12 of my All-Time Favorite Holiday Recipes

Cranberry Apple Tart

My Grandma's butter crust pastry is wrapped around a fruity filling of apples and cranberries in this simple tart recipe that tastes even more delicious than it looks!

Grandma's Butter Crust Pastry

2 cups flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 - 3/4 cup cold milk

Mix flour with salt and sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture and blend until flour has the consistency of coarse meal. Stir in milk gradually until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Using more flour as necessary, knead dough for 3-4 minutes or until smooth. Roll dough out as thinly as possible into a large circle. Transfer dough into a deep dish pie or quiche form and let the extra dough hang over the edges of the pan.

Apple Cranberry Filling

4-5 tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I like to use Granny Smith apples)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
pinch of cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, in small pieces

Mix apples, cranberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together and toss well until coated. Place fruit mixture into the center of your tart crust by spoonfuls, and dot with butter. Fold crust edges over fruit filling. If desired, brush pastry shell with 1 Tbsp. milk and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. This will help your tart crust brown nicely and give it a little sparkle.

Bake at 375ºF / 190ºC for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let the tart cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Best eaten warm and especially nice with a dollop of freshy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

A lovely holiday dessert!

Austrian Linzertorte

A traditional Austrian tart made with ground nuts, spices, and jam. The lattice top makes it pretty, and it actually tastes much better a day or two after baking when the flavors have had a chance to ripen. A great, make ahead holiday treat.

10 Tbsp. (150 g) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. Kirschwasser schnapps or rum
7 oz. (200 g) ground almonds or hazelnuts (should be about 2 cups)
1/4 cup (30 g) flour
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
6-7 heaping Tablespoons of seedless raspberry or red currant jelly, stirred until smooth

Butter and flour a 10" (26 cm) springform pan and preheat oven to 350º F /175º C.

Cream together butter and sugar, then blend in egg and schnapps or rum. Add nuts, flour, salt, and spices, and mix well. Cover dough and refrigerate for 2 hours until firm.

Remove dough from refrigerator, and set aside 1/3 of dough. Roll out the larger portion of dough, adding flour as necessary - dough may be sticky - and press into the bottom of the springform pan. Spread jelly onto dough, leaving the outer edge of the tart, along the rim of the pan, uncovered.

Next, roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough, and cut into 1/2" (1 cm) strips. Place strips onto jelly covered tart and press down around the edges. Finish the tart by adding one last strip of dough around the outer edge of the tart. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect at this point, the strips of dough will spread out a bit during baking.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in your preheated oven.

Let cool before serving and dust lightly with powdered sugar. As I mentioned before, this jam cake tastes even better the day after baking. Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, turn on your favorite music, and enjoy!

Luscious Lemon Tart Bars

Creamy, citrusy delicious decadence!


1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 heaping Tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
1 tsp. lemon zest (use organic lemons!)

Preheat oven to 350º F/ 175ºC. Grease and flour an 8 inch square baking pan.

For the crust: Combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press mixture into bottom of pan as evenly as possible (you may need to dust hands with flour to do this). Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. 

Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk together eggs, sugar, and cream. Sprinkle in flour and salt, stir well. Then add fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, mix until smooth and foamy. Pour the lemon filling on top of the crust - it's fine if the crust is still hot - and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set. 

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars.* I find these are even better after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours, so don't get too impatient. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. 

*To make sure that your bars cut easily, try this special trick: fill a heat-resistant glass with hot water, and dip your knife into the hot water before slicing. Repeat with each new cut. Your bars will look perfect!

Jackson Pollock Toffee Bars

Add an elegant touch to this American classic cookie!

Cookie Dough:

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
pinch of salt


8 oz. (200 g) dark chocolate, chopped
4 oz. (100 g) white chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease and flour a large cookie sheet. Cream butter and sugar together, then blend in molasses, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Gradually beat in flour and pinch of salt. Spread batter into prepared pan, using a spatula or floured hands to press down dough evenly. (It doesn't have to be perfect - just fairly even.) Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden and tests done. Be sure to get your dark chocolate chopped and ready at this point - you can also use semi-sweet chocolate chips.

As soon as you take the baked cookie dough layer out of the oven, put the cookie sheet on a non-flammable surface and start sprinkling the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips on the surface. The heat of the freshly baked cookies will melt the chocolate. Give it a couple of minutes to melt completely, be patient. If your chocolate needs some help melting, you can place the cookie sheet back in the warm oven for a minute or so, but watch out and please don't burn your chocolate. Spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the cookie/toffee layer and let cool. 

The classic variation is to sprinkle chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts on the chocolate before it cools. This tastes wonderful, and you are welcome to do that! However, we found out this year that my daughter Lucy is allergic to nuts, so I developed this variation - and I really liked the result.

After the dark chocolate layer has cooled, melt your white chocolate carefully on the stove or in the microwave. Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate all over the dark chocolate surface and have fun doing it. I pretended to be the artist Jackson Pollock who is famous for his drip and splatter paintings. You can also melt more dark chocolate, or milk chocolate and create multiple layers of "action painting."

These look beautiful when cut into squares and were a big hit at our Christmas party. All of my German relatives kept asking how I made them. Now you know ;)

Spicy Cutout Cookies

These spicy sweet cookies are easy to make and have a delightful flavor!

Cookie Dough:

2 3/4 cup (400 g) flour 
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1 cup (100 g) sugar 
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 (300 g) cup cold butter, chopped in pieces


1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. milk
chopped almonds or coarse raw sugar 

Combine flour, baking powder, spices, and sugar in a large bowl. Add vanilla, egg, and cold pieces of butter, then knead well until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or waxed paper and cool in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. Before using, let come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes and preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease or line cookie sheets. Prepare garnish by mixing egg yolk with milk in a small bowl. 

Roll out cookie dough on a well-floured surface to approx. 1/8 inch (3 mm) thickness. Cut out your favorite shapes with cookie cutters and carefully place on prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Brush tops of cookies with egg yolk/milk mixture and sprinkle with chopped almonds or coarse raw sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Wonderful warm, and these cookies keep very well when stored in air-tight containers. Their spicy flavor actually improves with age!

Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes

For a memorable holiday breakfast, these are the best pancakes I know!

**If you are living in the Northern Hemisphere, then blueberries are not seasonal right now for you. Use frozen blueberries or substitute cranberries or chopped apples/pears. A handful of chopped pecans or walnuts could be a great addition too! 

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tsp. brown sugar

3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 cup blueberries

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a separate large bowl, mix sour cream and milk, then blend in eggs and melted butter. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture all at once, and stir until just moistened. Fold in berries. Mix gently.

Cook pancakes in a hot pan with a bit of butter and/or oil, and keep warm in a 200ºF/100ºC oven. Serve with butter and warmed maple syrup. Yum!

Apple Cranberry Muffins

I love the combination of apples and cranberries, and these muffins are wonderful served warm. Perfect for a  holiday breakfast or afternoon tea.

1 3/4 cups flour (you can use 1/2 whole wheat)
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 peeled and chopped apple
1 cup cranberries

Topping: 1 Tbsp. sugar + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400ºF / 200ºC. Butter or line 12 muffin cups. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Separately, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg/milk mixture all at once to flour mixture, and stir until just moistened. Gently fold in chopped apple and cranberries. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Combine sugar and cinnamon for topping, and sprinkle over muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and test done. Spicy, sweet, tart, umm!

Tomato Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Great for holiday party buffets. The combination of flavors is melt in your mouth wonderful!

3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, shredded
3 tsp. capers, drained
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette, sliced diagonally, in ½“ slices
1 package (4 oz.) spreadable goat cheese (or herbal cream cheese, if you prefer)

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside to marinate. Meanwhile, spread baguette slices with soft goat cheese (or cream cheese). Top each baguette slice with a spoonful of the tomato mixture and serve immediately. Yum!

Bell Pepper, Mushroom, and Red Onion Quiche with Feta Cheese

I developed this quiche recipe after trying and testing countless varieties. The filling is easy to make and you can substitute different vegetables if you'd like - zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes work very well too.


Use your own favorite (unsweetened) pastry dough recipe for the shell (my standard is my Grandma's Butter Crust Pastry which I also use for my Cranberry Apple Tart, but eliminating the sugar), and pre-bake pastry in form for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Prick pastry dough lightly with a fork before baking to avoid air bubbles.

Important: use a 10 or 11 inch ceramic or springform pan. If you only have small 9 inch pie forms, then add another egg to the filling and make two quiches.

Vegetable saute:

1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
herbs of your choice

Saute chopped vegetables in olive oil with a sprinkle of herbs of your choice and salt/pepper to taste. Be sure to saute the vegetables until they have released their juices and moisture has evaporated from the pan - otherwise your quiche may get soggy! Let cool.


3 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled finely

1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Combine eggs, cream, milk, and Feta cheese in a bowl until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses for later.

To assemble:

Scatter the Swiss cheese on the bottom of your cooled pastry shell. (This is another secret to keeping your crust crisp - not soggy.) Top with cooled vegetable saute mixture, then pour over egg/cream filling. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 375ºF or until golden and center has puffed.

Let cool for 10 minutes or so before serving to set. Wonderful with a fresh salad. Enjoy!

Potato Leek Soup with Fresh Thyme and Cream 

A rich and delicious potato leek soup recipe to warm you up on wintery days!

2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup butter
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
fresh thyme

Saute leeks lightly in butter, then add potatoes. Cover the potatoes with water or soup stock and boil until tender. Add salt to taste (1-2 tsp.). Let cool slightly, then puree until smooth. Whisk in cream and pepper to taste. Add water, milk, or broth if you would like the soup to be thinner. Heat and adjust seasoning, but do not bring to a boil. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme (or chives or other herbs of your choice) before serving.

Lovely with fresh bread and a salad.

Note: If the thought of all this butter and cream makes you dizzy, you can substitute milk for some of the cream. The soup won't be quite as rich, but is also delicious prepared this way. Happy cooking!

Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Lime

Enjoy the flavors of the fresh ginger and lime with a touch of chili in this recipe. An exotic and delicious dish for the holidays and winter months!

3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. chili powder
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick

Stir together melted butter with ginger, lime, brown sugar, salt, and chili powder. Pour over sweet potato slices and mix well to coat. Arrange slices in a buttered 9 inch glass or ceramic form in overlapping circles.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350ºF / 175ºC for 25-30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until slightly browned and tender.

Spicy, sweet, tart goodness.

Greek Village Salad

This Greek salad is delicious with quiche or as a light lunch served with hot bread. It is also a great way to boost your immune system this time of year with fresh vegetables, raw garlic, and lemon juice.

1 large or 2 medium size cucumbers, sliced into rounds, then halved or quartered
3-4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (or about 12-14 cherry tomatoes, quartered)
1 red onion, minced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more to taste)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
6 oz. / 180 grams Feta cheese, crumbled or diced
1 cup Calamata or best quality black whole olives

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and oregano. Add the Feta cheese and olives to dressing, then pour mixture over vegetables. Toss well and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.


I hope you enjoy this holiday recipe collection and get some new ideas and inspiration!
I wish you lots of joyful time eating good food over the holidays, listening to music, laughing and relaxing with your families, friends, and loved ones!

What are some of your favorite holiday recipes and food traditions? I'd love to hear, and please share links if you have them!