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Holiday Recipes From Your Friends at DFWChild

cheese cookies, broccoli soufflé, gooey butter cake and more

During the holidays, it seems like one of the main things friends and family discuss is food. There’s always that conversation of “Who’s bringing what?” Or “She’s not bringing that again this year, right?” And what’s amazing about the holidays is that every family does something different. One family may stick with the traditional turkey and stuffing, while another may let Thanksgiving keep those classics and go with tamales or prime rib instead (or focus more on the desserts—hello, chocolate cream pie!).

But if you’re looking for something new to try this year, check out some of our family’s holiday table traditions. Maybe one of these will be a repeat at your house for years to come.

Cheese Cookies

“The word ‘cookie’ is a bit of a misnomer as they’re not sweet—more like cheese straws in cookie form. We’ve had them at Christmas ever since I can remember. My mom’s mother would make plenty, but my mom and I always made a few batches too so we could have them to snack on during the 11-hour drive to visit family, and to share with my dad’s relatives. (We usually see them first.) My favorite parts were mixing the ingredients together with my hands and rolling the dough into balls—super easy tasks that even young kids can help with!” –Carrie Steingruber, Executive Editor

What You’ll Need:

2 sticks butter, softened
3 1/3 cups sharp (or extra sharp) grated cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans
5 dashes Tabasco sauce

What You’ll Do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 large cookie sheets. Mix cheese and butter in a large bowl. Gradually add flour, salt and Tabasco. When well mixed, add pecans. Pinch off a small amount of dough, roll into a ball in your hand, and then flatten into a cookie shape. Place fairly close together on pan (they do not spread). Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20–25 minutes until light or medium brown on bottom. Makes 6–8 dozen.

Spicy Dressing

“My mom received this recipe from a co-worker around 25 years ago, and it quickly replaced my grandmother’s traditional dressing recipe. I now spend my Thanksgivings with my husband’s family, and I think there’d be a revolt if we didn’t make this spicy dressing. Even when hubby and I go out of town for the holiday, we make the recipe ahead of time and deliver a frozen pan of dressing to the family for the occasion.” –Susan Horn, Graphic Designer 

What You’ll Need:
4 packages Mexican style cornbread mix, Gladiola or Martha White brand preferred
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream-style corn
Chicken broth, if needed
Bread cubes, if needed
Black pepper

What You’ll Do:
About 2–3 days out from your event, prepare cornbread according to package directions with the addition of the chopped onion. Typically the batter fills a 9×13 pan. The finer you chop the onion the more moisture it creates in the batter, so your cooking time may need to be increased. After baked and cooled, break into pieces so air can circulate over more surface area. Lightly cover with foil or clean dishtowel and store on the counter—you do not want it to be airtight. Once or twice over the next couple of days, stir the cornbread pieces around so all sides are exposed. You want the bread to become somewhat dried out.

On the day of, chop cornbread in a food processor until it’s coarsely chopped. Combine with soups and cream-style corn. If it seems too dry, add chicken broth in 1/2 cup increments. Achieve a consistency similar to soft cookie dough. If you add too much liquid, just pour in some dry bread cubes (we use the packaged, unseasoned Pepperidge Farm Cubed Stuffing).

Pour mixture into a lightly greased baking pan. Sprinkle top with black pepper, to taste. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until edges are lightly brown and the center does not jiggle. Serve with gravy and cranberry relish just like you would any other dressing. Makes approximately 8 servings. Pro tip: Double the recipe so there can be leftovers.

Alternate Method: For better time management, you can assemble it the night before in a baking pan and refrigerate overnight. The next day, let it sit out for an hour before putting it in the oven.

Broccoli Cheese Soufflé

“My mom has made this as one of the many (there’s usually 15 or so) side dishes for years. I’m actually not sure where she got the recipe, but it became an instant hit. We now have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. It’s just this broccoli-cheesy, fluffy goodness.” –Sydney Blalock Ritchie, Digital Editor

What You’ll Need:

10 oz package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 eggs

What You’ll Do:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients, except the eggs. Fold eggs into the mixture. Pour mixture into 9×9 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until firm in center.

Pro Tip: If serving a large group (more than six), double the recipe and use a dish that allows for the added amount.

Pro Tip #2: This is an easy recipe to make healthy—just exchange the regular mayonnaise for light or olive oil mayonnaise, choose the reduced fat cream of mushroom soup and lower fat cheese. Just know some of the lower fat shredded cheddar cheese doesn’t always melt well, so you may want to stick to the original with that ingredient.

Brown Butter Garlic Mashed Potatoes

“I started making this for the last two years. It’s a new tradition, but it became an instant family-favorite due to its depth of flavor. The extra step to make the brown butter instantly elevates the dish and makes my family feel that much more loved (even though it’s just as easy to make as traditional mashed potatoes).” –Tram-Anh Le, Digital Marketing Coordinator

What You’ll Need:

3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
2/3 cup warm milk
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup and 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste

What You’ll Do:

Start by washing, peeling and cutting your potatoes in half. It is recommended to soak them in cold water for 1–2 hours to remove excess starch (which can make the dish gummy). Drain and rinse the potatoes, put them in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and boil for 15–20 minutes, or until you can poke the potatoes with a fork and it easily slips off when you lift it.

While the potatoes are cooking, brown the butter with garlic. Start by peeling the garlic and smashing it in on a cutting board to flatten, releasing the oils. Put the two sticks of butter in a frying pan and melt on medium-high heat. Pro Tip: Don’t leave this pan unattended until the brown butter is all done! Let it come to a bubble, stirring constantly.

Once the butter has foamed for 2 minutes, add the garlic. It will foam even more, but keep stirring. This will fry the garlic while enhancing the butter’s flavor. Take it off the heat once you notice a lot of solid, dark-colored bits at the bottom of the pan, about 1–2 more minutes. It will smell amazing. Set this aside until ready to use. You can take out the garlic for garnish later, or mash it into the potatoes.

Drain the cooked potatoes and give it a quick rinse under cold water. Add potatoes back into the pot you used for boiling, and add warm milk. Use a hand masher or an electric hand mixer to combine. Add all the butter and 1/2 cup cheese and mix together. Season to taste, adding more warm milk if it looks dry. Transfer to a heatproof serving dish, add remaining 1/4 cup cheese on top (and garlic if you took it out of the butter) and broil in the oven for 1–2 minutes until golden on top. This dish serves 6–8. Enjoy!

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

“My husband is from St. Louis, so his absolute favorite dessert is Gooey Butter cake, which is a delicious sweet and savory cake-like concoction. It reminds me of a mix between the taste of a chess pie and the easy-to-sneak-a-bite-ness of a brownie. Even if he can’t make it back to StL for the holidays, this gives him a little taste of home.” –Heather Vance Devers, Creative + Content Director

What You’ll Need:

4 oz. unsalted butter
9 oz. granulated sugar (1 cup plus 2 tbsp.)
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/8 cup corn syrup
1/8 cup cold water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
8 oz. cake crumbs

What You’ll Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Add cake crumb to the bottom of the pan; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until well blended. Scrape bowl thoroughly. Beat in corn syrup; scrape bowl. Add water. Mix thoroughly. Add vanilla and salt. Add flour on low speed. Scrape bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Spread the gooey butter batter over the cake crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until the top forms a crust. It may crack, and that’s OK. Cool for 5–8 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate and flip back to right-side-up.

Fudge Nut Bars

“This treat is a family favorite and has been since I can remember. It’s like an adult brownie-slash-cookie with an oatmeal cookie base and layers of fudge. My grandma used to make them for her family until my dad took over the tradition in his early teens. He’s made them ever since!” –Emily Yearwood, Editorial Intern

What You’ll Need:

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 cups uncooked oatmeal (whole, not “quick”)

12 oz. package of semisweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

What You’ll Do:

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt together. Stir in oats. Add creamed mix to dry ingredients. Stir well and set aside.

Melt chocolate chips in saucepan. Over low heat, stir in condensed milk, butter and salt. Add walnuts and vanilla. Spread 2/3 of oat mix in 9×13 pan. Cover with chocolate mix. Dot with remaining oat mix and swirl. (Chocolate will not all be covered.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until top is browned. Let cool and cut into bars.

Pro Tip: Quick, easy and sturdy, these bars travel well so they’re a good choice if you’re sending baked goods through the mail.