My mother-in-law Sandy used to make this for breakfast on Christmas morning. It was so easy, but rich and warm. It was a fast favorite of mine after opening presents. It is also easy to make when travelling for the holidays because the ingredients are easy to get and available. The cottage cheese gives a light and fluffy texture that makes this a memorable breakfast, but also adds a good amount of protein to compensate for the remainder of the day’s indulgences. You can also make these in muffin tins and freeze for an easy on-the-go breakfast.

12 eggs

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 16-ounce container small curd cottage cheese

1 pound grated Monterrey Jack/Colby Jack Blend Cheese

2 4-ounce cans diced green chilies

Beat eggs. Add other ingredients. Mix well. Pour into 9×13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

I remember my grandfather’s second wife, Mimi, making this green chile stew at the holidays. She was from New Mexico, so she made many dishes with green chiles. I especially remember this one because she used the leftover pot roast instead of pork – because my grandfather loved pot roast. The heat in the green chiles feels good on a cold day.

4 cups chopped green chiles, divided

1 quart chicken stock, divided

2 soft corn tortillas

7 cloves chopped garlic, divided

4 tablespoons dark chili powder, divided

2 large red bell peppers, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 quart (32ounces) chicken stock

2 cups roasted corn, cut off the cob

1 can drained and rinsed black beans

2 cups leftover pot roast, chopped

Place ½ cup of the green chiles, 1 cup of the broth, tortillas, 3 of the garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons of the chile powder in a blender. Puree until smooth. Set aside until later. In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, saute onions, peppers, and remaining garlic for 5-7 minutes just until a little color appears. Add remaining green chiles, remaining broth, corn and beans and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add pot roast, and tortilla puree and simmer for an additional 10 min. Serve with corn chips and cheese (this was how I had it as a kid).

Vegetarian option

This can be made into a vegetarian stew if you eliminate the meat and use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.

This recipe is another of my family’s recipes, handed down through many generations to my mother. It is a staple in our home at the holidays and pretty much anytime that blueberries are available. In Maine, the area of the eastern part of the state is called “down east” where the small, sweet blueberries grow wild. On the rare occasion that I can get fresh wild Maine blueberries, this is the first thing I make. But even using frozen berries, it is still delicious. The bigger blueberries grown in other parts of the U.S. are still good, just not quite as sweet and will add a considerable amount of water to the cake. For this recipe, the small wild blueberries are the best.

1 ¼ cups sugar

½ cup butter (1 stick)

2 eggs Dash of salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup evaporated milk

1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Cream together 1 cup of sugar (reserve remaining sugar), butter, eggs, and salt. Add milk and vanilla and combine. Fold in 2 cups of the flour (reserving the remaining flour) and baking powder. Roll blueberries in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. This will keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom. Gently fold blueberries into the batter. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of cake. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until done – about 40 minutes.

My mother-in-law Sandy developed this recipe based on a traditional chocolate pudding style pie. But she adapted the traditional cooked pudding to a microwave. This eased the burden on her wrists for stirring the pudding constantly over heat. Over the years of cooking, she developed carpal tunnel syndrome which made stirring painful. The microwave pudding recipe eased that burden for her. Many adaptations are developed out of necessity. When you are busy in the kitchen or on holiday deadlines, time is of the essence. This recipe allows you to make better use of your time making other dishes. You will be surprised, as I was, at the ease and tastiness of this pie.

8 heaping tablespoons cocoa

1 ½ cups sugar

6 heaping tablespoons flour

2 eggs

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter

1 prepared pie crust, baked

Mix flour, cocoa, sugar. Add eggs and milk and mix with wire whisk. Place in microwave and cook 2 minutes on high. Stir with whisk. Continue cooking in microwave for 2 minutes at a time, stirring in between, until pudding is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add butter and vanilla. Mix and pour into prepared pie crust. Place in refrigerator until cool. Top with whipped cream before serving.

I got inspired to create this drink by all of the sage in my garden and by cranberry season. I tried this Austin East Spiced Cider with it that was great. Add in Bacardi Gold Rum and BAM, there it is. The addition of the essential oils took it over the top. You will think you are drinking Thanksgiving with this drink.

4 ounces dry Cider beer

2 ounces gold rum

2 ounces of Cranberry Sage Simple Syrup (see below)

In a tall cocktail glass filled with ice, first pour in cider, then rum, then syrup. The cranberry will sink to the bottom, so drinking with a straw is nice. Garnish with fresh sage leaf.

Cranberry Sage Simple Syrup

1 tablespoon freeze-dried cranberries, ground

1 cup of water 2 cups of sugar

1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce

one large sprig of sage

5 drops Orange essential oil

4 drops Sage essential oil

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil the water, sugar, cranberry, and sage for three minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat, cover and set aside until room temperature. Pick out the sage. Drop in essential oils. If you plan to store this for later use, you may have to refresh the essential oils before using later, as they will dissipate over time.

Chimichurri is a light, oil-based condiment with origins in Argentina. The name comes from a Spanish Basque word that means “a mixture of several things in noparticular order.” In South America, each family has their own version of a chimichurri recipe handed down over centuries. I like it because it is bright and fresh with a ridiculous amount of flavor. Plus, it is great to use throughout all of the dishes for an entire meal. One tip, though—rough chop the parsley and cilantro by hand. If you use a food processor the herbs will turn to puree and you will end up with baby food instead of a condiment or sauce.

Chimichurri Base

3 cups packed cilantro leaves, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon chili flakes

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 serrano chili, chopped

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon verbena, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Dump all ingredients in food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds. Divide into two half-portions. Use one half-portion of chimichurri base as marinade for flatiron steak. Use second half-portion of chimichurri base to make marinade for tomatoes, salad vinaigrette, and meat drizzle.

Chimichurri Marinated Flatiron Steak

1 1/3 pounds flatiron steak

6 shallots cut in half

1 cup chimichurri base

1 yellow zucchini, cut in half

1 green zucchini, cut in half

Pour chimichurri base on steak in pan and lay shallots on top. Let sit for at least 3 hours up to 5 hours. Remove steak from marinade and grill for 3-4 minutes. Grill zucchini for 3 minutes. Then, put back in pan and finish in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Marinated Tomatoes

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

3 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped (or 4 cups chopped)

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Place all ingredients except cheese in bowl and let sit for couple of hours. Right before serving, mix cheese into tomatoes.

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

½ cup chimichurri base, pureed

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 medium shallot, sliced

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops thyme essential oil

Place all ingredients in a shaker cup and shake well to combine.

Chimichurri Meat Drizzle

¼ cup chimichurri base

2 drops oregano essential oil

2 drops black pepper essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

Combine all ingredients in shaker cup and shake well to combine. Drizzle over grilled flatiron steak as finish.

Grilled Salad

2 cups baby arugula

2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut in half

Brush of chimichurri base

2 ounces shaved manchego cheese

Chimichurri Vinaigrette

4 slices Italian Rustic bread

Brush cut-side of lettuce with chimichurri base. Place cut side down on oven burner or grill. Chop grilled lettuce and arugula together. Mix half of cheese into chopped salad mix. Toss with Chimichurri Vinaigrette. Grill bread on oven burner then put in oven to finish for 5 minutes to make crisp like a crouton.

Putting it All Together

Lay grilled bread on plate. Top with grilled salad mix. Slice zucchini and lay on top of grilled salad mix. Spoon marinated tomatoes and cheese over salad mix. Slice flatiron steak and lay on top of tomatoes. Last, drizzle with chimichurri drizzle and salt and pepper to taste.

Thanksgiving morning almost always started with a batch of homemade buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. This recipe has been passed down through at least four generations of my family, with minor adaptations that I have made over the years to modernize and simplify it. Of course, I make biscuits throughout the year, not just at the holidays. When I make pot pie, either using turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving or a traditional chicken recipe, this biscuit recipe becomes my topping.

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons cold shortening (I keep mine in the refrigerator)

1 cup buttermilk

Sift all dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender or fork or two knives criss-crossing until crumbly. Add buttermilk and stir until combined. Flour surface and knead dough. Pat down and cut with round cutter. Place biscuits on well-greased sheet. For soft and fluffy biscuits, please them close together and touching. If you prefer crustier biscuits, space them about a half-inch apart. Top each biscuit with a dab of butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutess until browned.

The idea for this recipe began with a baked apple dish my mother made when apples were in season in the Fall and the holidays. She would simmer apple juice with cinnamon sticks and cloves, then stuff a cored apple with dried fruit and pour the juice syrup over them. The whole house smelled like cinnamon apples. As an adult, I adapted the recipe to use mulled spiced wine, usually leftover from a party. Sometimes I will put each apple in a separate mini-cast iron pan to make individual desserts. I prefer honeycrisp apples because they maintain their shape during baking. Jonathan or Braeburn apples are also good when honeycrisp aren’t available. I don’t use red delicious or gala apples for the same reason – those cannot hold up to the heat of baking.

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cup Pinot Noir or any light-bodied red wine

2 tablespoons mulling spice

4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, plus 2 tbs. for the pan

6 medium honey crisp apples cored

6 tablespoons fig and cherry compote (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 375. Place the sugar, wine, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the consistency of a thin syrup. Remove from heat and stir in the cubes of butter. Core the apples and peel them if you prefer (but leave them whole with the cored center hollow in the middle). Stuff the apple cavities with the fig compote. Butter the sides and bottom of a deep baking dish with remaining butter. Place the apples upright in the dish. Pour the wine syrup over the apples. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, periodically basting the apples with the pan juices until the apples are soft but still standing. Remove baking dish from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of the pan juices over the top.

Fig and Cherry Compote

1 cup dried mission figs, chopped

1 cup dried zante’ currants

1 cup dried tart cherries

¼ cup honey 1 bottle (700 ml) Pinot Noir or any light-bodied red wine

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Add all ingredients to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer for 45 minutes or until it is sweet and syrup, coating the back of a spoon. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 6 months.

On a cold day, nothing could beat my mother-in-law Sandy’s hot cocoa. The creamer gives it a thicker texture than expected. Sandy gave us a special jar with a handwritten message to hold the hot cocoa mix so we would have it on hand all of the time. Now, when we make a cup on a brisk day, it reminds me of how warm and caring Sandy was.

12 ounces instant nonfat dry milk

1 6-ounce jar powdered coffee creamer

2 cups powdered sugar

1 16-ounce can Nestle’s Quick

1 cup powdered cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in air tight containers.

To make hot cocoa: Add 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve. Add marshmallows and enjoy.

A marshmallow seems to be one of those things that conjures up the most delicious memories from childhood. Yes, they are adorably delicious straight out of the bag — they add a crazy depth of sweet, yummy, sticky texture and flavor unparalleled by any other addition. Whether it be mixed with chocolate chips stuffed inside a banana over a campfire the classic s’mores around a cup of cocoa, at the end of the day marshmallows bring out the kid in all of us. I learned the following marshmallow recipe many years ago from an amazing pastry chef. This chef said “I’m gonna blow your mind and demystify a marshmallow”. While this recipe may seem tedious, I promise that practice will make you a rockstar who will never go back to the bagged version again. This recipe pairs well with Sandy’s Hot Cocoa too.

3 package unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water

12 ounce granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with half a cup of water. Stir using a small hand whisk or fork for about 30 seconds until the gelatin is incorporated. At this point attach the whisk attachment and get the mixer ready to turn on.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. On medium-high heat, cook for about 4-5 minutes covered. At the four-minute mark, uncover the saucepot, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 238°F (between six and eight more minutes). Once the syrup reaches this temperature, immediately take it off the heat. Carryover cooking will occur from the time you take it off the stove to the mixing bowl will take it to around 240°F. (If the sugar mixture goes above 242°F your marshmallow fluff will no longer be smooth and velvety; it will be a sticky, stringy mess and you will have to start over.)

Turn the mixer on low containing the gelatin water. While the mixer is running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl from a height of about 6 to 8 inches above the mixer. (The height allows air to combine too.) Once you have added all of the syrup mixture, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to whip until the sugar mixture becomes very thick and slightly warm to the touch (about 15 minutes). Add the vanilla during the last minute of mixing.

While the sugar mixture is whipping, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well to incorporate or sift together twice through. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, being careful not to over coat the pan. Add a tablespoon of the powdered sugar mixture and move around the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. Use more, if needed, depending on how much spray you used. If there is any powdered sugar mixture left in the pan, return it back to the bowl.

At this point, your whipped sugar mixture should be slightly warm to the touch in the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl from the mixer. Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray to keep the mixture from sticking to the spoon. Pour into the whipped sugar mixture into the prepared pan and use the sprayed spatula to smooth out the surface.

Lightly dust the marshmallow top with the powdered sugar mixture, just enough to place an even coat all over. Save the rest for later. At this point the marshmallows need to sit at room temperature for at least four hours or up to eight hours, but no longer. I like to use a pizza wheel as a knife. Lightly dust the wheel in the powdered sugar mixture to keep it from sticking. Cut the marshmallows into your preferred size pieces. Dust the cut pieces in the remaining powder sugar mixture to coat evenly. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (if they last that long).