Who else is a sucker for “favorites” lists? For years I used to love reading Oprah’s favorites. It was usually the first page in the magazine I would read.
I’m ready to share some of my holiday favorites with you today including favorite holiday recipes from all over the web and my tradition of purchasing a new Christmas album every year.
Since I start listening to Christmas music the first of November – the same time I start Christmas pieces with my students, I figured it’s the perfect time to bring you my favorites. We’re planning our biggest holiday meal of the year – Thanksgiving, and simultaneously setting the mood for the Christmas season to come.
I’m not one to make the same recipes over and over so anytime you get a recommended recipe from me, it means it’s a keeper!
Favorite Holiday Recipes and Cooking Equipment
Cranberry Feta Pinwheels
My family goes CRAZY over these Cranberry Feta Pinwheels from Food.com.
A couple of tips. First, when I used a regular soft taco shell size, I needed six tortillas. If you use the large burrito shells, you might be okay. Second, I found adding 1/2 cup of sour cream to the mixture helped make it more spreadable.
A nice variation is to add thin slices of ham on top of the spread before rolling.
Mushrooms are one of my top five foods. I could eat them on everything. Ina Garten’s Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms are delectable. My best friend and I salivate over these puppies.
The recipe calls for 5 oz. of mascarpone – forget that I just threw the whole 8 oz container in!
Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble
Also, don’t do like I did the first time and sprinkled the cheese on the top of the crumble instead of underneath as it just gets hard. I should have known better.
Green Bean Casserole
It’s as creamy as they come, and the pimentos are a nice touch in Pioneer Woman’s Green Bean Casserole.
Brined Smoked Turkey
I can’t stand dry meat. Brining is the way to go. My husband loves to smoke meat on our kamado-style grill, so this recipe is a match made in heaven.
I just found out apparently my nephew is excited for Thanksgiving because “Aunt Amy make’s the best turkey” (we make this recipe approximately every other year). It’s from a Canadian Show called Licensed to Grill I used to watch when we lived in Australia.
It’s a LOT of effort but totally to DIE for.
Here I am in 2010 with my first grilled turkey. He was a 25-pound beauty!
2012 – looking even better with experience!
With mama. Pssst. See that beautiful cutting board? That’s one of my equipment recommendations.
J.K. Adams Reversible Maple Carving Board
Click on the image to link to each item. Yes, the equipment and CD links are all affiliate links, which means it doesn’t cost you any extra and I’ll get a very tiny percentage back if you purchase using these links. This just helps me keep things going!
This carving board was the winner of America’s Test Kitchen’s Carving Board equipment test, and it’s totally worth the $70. One side is flat, and the other has a poultry-shaped well. The trench is nice and deep to catch juices. I had plenty of messes over the years, that a deep trench became a must when I was ready to make this purchase.
America’s Test Kitchen’s best-buy choice has worked pretty well for us so far. A thermometer like this is an absolute must for anyone interested in smoking meats.
Trudeau Gravy Separator
Williams-Sonoma Brining Bags
After several years of realizing at the last minute, I didn’t have anything big enough to brine my 25-lb turkey in the refrigerator, I bit the bullet and started purchasing these amazing heavy duty brining bags from Williams Sonoma. They come in a set of 3-sizes. I always use the biggest one for the turkey.
Williams-Sonoma Autumn Fruit Spice Brine
I’m not usually in charge of dessert as I generally prefer cooking over baking and no one else in my family really likes being in charge of the meat if they don’t have to. That being said, there are a couple of favorites I love making during this season.
Super-Moist Pumpkin Bread
Super yummy and moist. Pinch of Yum hit this recipe spot-on.
Note: Instead of two loaves, I did one loaf and a pan of mini-muffins. There ended up with a bit too much batter in the loaf so that it was still wet in the middle after 50 minutes in the oven. The batter was probably 3/4 full in the loaf pan. If you do two loaves as the recipe calls for you, will probably be fine.
Ultimate Ginger Cookies
Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookies are deliciously spicy. I’m not a huge ginger fan but still love these. I pull back just a bit on the amount of chopped crystalized ginger in the recipe – just a little.
Gloria Estefan – Christmas Through Your Eyes
George Winston – December
Lonestar – This Christmas Time
Harry Connick Jr. – When My Heart Finds Christmas
Celtic Women – A Christmas Celebration
Frank Sinatra – The Christmas Collection
Third Day – Christmas Offerings
Chris Botti – December
Harry Connick Jr. – Harry for the Holidays
Michael Buble – Let it Snow
Josh Groban – Noel
Diana Krall – Christmas Songs
Straight No Chaser – Holiday Spirits
Frank Sinatra – Seasons Greetings
Richard Marx – Christmas Spirit
James Taylor – James Taylor at Christmas
Pink Martini – Joy to the World
She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas
Solveig Slettahjell – Natt i Betlehem
Pentatonix – A Pentatonix Christmas
Joey + Rory – A Farmhouse Christmas
This last CD has a story to it. Country music isn’t usually my first choice. I don’t hate it; I just don’t like it as much as other styles. However, in March 2016, Joey Martin Feek passed away from cervical cancer. She grew up in the same hometown as my husband, Alexandria, Indiana. She was four years ahead of him in school. With a small-town population of just over 5,000, she became a source of local pride.
In September, select movie theaters played the movie To Joey With Love which told her story. Her husband, Rory, took lots of video footage the last year or two she was alive. From what I heard, it was for no particular reason -he just felt for some reason like he should be filming their lives mores. *insert tears!*
I cried the.whole.movie.
It will be available in December.
Share your favorite holiday grub and tunes in the comments – I can’t wait to hear what you love to eat and listen to over during this season