.

Icing

  • Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
  • Add milk, corn syrup and extract.
  • Stir vigorously until icing is smooth.
  • If needed, add additional milk to thin icing more.
  • You’ve reached the correct consistency when a scoop of icing slowly falls off the spoon.

Peppermint Mocha Blossom Cookies

From the Kitchen of Ashley Smith

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tb instant coffee powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar to coat cookies
  • 4 Dozen Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease your baking sheets or line with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and espresso powder until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until the dough comes together.
  • Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and coat with granulated sugar.
  • Place on the baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before pressing a Candy Cane Kiss into the center of each cookie.
  • Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Don’t Want Turkey?

Crock Pot Chicken

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes

Ingredients
  

  • 6 Medium Chicken breasts boneless/skinless
  • salt pepper and paprika to taste
  • 1 10 1/2 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 4 oz. can mushrooms drained
  • 1 cup our cream mixed with ¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Instructions
 

  • Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Place in crock pot.
  • Mix wine, soup and mushroom until well combined, mixing in sour cream.
  • Pour over chicken.
  • Sprinkle generously with paprika.
  • Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.
  • Serve with wild rice or noodles.
  • If it’s too thin, add a bit more wine at the end, with some more flour to thicken it.
  • Can substitute canned mushrooms for a half-pound of fresh mushrooms with chopped onions.

White Chicken Chili (Gluten-Free)

From the Kitchen of Samantha Behling

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 can mild green chilis
  • 3 cups chicken shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • 5 bacon strips chopped
  • Cilantro leaves

Instructions
 

  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then cook.
  • If using, instant pot, cook for 20 minutes. Set oven to 400 F and cook bacon on a baking sheet for 14 minutes.
  • After it has cooked and cooled, chop the bacon.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium/high heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add in the diced onions and minced garlic, sautéeing until onion is translucent.
  • Then, add green chilis to cook for an additional minute.
  • Add in the shredded chicken, oregano, salt, cumin and pepper.
  • Pour in the broth, then beans and corn.
  • Cover the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and bacon.
  • Squeeze the lime juice into the mix and stir together.
  • Then, top with cilantro for a garnish.

Prime Rib with Garlic and Blue Cheese Dressing

From the Kitchen of Weber Grill

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bone-in standing prime rib roast 5-6 lbs trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tb dijon mustard
  • 3 tb extra-virgin olive oil

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 medium garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese about 6 oz
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before grilling.
  • In a food processor mince the garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Add the mustard and oil, and process to form a paste.
  • Smear the paste all over the top and sides of the roast.
  • Brush the cooking grates clean.
  • Grill the roast, bone side down, over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until the internal temperature reaches 120 to 125 F for medium rare, 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Transfer the roast to a cutting board and remove the bones.
  • Loosely cover the roast with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes (the internal temperature of the roast will rise a few degrees during this time).
  • While the roast rests, make the dressing.
  • Place the cream and garlic in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat on the stove, and then lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until the cream coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the cheese, stirring to help it blend into the cream. Season with pepper.
  • Carve the roast into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve warm with the dressing.
(Barnstormer Distillery Photo)

Holiday Drinks

What’s a holiday meal without a fun and unique alcoholic beverage?

This holiday season, try making The Sleigh Ride (recipe at right), made with handcrafted vodka from Barnstormer Distillery, in Rockford. The drink also includes cranberry juice, lemonade and chilled ginger ale.

Addie Ford, co-founder of the distillery, says the drink is very versatile, meaning it can be made several ways.
“You can make one cocktail at a time, a punch that can be prepared ahead of time (add the ginger ale just before serving) or as a Hot Toddy,” she says. “It’s one of my favorite holiday drinks because if there’s punch left over, it can easily be turned into a Hot Toddy at the end of the evening.”

Take 4 to 6 ounces of the punch, add a dash of pumpkin spice and put it in the microwave for a minute.
“Voila, you have a completely different flavor profile and a Hot Toddy,” she says.

All of the ingredients play a role, but using vodka ensures the drink stands out.

“Our RFD vodka creates a clean, smooth and silky mouth feel,” Ford says. “We pride ourselves on creating a traditional, premium vodka that’ll make any vodka cocktail outstanding.”

Rush Creek Distilling, in Harvard, continues to unveil unique and interesting spirits, their latest being a coffee-flavored vodka.

“The coffee was co-developed with a coffee roaster in Oklahoma,” says Mark Stricker, co-owner. “It’s a combination of his cold-brewed decaffeinated coffee with our vodka, our vanilla vodka and inverted sugar.”

This spirit, Stricker says, is perfect to use in an at-home martini. Just take 3½ ounces of coffee vodka and a half-ounce of half-and-half. Shake it with some ice and pour it into a martini glass. Finish the drink off with some sprinkled coffee grounds on the foam that’s created.

“You can also add a little chocolate, caramel or even whipped cream if you’d like,” Stricker says. “It’s very simple and delicious.”

The coffee-flavored vodka was just released, so it’s in distribution and can be found in limited stores, Stricker says.

The Sleigh Ride

From Barnstormer Distillery

Ingredients
  

  • 1 oz. RFD Vodka
  • 2 oz. Cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. Lemonade
  • 1 oz. Ginger ale chilled
  • Garnish suggestions: Sliced citrus fresh cranberries and/or mint leaves

Instructions
 

  • Fill glass with ice and combine RFD Vodka, cranberry juice, lemonade and top with ginger ale. Garnish and serve.

Apricot Ice

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large apricot nectar
  • 16 oz. frozen orange juice
  • 1 small frozen lemonade
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 ripe bananas mashed

Instructions
 

  • Dissolve the sugar and water together and mix in other ingredients. Freeze overnight. The next morning, thaw mixture, then beat with electric mixer until frothy. Serve or freeze as desired.

Swedish Glog

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup White Raisins
  • 3/4 cup Brown Raisins
  • 1 cup Dry Prunes
  • 1/2 cup dry apricots
  • 20 blanched almonds
  • 16 whole cardamon seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange peel
  • 12 whole cloves

Instructions
 

  • Cook ingredients in 1 quart water for 1 hour. Put in large kettle over heat and add 1 cup sugar. Stir just until boiling. Add 2 quarts Mogen David Grape Wine and six quarts Mogen David Rose Wine and heat just to boiling. Add 1 bottle of grain alcohol. Stir; then, ignite and burn for 25 to 30 seconds before turning off heat. Cover and let stand for at least 24 hours in kettle. No peeking. Strain with cheesecloth twice and bottle.