Our Favorite Holiday Recipes

The holidays are often associated with food-related traditions. We can use these traditions as a reminder that food is not only nourishing, but also can bring us closer to others. Cooking and eating together is a great way to bond with family and friends over the holidays. So this holiday season, try to enjoy not only the food, but the company you are with. Here are some of our staff’s favorite holiday recipe traditions:

Blintzes (Elyse, Therapist)


4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
Melted butter to brush bottom of pan

Ricotta cheese (large tub)

Any flavor of canned pie filling (e.g. blueberry, strawberry, apple tend to be my family’s favorites)
Sour cream

In medium bowl beat 4 eggs well. Add flour, milk, and salt stirring until smooth. Brush bottom of an 8 in skillet w butter and set on medium heat. It's ready when a drop of water will sizzle in the bottom of pan. Pour about  1/3 cup batter into pan and make into thin pancake. Flip when edges begin to curl. Makes about 20 cakes.

Mix ricotta, sugar, and cinnamon to taste. Put this filling on cake and roll. Top with pie filling (I recommend heating these up) and dollop of sour cream.

Funeral Potatoes (Hashbrown Potato Casserole) (Nicole, Therapist)

2 lbs. hash browns
1⁄2 cup butter
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1⁄2 tsp. salt
3⁄4 cup onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups longhorn cheese, grated, firmly packed
1 1⁄2 cups corn flakes, crushed
4 tbsp. butter, melted

  1. Saute onion in 1 tablespoon butter until translucent.
  2. Mix all ingredients, except cornflakes and 4 tablespoons butter, together.
  3. Put potato mixture into a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  4. Combine cornflakes and butter, and sprinkle evenly over top of casserole.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until heated and bubbly.

Christmas Dark Chocolate Bark (Caroline, Therapist)

1 and 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan by spraying with nonstick spray and lining with parchment paper
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on high for one minute. Stir and microwave for additional 30-second increments, stirring in between until chocolate is completely melted
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan and shake the pan back and forth to spread the chocolate out evenly. Sprinkle pistachios, cranberries, and walnuts onto the chocolate.
  4. Place in fridge to harden for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge, peel bark off of parchment paper, and break into pieces.
  5. Voila! Super easy and can be made multiple times due to only needing a few ingredients!

Layered Jello (Karen, Patient Services)

4 3 oz. pkg. Jello, different flavors
6 packets plain gelatin (Knox)
1 8 oz. can condensed milk

  1. Melt each box of Jello with 1 packet of gelatin and 1 cup hot water

  2. Melt 2 packets of plain gelatin with 1 cup hot water. Mix 1 cup hot with the condensed milk. Mix together, divide in 3 equal parts.
  3. Use 9 x 13 pan and place in refrigerator. It takes about 15 minutes for each layer to harden.

1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th layers = Jello
2nd, 4th, and 6th layers = Milk mixture


Peanut Butter Fudge (Briauna, Dietitian)

1 large and 1 small package of peanut butter chips (12 oz. and 6 oz.)
1/2 cup butter
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 large can evaporated milk
1 can marshmallow
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. peanut butter

In a sauce pan, bring the evaporated milk and sugar to a slow boil for 12 minutes. Pour mixture over peanut butter chips and butter. Add the marshmallow, vanilla, and peanut butter. Stir until well combined. Transfer to a cookie sheet, allow to cool. Cut into 1.5 inch squares and enjoy!

Cheryl's Brunch Casserole (Sam, Dietitian)

This recipe came from a close family friend of ours who passed away. We make it every year and have on Christmas morning with gooey butter cake.

1 lb. hot pork sausage
3 cups hash browns thawed (shredded)
2 cups milk
1 dozen eggs ( I usually use about 16)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 green pepper chopped
1/2 cup diced onion

Cook sausage and drain. In greased 9 x 13 pan layer hash browns, sausage, cheese, green pepper, onion, beaten eggs, and milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 min.

Autumn Toss Salad (Allison, Dietitian)

Salad Ingredients:
1 bag mixed greens or spring mix
1 Granny Smith apple
1 sweet red apple, like Gala or Pink Lady
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 container frozen apple juice concentrate, slightly thawed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. grated onion
1 cup canola oil

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.

For the dressing, combine cranberries, sugar, vinegar, apple juice concentrate, salt, ground mustard, and grated onion in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Stream in oil and blend until combined

Gingersnap Cookies (Megan, Dietetic Intern)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger

Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. Roll into small balls. Dip into sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) for 15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Pineapple Cucumber Green Jello (Rachel, Therapist)

1 small 3.5 box green Jello
1 cup hot water (to dissolve Jello)
1 1/4 cup peeled cucumber, diced small
1 cup pineapple (Dole’s crushed, don’t drain)
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

Pour boiling water over Jello. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until completely mixed. Refrigerate until set (4-6 hours). It’s very refreshing!!

Self-Care During the Holiday Season

During this busy time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the festivities and gift-giving that we forget to take a little time for ourselves. And remember that self-care can look different for everyone. What is relaxing and life-giving for one person might be exhausting or draining for another. So, although you can get ideas on self-care from others, don’t judge or compare what you choose to do. 

Here are some ideas on ways to include self-care during the holiday season (and many of these ideas can be used year-round!).

  • Make sure to schedule some alone time. This time of year can be very busy with parties, dinners, and other get-togethers. But remember to take some time for yourself.

  • Go for a walk outside. Maybe there is a beautiful snowfall, or maybe it is nice and warm where you live. Either way, enjoy some fresh air.

  • Stay inside and curl up with a good book. Even better if you add in some comfy pajamas, a warm drink, and a fire in the fireplace!

  • Spend some time with animals. If you have a pet of your own, spend a few extra moments cuddling, petting, or playing with him. If you don’t have any pets, visit your local animal shelter. They are always in need of an extra dog walker or someone to cuddle with the cats.

  • Focus on gratitude. Try writing three things you are grateful for every night. This can even be something you invite friends or family to join you in during the holiday season.

  • Take a bubble bath. Make it more festive with holiday-themed scents.

  • Give yourself permission to enjoy the festivities. Many people spend more time worrying about how they “shouldn’t” be eating/drinking/doing something, that they forget to just let themselves relax and enjoy the treats.

  • Take some time each day to unplug from technology.

  • Decorate your room/apartment/office. Seeing decorations throughout the day can bring a smile to your face.

  • Drive or walk around the neighborhood to look at holiday lights. You can do this with loved ones or on your own.

  • Take a nap. (And also make an effort to get enough sleep each night.)

Just as important as it is to include these little self-care ideas into your life this holiday season, it is also important to take care of yourself throughout the day by setting boundaries and preventing yourself from becoming overwhelmed by all of the various activities. In next week’s blog post, we will be talking about ways to handle and prevent the stress that might arise with family and friends during the holiday season. 

by Megan Anderson, Ascend Dietetic Intern