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Your Favorite Holiday Food Tradition

No other time of year is so richly steeped in tradition than the holiday season, and lucky for us, lots of those traditions involve cooking, eating and sharing great food. We’ve all got memorable dishes and must-make recipes connected to this time of year. Maybe it’s Uncle Charlie’s extra-strong eggnog or Grandma Ruth’s red cabbage sauté. How about your own famous scalloped potatoes or a special-batch baklava you make every New Year’s Eve? We want to know about your treasured holiday food tradition. Tell us about it in the comments section below by December 21 and we’ll pick a winner at random to receive a $50 Whole Foods Market® gift card. To get in the spirit, we asked some Team Members to share their favorite food traditions. From Mara: "Our family is part Puerto Rican and we celebrate Christmas each year with paella. My mother-in-law spends the entire day cooking and makes her own sofrito as the base seasoning for the rice. While I love Christmas dinner, my favorite is leftover paella — it seems to even be more flavorful the next day." From Anna: "When invited out on Christmas I ALWAYS bring a huge green salad with lots of crispy fresh veggies with mandarin sections and dried cranberries. I use a light lime dressing. It is a tangy wonder that offsets all of the heavy food we love to eat this time of year." From Jennifer: "The children in our Chinese-American family insist on traditional holiday food – stuffing, ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, casseroles — the works! A few years back, one of my cousins who isn’t big on cooking ordered noodles from a Chinese restaurant as his contribution. Now our holiday meals aren't complete without some takeout Chinese noodles — it's the one dish at our table guaranteed not to have any leftovers." From Elizabeth: "For the past four years, my nephew and I have baked molasses cookies while listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. The cookies have gotten tastier as he's gotten older, and now we know the songs by heart." From Betsy: "It's an unofficial Jewish tradition to go out for Chinese food on Christmas, so last Christmas Eve, my husband, in-laws and I decided to try a hole-in-the-wall Chinese barbecue joint. We enjoyed an amazing feast of Peking duck, hot and sour soup, fried rice, Chinese broccoli and all of the fixings. It was so good we now plan to ring in Christmas every year with Chinese barbecue." From Allison: "My husband’s family in Houston does tamales and chili every Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law makes the chili and the tamales come from our favorite Mexican restaurant down the street, and we open presents with plenty of hot sauce on the side." What’s your favorite food tradition of the holiday season? Share it with us by December 21 for the chance to win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift card. We can’t wait to hear about your festive feasting traditions! The fine print: No purchase necessary. Promotion ends December 21, 2011. Must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (except in Quebec, where it is void) age 18 or older to participate. Taxes on prize, if applicable, are the responsibility of the winner. Employees of Whole Foods Market, Inc., are not eligible. Void where prohibited.

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1104 comments

Comments

Pat Booker says …

Has to be the penny (well washed!) hidden in the pot of black-eyed peas for New Years. Our family of 25+ gets together in Tennessee for the holiday and everyone (ages 12 to 85) is hoping to get that penny in their bowl!

Katrina says …

Every year my family makes my great grandmother's cranberry jello salad recipe, everybody's favorite!! Uses ingredients like raspberries, cranberries, walnuts, and celery along with the jello to make the most delicious (and healthy) combination. Always great memories remembering my great grandmother around the kitchen on the holidays.

Jenn Y says …

I love how the holidays give me an excuse to bake up a storm and to find different variations of the pumpkin pie!

Deb says …

My family really enjoys my Sweet Potato Mousse with Cranberry Puree. It's melt in your mouth wonderful! Especially when made with organic sweet potatoes and cranberries from Whole Foods!

Marty Buffington says …

Our family does our Christmas dinner the Saturday before Christmas. I haven't been able to go for a few years, but that is another story. About ten years ago we started a new tradition. I know it isn't healthy, but it can become healthier in the future. Our tradition has become that instead of the traditional big meal that take for ever to cook, we have gone simple. We have tacos for our main meal and everybody brings salads, desserts, and other side dishes to compliment the dinner. I hope to try to introduce some healthier types of tacos, such as fish tacos, turkey tacos, and chicken tacos. IT takes a lot less time to prepare, and we get to spend more time together to enjoy the grandchildren and great nieces.

Lisa Mcdonald says …

Making a Gingerbread house with my son, I started when he was young we would do that and make cookies, he is 25 now and on is own and I do miss that but I get out the pictures and it puts a big smile on my face, hopefully he will share this with his children someday.

Sarah Comeau says …

I love gravy. I wait all year in anticipation of the gravy that accompanies our holiday meal. I'd probably eat cardboard if it had gravy on it. It is truly the nectar of the gods.

Natalie says …

Bread sauce, a tradition in England that I have carried on over here in the US when I moved to be with my husband. Bread sauce is a mixture of chunks of bread, onions, cream and milk and cooked together until thick and saucy and you have it on the side of your Christmas dinner, it is amazing with turkey and cranberries.

Barney Cannon says …

Having moved all over the country, I have tried traditional Christmas foods from almost every region and have brought several dishes into our family's Christmas meals. Two of my favorites are the Wild Rice-Pecan Melange that I first had whils living in Texas. And of course...I now try to hunt down pasteles (Puerto Rican)every year, wherever I live. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Patrick says …

A long-time tradition in our family, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, is serving the leftover turkey with home made noodles. In fact, now that our daughter and niece are grown and cooking on their own, and counting our 4 yr old grand nephew, we can count 6 generations that we know has participated in this. The turkey is cut up into bite size pieces and cooked with broth made from the left over pan drippings. The noodles are then cooked and served in that soup. The noodle recipe is Ozarks pioneer simple, reflect its roots: 1 cup flour 1 egg 1 half egg shell of water about 1/2 tsp salt Make into dough and roll out about as thick as a pie crust. Let dry 20 minutes. Roll up the dough round and slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide noodle strips. Unroll, lay out, and let dry for about two hours. Cook in the boiling stock for 5 to 10 minutes. Noodles are done when all float.

Megan says …

I have a lot of fun making peanut butter pie and pulling taffy with my family when we all get together on Christmas.

Suzy Scott says …

"Belinas" on New Year's Eve

Jenny says …

We enjoy celebrating Christmas Eve with our Mexican side of the family, eating home made tamales filled with green chile, cheese and carne asada, boiling a HUGE pot of menudo all day and enjoying it that evening and staying up until at least midnight. Then Christmas day we celebrate a more traditional American holiday feast with a roasted turkey and all the fixings. I enjoy baking a variety of cookies in the days leading up to Christmas.

Josie says …

We enjoy calamari and shrimp every Christmas Eve along with spaghetti, olive oil and toasted walnuts. We have done this Italian tradition as long as I can recall and now my children look forward to it every year.

Nicole says …

Im Italian so every Christmas eve, we have the 7 fishes and panettone. We decorate the tree usually a few days before Christmas and bake struffoli and riccarelli cookies. Lately, we've been trying to make over some of our traditional recipes so they are healthier.

Lisa Alvarez says …

For years, growing up, my mom would make Tamales for Christmas Breakfast, she would place olives in a few of them, not all, because only my dad likes them. I just always thought they magically appeared in time for breakfast, it wasn't until my mom's knees started going bad that I realized all the work that went in to making those delicious pork masa goodness and she finally employed me and my brother to help. Wow! A lot of time and effort and love goes in to making those tamales, and I haven't taken them for granted since! A very precious Christmas tradition in my family!

Mandy Brunson says …

My favorite holiday tradition is Elf on the Shelf. We have had tthree to grace our home. The first year Elf, Presents, left us last year and sent his brother James to take his place. This year James brought his sister Snowflake to hang with my children. Those elves get into lots of mischief. I love how my children wake up to try and find these elves. The memories are grand.

Ashley K says …

I always make some kind of goodie for my family to put in their stockings. I love a homemade gift!

Ginger says …

My family's favorite food tradition would have to be the Buche de Noel (or Yule log cakes) that I have made for over 20 years. It started just as a cake I made for our family for Christmas, but after that first year, I started making multiples and would give them away to different families for their own holiday dinners as well. Most years I make at least six, one for us and five to give away. Our family discusses who should get one...it's usually families that God places on our hearts, perhaps a family going through a hard time, a new neighbor unable to visit home for the holidays, or just someone else we feel needs a little extra blessing during the holiday. No one has ever received one twice, as there are always new people who need that little extra something. We don't do it for those who are able to gift us back.

Sherri Kerhoulas says …

I love to bake Christmas cookies and give them as gifts to friends and family. Over the years I have changed the recipes I use and try to make some just a little bit healthier. Since my mom can no longer eat seeds or nuts I leave them out of the ones that don't "need" them - kinda tough to leave them out of pecan pie bars! When my daughter, who is now a senior in college, was home during my baking marathons she would help and even made a couple of her own to put on our trays. Altogether this year, including fudges, I will make 29 different varieties....a few less than last year, but I'm still making them with the love and spirit of the Christmas season in my kitchen.

Jerry Carpenter says …

I love to have a simple dinner on Christmas Eve with the family. I love anything with oysters in it so I love oyster dressing and oysters that have been broiled with some savory breadcrumbs and garlic and olive oil. A simple chicken dish also goes well on Christmas Eve.

Michelle says …

Every year on New Years day my partner and I make individual cornished hens and a beautiful mix of winter vegetables and bring in the new year with health and propserity. Some wine is usually involved and a great time is had by all.

Maria says …

As a child, I most looked forward to helping my grandmother make chicken and dumplings, sugar cookies, and coconut pound cakes from scratch. However, as I've just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, this year I will teach her how to make her famous and treasured treats gluten-free and allergen-free so that I can enjoy them, too.

Carmel says …

Ever since I can remember, we spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents and did a casual dinner of little sandwiches. Lots of small breads, a variety of meats and cheeses, in addition everyone brought a side dish to make it feel "homemade". It was easy and casual, but always so much fun. We have continued the tradition to this day, even though the family has grown and changed. Just makes me feel at home seeing our lovely deli spread and spending time with my family.

Bob Bara says …

The Holiday tradition is a multifaceted experience in our household. Picking out the tree and the decorating party with music, hot chocolate and deserts (both organic and made from scratch)with the grandchildren. Listening to our children share fond early Christmas memories with their children. Family gift exchange on Christmas eve and Santa Christmas morning. Then there's the food. The Christmas meal is centered around a honey baked ham, with a wide array of salads, casseroles and sweets. Oh my, the sweets. Cakes, pies, chocolates, sugar cookies, eclairs, biscotti, cannoli. Did I mention my son is a pastry chef? The most important part is Family. Christmas is our Family time. I pray it always remains the same.

Karina says …

We are the family of 4 and Christmas has been something unbelievable when our kids joined our family :) We do always start with light and fresh breakfast and since we are both Polish - continue with the tradition of 11 dishes :) we eat hearings, polish karp fish, salads, home made pierogies made out of organic ingredients and many many deserts. We shop in Whole Foods - because " you are what you eat", and we want to live a long and beautiful life. We hope our kids one day will keep up the tradition too. Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!

Jenn Merritt says …

our family's greatest holiday tradition is my grandmouther's applesauce cake. She made this cake at every holiday, birthday and special occasion. many have attempted the recipe since her death, but no cook in the family seems to be able to crack the code on this most beloved cake even though we have the recipe. It was moist, dense dark cake with raisins and walmuts. but the icing was the kicker. A caramel icing that firmed up into a soft crusty confection. My grandmother usually let the cake sit in a cool spot for a day or two before serving. Heaven. Now that several family members (myself included) are eating gluten free, my additional task is recreating this holiday favorite in a gluten free form. I may be working on this labor of love for years.

Mandy Brunson says …

I forgot to mention that this elves eat all the wonderful cookies we make together....their favorite are my chocolate and sea salt cookies. My children prefer the sugar cookies with an almond center.

Colleen Stephenson says …

Growing up, my mom made homemade gingerbread houses for me, my siblings and my cousins for our holiday party. Depending on the year and our ages, the traditions differed. When we were little, she made and decorated them, we had contests demolishing and eating them. As we got older, she prepared the gingerbread and we put together and decorated the houses. I can't wait to start this tradition with my little one!

Meredith says …

My grandmother is from Texas and when she and my grandfather lived there they used toget these amazingly delicious tamales and ship them to us in Virginia every year. They've since moved up here to VA but it's become tradition to have a traditional turkey thanksgiving and a Tex-Mex Christmas dinner. The tamales are shipped up frozen as the centerpiece of the meal and there are never any leftovers. We also make a southwest cornbread and a type of lasagna with tortillas and Mexican spices/ingredients. It is my absolute favorite time of year!

Kristin says …

My mom's homemade rolls are the best - and only show up around the holidays!!

Melissa Alexander says …

On Christmas Eve our Italian-American family enjoys a wonderful Lobster Newberg dinner with the choice of pasta or pastry shells to spoon it over. Of course we need to have a bowl of homemade red sauce and meatballs on hand for the Aunts who just cannot live without their good old standby! For dessert I make a delicious and smooth tiramisu using mascarpone and marsala wine. It is a very rich menu but a family favorite!

Susan says …

Every Chanukah we feast on home made potato latkes. Absolutely love them.

Byron Papa says …

Without a doubt, Louisiana or Texas oysters in the shell. I'm actually able to get them here in North Carolina. I ice them down a day or two before Christmas and leave the ice chest in my pickup truck. That way, I'm able to visit friends with the treasure and shuck some out at the truck over beers.

Jason says …

Every year I have made ginger snap cookies and take them to the people that I work with. Over the years I have slowly but surely become a vegan so over the past three years I have made my cookies vegan and gluten free. SO many people have this perception of vegan food as being wierd, so I love to see the look on peoples' faces when they love them and I tell them that they are completely dairy free.

Kristen says …

Every year my dad and I make fudge, peanut brittle, and cookies.

Andrea says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is baking cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. I bake sugar cookies shaped like trees, stars, gingerbread men, and angels and decorate them with buttercream frosting. My boys LOVE them. They stay up waiting for me to finish and then eat a few and put a few out with milk for Santa.

Felicia B. says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is baking cookies with my children and then watching Christmas movies and eating the cookies on Christmas Eve! :)

Sydney G. says …

My family doesn't do a traditional Christmas dinner. We all pick a dish, whatever happens to sound to good and that what we have. Sometimes it several random things, and sometime we all end up sticking to a certain cuisine (Mexican food is a popular one with us). I have very found memories of our Christmas meals & I can't wait to continue on with this tradition when I have kids of my own.

Amanda says …

Peanut butter fudge from Thanksgiving to Christmas

Stacey says …

For the last few years, my sons (Ages 9,6 and 4) and I have built a gingerbread house Christmas Eve day. We bake the walls and roof a few days in advance so we have a sturdy foundation to build on. It keeps us busy and happy, nibbling on candy while building a better house than the year before. It helps us get through the last, long day of waiting for Santa! After Mass, we make homeade toasted ravioli and snack until bedtime...

Pearl says …

All the girls in our family making cookies and desserts on Christmas eve for Christmas day. So yummy!

Debra says …

For many years my husband and I lived quite a distance away from our families and could not afford to travel to see family all the time. Early on, we started a tradition of having a Christmas Eve dinner of Leg of Lamb, Wild Rice Pilaf, and a vegetable, and then we would celebrate our son's birthday (He is a Christmas baby!) Now our son will be 32 years old this year, and we still continue to hold true to the tradition of the Leg of Lamb and celebrating his birth.

joanna rose says …

I come from a sicilian family and Christmas eve is a huge thing in my house. We celebrate the feast of the seven fishes and the three generations of women (my sister my mother my nonna and ) all get together in the kitchen to cook a huge feast of steamed lobster,fried scallops,steamed clams,linguine with clam sauce,crabs,and baccala which is salted cod..we also have various other things as well. this year my husband is home from Afghanistan from war and he will be celebrating with us and our son.

Karen says …

The tradition in our family comes from a time when my husband was in the military. Our home was a place for his military friends to be home away from home and I would make loaded bake potatoe soup, rib eye steaks, chinese chicken salad, fried noodles......i just tried to make whatever it was that reminded them of home.

Susan says …

If it's hanukah, it's time for latkes. I have great memories of helping my Granny, my mother, and my mother in law grate potatoes and onions and fry the latkes. These days I use a food processor but the taste is still the same and the house still smells for the same number of days after, reminding me of this glorious once a year treat.

Holly says …

One of our family's favorite holiday tradtions is chocolate chip pancakes on Christmas morning. Although it may sound simple, it's anything but! Our middle son has severe food allergies and doesn't get to partake in a lot of the holiday treats that his siblings can enjoy. We finally found a recipe for a sweet breakfast treat that all of our children love and can eat together! We make a big production of taking turns mixing the batter, adding the chocolate chips...it's become a very special tradition for us.

Sarah says …

We have T-Bone's every Christmas!! :)

Dale says …

Traditionally my family had a standing Rib Roast Beef (au jus gravy)popovers, with home-made Mashed potatoes, buttered and sugared peas, preceded by fresh crudites with bleu cheese dressing. Then the next day thinly sliced left-over roast beef with horseradish and mayonnaise on Bauernbrot (thin sliced rye)..with sliced red onion...mmmmmm Dessert was home-made Christmas cookies!

Audra says …

Our tradition is to make a stew and invite friends over for a lunch and cookie decorating. I cut out and bake all the cookies ahead of time, prepare icings and sprinkles, make everything nice and we have a fun party with lots of children. Even the adults make a cookie or two! My daughter's look forward to this every year and we always have friends asking us, "Are you going to have a cookie party this year? If so, we want to come!"

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