Cooking for the Holidays

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Our memories of winter holidays are illuminated by thoughts of family and friends. The foods we have shared add a dimension to those reflections that engage the senses of taste and fragrance as well as a feeling of warmth and good cheer. Everyone has their favorite dishes that reappear year after year, while the addition of some new ones give a needed  freshness. We hope some of our recipes here can provide a festive atmosphere for your holiday celebrations.

To have the holidays be an enjoyable experience,  we have found it best to  plan your menu well ahead of time, get all of the ingredients ready to go, and perhaps delegate others to contribute dishes for the meal. Feel free to mix and match your own favorites with the following menus or suggestions. Keep in mind when you create a menu that it’s a good idea to balance dishes that can be done  a couple of days ahead of time, a few hours ahead, and some that need last minute attention.

Arugula and Warm Mozzarella Salad

Polenta Dome

Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Espresso Truffles 

For this menu, the Polenta can be made ahead, and baked before serving along  with the Roasted Vegetables. The Dome is fun to serve, and besides being delicious,  adds an architectural element for an attractive presentation surrounded by the Roasted Vegetables.   The salad ingredients can be prepared ahead as well and tossed last minute with the quickly cooked Mozzarella done stovetop. The celestial Truffles keep well for a few days.

Some dishes stand alone: Featherlight Potato Latkes only need applesauce and sour cream to complete a classic. Even if you didn’t grow up with Latkes, you’ll soon understand its appeal for so many.  

Crisp Autumn Salad

Mushroom Tofu Pecan Stuffed Squash

Vegan Chocolate Cake

For this menu, everything can be done well ahead of time except of course for tossing the salad with the Maple Mustard Dressing. This hearty, flavorful and good-looking meal is a great introduction for non-vegetarians. It’s also vegan without the Stilton cheese for the salad.

Roasted Corn Guacamole

Empanadas de Papas


Honey Roasted Pears

 The crispy and luscious Empanadas can be filled and rolled several hours ahead of time, refrigerated and then fried at the last minute. The Pebre [a tomato salsa] and the Pears are also good when prepared ahead. The Guacamole is best when made no more than an hour or so beforehand. Jano Parra, one of our chefs at Moosewood, makes a variation of this Empanada that is available at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Yum!!!

If you have lots of your own favorites but want to try a new main dish, Pumpkin Mushroom Lasagna, Vegan Lasagna, or Vegetable Pot Pie, are very popular here at Moosewood.

Maybe you need a couple of more desserts to add to y0ur repertoire? The Shortest Days- Cookie Time gives 3 variations, and Maple Walnut Baked Apples is a healthful crowd pleaser.