Holiday Recipes Open Thread

Holiday Recipes for Working WomenWith the holidays almost upon us, I thought we’d have a holiday recipe open thread — what are your favorite things to make for family and friends? Have you gravitated towards certain recipes as a working woman (simple ingredients/short steps for easy weeknight dinners, slow cooker recipes you can start before work, etc.)?  For holiday recipes, do you like these recipes because they transport well, because they’re treats or more work than you’re usually willing to spend on food, because they’re best made in large batches, or for other reasons? (Does anyone have any great vegetarian recipes, or healthy fruit-related dessert recipes? Trying to add some of those to my wheelhouse.)

For my $.02 — yes to all of the above for why we choose what holiday recipes to make for family and friends!  I also try to make something healthy for larger gatherings, particularly veggies that I’m happy to fill my plate with.  For Thanksgiving in a few days, we’re planning to make a salad that we always call “Siggy’s salad,” after a restaurant that used to be down the street from our apartment but then sadly changed locations, moving farther away. I never seem to get to the actual restaurant in its new location, so we’ve duplicated the recipe as best we can — it can be a bit of work, so we primarily make it for larger gatherings. (The picture at top is from the restaurant’s website.)

Our recipe isn’t so much a “recipe” as “an approximation of the salad we remember” — the way it’s served at the restaurant the salad greens are about 50% of the plate, possibly even 40% — so the quinoa, olives, avocado, feta, and cucumbers all play pretty big roles in about equal percentages.

Siggy’s Salad (serves 6-8)

  • Quinoa (cooked, chilled) – about 1.5 cups
  • Baby greens – 2 clamshells
  • Kalamata olives, sliced/chopped — if you can find them pre-sliced it’s hugely helpful. For a large family gathering I’ll drain and dump an entire jar (or more!) into the salad.
  • Avocado – 1-2 sliced/chopped avocado, to be added right before you serve the salad and mixed with the rest of the ingredients (store with the avocado stone if you want to chop it before you get to where you’re going).
  • Feta – 1.5 containers — you can do reduced fat if you like, here.
  • Cucumbers – 2 chopped cucumbers
  • Lemon vinaigrette (we’ve found this recipe elsewhere on the Internet and liked it:)
    • 0.5 cup olive oil
    • 3 T fresh lemon juice
    • 1 T minced shallot
    • 1.5 tsp Dijon
    • 0.5 tsp grated lemon peel
    • 0.5 tsp sugar

It’s an unusual salad (for us, at least) and a yummy treat. We’re still getting the ingredient proportions just right, though — and we often make adjustments on the fly, so pardon the vagueness!

Ladies, let’s hear from you — what are your holiday recipes as working women? 


  1. I’m all for having delicious vegetables on offer, but the idea that you should feel pressured to fill your plate with veggies on, like, the three big feast holidays a year is just depressing.

    • Amen. If I read one more article about how you can gain a pound in a single day I’m going to scream.

    • The Voice of Reason :

      I take a stand against policing what other people eat. That applies equally whether you’re shaming someone for eating two gallons of ice cream or criticizing someone who chooses to eat a salad.

      Eat what you want. Let other people eat what they want.

      • I’m not criticizing someone for choosing what to eat. Eat whatever you want. But making a show about how it’s important to have vegetables available you want to eat on a holiday continues to be depressing.

    • Anonymous :

      I don’t think the point of this post was to do that?

  2. has anyone purchased their own spin bike like the Pelotan or similar? Are in-home classes as good as a real class?

    • New Tampanian :

      Personally have not but a good friend of mine LOVES her Pelotan and the classes.

    • Lorelai Gilmore :

      I was just looking at it and got a little unnerved by the fact that you have to subscribe – apparently the video screen only works for their classes, and their classes/content costs approximately $450/year. That’s just too much of a commitment for me.

    • Peloton is amazing and as good as its going to get in home as compared to a good studio class. if you are used to paying SoulCycle or FlyWheel prices it pays for itself within a year or so assuming you spin 2-4 times a week. I love it.

    • Peloton rider :

      I have a Peloton and love it. It’s a bigger up front cost, but because the monthly fee is so inexpensive and spin studios in my city are hundreds a month or $35/class, it pays for itself very quickly. Classes are great and I can literally take one whenever I want. Plus, because I don’t have to waste time going to/from the gym, I save a ton of time. I highly recommend it!

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    I’ve made The Pioneer Woman’s Nantucket Cranberry Pie each thanksgiving for the past 4 years. It is fantastic. I make it without the nuts and make fresh whipped cream to go with it.

    On that topic, if you have a stand mixer and have never made your own whipping cream, I highly recommend it. It is so much better than the store bought stuff and really easy to make (with a stand mixer at least). Just pour a cold pint of whipping cream into the bowl and start the mixer using the whisk attachment. I add about 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract then add more of either of those to taste. Just whip it on high speed for a few minutes until it reaches the right consistency.

    I also always make pumpkin pie but don’t personally like to eat it. I like a baking challenge so I’ve always wanted to make it all the way from scratch with an actual pumpkin. My friends were unanimous that the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pure pumpkin can (just the pumpkin, not the pie filling) was the absolute best version. So I’m sticking with that version this year.

    Some years I make a big batch of rolls using my grandmother’s recipe and turn half of it into cinnamon rolls (the sticky bun kind) for the days following Thanksgiving. It’s a ton of work though so I don’t have time this year.

    • Maddie Ross :

      Second your friends recommendations about the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. It really is the best.

    • jumpingjack :

      I’m interested to hear about how to cook with an actual pumpkin. I tried once, with a small pumpkin that was described as being for cooking. I have good quality sharp knives and was completely unable to cut or even pierce it for baking. So I put it into the microwave, where it exploded. Even after it had exploded and I kept cooking it, the flesh never got soft enough to cut out. And the remaining outside was still a rock-hard shell. So for now I’m sticking to canned.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I think it’s supposed to go in the oven for a long time at a low temp. But I’ve never tried, so I’m not sure.

      • LOL I’m sorry, the visual is hilarious. I make pumpkin cheesecakes every year and the best is with real pumpkin, not canned. My preferred “pumpkin” is acorn squash or calabaza – they’re very dense and have good flavor. I cut into wedges with the skin on, douse in olive oil and sea salt, and roast at 350 degrees for two to three hours. Once it’s done because it’s nice and soft, I let it cool, peel off the skin, and hand smash and use/store. I suppose one could boil the pumpkin but I’ve always roasted.

      • Baconpancakes :

        For cooking squash, a good way to start is with a machete or a hatchet. BUT it sounds like that particular pumpkin wasn’t ripe/actually meant for eating?

        The best pie pumpkins are long island cheese pumpkins, supplemented with butternut squash. Weird, I know, but apparently “canned pumpkin” is often not actually pumpkin, but other squashes.

        And yes, pumpkin needs to be roasted for at least an hour, minimum, in the oven. I would not have recommended microwaving a whole pumpkin, because… physics.

      • Anon_in_AZ :

        I put squash whole, uncut in the crock pot on low and let it cook for 6-8 hours. Works great!

      • jumpingjack :

        Thank you all for the tips! I especially like the crockpot idea. I may try that with a spaghetti squash I’ve got.

      • Midwest Mama :

        FWIW, I saw Bobby Flay on the Today show this week, and he said he hardly ever uses any food in a can but he does cook with canned pumpkin. So if it’s good enough for a famous chef, it’s good enough for me!

      • This is an awesome video on how to make Pumpkin Puree. You cook the pumpkin with the seeds and everything, and it makes it taste a lot more pumpkin-y. The recipe is for a healthier version but I think you could use this technique to roast your pumpkin and use it in whatever recipe you’d like!

      • Anonymous :

        We slow roasted a large-ish squash-that-resembled-a-pumpkin, and if you go this route, make sure the pan that you are roasting in can handle a decent amount of liquid. Winter squash keeps well, and likely loses some moisture in the process, however, if your tasty squash is closer in time to being picked from the field, you may have a runnier puree, so keep that in mind if you are working with a recipe that calls for a can of pumpkin puree. Our first roasting had enough pumpkin-water-overflow (it was large) that the cleanup resulted in a clean oven floor…and add me to the, no, do not microwave unless you have your own cooking show.

  4. At the holidays, I love to bake! I really take the time and do everything from scratch, which is something I don’t usually have time to do.

    My recent favorite baked good has been an apple pie recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I have their cookbook which I love — everything I’ve tried has worked out. Definitely my favorite apple pie I’ve ever had! Recipes for filling and dough to follow in links :)

    • I do the filling only from this recipe:

      And pie dough from this recipe:

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I switch up my apple pie recipe each year and this looks great. I think I’ll try that filling this year.

  5. Sweet Potatoes :

    cooked with bourbon

    • Green Queen :

      Sweet potatoes and bourbon? I don’t know why this combination has never come to my mind before. That sounds incredible.

      Speaking of bourbon, I’m big in to making Christmas candy to give as gifts and take to parties (and eat myself), because my mom was always really into it. My favorite candy to make are bourbon balls, which my Mom never made but she is always happy to take a few off my hands to add to her candy stash. Years past, I made a bourbon-pecan-powdered sugar-butter filling and rolled them and coated them in chocolate. This year, I’ve resolved to get over my fear of making truffles, and I’m going to try making the truffle-style bourbon balls instead. Spiced pecans and Chex Mix (must be oven baked, microwaved Chex Mix is for the birds) are also annual must-makes.

      This year, my son is nearly 2, so I just picked up some cookie cutters. I think he’ll love trying to decorate sugar cookies. I may give gingerbread a try for the first time, too.

  6. Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Pie with fresh whipped cream. Recipe for the pie is here: I’ve started using the Pampered Chef whipped cream maker — fresh whipped cream in 30 seconds without having to break out the mixer —

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I’ve never had chocolate chip pie. That looks delicious!

      My mixer lives on my countertop. I use it regularly.

  7. I make The Pioneer Woman’s creamy mashed potatoes. The one with two sticks of butter, a package of cream cheese, and half and half. It’s terrible for you, but delicious.

    This year I also made Veganomicon mashed spiced sweet potatoes, and will do my standard shredded brussel sprouts, sauteed with shallotts in olive oil, and tossed with pistachios and dried cherries (S&P to taste). It can be made with bacon instead of pistachios too!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      My stepmom always includes cream cheese in her mashed potatoes. Super yummy!

    • Oh good! I am doing PW’s mashed potatoes this year for the first time & I’m glad to hear a ringing endorsement (though with cream cheese, a ton of butter and half and half, you can’t really go wrong, right???)

      • I make them regularly for holidays and people seem to really like them!! I make them ahead and then pop them in the oven with some more butter on top. This year I bought heavy whipping cream because I copied off the wrong recipe for my shopping list. WHOOOOOOOOPS.

    • I love bringing mashed potatoes to potluck thanksgivings, because I just throw them in the crockpot to stay warm and get to enjoy the party without fighting over oven or stovetop space. Also, I don’t trust other people to use enough butter in their potatoes.

  8. This is the most privileged problem ever, but still interested in suggestions. We’re planning to trade in my husband’s pickup for a BMW 3 series. We can afford it and also my MIL is giving my husband money toward the down payment as his birthday/Christmas gift (his birthday is next week). The problem is my mom. She and my dad divorced when I was 4 and she has a strong victim narrative going about her life. It’s true that she sacrificed a lot to get me a good education, and that’s why I’m where I am today. But she also threw away a lot of opportunities — e.g., she dropped out of college to elope with my dad, she didn’t opt to go back to finish her degree when my parents separated and we lived rent-free with my grandparents for 3 1/2 yrs, she walked away from good jobs because they were in industries she deemed too boring to make a career in — and she’s now 71, still working full time with only about $30k put away for retirement. She complains all the time about how little money she has but sees it as no one ever giving her a chance. The problem is that she’s going to go on and on about this car. (So underlying issue — mom and money — semi-serious. “I don’t want to listen to my mom carp about our car” — not serious, just annoying.) My husband was initially looking an an Audi and while my mom might know that as a “good” car it doesn’t have the brand recognition that a BMW has. That is, even though they cost the same, she wouldn’t know that and she sees BMW as “expensive.” She also thinks cars are the worst thing to spend money on and anyone who does is an idiot. (She’s judgmental about pretty much everything. It’s not “that’s not really my thing” but “that person is a bad person for liking things I don’t like.”) Anything that’s nice, she comments “I never had [nice thing].” Not “I’m so glad you have this because I could never afford it myself” but “no one ever gave *me* one of those.” I think I’m worried not only that she’ll make backhanded comments, but that (1) while she really likes my MIL and appreciates that it’s nice that my MIL buys nice things for us (husband, me, our kids), she also feels both envious and insecure about my MIL; and (2) while she’s really independent, she also thinks she’s owed something (by the universe, not me in particular) and I worry that she’ll feel like we should be helping her out financially if we can afford this car. And if the time comes when she can’t support herself, we’ll help her. But my stepfather has a successful business and as far as I know they’re reasonably comfortable. Not rich, but have a nice house and can afford to eat out and pursue a few hobbies. She’s also never really liked my husband (because of her own insecurities really — that’s a whole story on its own) and I worry this car will lower him in her view. And while that’s nothing I can control, it just is something that makes me anxious. She doesn’t live nearby and we could easily hide the car from her since she only visits maybe 3x per year, but that seems silly and extreme.

    • Whoa there. Take a deep breath. Your mom is your mom. Get the car you want and learn how to control your reactions to your mom’s remarks. She’s 71, she ain’t changing. There is absolutely nothing you can do to change her. Just remind your mom that you love her and that’s it.

      • HA! Yes, this is what my friend (below) does. Her mom is a chair. The chair is not changing. She will always be that chair. Accept that she is that chair.

        • Thanks. This is helpful. Yeah, with my mom, about 80% of my interactions with her require me to say “she is who she is.” The other 20% are great, but ugh that 80%.

          • Dude, one day you’re going to be That Person to someone. It may be your kid, your coworker, your whoever. Wouldn’t you want them to treat you with kindness and just accept you as is, unreasonable and/or reasonable flaws and all? In the immortal words of Elsa, let it go, let it gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    • Oh man, I don’t have much advice, but you have my sympathies.

      My bff’s mom is somewhat like this. They recently purchased a used X3 (more room for baby on the way) to replace a very old Civic. The X3 was exactly the same cost as the CX-5 they were looking at, but the X3 dealer gave them the deal that they wanted. Her mom guilted her about it and told her she was leaving her family behind and forgetting who she is. My bff’s husband’s family has money and all of his siblings have 6-figure careers. My bff and her husband do not, although they do just fine. Bff’s mom has a lot of insecurity around bff’s husband’s family and is constantly guilting bff about everything related. It’s a hard situation to be in.

    • Ok this is a reach to suggest to an internet stranger- but perhaps you could get her a spendy gift once in awhile. My MIL is a little bit like this; several years ago we bought her an iPad which opened up a new world to her- and this year bought a cheap iphone and pay for a cheap plan. These gifts really made her feel like we want to share some of our privilege with her. For your mother, consider that working full time at 71 if she would rather retire, is not fun and not comfortable, even if its due to poor choices. For people that feel left out, and are into “things”, I feel like including them and buying them some things are not the worst idea!

      • Second this. I have always shared my good fortune with my parents who are in a similar position to the OP. I do not understand those who wouldn’t think to do similarly.

    • Frozen peach :

      Last week there were several related threads about parents with issues like these. Good resources listed and also some commiseration. This sounds like my mom. I like the idea of “spendy” gifts as a way to appease her. I also agree that accepting her “As-is” and detatching from her irrational reactions to things are very key to your own sanity. We practice a method of benign “you get info on a need to know basis” combined with a “some things are not up for discussion” combined with “some things are best intentionally hidden, pick your battles”. But hiding an entire car would likely be more trouble than it’s worth.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I agree with the last two posts — accept her as she is and see if you can buy a little goodwill with an expensive gift here and there. Honestly you sound pretty judgey about her.

      Also, whatever you do, don’t breathe a word about your in-laws helping with the car purchase. No good can come of that!

      • This. And how you come across with your mom – and she knows you well and is feeling you on this – is fueling this. And, full disclosure, my life resembles what you described, and my nasty inner critic has recited that litany until I had to look at how it was poisoning me. I eloped and did not finish college. It gave me my oldest son (a honeymoon baby), which was hard. HARD. At this young point in my life, I had a PhD in people pleasing and was in an abusive relationship which put that tendency into overdrive. I came from a very dysfunctional family with two high-school valedictorians as parents, that were straight out of working-class families that hungered for family life like what was on TV or sermonized about at church on Sunday. Navigating the jump from working class to white collar suburbs was hard on them. And they had 5 kids. They were in over their heads. AND they got married because my mom was pregnant. Eventually their marriage imploded as they really had few navigational beacons, and would fall back on working class techniques that were often short-term effective (from corporal punishment to threatening withdrawal of financial support) that were stop-gap at best, and frankly dangerous precedent for my own life.

        When my life spun out into relationship violence – I did a lot of outreach to my family elders, many of them were compassionate and balanced perspectives, others saw this as an extension of a parent moving away from their family and well, that wasn’t completely wrong, either, as the phone and letters only get you so far when young adults are tempted to keep up with the Joneses. My mom’s parents were hard on my mom, and often treated her in the manner that you see your own mom, and there have been some attempts by her to repeat that behavior on me, as my elopement within my dysfunctional family has tempted others to put me in a black sheep status, and I don’t play. I have a lot of compassion for my mom, but I also have firm boundaries which helps with the respect thing. My mom will still pop off with a comment, however, I’ve learned to either let it go, step up to it in my response, giving context if appropriate. Other times I will say – help me understand why you are saying this – are you feeling worried (or some other plain emotion, not something loaded with negativity like jealous or broke) and stay with that to reassure her – maybe looking at it as being worried for my future, then flipping to she raised me to be the person I am, and I like to know that I have her support or confidence.

        I am in my forties. It took me a while to work up to this, with all of the media and class-based messages creating static. I’m not sure I would have grok’d this in my 20’s. If this is of interest, I am not an expert, this is my journey, and I would defer to professionals that have bent my ear such as ione of the podcasts that I recently heard featured Bethany Webster on the Mother Wound.

        Have a good thanksgiving. This was written for everyone who reads it, as the OP really just opened the floor to share, and everyone’s mileage varies.

        • Meaning, don’t hide. The car also “is what it is”. We can’t change the past, but we can make it into a story that empowers, May any conversation about the car be a positive turning point for YOU in your relationship with your mom.

  9. Lorelai Gilmore :

    I am kind of obsessed with pomegranate seeds on the Thanksgiving table – they look so pretty and taste delicious. This year I’m making the roasted cauliflower, hazelnut, and pomegranate salad out of the Jerusalem cookbook. A lot of our family traditional foods tend towards the “sweet mush” category (which, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE) – so it feels nice to have something a little different. I also was playing with a dish that involved squash, yogurt, and pomegranate seeds, but I couldn’t get it quite right and my husband thought it was terrible, so not this year!

    Last year I made the Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes, cream cheese and all, and was seriously underwhelmed.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Have you seen this? I love pomegranate and this was life changing.

    • Anonymous :

      I have made that salad – it is pretty good! I bet you could also make the butternut squash with tahini sauce recipe from that cookbook and sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on it at the end.

  10. Dad's Lentil Soup :

    It’s not a “holiday recipe”–more like a “recovering from the holidays recipe”. It’s great for informal company served with crusty bread (or with baked potatoes for a GF meal) and can be made vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. To make this super quick without a lot of fuss, use a food processor for chopping and the stock pot to saute the onions and carrots. Don’t forget the wine!

    2 tbs. olive oil
    2 cups of chopped onions
    3 carrots coarsely grated
    3/4 tsp. dried marjoram, crumbled
    3/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
    1 can (28 ounces tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped
    7 cups broth (vegetable, beef or chicken)
    1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    6 oz. dry white wine
    1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbs. dried parsley flakes
    4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

    In a large saucepan, heat oil and saute onions, carrots, marjoram and thyme, stirring the vegetables, about 5 minutes.

    Add tomatoes, broth and lentils. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and simmer soup about 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

    Add salt, pepper, wine and parsley, and simmer soup a few minutes. Serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

  11. Meredith Grey :

    When I was a student and had a week off leading up to holidays (and when I was unemployed), I happily offered to do decedent desserts for holidays. It was sooooo satisfying at the time to make something with my bare hands that turned out beautifully and that everyone would marvel at. Fast forward to now… and I haaaaaaaaate it. I actually just told DH last night “do not let me volunteer for dessert ever again!” while elbows deep in greasy pans and flour all over me. Any else have such a dramatic shift? Feeling kind of foolish after having spent a pretty penny on stand mixer, accessories, and all kinds of other crap that give me heart palpitations now…

    • KS IT Chick :

      I kind of did, after the year that I made 2 cakes (pumpkin brownies with salted caramel sauce & pumpkin gooey butter cake), 3 pies (pumpkin, Fruits of the Forest & another fruit pie), dark chocolate bread pudding & homemade ice cream. The sugar overload just from tasting everything as I baked the day before Thanksgiving isn’t something I’ll forget any time soon!

      On the other hand, I’m doing the actual meal this year, and part of me is itching to make something sweet. I’ve bought the turkey fully cooked/smoked, I made stock over the weekend, and I have all the ingredients for cornbread dressing & sweet potato casserole. My dad is providing pumpkin pie & my aunt is adding strawberry-rhubarb pie. Like I need to make a cake or bread pudding to round it all out.

    • Similar, in that while studenting I offered to host a particular family holiday gathering that the previous host begged off due to being a new mom, and I hadn’t claimed host duties for a holiday yet.

      At first I loved it – I love to have people in my home and cook for them and make them fat and happy – but increasingly grumpy expectations from family have sapped the joy out of it. After one particular relative’s attitude last year, I declined to host anything this time around and honestly give no fcuks if it happens at all and how disappointed anyone is, including the nieces and nephews.

      I couldn’t leave my kitchen toys unloved, however, and turned my skills outside the family upon my co-workers, fellow students, professors, and any other random person who comes my way while I’m holding a box of treats, all of whom express gratitude without conditions, gossip, or side eye. It’s so very pleasant and fulfilling.

  12. AttiredAttorney :

    My go to recipe for the holidays is a pumpkin chiffon pie. It’s the pumpkin pie for people that hate pumpkin pie. Tons of pumpkin flavor, but a light, mousse-like texture instead of heavy, clumping taste.

    Combine in a saucepan:

    1 envelope plain, unflavored gelatin (you can find this in the jello section of the grocery store)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1/4 tsp ginger
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    3/4 cup milk
    2 beaten egg yolks
    1 cup pumpkin

    Cook over medium heat until mixture boils, while stirring occasionally to prevent mixture from sticking. Then chill pumpkin mixture until partially set and cooled.

    In a separate, large bowl, fold together (whip the first two ingredients separately before folding them together):

    2 whipped egg whites
    1/2 cup of whipping cream, whipped
    1/4 cup of sugar

    Finally, fold the pumpkin mixture into the “chiffon” mixture. Pile into a 9 inch graham cracker crust pie shell (purchased or your favorite recipe). Chill before serving with lots of whipped cream on the side!

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