Regardless the occasion, food has always defined holidays. It provides the perfect opportunity to feast on family favorites and indulge in sweet delights.

For Kacy D. Wilburn Peel, it’s a chance to enjoy Mama Wilburn’s Broccoli Casserole. The secret ingredient to her mother’s oft-requested holiday dish is Cheese Whiz. “But trust me, when you taste this casserole, you won’t even think about what’s in it. It is creamy and the perfect comfort food,” she says.

Holidays are a good excuse for Daniel J. LeCoq to whip up his Corn Soup. But, don’t be fooled by the name. Daniel grew up in south Louisiana so this Christmas Eve staple is packed with shrimp, crabmeat, crawfish, and a good dose of Cajun spice. “It’s one of those dishes, like jambalaya or gumbo that every time I make it, it brings back home,” he says.

Brandi N. Gilbert wanted to bring more healthy dishes to the holiday table, so she experimented and came up with Roasted Fall Veggies. This colorful dish is packed with Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and fresh herbs and “is hard to mess up,” Brandi says. “When it comes out of the oven, the house smells amazing and we can barely keep our fingers out of it.”

Calories don’t count during the holidays, so there is no excuse turn down dessert, especially if Kimberly Handy is making her grandmother’s Pound Cake By Mom. Bertha Baker was known throughout White County, Arkansas for her cooking, and handed down handwritten recipes to her grandchildren with measurements like a “dash” of this and a “pinch” of that. Thankfully, Kimberly has provided measurements for her recipe.

Kathy Roberson’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding is as indulgent as it sounds and most everyone who has tried it begs for the recipe. As a preacher’s wife, she’s taken the dish to many a covered dish social. She is always happy to share the recipe.

And don’t forget the drinks. Tammy Jarrell’s Savannah Cider is not only a festive holiday beverage, it’s like potpourri, infusing the room with the fragrance of cinnamon and clove. For Tammy, it conjures up memories of Thanksgivings spent with family at an old rustic cabin in the woods.

Jacqueline E. Lewis’ Almond Punch is another highly requested party favorite. Not only is it great for holiday gatherings and showers, it’s also a refreshing beach beverage and can be easily adapted to an adults-only beverage by spiking it with rum.


Mama Wilburn’s Broccoli Casserole
Kacy D. Wilburn Peel

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 10.5-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package of frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 15-ounce jar of Cheese Whiz processed cheese sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup of Minute white rice

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Put frozen chopped broccoli and rice in a casserole dish or pot and set aside. In a large skillet, sauté your onion in the butter or margarine until soft. Add your soup and a small amount of water, just enough to rinse the cans out. Add Cheese Whiz to the skillet and cook enough to melt all the ingredients together. Pour over broccoli and rice and stir together. Bake 30 minutes or until the top is browned.

Optional: Add chicken for a heartier casserole.


Corn Soup
Daniel J. LeCoq

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped*
  • 1 onion, chopped*
  • 1 cup chopped celery*
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 log frozen cream corn
  • 1 pound bag frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1 can Ro-Tel, un-drained
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • 8 ounces crab meat (not imitation)
  • 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 pound crawfish tails

SEASONINGS

  • Salt
  • Cajun seasoning (Slap ya Mama or Tonys’ are my favorites)
  • Liquid Crab Boil (start with 2 tablespoons, then add to taste)
  • Cayenne pepper

Cook down onions, bell pepper, and celery in olive oil. (*To save time, use a bag of frozen chopped green bell peppers, onions and celery.) Once reduced, add flour and keep stirring. Once thoroughly combined (not browning like a gravy or roux) add Ro-Tel.  Continue stirring until juice from Ro-Tel is absorbed. Slowly add water until combined. Then add corn (both still frozen), crab, and season to taste. Note: don’t go crazy. Mixture will become saltier and spicier as the crab boil starts working.

Simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes. The longer it simmers, the better the taste. Check seasoning again. Approximately 40 minutes before serving add crawfish tails. Bring to boil for 15 minutes then add shrimp.  Bring back to boil for 15 minutes then turn heat to low.  Add half and half and reheat on low. Serve.

Do not overcook seafood.


Roasted Fall Veggies
Brandi N. Gilbert

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 cups cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups cubed Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 2 sprigs each rosemary and thyme, leaves removed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425. Combine veggies with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and olive oil in a large bowl. Mix until well coated with olive oil. Spread veggies in a single layer on two large sheet pans covered with foil or coated with cooking spray. Roast uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes until tender and slightly browned.


Pound Cake by Mom
Kimberly Handy

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 15.25-ounce box Duncan Hines Classic Butter Golden Cake Mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond flavoring (optional)
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cups oil

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients in large bowl and mix well with electric mixer. Pour into Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for one hour. Remove from oven and cool on a plate.


WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Kathy Roberson

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 slices of white bread, shredded
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 quart of milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spread bread in a large casserole dish. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over bread, then sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes at 350.

TOPPING

  • 3 tablespoons real butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 squares from a large (about 24-ounce) block of white chocolate almond bark, chopped
  • 6 or more teaspoons heavy whipping cream

Melt butter and almond bark in microwave bowl for 1 minute, stir, then microwave for an additional 30 seconds until melted. Stir until all of the chocolate is melted. Add powdered sugar and whipping cream. Stir together until smooth. Poke baked bread pudding with a fork, and top with white chocolate topping.


Savannah Cider
Tammy Jarrell

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 5 cups ginger ale
  • 4 boxes Red Hot candies
  • 2 teaspoons rum flavoring
  • Juice of 1/2 orange, reserve peel
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, piercing the cloves into the reserved orange peel, and heat to simmer stirring occasionally. Serve when Red Hot candies have melted.


Almond Punch
Jacqueline E. Lewis

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 46-ounce can pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 gallon pineapple sherbet (if available, if not see substitution instructions below)

Mix all ingredients except the sherbet add water to top off to a gallon.  Shake well and refrigerate. Pour punch into bowl and float sherbet on top.

Substitution Instructions:

If pineapple sherbet is not available, put punch mixture in the freezer. Shake and rotate every hour to avoid complete freezing. You want it to get slushy. This is my family’s favorite way. We no longer even look for the sherbet.

Add rum to taste for an adults-only beverage.


We are looking for more diverse holiday recipes. Send us your original family recipes for various upcoming holidays that we can share with our Doing More Today readers. Simply include your name, location and details, including ingredients and cooking instructions to doingmoretoday@regions.com.