Remote Control: Hungry for the Holidays

17 minutes

The winter holiday season is here, bringing with it cultural traditions and celebrations. Traditionally, this is the time of year many enjoy the sparkling lights, music, family togetherness, and most important (at least to me)—the food.

The holidays look different this year, and you may not be able to celebrate with the people you usually do, or fully experience your favorite home cooked holiday dish. In spirit of the sharing season, the editorial staff at Oklahoma Today wanted to share some of our favorite holiday recipes that you can make yourself at home. If you’re missing out on a favorite tradition or dish this year, try one of our favorite appetizers, entrees, or desserts, and share the virtual holiday cheer with us:

Hot Chicken Dip

This is an appetizer a former co-worker made once for a holiday party. I was so impressed that I made it for a Christmas party the next week. I might make it again this year. If I do, I’ll probably add smoked paprika. I love appetizers. -Megan

1 large can of shredded chicken
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can green chilies
1 jalapeño seeded and chopped, or ¼ cup chopped canned jalapeños
¼ cup shredded cheese (or more, to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 F
Mix ingredients
Put in a cake pan (or a similar size pan) and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve with anything you’d want to dip in it, like crackers, veggies, and the like.

White Trash Trail Mix

This recipe was passed along to my mom from our family doctor. I love this dish because it is a nice, delicious, and easy treat to make, and it is fun and quick. It’s perfect for any holiday, and the name alone is a conversation starter that amplifies people’s interests and curiosity about the sweet snack.

It’s not too sweet, and has just the right amount of crunch, saltiness from the pretzels, and honey flavor form the Golden Grahams. After you try it for the first time you will realize there is nothing trashy about this crazy, good mix. -Kashea

1 box Golden Graham cereal
1 16-oz. jar of peanuts
1 16-oz. bag of pretzels
2 12-oz. bags of white chocolate morsels

Mix Golden Graham cereal, peanuts, and pretzels together in a big bowl. Melt white chocolate morsels and mix in with cereal, peanuts, and pretzels.
After everything is mixed evenly together, spread immature on wax paper or cookie sheet and place it in the freezer until the chocolate has hardened and everything is solidified.

Break into pieces and store in your favorite dish or treat bags to enjoy.

Cheese & Egg Grits Casserole

Recipe by Connie Gaddis

My family has adopted a very laid back Christmas tradition that we call Sandwichmas. Basically, instead of freaking out over some giant meal that would require effort and probably getting dressed, we just set out a ton of sandwich fixings and snacks.

Still there are a few traditional dishes that my brother and I request each year. And for breakfast on Christmas, there’s nothing we love more than Chees & Egg Grits Casserole. It’s creamy and hearty and savory and covered in a layer of crispy cheese—if there were no gifts under the tree, this would still be Christmas enough for me. The best part: as a casserole, the amount of hands-off time far outweighs the rest of the prep, so you’re not bound to the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying family time. -Greg

4 cups water
1 cup of quick (not instant) grits
1 ½ tsp. Salt
7 ½-oz. Cheez Whiz
1 stick butter
2 eggs
½ cup milk
Cheddar cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Bring water to a boil, stir in grits and salt, and reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
Beat eggs and add to milk, then add mixture to grits. Stir in Cheez Whiz and butter until well incorporated.
Add the mixture to a buttered casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven, top with grated cheese, and bake 20 minutes more before serving.

Lemon Thin Cookies

Recipe by C&H Sugar

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is eating all the tasty treats my mom whips up for our whole family. She loves to give gifts in the form of food and has spent years learning new recipes to share every year with our family and friends. In my opinion, these cookies are her absolute best recipe, which I look forward to eating every December. In 2009 my mom, Andrea Hall of Stillwater, was looking for a new Christmas cookie to share and discovered the recipe on the side of her C&H Sugar bag, and it was such a big hit she’s made it every year since. They taste best cold and are the perfect holiday snack with the lemon drizzle goodness and crisp, cold cookie base. Shaping the dough into an 8-inch log and chilling the dough is an important step, so don’t skip it if you end up trying this recipe. Nothing but goodness will come from baking this awesome treat, and if your taste buds are anything like mine, they will thank you! -Abigail

Cookie ingredients:
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
½ cup C&H pure cane granulated sugar
⅛ tsp. baking soda
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. lemon rind, finely grated
½ tsp. Vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted

Lemon glaze ingredients:
2 cups C&H pure cane powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon rind, finely grated

Cookie Instructions:
In a medium mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 3 seconds. Add sugar and baking soda and beat until combined.
Beat in egg yolk, milk, lemon peel, and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.
Shape dough into an 8-inch-long roll. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill.
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Cut dough into 1/4 -inch slices. Place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool.

Lemon glaze instructions:
In a medium saucepan heat sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest stirring occasionally until lukewarm. Do not boil.
Cool slightly, then spoon over cookies. Makes 1-1 ½ cups.

Pat’s Christmas Cookies

I was stoked to include this recipe in our November/December issue of Oklahoma Today (on newsstands now!), because it has become a holiday staple in my home. This comes from my husband’s grandmother, Pat Peterson of Yukon, and I can’t imagine the holidays without it now. And though you need a strong arm or an industrial-strength mixer to get it all stirred up, it freezes beautifully and is a prolific recipe, so do what Pat does: Make one batch at the start of the season, and you can bring these amazing cookies with you to any holiday gathering—or since there aren’t holiday gatherings this year, just keep it in the freezer and treat yourself to these awesome cookies whenever you like. -Nathan

1 lb. butter
2.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
5 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 lb. yellow raisins
1 package chopped dates
1-2 cups pecans, chopped
1 large tub candied red cherries, chopped
1 small tub candied green cherries, chopped
1 small tub candied pineapple, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F
Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla.
Sift together flour and baking soda, then divide mixture in half.
Combine half of the flour mixture with the sugar mixture and the other half with fruit and pecans. Then mix everything together.
Divide into 8-10 rolls, wrapping each roll in wax paper.
Refrigerate overnight or freeze.
Slice rolls and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Peanut Butter Crunchy Bars

My brother and I would always fight over this yummy dessert. One year he literally hid the pan from me! So my mom started bringing two pans to every Christmas get-together. One for everyone to snack on and one for us to split and take home.

This was my grandmother’s recipe and originally called for melted butterscotch on top. But since my mom hates butterscotch and I got the recipe from her, chocolate is now the topping we all use. I look forward to making this for years to come and watching my children and grandchildren fight over who gets the last piece! -Colleen

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup corn syrup
¾ cup of creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. Vanilla
¾ cup Special K cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
Butter for greasing pan

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a pan on the stove, stirring until it boils.
Remove from heat.
Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Add in cereal and mix thoroughly.
Press mixture into a buttered 8-inch by 8-inch pan.
Melt chocolate chips and pour, then spread over top of the pressed mixture.
Cool until chocolate is firm. Cut into preferred size.

Pecan-less (Honey) Pie

I love pecan pie, but I don't care for pecans. I also have a sordid past with corn syrup. What transpired was an experiment to create a pecan-less pie with honey, and it became an instant family favorite. I call it honey pie, but anyone from the south would be very confused to find this recipe aside other honey pies. This is a pecan-less pecan pie with honey. I also began using Einkorn flour in my baked goods this year just to see what all the fuss was about regarding this ancient grain. It creates baked goods with a slight yellow tint, due to more carotenoids, is supposedly easier to digest, and has more protein and nutrients than your standard all-purpose flour. If you prefer to purchase (no judgment) your pie shells, skip ahead to the filling section for a super-easy decadent treat. -Bridgette

Einkorn pie crust ingredients:
3 cups of ice cold Einkorn all-purpose flour (keep it in the freezer)
1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 cup ice cold butter, salted
¼ cup ice cold water
1 Tbsp. ice cold vodka
1 large egg

Filling ingredients:
1 homemade or store-bought pie shell
1 cup honey
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
⅛ tsp. salt

Crust instructions:
Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Add butter a little at a time and cut in with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the water and egg until incorporated.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead for at least a minute, until it forms a very smooth ball. Cut in half and set one half aside. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a circle with ¼ inch thickness.
Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish (repeat for other dough half).
Use a sharp knife to trim the dough, leaving at least ½ inch over the rim of the pie dish.
Use fingers to crimp the edges of the crust all the way around the pie.
Use a fork to prick the crust to allow steam to escape while baking.
Blind bake at 425 F for 10 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown.

Filling instructions:
Mix together all six ingredients and pour into the pre-baked pastry shell.
2. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake 30-35 minutes longer. The outer edges of filling should be set and the center slightly soft. Filling will thicken as it cools. If your edges start getting too dark, aluminum foil or a pie shield will prevent burning while your filling continues its journey to perfection. It should barely jiggle in the very center when it’s ready and will stop jiggling once it cools. Pie can be made the day before and refrigerated before serving if desired.

Pumpkin Pie

Recipe by Libby’s

My husband’s all-time favorite dessert is pumpkin pie. I’ve tried fancier version, but he still prefers the original Libby’s recipe (yes, the one that’s been on the can for decades). And I’m fine with that, because it’s easy and delicious. I do substitute the spices for 2-3 Tbsp. of Savory Spice Shop pumpkin pie spice, but you can use 1 tsp. Cinnamon, ½ tsp. Ginger, and ¼ tsp. Cloves instead. -Karlie

¾ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. Salt
2-3 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Libby’s pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
12 oz. evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to make filling.
Mix sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl.
Beat eggs in a large bowl.
Add sugar mixture to egg mixture and stir. Gradually stir in evaporated milk (you might not need all of the milk depending on how thick or runny you want the filling).
Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 40-50 minutes until an inserted knife in the center of the pie comes out clean.
Cool on rack for 2 hours before serving.

Written By
Abigail Hall

Abigail Hall is Oklahoma Today's fall editorial intern.

Abigail Hall
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