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Holiday Recipes

Whether you’re entertaining family and friends or staying in to watch your favorite holiday flick, there’s no denying that great food sets the scene for happy holiday memories. Here are a few favorite recipes courtesy of area restaurants. Their gift to you!

Missouri River Valley Mushroom Tart

Provided by The Inns at St. Albans

Whether you feature this delicious mixed mushroom tart as part of a dinner or brunch buffet, or convert it into tartlets to serve as an hors d’oeuvre, this is a recipe you’ll return to time and again.



1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup [1 stick] chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons [about] ice water


3 ounces olive oil

2 cups chanterelle mushrooms

2 cups shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons brandy [or a non-alcoholic substitute such as apple juice or apple cider vinegar]

1/4 cup shallots, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, thyme works exceptionally well as do tarragon, rosemary and parsley

1/2 cup Gruyere cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Fresh ground black pepper

Kosher salt

2 large egg yolks

1 large egg


For crust

• Blend flour and salt in processor. Cut in butter using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add enough water to blend dough. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic, chill 45 minutes.

• Roll out dough on floured surface until it mimics the shape of the desired tart pan – rectangular, round or minis. Transfer the dough to the tart pan; note, removable bottoms for larger tarts and silicone tartlet trays make removing and serving the tarts much easier.

• Trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang in to form double-thick sides. Press tart edges to raise dough 1/8 inch above pan. Chill 30 minutes.

For filling

• Heat oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms. Season with salt; sauté until deep golden, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.

• Add brandy [or its substitution]. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

• Mix in 1 tablespoon herbs. Cool.

For assembly

• Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans; bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  Remove foil and beans. Maintain oven temperature.

• Sprinkle half of each cheese in crust. Cover with mushrooms.

• Whisk cream, egg, egg yolks, remaining herbs and seasoning in bowl. Pour custard over mushrooms. Top with remaining cheese.

• Bake until filling is set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes.

Cranberry-Walnut Phyllo Triangles

Provided by Jarlsberg® and Chef George Duran, host of Food Network’s “Ham on the Street”

Makes 25 triangles


1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup raisins

2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

10 sheets frozen phyllo dough [thaw in refrigerator overnight]

1/3 cup melted butter

2 1/2 cups Jarlsberg chunk cheese, cut into 25 cubes

2 cups chopped walnuts


• Heat oven to 375°F.

• In saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, raisins, honey, orange peel and orange juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

• Carefully lay one phyllo sheet on cutting board and brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top and brush with melted butter. Cover remaining sheets with damp towel to prevent drying out. Position brushed pastry horizontally and cut into five strips.

• Place 1/2 teaspoon cranberry filling, one cube of cheese and 1/2 teaspoon chopped nuts in lower corner of each strip. Fold dough over filling to form triangle. Fold triangle up then over, forming another triangle. Continue folding to end of strip. Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon chopped nuts.

• Repeat with remaining strips of dough and remaining sheets of phyllo.

• Bake 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack before serving

Pan-Fried Crab Cakes

Provided by Kobrand Wine & Spirits

These delectable treats can be made large enough to be an entrée or small enough to serve as a warm hors d’oeuvre with remoulade on the side.


1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup minced green onions

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon Dijon or Creole mustard

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound Dungeness crab meat

2 cups panko bread crumbs, divided

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

Remoulade sauce, for serving


• Line baking sheet with waxed paper.

• In large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, green onions, egg yolks, lemon juice, tarragon, cilantro, mustard, lemon peel and black pepper. Add crabmeat and 1 cup panko bread crumbs, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let mix stand 10 minutes.

• Form crab mixture into 16 2-inch patties, using about 1/4 cup for each cake. Place patties on baking sheet.

• Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

• Using remaining bread crumbs, lightly coat each crab cake.

• Heat two large, heavy skillets over medium-high heat. In each skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides [adding more butter and oil as needed], about 5 minutes total.

• Transfer cakes to paper towels to drain excess oil.

• Plate immediately for serving or transfer to a chafing dish to serve buffet-style.

• Top crab cakes with dollop of remoulade sauce.

Vito’s Signature Arancini

Recipe provided by Vito’s in the Valley


4 cups water

2 cups long grain rice

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded Parmesan

3 eggs


2 tablespoons oil

1 diced onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced parsley

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 6-ounce can tomato paste with roasted garlic

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup Italian style bread crumbs

oil for frying


• To make rice: in a large saucepan combine water, rice, butter, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Transfer rice into a bowl and cool. Mix in 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese and 3 eggs.

• To make stuffing: in a pan over medium-high heat combine oil, onion, garlic, parsley, and Italian seasoning, cook for 5 minutes. Add ground beef and salt, cook for 5 more minutes, breaking beef into chunks. Add tomato paste and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

• To make rice ball: scoop a small handful of rice and roll it into a ball, flatten it out and make small indentation in the middle. Scoop a tablespoon of meat stuffing into the center of rice patty and working with your hands fold the rice over the meat, forming it into a ball. Coat the rice ball in bread crumbs.

• Heat oil to about 350°F and cook rice balls in batches for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to drain off any excess oil. Serve with marinara sauce.

Remoulade Sauce


1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons mustard [Dijon or Creole]

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon hot sauce

3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1 teaspoon paprika [sweet or smoked]

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Wine pairing tip: Planning holiday menus can leave you facing endless shelves of wine wondering what to choose. Select wines that pair with a variety of dishes, such as crisp, medium-bodied chardonnays and medium-to-full-bodied, flavorful merlots. “Chardonnay complements so many holiday flavors, including these pan-fried crab cakes,” said Katie Madigan, winemaker at St. Francis Winery.  Merlots, on the other hand, match well with hard cheeses, roasted turkey, lamb or steaks.

Red Velvet Crinkles


1 2/3 cups flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup [1 stick] butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick Red Food Color

1 teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

nonstick cooking spray


• In medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside.

• In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, food color and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.

• Refrigerate 4 hours.

• Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

• Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar to completely coat. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

• Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are puffed. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Provided by McCormick 


1/2  gallon [8 cups] whole milk

1 can [14 ounces] sweetened condensed milk

1 package [12 ounces] dark chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon McCormick pure peppermint extract


• Place whole milk, condensed milk, chocolate chips and peppermint extract in slow cooker. Cover.

• Cook 60-70 minutes on high, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is heated through, stirring every 15 minutes.

• Reduce heat to low and serve with mini marshmallows or, better yet, marshmallow snowmen!

M&M Pudding Cookies

[Editor’s note: A mistake was made in the production of the Nov. 22 print edition that resulted in the omission of the first three ingredients. Thank you to the astute reader who called our attention to the omission. The recipe has been corrected below:]

Need a festive holiday cookie in a hurry? Look no further than these melt-in-your mouth creations, made extra soft and chewy by adding dry pudding to the mix.


2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2  teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 box [4-serving size] Jell-O™ vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups green and red M&M’s™ milk chocolate candies
1 cup white chocolate baking chips


• Heat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

• In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape the side of the bowl.

• Beat in dry pudding mix, followed by eggs, adding them one at a time and beating just until batter is smooth. Beat in vanilla.

• On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in chocolate candies and white chocolate chips until blended.

• Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

• Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Missouri River Valley Corn Fritters

Recipe provided by The Inns at St. Albans


2 cups fresh corn kernels

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Oil for frying

Sour cream and scallions for garnish

Directions: Mix all ingredients to create a thin batter. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of batter into oil and fry as griddle cakes. Serve with sour cream and scallions.

The Inn at St. Albans suggests: Avoid serving hors d’oeuvres before dinner so that guests come to the table hungry and really appreciate the food. Starting with a festive champagne and no hors d’oeuvres before dinner will ease conversation, which is important if guests do not know each other.

Ranch Roasted Pretzels 

Recipe submitted by Sarah’s on Central


2 boxes of large hard pretzels

1 cup oil

1 ounce ranch dressing mix, dry

1 teaspoon dill, dried

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Directions: Break pretzels into small even pieces. Coat with oil, then coat with dry ranch mix, dill and garlic. Bake on a sheet pan at 250º F for 30 minutes, rotating sheet pan every 10 minutes.


Plum Chutney

Recipe provided by Balaban’s

8 ripe red plums, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups sugar

1.5 ounces of mustard seed [small container]

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 cups golden raisins

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 cup dried cranberries

Directions: Chop and mix all ingredients. Chef’s tip: To avoid tearing up when chopping onions, start by sticking them in the fridge overnight.

To serve: Use as a condiment with pork tenderloin or, for easy hors d’oeuvres, top a favorite cracker with soft, goat cheese and chutney.

Balaban’s suggests: Buy larger bottles of wine for the holiday, either magnums [equivalent to two bottles] or double magnums [equivalent to four bottles]. Larger bottles prove more festive, immediately signal a special occasion, and prompt conversation as guests sample and compare their first tastes and impressions of the wine. Plus, larger bottles last longer in storage if left over. Pay attention to details, such as creating an attractive table, the colors of the foods and their position on the plate. Add a surprise or two to the meal – such as unusual wine party favors –  one for each guest. Plan dishes that you can prepare ahead to stand alone or complement those of a caterer.

Hot Apple Pie Wine

Recipe provided by Augusta Winery

1 bottle of Augusta River Valley White wine

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup apple juice

Mulling spice: The preferred mulling spice mix consists of cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, allspice and orange peel. Some stores will have pre-made packs or you can gather the ingredients into a cheesecloth sachet or put them into a tea bag before adding them to the wine mixture.

Directions: Simmer wine with brown sugar, apple juice and mulling spice packet; pull spice packet after about 10-12 minutes. Voila – Apple pie in a glass!

Augusta Winery suggests: Never be without wine during the holiday season! It’s the quickest and easiest way to keep any surprise guests happy.

STL Kale Salad

Recipe provided by Walnut Grill

1 bunch kale, tough stems removed

and then chopped.

1 small carrot, shredded

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1/4 cup sweet drop peppers or 2 tablespoons    of pimentos if drop peppers not available

3 to 4  tablespoons Parmesan, grated

6  tablespoons olive oil

2  tablespoons red wine vinegar

Pinch of oregano

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 small can  artichoke hearts, drained

Directions: Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl in order.  Hand squeeze artichoke hearts to break them up, making sure the juice stays in the salad. Toss salad until ingredients are well coated.

To serve: Transfer salad onto individual plates. Top with a bit of shaved Asiago or Parmesan.

Walnut Grill suggests: Salad is the perfect complement to steaks, chicken or fish. When preparing steaks, or roasts, be sure to let them sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. To obtain the perfect sear when cooking meat or fish, make sure to pat dry the fish or meat and use a hot skillet with a small amount of fat. The meat or fish will tell you when it is done by easily releasing itself from the pan.

Sicilian Chicken 

Recipe provided by Favazza’s on the Hill 

This recipe features a sauce that is to be used sparingly to taste.

For the sauce:

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

All ingredients can be adjusted to taste

Directions: Add lemon juice, fresh garlic, oregano, kosher salt and pepper to mixing bowl, slowly whisk in olive oil until well blended.

For the chicken:

4 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded or sliced to an even thickness and marinated overnight in Favazza’s House Italian Salad Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil to dip chicken in before dredging it in breadcrumbs

Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs to coat chicken before grilling

Directions: Dip chicken lightly into olive oil and dredge in Italian breadcrumbs before grilling.

[Editor’s note: grilling can be done on a well-oiled indoor grill pan. Chicken also can be baked. Chicken is done when its internal temperature reaches 160º F on a meat thermometer.]

To serve: Stir Sicilian Sauce and spoon a couple tablespoons over the top of the chicken cutlets, preferably while chicken is still hot so it absorbs the sauce. Enjoy!

Favazza’s suggests: Sicilian Sauce also can be used to flavor fish, perhaps for a Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes – an Italian tradition.

Penne Borghese

Submitted by Charlie Gitto’s

2 ounces yellow onion, diced small

1.5 ounces prosciutto, julienned

2 tablespoons parsley

3 ounces brandy

4 ounces heavy cream

4 ounces Charlie Gitto’s Pomodoro Sauce

8 ounces penne noodles, cooked

Olive oil to sparsely coat the pan for sautéing

Parmesan cheese as garnish

Directions: In a medium hot skillet add prosciutto, onions and parsley; sauté with oil until onions are browned and prosciutto is crispy. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and flambé [briefly set alight]. Add cream and Charlie Gitto’s Pomodoro Sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer and add pasta. Toss and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta into a bowl or platter and garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.

Charlie Gitto’s suggests: When cooking pasta, use enough water to allow the pasta to move [about 5 quarts of water per pound of pasta]. Let the water come to a rapid boil and add salt [about 2 tablespoons] before adding the pasta to the pot. Give the pasta a few quick stirs to prevent it from sticking. Cook until al dente, literally “to the bite” or a little firm when bitten. Drain the pasta and add the sauce. Hot pasta more fully absorbs the sauce.

Sugar Cookies

Recipe submitted by Sarah’s Cake Shop

8 ounces butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 egg

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup granulated or sanding sugar for decorating cookies

Directions: Preheat oven to 350º F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes. Add egg and mix until combined. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon and roll into a ball. Add granulated sugar [white or colored] to a large bowl. Place each ball of cookie dough into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll to coat. Place cookie dough on baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Lightly press each cookie down. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Sarah’s suggests: Sanding sugar, also known as decorating or pearl sugar, will give your cookies added “sparkle.” The sparkling effect is achieved because the sugar crystal grains in sanding sugar are larger than those in granulated sugar and will reflect light better.

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