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Creative Holiday Dinner Ideas the Whole Family Will Love

Creative Holiday Dinner Ideas the Whole Family Will Love

This year, make your Christmas dinner unique and exciting with these twists on classic holiday favorites.

Do you know what you're making for Christmas yet? Have you already started thinking about Christmas cookies and candy canes? This holiday season, we could all use a little extra holly and jolly and some gobble gobble, too. These unique twists on holiday favorites—like creative potato recipes and new ways to make stuffing—will give your holiday meal the spark it needs this year and can pretty much guarantee there is something for everyone on the menu. If you can't be with your family this year because of the pandemic, share this guide with them so you can cook side by side over video chat. Are we missing your favorite holiday dish? DM us on Instagram and maybe we'll feature your family's delicacy! 

RELATED: Vote for your favorite holiday character to win $250!

Creative Potato Recipes
Holiday Casserole, Kugel, and Bread Pudding Recipes
Holiday Vegetable Dishes
Unique Ways to Make Stuffing
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes
Holiday Dessert Recipes

Creative Potato Recipes

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots

Recipe courtesy Kurbo


  • 4 tsp. olive oil

  • ½ cup shallots, thinly sliced

  • 3 sweet potatoes

  • ½ head of cauliflower

  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper 


  1. Heat 3 teaspoons oil in pan over low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minute, stirring occasionally. Cook until golden brown.
  2. Boil the potatoes and cauliflower and until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Since cauliflower cooks quicker, add in a few minutes after potatoes.
  3. Drain both and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  4. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper and beat until well mixed.
  5. Arrange in a bowl, top with shallots and drizzle with remaining oil.


Eggplant Mashed Potatoes

Recipe from The Plantiful Table. Serves four as a side dish.


  • 1 small eggplant, halved

  • Olive oil for roasting

  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more for baking eggplant

  • 3 medium creamer potatoes, chopped

  • 2 tbsp. dairy-free butter

  • Splash of dairy-free milk

  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F  
  2. Brush the flesh side of the eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. 
  3. Place the eggplant halves peel side down on a baking sheet and cook for 30-40 minutes (depending on the size), until the insides are very, very tender. Pierce through the top to test the inside; the softer, the better. 
  4. While the eggplant is roasting, place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Drain the water from the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Remove the peel, if you prefer.
  6. Scoop out the inside of the eggplant and place it in the mixing bowl with the potato. Discard the peel.
  7. Whip the potatoes, eggplant, butter, and salt together until smooth and creamy. Add a splash of milk, if necessary.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

BUSH'S Grilled Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe courtesy BUSH’S Beans. 8 servings.


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes

  • 1 (28 ounce) can Bush's Country Style Baked Beans

  • 2 peaches, sliced and divided

  • 1/2 cup onion, diced

  • 3 bacon strips, cooked and chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Wash potatoes and pierce potato skin several times with a knife. Place potatoes on paper towels and microwave on high power for 10 minutes or until soft.*
  2. Cut 8, 12-inch squares of heavy duty aluminum foil. Slice potatoes in half and scoop out small portion of potato to make a narrow boat, reserving the scooped out potato. 
  3. Place one potato half on each foil square. Mix baked beans, peaches, onion, bacon and reserved sweet potato into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place mixture in potatoes.
  4. Bring up top and bottom edges of foil, leaving a little space for steam expansion during cooking. Seal potatoes in foil and place on the grill. Cook 20 minutes over indirect heat, or until warmed throughout.


Casserole, Kugel, and Bread Pudding Recipes

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Kugel

Recipe courtesy Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for your Oven! by Emily Farris


  • 3/4 pound egg noodles

  • 1/2 pound cottage cheese (small curd)

  • 1/2 pound sour cream

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/8 cup sugar

  • 1/2 pound butter (melted)

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • pinch of salt

  • raisins and dried cranberries (as much as you like)

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin pie filling


  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 tsp nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large pot, boil the egg noodles to just under al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie filling, raisins, and cranberries. Add the noodles and mix until they are all covered. Pour the mixture into a greased two- to three-quart casserole dish. Beat the eggs and pour over th
  4. For the topping, carefully mix cold butter in with flour, brown sugar, and nutmeg to create a crumbly mixture. Pour crumbles over top of casserole after the egg.
  5. Bake covered for a half hour and uncovered for another half hour.
  6. Can be served hot or cold. Serves four to five people.


Pass the Seconds Green Bean Casserole

Recipe courtesy Kurbo


  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans

  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

  • 3 Tbsp. potato starch or whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup non fat or low fat milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 Tbsp. low fat cottage cheese

  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 

For Onion Topping:

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced into circles

  • ½ cup whole wheat or Panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 3 Tbsp. water


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. 
  2. In a pan, sauté onions in olive oil until browned. Place these aside.
  3. In the same pan, add mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add in enough potato starch or flour to coat the mushrooms.
  4. Add the milk slowly, and make sure to whisk consistently. Add water, cottage cheese, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and stir until the cottage cheese melts.
  5. Add the green beans into the mushroom sauce and stir to combine.
  6. In a bowl, mix onions with breadcrumbs, Parmesan and water and stir to combine. 
  7. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and pour in the green bean mixture. Top it with the onions and bake uncovered, approximately 25 minutes.

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

Recipe courtesy Whole Foods Market. Serves 8.


  • 6 cups brioche, roughly cubed and toasted

  • 4 cups roasted butternut squash and cranberries

  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme

  • 6 eggs, well beaten

  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half

  • 3/4 cup gruyere, grated

  • salt and pepper

  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped candied pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine toasted brioche, butternut squash, cranberries and thyme.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs and half-and-half together.  Pour over the bread-squash mixture.
  3. Pour into a large gratin pan and top with grated gruyere.  Add optional pecans if desired.
  4. Bake in a 425 oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly, and the center moist but not runny.
  5. Let set for 5 minutes and serve. 


Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding with Apple-Raisin Mixed Berry Sauce

Recipe courtesy New York Methodist Hospital. Makes 9 servings.


  • 10 slices whole wheat bread

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 egg

  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon

  • 3 egg whites

  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg

  • 1½ cups skim milk

  • ¼ tsp. Cloves

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tsp. Sugar

  • ¼ cup brown sugar

Apple-Raisin Mixed Berry Sauce: 

  • 1 cup apple juice¼ tsp. Cinnamon

  • ½ cup apple butter

  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg

  • 2 tsp. Molasses

  • ½ tsp. orange peel (optional)     

  • 1 cup of fresh berries, such as raspberries or blueberries

  • ½ cup raisins


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an eight-inch by eight-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray, then lay the bread slices in the baking dish in two overlapping rows.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg, egg whites, milk, ¼ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.  Pour the mixture over the bread.
  3.  In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and 2 teaspoons sugar. Sprinkle the spiced sugar over the bread pudding. Bake the pudding for 30 to 35 minutes until brown on top.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature with the apple-raisin mixed berry sauce.
  5. To make the sauce, stir all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a low heat and simmer for five minutes. Serve warm.


Pilgrim Mac and Cheese

Recipe courtesy Elegant Affairs.


  • 2 lbs. elbow pasta

  • 1lb. grated cheddar cheese

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 6 cups milk

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 4 egg yolks

  • salt and pepper

  • Pam food release

  • 4 cups fine unseasoned bread crumbs

  • 8-16 pitted black olives

  • 1 piece black construction paper


  1. Cook the pasta to al dente. 
  2. Spray pan with the Pam and dust generously with breadcrumbs to create a crust; pour off the excess. 
  3. Melt the butter and add the flour, making a roux. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the milk, stirring so it doesn’t burn. 
  4. When it is fairly thick but not boiling, remove from the stove and add the cheeses.
  5. Then add the pasta, and when semi-cool add the egg yolks. 
  6. Mix and pour into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes, till set. 
  7. When removed from the oven, let sit for 10-15 minutes, and then invert on a platter. 
  8. To garnish, use the olives cut into eye shapes for the mouth and nose, and in half for the belt buckle and cufflinks. 
  9. Let your children make a hat out of the construction paper. Serve and eat.


Creative Vegetable Dishes

Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Cream

Recipe courtesy Lauren Bank Deen. Serves 6 to 8


  • 5 cups brussels sprouts (1 large stalk)

  • 1/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (depending on saltiness of bacon)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. If sprouts are on the stalk, remove them with a small paring knife and rinse carefully.  Remove any thickness at the base, and halve the sprouts. 
  2. Fill a large Dutch oven or saucepan with a few inches of water.  Put a metal steamer in the pot and  boil.  Add the sprouts, and when the water is boiling, cover and steam for 5 minutes or until tender and a knife can easily pierce the center.  Check the water level midway through steaming and add additional water if needed.  Remove from the steamer and set aside.  This can be done a day in advance, as they are re-warmed in the sauce.
  3. In the same Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until crisp.  Set aside, drain and discard the fat, and return the bacon to the pan. 
  4. Add the steamed brussels spouts and heavy cream and simmer until the cream is thick and reduced, about 6 to 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.


Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy Katherine Brooking, M.S., R.D., nutrition counselor and writer. Yields 3 cups


  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

  • 1/2 cup apple or orange juice

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1/2 grated orange rind

  • 1/2 cup of chopped pears


  1. Mix cranberries, juice, and honey in a pot. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, until cranberries pop. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in orange rind and 1/2 cup chopped pears.
  3. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate or can.


Roasted Root Vegetables

Recipe courtesy Laura Joseph Mogil. 8 servings


  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 red onions, cut into six sections each

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only) cut into 1-inch-thick rounds

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

  • ½ tsp. pepper


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Coat two heavy large baking sheets with a thin layer of vegetable or olive oil. 
  3. Combine all the ingredients except garlic and leeks in very large bowl (I used two plastic bags); toss to coat. 
  4. Divide vegetable mixture evenly between the prepared baking sheets. Place one sheet on each oven rack (position one on top and one on bottom). Roast 30 minutes. 
  5. Add garlic and leeks and return to oven. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning occasionally, about 30 minutes longer (keep checking to make sure they don't burn). Yum!


Roast Tomatoes   

Recipe courtesy Whole Foods Market. 


  • 3 large tomatoes  

  • 3 cloves garlic  

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme  

  • 1/4 c olive oil  

  • 1/2 T sugar  

  • 1/4 T salt    


  1. Cut tomatoes in half.  Put into a bowl.  Add garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Lay out onto a sheet tray, cut side down. Put into a 425F oven for about 5min.  
  2. When the skin of the  tomato starts to pull away, remove from oven and peel skin off completely. Lower the oven to 300F. Turn the tomatoes over, cut side up, and return to the oven.  
  3. Roast for 1 to 1.5 hour until light color is  achieved and tomato is nicely dehydrated. Cut each half into four pieces.  Add to the greens and beans. 


Roasted Squash with Ginger Shallot Browned Butter

Recipe excerpted from Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook From Scratch—with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them by Stacie Billis. Serves 4


  • Approximately 6 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (from one medium-size squash or two 20-ounce packages of precut squash)

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • ¼ tsp. salt, plus more to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter

  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallots

  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger

  • Chives, chopped, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the olive oil, the ¼ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (set the empty bowl aside to keep cleanup to a minimum) and roast until tender all the way through and caramelized in spots, approximately 40 minutes. (Make sure that the squash can hold its shape well enough to be handled without getting mushy.) 
  2. In the meantime, in a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted completely and begins to foam, start swirling the pan continuously. Watch carefully as the butter cooks and turns color: once you see it turn chestnut brown, remove the pan from the heat and add the shallots and ginger. Swirl the pan a couple more times and return to the heat. 
  3. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the ginger is fragrant and the shallots are soft and caramelized in spots, approximately 3 minutes. Take off the heat for good and set aside.    
  4. Remove the squash from the oven and carefully transfer it to the bowl you’ve set aside. Pour the ginger shallot browned butter over the squash and gently toss. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, if desired, and garnish with chives, if using. Serve immediately.


Unique Ways to Make Stuffing

Kid-Approved Whole Wheat Mushroom Stuffing

Recipe courtesy Kurbo


  • 10 slices whole wheat sourdough or whole wheat bread, diced into any size you like

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 celery stalk, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 cup mixed mushrooms, chopped

  • ½ yellow onion

  • ½ tsp. rosemary

  • ½ tsp. thyme

  • 2 tsp. parsley

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Spread bread on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of oil, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Toast in the oven until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. 
  3. While the bread is toasting, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the onions, mushroom, and carrot, and sauté until soft, approximately 10 minutes. 
  4. Combine the toasted bread and veggies in the casserole dish. Add the chicken stock so that the bread is moist but not soggy. 
  5. Cover with foil and bake 20-30 minutes.


Portuguese Style Stuffing

Recipe courtesy Whole Foods Market. Serves 8.


  • 12 mahogany clams, soaked for at least 1 hour in water to cover

  • 8 cups cornbread, cut into 1" cubes and toasted

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 cup yellow onions, small dice

  • 1 cup celery, small dice  

  • 1 medium red pepper, medium dice

  • 1 tbsp orange zest

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 1/4 cup parsley

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 4oz sliced Spanish-style chorizo, diced

  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock

  • 4 cups green kale, trimmed and washed, roughly chopped

  • 2 cups red kale, trimmed and washed, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Toast the cubed cornbread until golden brown and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil.
  3. Add garlic, onions, celery, red pepper, orange zest, parsley, bay leaf, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium and cook until the onion is translucent and soft.
  4. Add white wine and scrape any caramelized juices from the onion.  Add the chorizo, and stir well.  Cook until chorizo is slightly crisp. Add chopped kale and 1 cup chicken broth and cook until kale is wilted and tender. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine toasted corn bread, and chorizo-vegetable mixture. Add up to one cup of chicken broth to moisten if necessary. The stuffing should form a loose ball when squeezed.  Pour into a large gratin dish.
  6. Nestle the clams into the stuffing mixture, hinge side down and place in a 475 oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the clams are open. Serve immediately. 

Oyster Stuffing 

Recipe from the Farmette Cookbook. Serves 8-10


  • 11 cups crusty bread cut into ½-inch cubes

  • 6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan

  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced

  • 1 leek, thinly sliced

  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

  • 40 medium (about 1 lb) oysters, shucked, with 1 cup of the liquor reserved

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • ¼ cup sherry

  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 tbsp. chopped thyme leaves

  • 2 tbsp. chopped sage leaves

  • 1 tsp. sweet marjoram, chopped

  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds

  • ½ tsp. hot pepper sauce

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter a 2-quart oval baking dish; set aside.
  2. Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  3. Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it is crisp and the fat has rendered, approximately 10 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add the shallots, leek, and celery; reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, approximately 10 minutes.    
  4. Add the oyster liquor, chicken stock, sherry, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, fennel seeds, hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the bread cubes and oysters. Set aside to allow the flavors to come together for 10 minutes.  
  5. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F. Transfer the oyster mixture to the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, drizzle with the remaining butter, and continue baking until golden brown and crusty, approximately 15 minutes more.   
  6. Serve immediately.

*Scullery Notes: Fresh oysters are best, but if you are in a pinch, canned or jarred oysters in liquor will work as well.


Turkey Recipes

Citrus and Herb Turkey Breast

Recipe courtesy New York Methodist Hospital. Serves 6.


  •  1 large carrot, cut into thick slices 

  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

  • 1 large celery rib, roughly diced

  • 8-10 fresh thyme sprigs

  • 1 large leek, sliced thin, lengthwise

  • 4 thin lemon slices

  • 1 large onion, cut into small chunks

  • 2 thin orange slices

  • 1 small whole turkey breast, with ribs

  • Canola oil spray

  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth


  1. Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bottom of a roasting pan, arrange the carrots, celery, leek and onion to serve as a bed for the turkey.
  2. Slide one hand under the turkey breast skin near the neck and gently pry it from the meat.  Use the other hand to gently lift up the skin until all the breast skin is loosened from the meat.
  3. Sprinkle the salt on the exposed breast meat, then add the thyme. On one side of the breast, insert a lemon slice, slipping it to the back. Add an orange slice to the same side, then a second lemon slice, keeping the herbs underneath the citrus. Repeat on the other side of the breast. Gently pull the loosened skin back in place and pat it down so it almost reaches the neck.
  4. Coat the skin with cooking spray and set the breast on the bed of vegetables. Place the pan on the oven rack and add broth. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees. Remove the breast to a platter and let it rest 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, pour the juices from the pan into a measuring cup. Chill to allow fat to rise. Transfer vegetables to a blender and purée.  Skim the congealed fat and stir in the vegetable juice, then reheat.
  6. Remove the skin, citrus and herbs from the turkey and carve into slices to serve with juices.



Holiday Dessert Recipes

Mini Fruit Pies 

Excerpted from Kids in the Kitchen by Amanda Grant, with photography by Susan Bell, with permission of Ryland Peters & Small. 16 mini pies.


  • Small piece of butter, about the size of 2 pieces of chocolate, melted (ask an adult or older child to do this), plus a little extra

  • 20 tablespoons (11/3 cups) dried fruits

  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice

  • 12½ oz. puff pastry dough

  • A little flour for sprinkling

  • A little demerara sugar for sprinkling

Equipment: scissors, parchment paper, baking tray, mixing bowl, spoon, rolling pin, 2 pennies, round cutter about 2¼ inches across, table knife, pastry brush

Skills: mixing, rolling pastry, cutting circles, brushing, using oven 


  1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the baking tray. Put the melted butter, dried fruits, and spice in a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
  2. Break the pastry in half, then break each piece in half to make 4 pieces. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface. Flatten one piece of dough with a rolling pin until it is about the same thickness as 2 stacked pennies.
  3. Take the cutter and, starting at the edge of the dough, push it down to cut out circles. Keep going until you have used up all of that dough. Roll out another piece of dough and cut out circles. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Using a teaspoon, spoon a little fruit mixture onto the middle of each circle. Bring the edges of the circle up together to seal the mixture inside. There should be no gaps in the pastry!
  4. Turn the parcels over and flatten slightly with your hand. Using a table knife, carefully cut two or three short slits in the top of each pastry—this will let the steam escape when the pastries are baking.
  5. Put them on the baking tray. Dip a pastry brush in a little melted butter and brush over all the pies. Sprinkle with sugar. Ask an adult to help you put the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. They should look golden!


What’s-in-Season Fruit Crumble 

Excerpted from Kids in the Kitchen by Amanda Grant, with photography by Susan Bell, with permission of Ryland Peters & Small. 16 mini pies. Serves 4-6 people.

Fruit filling:

  • Seasonal fruit e.g. 15 plums or about 1 lb. 4 oz. fresh or frozen berries or about 12 peaches or nectarines

  • 4 tablespoons orange juice

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 level tablespoon plain / all-purpose flour

Crumble topping:

  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons plain / all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

  • 2 handfuls oats (or muesli if you prefer)

  • 4 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice / apple pie spice or ground cinnamon  

Equipment: cutting board, small paring knife, spoon, 2 small or 1 large ovenproof dish

Skills: rubbing butter into flour, cutting with knife, mixing with spoon, sprinkling topping


  1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. To make the fruit filling, use the bridge-cutting technique to cut the plums in half: on a chopping board, make a “bridge” with a thumb and finger of one hand and hold the plum. Hold a small paring knife in your other hand and put the blade under the bridge, then cut downwards firmly. Move the plums around as you cut to avoid cutting through the stone. Take out the stones.
  2. Put the plums into two small or one large ovenproof dish. Pour the orange juice over the plums, add the sugar and flour, and mix with a spoon or your hands.
  3. To make the crumble topping, put the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. This can take a few minutes. Add the oats, sugar, and spice and mix with your fingers again.   
  4. Spoon the mixture over the top of the plums. Ask an adult to help you put the dishes into the oven using oven mitts. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble topping is crisp, the plums are soft, and the fruit juices are bubbling up around the edges.


Toffee Apple Tarts

Excerpted from Kids in the Kitchen by Amanda Grant, with photography by Susan Bell, with permission of Ryland Peters & Small. 16 mini pies. Makes 24 small tarts.

Sweet pastry / pie crust dough:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled

  • 1¾ cups plain / all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 egg yolk 

  • 1-2 tablespoons cold water


  • 6-8 eating apples

  • 12 toffee sweets / candies

Equipment: table knife, mixing bowl, clingfilm / plastic wrap, parchment paper, two 12-hole cupcake tins / pans, rolling pin, round cutter about 3 inches across, cutting board, oven mitts

Skills: cutting, rubbing butter into flour, lining tart tins / pans, sharing fillings, bashing with rolling pins, using oven


  1. Use a table knife to cut the butter into small pieces and put into a mixing bowl with the flour. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. This can take a few minutes.
  2. Add the sugar, egg yolk, and water and stir the mixture together with the table knife until it comes together and you can form a ball with your hands. Wrap the pastry in a piece of clingfilm / plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes this will make it easier to roll out.   
  3. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. Using a scrap of parchment paper, rub a little butter inside the holes in the cupcake tins / pans. Break the pastry into four pieces. Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface, then roll out one piece at a time. Dip the cutter in flour, then cut out 24 circles. Gently press the circles into the holes of the pans.  
  4. Use the table knife and a cutting board to cut the apples in small pieces, avoiding the core in the middle. Divide the pieces between the pastry cases / dough crusts.   
  5. Put the toffees on a solid work surface and gently bash with the rolling pin to break into pieces. Scatter the pieces evenly over the apples. Using oven mitts, put the pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the toffee has melted and the apples are cooked.


Thumbprint Christmas Cookies

Recipe courtesy My Kids’ Cookies. Makes 5-6 dozen. 


  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature

  • 2 large eggs, separated

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans (optional)

  • your favorite jams or preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Cream together brown sugar and butter; beat in egg yolks and vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.  
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. 
  4. If you want to add pecans, dip the balls into egg white and roll in pecans.
  5. Place cookies about 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet; press thumb deeply in the center of each.  If you like, have the kids choose their own jam/preserves to put on top.
  6. Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from the cookie sheet and cool thoroughly. 


Peppermint Creams

Recipe courtesy Christmas Cooking with Kids by Annie Rigg. Makes 20-30 cookies.


  • 1 ¾ cup confectioner's sugar

  • 4-6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract green food coloring paste (optional)

  • mini star-shaped cutter

  • (Makes 20-30) 


  1. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Gradually add the condensed milk and peppermint extract, mixing with a wooden spoon. The mixture should come together like dough, and you may need to use your hands towards the end of the mixing.
  2. To knead the dough, sprinkle a little icing sugar on a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a ball and push on it and press it onto the work surface, turning it around often. Do this for just a minute or so until smooth.
  3. If you like, you can divide the dough in half and tint one half green using a little of the food coloring. Knead the dough again until it is evenly green.
  4. On the work surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of ¼-inch using a rolling pin. Stamp out stars with your cookie cutter and arrange them on a sheet of baking parchment.
  5. Leave to dry out overnight before packing into pretty boxes


Marshmallow Snowmen

Recipe courtesy Christmas Cooking with Kids by Annie Rigg. Makes about 10 snowmen.


  • 7 oz. large white marshmallows

  • brown writing icing

  • colored licorice strips or fruit leather

  • chocolate-coated mint sticks or pretzel sticks

  • large chocolate drops

  • 4 oz. white mini-marshmallows

  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

  • about 10 toothpicks 


  1. Place marshmallows on a tray. Push two large marshmallows onto each cocktail stick. Ask an adult to trim off any of the stick that is poking out of the top.
  2. Using the writing icing, pipe dots and lines of icing onto the face to make the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Cut the licorice strips or fruit leather into thin strips and carefully tie around the snowman's neck for a scarf.
  4. To make the arms, break the chocolate-coated mint sticks in half and push into the sides of the large marshmallow.
  5. Pipe a small blob of icing onto the top of the snowman's head and position a large chocolate drop on top. Pipe another blob of icing in the middle of the chocolate drop and stick a mini-marshmallow on the very top.
  6. Finally, using the writing icing again, pipe dots down the front of the snowman to look like buttons.
  7. Keep making snowmen like this until you have as many as you need to make a fabulous winter wonderland!
  8. To serve, scatter icing sugar over the serving dish, arrange the snowmen on top, and dust lightly with more sugar.


Not so Blonde Brownies Recipe

Recipe courtesy “A Century of Flavor” by Nielsen-Massey Vanilla. Serves 15.


  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 3 eggs

  • ½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Chocolate Extract

  • 2 tablespoons Kahlúa

  • 1 cup coarsely shopped white chocolate

  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped nuts of choice (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the chocolate extract and Kahlúa. Add the sifted dry ingredients in two additions, beating well after each addition. Fold in the white chocolate chunks and nuts.
  3. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the batter over the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.


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