What's Cooking? Moda Designers Share Their Favorite Holiday Recipes

What's Cooking? Moda Designers Share Their Favorite Holiday Recipes

Written by: 
Linzee McCray
635862720265990101-732429632_xmas-dinner (Image from Google)

Holiday preparations are in full swing, and if you're not sewing, chances are you're cooking (or making plans for meals to come). To help you with your planning, we asked Moda's designers to share a holiday favorite recipe and tell us a little bit about it. Hang onto your tablespoons and mixing bowls, because we've got some fabulous flavors coming your way! And there are some very sweet stories to go with them.

(In fact, we got so many great responses that we'll be posting half the recipes today and more tomorrow, so come back Friday, too!)

First up: Appetizers

dp_lydia-nelsonLydia Nelson

My husband is the chef in our family….here is his Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe.  He made it for Army friends at each post and each time it was a favorite served at our parties :)

2 packages cream cheese (8oz)

1/4 Sour Cream

1 bag fresh spinach

1 can artichokes-chopped

1 cup/handful shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup/handful parmesan cheese

3 cloves fresh garlic-minced

1/2 large onion-diced

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

salt & pepper to taste

1 stick butter

Sauté onions and garlic in half stick of the butter. Remove onions and garlic from pan and set aside. Saute spinach with other half of butter. Mix ALL ingredients together (except a little of the cheeses to sprinkle on top). Place in oven @ 350 for about 15-25 minutes. When bubbly on top it is done!

designer_basicgrey Rachel Brenchley

Hot Cran-Apple Cider

This smells and taste of Christmas! Yummy, savory-sweet . . . just perfect.


2 quarts apple juice

1 1/2 quarts cranberry juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 sticks cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp whole cloves.

Heat to boiling, reduce heat & simmer 15 minutes. Strain spices out & serve warm.

Vanessa GoertzenVanessa Goertzen-Lella Boutique

I admit that I used to hate wassail.

That all changed a few years ago when a bank co-worker brought some for his assigned "treat day" during the holidays. Initially, I poured a cup (just to be polite) but soon found myself pouring another cup, and another, and another. Thankfully, he was willing to share his absolutely delicious recipe and I am going to share it with you. (If you are wondering what wassail is, I think its closest relative is hot cider.)


  • 1 gallon of water
  • 3 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 allspice berries
  • One 12 oz. can frozen lemonade
  • One 12 oz. can frozen orange juice
  • 64 oz. cran-raspberry juice

In a large soup terrine, combine the water, sugar, and spices.  Bring to a boil.Remove the spices.  Add juices to the pot and stir together. Reheat and serve.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to pour myself another cup.

designer_corry-yoderCorey Yoder

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

Here is one that people love whenever I bring it!  I often bring it to get-togethers, especially those fun ones where you are asked to bring appetizers only.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips


2 med. tart apples, chopped

1 c. chopped strawberries

2 med. kiwi, peeled and chopped

1/2 c. blueberries, chopped

1 sm. orange

2 T brown sugar

4 T strawberry jelly, melted


10 flour tortillas

1 c. sugar

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

cooking oil

In a bowl, combine apples, strawberries, kiwi and blueberries, Grate orange peel to measure 1 1/2 tsp.  Squeeze juice from orange; add peel and juice to fruit mixture.  Stir in brown sugar and jelly.  Refrigerate.  Chips:  Combine sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large resealable plastic bag; set aside.  Cut tortillas into 3" x 2" strips.  Heat 1 inch of oil in a skillet to 375 degrees; fry 4 to 5 strips at a time for 30 seconds on each side, or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  While still warm, place strips in a bag with sugar mixture.  Shake gently to coat.  Store in airtight container.  Makes 4 cups of salsa and 5 dozen chips.

CT-Sandy-Klop Sandy Klop—American Jane

When Sandy takes a container of this dip to parties, it always comes home empty. "That's the best compliment!" she says.

1  6 oz  jar marinated artichoke hearts

1  8 oz plain artichoke hearts

One 4oz  can green chiles

2 cups shredded shredded cheddar cheese

6 Tbl  mayonnaise

Drain, chop, mix. Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Serve with chips scoops or TJ's long boards

designer_primitive-gatheringsLisa Bongean—Primitive Designs

All I ever wanted was to be old enough to drink the "slush"...it was a frozen drink and it tasted good...I didn't see what the big deal was...why not??? So....as an adult I make a Strawberry Slush in two batches...one with and one for the kids so they won't feel left out!

Christmas Slush…aka Strawberry Slush

2c.  sugar

4 c. water

Bring to boil in sauce pan and set aside.

In another saucepan heat and mix together until dark...

2 c. water

4 green tea bags

In a plastic pail, like the big ice cream pails...

32 oz strawberries-in a container with sugar

12 oz frozen lemon aid

2 c. of Brandy…or leave out in you do not want the alchohol

Add everything together and stir well- place in freezer…stir while freezing

Serve in a glass about ½ -¾ full of slush…add 7up to fill glass…stir and enjoy!!!

dp_gingiberStacie Bloomfield—Gingiber

Here is a simple one. We have this every holiday—I like it because it's not Rotel.

Mother-In-Law's Cheese Dip:

1/2 Stick Butter

4 TBSP Flour

1 TSP Paprika

1 TSP Chili Powder

1 TSP Cumin

1 TSP Jalapeno Pepper Juice

1 TBS Ketchup

1 TSP Red Pepper

1/2 TSP Garlic Powder

1/4 TSP Mustard Powder

12-14 Slices Cheese (We use white American)

2 Cups Milk

- Over medium heat, Melt butter and add flour. Mix to make a roux.

- Mix the dry ingredients together, then slowly add them to the butter and flour roux.

- Slowly add the milk to the roux. Be sure to not let it get lumpy.

- Cut up cheese into small squares and then add them to the mixture.

- Stir constantly until the cheese is evenly melted into the dip.

- Serve with corn chips!

Next up: Dishes to Serve for Holiday Breakfasts and Dinners

designer_deb-strainDeb Strain

Every Christmas morning, all of our children and grandchildren come to our house for breakfast and opening gifts.  It is truly my favorite 2-3 hours of the year! Their favorite breakfast is lots of coffee and this wonderful French Toast Bake. It is even better because it can be made the night before so I don't miss any of the Christmas morning memories!

Hope you enjoy it!  Merry Christmas to All!

Overnight French Toast Bake

12 servings

¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) butter, melted

¾ cup packed light brown sugear

1 loaf brioche or challah sliced into 1 1/2 “ thick slices

8 eggs slightly beaten

1 cup whole milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground ginger

½ cup pecans, measured then chopped

1/8 tsp. salt

(Optional) maple syrup and powdered sugar topping

  1. In a small bowl combine brown sugar and melted butter and pour on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Arrange slices of bread in the baking dish, overlapping if necessary
  3. Combine milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl and pour evenly over bread slices.
  4. Sprinkle chopped pecans over bread slices
  5. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours.
  6. In the morning, take the casserole out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes while you are preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake casserole for 30 to 35 minutes. If top starts browning too quickly, place foil loosely over the top of the casserole for the last 10 minutes or so. You want it to cook long enough to make sure the bottom part is cooked but don’t dry it out completely.
  8. Remove casserole from oven and let it cool slightly before serving. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

designer_sandy-gervaisSandy Gervais

One of my favorite spots in my home town of Jackson, Minnesota was  Klimesh's bakery.

They had all of the usual bakery goodies - long johns sprinkled with chopped peanuts, Bismarks and fried cinnamon rolls just to name a few. But they were probably best known for their caramel apples and anise candy. The apples were served in the fall and in all of my years of searching I have never found a caramel apple that came close to a Klimesch caramel apple. At Christmas time they served the anise candy. It was a hard candy in a very pretty shade of red, dusted every so lightly with sugar. A little bunch of anise squares were packaged in a clear bag and sold for 10 cents. Again have never found an thing close to Klimesh anise candy.

So I bet you think my recipe is for Klimesh anise candy. Sadly it is not as I do not have that recipe. However a few years back I found this Anise Fruit Bowl recipe and I have been making it as part of our Christmas dinner ever since. (My substitution for Klimesh anise candy.) It has become a family favorite.


Anise Fruit Bowl

2 cups water

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons anise seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 cups assorted fresh fruit

(You can use any fruits of your choice. I usually use oranges, fresh pineapple, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, red grapes and green grapes.)

In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, lemon juice, anises seed and salt.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Strain syrup; discard aniseed.

Place fruit in a large bowl; add syrup and toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate until serving.

I make my sauce ahead of time and then the morning of I mix in all of the fruit. It is best if it sets for a half a day before serving. Keeps well.

designer_gina-martinGina Martin

You hate this recipe or you love it, but it’s a holiday tradition in my Arkansas family. My husband thinks the name is hilarious. I have no idea where it came from...probably a mid century women’s magazine. My Mamaw has always served it in a fancy cut glass bowl. It’s all I’ve ever seen served in it!

Coke Salad

2 boxes cherry Jello

1 large can crushed pineapple

1 large can bing cherries

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups Coca Cola


Drain the pineapple & cherries liquid into a saucepan and heat. Add Jello and dissolve thoroughly. Cool. Cut the cherries and add them and the rest of the ingredients to the jello. Stir. Pour into a bowl and chill until set.

designer_me-and-my-sisterBarb and Mary—Me and My Sister Designs

This is a "not so traditional" Cranberry Salad that's supper easy. Our families love it and we make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You make it the day ahead and that helps with time management on the big feast days. It also makes a great dessert.

Merry Christmas!!

Fresh Cranberry Salad

Make 1 day ahead.

1-12 oz package fresh cranberries. Grind into medium and small size pieces.

1 cup sugar.

~ toss in a bowl and set aside for 2 hours.

1 pint whipping cream. Whip

1 cup crushed and drained pineapple

~ Gently mix all ingredients

~ Let set in the refrigerator in a fancy serving bowl for 24 hours before serving.

It’s ready to go straight to the table the next day!!

designer_jan-patekJan Patek

On Christmas Day we don’t have a big sit-down dinner (that’s for Thanksgiving) because there’s just too much going on.  Instead we have a buffet style dinner and two things we always have are a Burgers Smokehouse Ham (Missouri-based) and Patti LaBelles Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese.

It’s so rich and yummy that once a year is all the calories we need.

1 Tbs. veg. oil

1 lb elbow macaroni

8 Tbs. (1 stick) + l Tbs. butter

2 oz shredded Muenster cheese

2 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese

2 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups half & half

1 cup (8 oz) Velveeta, cut into small cubes

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350, Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2 quart casserole.Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the oil, then the macaroni.  Cook until just tender, about 7 minutes, drain and return to pot.

In a small saucepan, melt 8 Tbsp butter.  Stir into macaroni.

In a large bowl mix all the shredded cheeses.

To the macaroni add the half & half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheeses, the Velveeta and the eggs.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to casserole.  Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese and dot with remaining Tbsp of butter.

Bake about 35 minutes, until it’s bubbling around the edges.  Serve hot.

designer_bunny-hillAnne Sutton—Bunny Hill Designs

This is an easy one for me.  I cook this chicken for my family every Christmas Eve.  The recipe comes from my former assistant Brigette Mason who happens to be one of the best cooks ever. I use the organic, free range chicken breasts from Trader Joe’s and when I make this chicken I get raves from everyone. (Here’s the side story…I’m a vegetarian so I’ve only eaten this once or twice, but it was well worth the indulgence.)  Serve with lots of mashed potatoes.  Yummy!

Brigette’s Mushroom Chicken

6 to 8 Chicken breasts

3/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 cups chicken stock or broth

2 cups cream

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

1/2 to 1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 t. lemon juice

Cut the chicken breasts in half.  Put flour, salt and pepper into Ziploc bag. Wet one or two chicken breasts at a time and shake up chicken in bag, until coated with flour mixture.

Heat skillet and add about 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil.

Brown chicken on both sides.

Remove from skillet and place chicken in oven-proof dish.

Add onion and garlic and mushrooms to skillet and cook until onions are soft.

Add 1/4 cup flour to mushroom mixture.

Add cream and chicken stock and stir until smooth.

Bring to a boil and cook for a minute or two until thickened.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Pour over chicken and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

So that's it for today...tomorrow—bring on the sweets!

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