Holiday Recipes From Our Family to Yours

Have you ever had a dish or meal that was so amazing you just had to share it? In preparation for this year’s holiday feasts, we present you with a full menu of delicious dishes.

We’re a passionate staff at Northwest Quarterly Magazine. We’re passionate about our writing. We’re passionate about our page designs and photography. We’re passionate about each other.

But here’s something you may not know: We’re also pretty passionate about food, and for many of us, that passion spills over into the kitchen. We look forward to crafting a picture-perfect holiday spread every year.

No doubt you’re already anticipating this year’s get-togethers with family and friends. So, to help you get started we’re passing along a full menu, from appetizers to entrees, desserts and drinks – all inspired by our families’ recipes and holiday traditions.

Happy cooking!

Preparing the Turkey

A golden-brown turkey is one of the first things we think about when preparing a holiday meal, but cooking it takes patience and technique. There’s a fine line between a tender, juicy turkey and one that tastes like shoe leather.

Turkey preparation starts days in advance. Instead of getting a frozen bird from the grocery store, head to the local butcher shop for a turkey that’s as good as farm-fresh.

Kalck’s Butcher Shop, in Crystal Lake, sells mountain-raised birds imported from Utah.

“You pick it up two days before Thanksgiving, and it’s a raw, fresh turkey,” says Melanie Roberts, manager at Kalck’s.

Once you’re ready to cook it, take the neck and giblet bag out of the turkey. Rinse the bird, pat it dry and apply a dry rub of seasonings. Any type of poultry seasoning will work, Roberts says.

“You can stuff it that morning with your bread stuffing or homemade stuffing,” Roberts says. “Some people will baste it with butter while it’s cooking.”

Another method involves covering the turkey in cheesecloth, a gauze-like cotton cloth that has many uses in the kitchen. As the turkey cooks, the cheesecloth holds in the moisture and prevents the meat from drying out.

“That’s for turkeys going in the oven,” says Roberts. “It’ll soak up the butter or oil that you’re using and it’ll absorb right into the turkey skin.”

To speed up the cooking time, Roberts suggests spatchcocking the turkey, a preparation technique that requires splaying the bird apart before baking. Roberts cuts the bird down its back and lays it flat over her homemade stuffing, skin side up, before it goes in the oven. The technique reduces cooking time by half, says Roberts.

“It takes about 2 to 3 hours to cook, instead of 6 to 8 hours,” she says. “When it’s done, just cut off the two legs, then carve the thigh and breast meat.”

Some cooks keep their bird moist with a brining kit, a mixture of salt and water. This is an alternative to basting.
Roberts says there’s no wrong way to cook a turkey, so long as it’s not overcooked. The internal temperature of the turkey needs to be 160 F.

“Overcooked, dry turkey is terrible,” she says. “People say their food is dry, but it’s only dry because they overcooked it. You have to rely on a meat thermometer to ensure it’s done. If it reads 180 degrees, it’s overcooked.”

Test the temperature by inserting the thermometer through the leg and thigh area. If the juices run clear, it’s a good sign.

“You just cook it until it’s brown, and when it’s done, you want to let it rest for maybe 20 to 30 minutes, so the juices can settle back in the turkey,” Roberts says. “After that, it’s ready to eat.”

Before Dinner

Quiche Lorraine

From the Kitchen of Nate Pigee
Servings 6 People


  • 1 Pastry for a 9-inch, one-crust pie
  • 12 slices of bacon fried crispy and crumbled
  • 1 cup natural Swiss cheese shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne red pepper


  • Prepare pastry and preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in a pastry-lined pie plate.
  • Beat eggs slightly before mixing in remaining ingredients.
  • Pour egg mixture into pie plate.
  • Cook uncovered in oven for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
  • Cook uncovered until a knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Taco Dip

From the Kitchen of Samantha Behling
Servings 6 People


  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened (Let it sit outside the fridge a bit before mixing)
  • 1 16 oz. container sour cream
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix Gluten-free options available
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded chedar cheese
  • Optional: black olives, tomatoes, bell peppers


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning.
  • Spread mixture into a serving dish.
  • Lastly, top the mixture with lettuce, cheese and additional toppings of your choice.
  • Serve with tortilla chips.

Dinner Recipes

Cream Cheesy Corn

From the Kitchen of Marie Pigee


  • 4 4 bags frozen corn
  • 1 lb bacon sliced into chunks, fried crisp
  • 8 oz container of sour cream
  • 1 small box of Velveeta cheese Cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion Chopped (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup milk (can also use cream)


  • Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside.
  • Place onion into bacon grease, then add corn, cheese, milk and sour cream.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then bake for 20 minutes. Crumble bacon over the mixture just before serving.

Beer Bread

From the Kitchen of Chris Linden


  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tb dark brown sugar
  • 4 tb white sugar
  • 1 can beer (12oz.) at room temperature Crystal Lake Brewing’s Beach Blonde Ale gives a nice flavor, though stouts like Guiness are a good alternative


  • Blend ingredients in a bowl.
  • Bake at 350F in a greased and floured bread pan for 55 minutes.

Homemade Stuffing

From the Kitchen of Melanie Roberts, Manager at Kalck’s Butcher Shop, in Crystal Lake


  • 1 loaf of stale French bread shredded, dried
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 4 cups chicken stock base prepared
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 6 celery stalks chopped


  • Sautee celery and onion until softened.
  • Add rest of ingredients and let rest until everything is absorbed.
  • Can be served with cranberries and cooked pork sausage.

Hot Pineapple Salad

From the Kitchen of Jim Taylor


  • 20 oz can of pineabble tidbits with juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tb self-rising flour
  • 2 cups medium-sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers crushed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter melted


  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, sugar, flour and cheese.
  • Transfer to an 8-by-8 inch, 11/2 quart baking dish.
  • Top with crushed crackers and drizzle with melted butter.
  • Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Aunt Cyndy’s Cranberry Relish

From the Kitchen of Cyndy Singleton


  • 6 apples
  • 6 oranges
  • 2 bags fresh cranberries Freeze cranberries first (they grind better frozen)
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  • Core apples and peel oranges.
  • Grind apples, oranges and cranberries, then stir together.
  • Add sugar.
  • Let set for 30 minutes so the cranberries can thaw and the flavors can come out.
  • Taste to check sugar level and add more to taste.
  • Enjoy now or freeze for later!

Save Room For Desert

Aunt Cyndy’s Pumpkin Cookies

From the Kitchen of Cyndy Singleton


  • 2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 cups raisins or craisins
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


  • Cream shortening and sugar.
  • Add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla, beat well.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.
  • Add in salt, then mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts.
  • Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 250 F for 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Cool on rack.
  • Can be frosted with vanilla or cream cheese frosting.

Swedish Almond Squares

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes



  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 package almond paste
  • 2 tsp almond extract


  • 2 cups powdered sifted
  • 6-8 tsp milk
  • 4 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract



  • Cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add eggs and flour.
  • Blend in almond paste and almond extract.
  • Put in jelly roll pan and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.
  • Frost with icing. Cut into small squares.
  • Note: Almond paste is easier to work with if slightly warmed in microwave. Break into small pieces and add to batter.


  • Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl.
  • Add milk, corn syrup and extract.
  • Stir vigorously until icing is smooth.
  • If needed, add additional milk to thin icing more.
  • You’ve reached the correct consistency when a scoop of icing slowly falls off the spoon.

Peppermint Mocha Blossom Cookies

From the Kitchen of Ashley Smith


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tb instant coffee powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar to coat cookies
  • 4 Dozen Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses


  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease your baking sheets or line with parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and espresso powder until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until the dough comes together.
  • Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and coat with granulated sugar.
  • Place on the baking sheet and bake for 9 to 10 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before pressing a Candy Cane Kiss into the center of each cookie.
  • Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Don’t Want Turkey?

Crock Pot Chicken

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes


  • 6 Medium Chicken breasts boneless/skinless
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  • 1 10 1/2 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 4 oz. can mushrooms drained
  • 1 cup our cream mixed with ¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine


  • Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Place in crock pot.
  • Mix wine, soup and mushroom until well combined, mixing in sour cream.
  • Pour over chicken.
  • Sprinkle generously with paprika.
  • Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.
  • Serve with wild rice or noodles.
  • If it’s too thin, add a bit more wine at the end, with some more flour to thicken it.
  • Can substitute canned mushrooms for a half-pound of fresh mushrooms with chopped onions.

White Chicken Chili (Gluten-Free)

From the Kitchen of Samantha Behling


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 can mild green chilis
  • 3 cups chicken shredded
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime
  • 5 bacon strips chopped
  • Cilantro leaves


  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then cook.
  • If using, instant pot, cook for 20 minutes. Set oven to 400 F and cook bacon on a baking sheet for 14 minutes.
  • After it has cooked and cooled, chop the bacon.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium/high heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add in the diced onions and minced garlic, sautéeing until onion is translucent.
  • Then, add green chilis to cook for an additional minute.
  • Add in the shredded chicken, oregano, salt, cumin and pepper.
  • Pour in the broth, then beans and corn.
  • Cover the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and stir in sour cream and bacon.
  • Squeeze the lime juice into the mix and stir together.
  • Then, top with cilantro for a garnish.

Prime Rib with Garlic and Blue Cheese Dressing

From the Kitchen of Weber Grill


  • 1 bone-in standing prime rib roast, 5-6 lbs trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tb dijon mustard
  • 3 tb extra-virgin olive oil


  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 medium garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 6 oz)
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Allow the roast to stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before grilling.
  • In a food processor mince the garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Add the mustard and oil, and process to form a paste.
  • Smear the paste all over the top and sides of the roast.
  • Brush the cooking grates clean.
  • Grill the roast, bone side down, over indirect medium heat, with the lid closed, until the internal temperature reaches 120 to 125 F for medium rare, 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Transfer the roast to a cutting board and remove the bones.
  • Loosely cover the roast with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes (the internal temperature of the roast will rise a few degrees during this time).
  • While the roast rests, make the dressing.
  • Place the cream and garlic in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat on the stove, and then lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook until the cream coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the cheese, stirring to help it blend into the cream. Season with pepper.
  • Carve the roast into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve warm with the dressing.

Who’s Thirsty?

Holiday Drinks

What’s a holiday meal without a delicious alcoholic beverage sitting beside it?

Rush Creek Distilling, in Harvard, continues to unveil unique and interesting spirits, the latest being a coffee-flavored vodka.

“The coffee was co-developed with a coffee roaster in Oklahoma,” says Mark Stricker, co-owner. “It’s a combination of his cold-brewed decaffeinated coffee with our vodka, our vanilla vodka and inverted sugar.”

This spirit, Stricker says, is perfect to use in an at-home martini. Just take 3 ½ ounces of coffee vodka and a half-ounce of half-and-half. Shake it with some ice and pour it into a martini glass. Finish the drink off with some sprinkled coffee grounds on the foam that’s created.

“You can also add a little chocolate, caramel or even whipped cream if you’d like,” Stricker says. “It’s very simple and delicious.”

Rush Creek also plans to adds some new spirits to the lineup this holiday season.

“We’ll have a bourbon that’s been resting in maple syrup barrels and a double oak bourbon, casked twice in new charred oak barrels,” Stricker says.

The coffee vodka was just released and can be found in limited stores, Stricker says. The two maple and double oak bourbons are limited releases that can only be found at Rush Creek’s tasting room in Harvard.

A few months ago, Rush Creek unveiled a jalapeno-flavored vodka, made with fresh jalapeno slices. For a sweeter taste, the distillery also came out with vanilla-infused vodka.

Stricker says those two spirits are fun to experiment with, especially now, when families are working on their mixology skills.

White Rush’n

From Rush Creek Distilling


  • 1.5 oz Rush Creek Distilling Vanilla Vodka
  • 1.5 oz Rush Creek Distilling Coffee Vodka
  • Cream, to taste 


  • In a rocks glass filled with ice, add vodkas and top with cream (leave separated; don’t stir)

Apricot Ice

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes


  • 1 large apricot nectar
  • 16 oz. frozen orange juice
  • 1 small frozen lemonade
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 ripe bananas mashed


  • Dissolve the sugar and water together and mix in other ingredients. Freeze overnight. The next morning, thaw mixture, then beat with electric mixer until frothy. Serve or freeze as desired.

Swedish Glog

From the Kitchen of Lisa Hughes


  • 3/4 cup White Raisins
  • 3/4 cup Brown Raisins
  • 1 cup Dry Prunes
  • 1/2 cup dry apricots
  • 20 blanched almonds
  • 16 whole cardamon seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange peel
  • 12 whole cloves


  • Cook ingredients in 1 quart water for 1 hour. Put in large kettle over heat and add 1 cup sugar. Stir just until boiling. Add 2 quarts Mogen David Grape Wine and six quarts Mogen David Rose Wine and heat just to boiling. Add 1 bottle of grain alcohol. Stir; then, ignite and burn for 25 to 30 seconds before turning off heat. Cover and let stand for at least 24 hours in kettle. No peeking. Strain with cheesecloth twice and bottle.