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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

Susan Swyt says …

Just getting together is the best part. But for food -- My dad's apple pie. My great-aunt used to ask him, "But no lard? How did the crust get so flaky without lard?"

Tina Sweep says …

For quite a few years every Christmas Eve my parents and I would enjoy a traditional snowy Minnesota holiday featuring a non-traditional dinner of crab legs and dipping butter paired with wine. While we no longer practice this tradition, I will always carry the fond memories of sharing a unique candle-lit holiday dinner with my family on those dreamy, quiet Christmas Eve nights.

lisa vafiades says …

'tis the season for baking baklava. it's so nice to make a batch to share with lots of people at this time of year. everyone thinks it's difficult to make so they're always wowed when you bring some for sharing. delicate and rich; perfect for this time of year.

Jessica says …

Christmas would never be the same without sausage balls and orange juice for breakfast on Christmas day, followed by ham for dinner. It's been this way since I was a child and we plan on carrying on the tradition with our first next year, due in February!

Kim says …

My cousins and I are always responsible for decorating Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve. We're no longer children, but we still have just as much fun as we did when we were younger.

Teri Barwood says …

Most requested by my family is "Hot Fruit Compote" aka "Compost" ha! My husband coined it and now all my nieces and nephews call it that. It has tropical fruit; bananas, peaches, pineapple, pears, apricots & cherries, topped with a coconut-macaroon cookie topping, drizzled with rum and other liquers. Great side dish or dessert.

Rachel says …

For the past couple of years I have always made apple pie for the Holidays! I roll out my own dough and the whole shebang! I remember when I told my mom I was going to try an apple pie (I had never made any pie before) and she said why don't you try something simpler like pumpkin? But no I wouldn't settle for something simpler being the determined self I am. So I made an apple pie and it was a hit! and to this day everyone is always impressed with how amazing my pies are! Marie Calendar's has nothing on me!

Diane Powers says …

We have a cookie exchange with four of our neighbors. Each of us make up a platter with several kinds and wrap in cellophane and go door-to-door to deliver them and have a visit. It's always fun to see what you'll get this year.

Cassy McCann says …

Ever since I can remember, we have celebrated Vigilia, a traditional Polish Christmas Eve. My favorite memory is making pierogi with my mom. Now that we live apart, it means even more. We always use soft farmer's cheese in one of the fillings and Whole Foods is the only place I have been able to find it. I was so excited when I found it! It just wouldn't be Christmas without our homemade pierogi!

Caroline Leslie Horner says …

We have always had "baby Jesus birthday cake" on Christmas Eve. It's a delicious apple cake with caramel sauce that we only make once a year. As kids we loved the tradition of singing and blowing out the candles. As adults we wonder why we don't make it more frequently.

Madeline Lonergan says …

My mom always makes the best sweet potatoes with the cinnamon sugar syrup. She also does the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. She bakes Italian cookies weeks before Christmas and everyone always looks forward to these special treats!

says …

@Sharon Certainly! At your community Whole Foods Market, the Holiday Table will be happy to help you provide your granddaughter some Gluten Free options for your holiday meal! You can order online, go in to the store, or call. The link below will help direct you to your store's only ordering Holiday Table, if that is your preferred method. Just make sure you select your store location of preference first. The second link will help identify the phone number for your community Whole Foods Market, if you'd rather call. Do not fret. There will be several options for your granddaughter! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/ http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/

Nella Ocal says …

We have our Christmas dinner tradition , my mom make different salads - potato salad ,russian salad , carrots salad , cook asian meal - dumplings with meat , pilaf with carrots , korean spagetti ,and for desserts is holiday cake with fruits toppings ,and elders drink sparkling champagne and we were drink non alcoholic drinks like sparkling lemonade . and this tradition since my childhood till now ! i love Christmas Dinner !

drue hartwell says …

there are two things we always have to have at Christmas because they are my fathers favorites and he was born on Christmas day. This year will be especially special, but hard because dad passed away at 91 years old in April. That tells you how long we've been making these dishes however. The first is 'Craberry Glop' which is a sweet combination of groud fresh cranberries, marshmellows, apples, nuts and whip cream. The second is dad's traditional birthday cake which is your standard chocolate wafer cookie cake, right off the package. We look forward to Christmas every year to have that cake.........actually to the day after Christmas when it is so good with coffee int he morning!!!

CyndeC says …

We always eat an early supper - 1 p.m. Then we proceed to play cards and/or board games. We work up an appetite and, being Swiss, we make cheese and chocolate fondue to nosh on in the evening. It's perfect on Christmas night!

Brianna says …

Our favorite holiday tradition is Bosnian-style stuffed peppers, filled with hamburger, garlic, onion, and parsley. It's the perfect taste of home when we're far away from Sarajevo.

Elaine L says …

Every year I get some goodies from work/clients. Instead of nibbling on them for a few weeks, we save them until Christmas eve. After Christmas eve service, we come home and throw ourselves a little party opening up all the treats and drinking the sparkly grape juice. My kids think it is a blast and we get some good family time together.

Dorthea Martin says …

Chocolate has always been part of our family tradition at Christmas since I was a kid, way back when. We'd get a chocolate bar in our Christmas stocking, and mom guarded the Christmas tree until Christmas morning so we wouldn't eat all the chocolate Santa's hanging on the tree. Since my cancer diagnosis 3 years ago I've been trying to "clean up" my diet. So, now, I volunteer to make the Chocolate Mousse pie for the Christmas dinner dessert. It's made with tofu, cocoa, Sunspire dark chocolate bits sweetened with fruit juice (haven't been able to find them this year), and is vegan. Nobody would guess it's made with tofu, and even the junk food and meat eaters love it. There are NEVER leftovers with this dessert.

Elizabeth says …

My mom has the best sugar cookie recipe, which I now make every year to give away. People love 'em!

Nancy Olea says …

Italian tradition for us is Italian Sausage and Red and Yellow Peppers cooked overnight in a crock pot with garlic and wine in a red sauce.. The smell is incredible. We serve with Ravioli's and a crisp green salad.. mmm bring on the fruitcake for people who don't like fruitcake,made without citron, just dates, nuts and dried apricots.... buono

Susan K. says …

Our traditional holiday feast, typically for 40 people, encompasses traditional fair like turkey, ham and sweet potatoes but also a Lithuanian torte cake, polish Kolackey, Lithuanian kugelis, southern cakes, and my favorite, my mother's shrimp salad made with salty tiny shrimp. We also donate to our local food shelter or family in need. It's always memorable and fun!

Brittan Mawby says …

Every year my mom makes a special type of cookie that she affectionally nicknamed "choke balls". The real name for the cookies? Almond crescents. My mom hates the cookie (bet you couldn't tell), but she knows my dad absolutely adores them. She made them the first year they were married and my dad has loved them ever since. Christmas isn't complete without my mom making the "choke balls" and hiding them from my sugar-crazed father who is restless until he has his hands on them : )

Joy Seacat says …

We have a cheese, egg and green chilies casserole and fresh fruit for brunch on Christmas. We also have "monkey bread," bacon, and mimosas or bloody marys for the adults and non alcoholic sparkling juice for the kids. Always wonderful food accompanies the opening of presents for the family.

John Faircloth says …

Though we never lived in New England, we always enjoyed "Yankee" Magazine. For 25 years we have been making a wonderfully rich and warm Cranberry Pudding which we serve with a lemony butter sauce. It is a steamed pudding that transforms the rather simple ingredients into a beautiful thing. We learned the recipie from a Rhode Island family who shared it in "Yankee Magazine." Like any good ritual, the smells and the taste always evoke Family in our hearts as we celebrate our Christmas traditions.

Bev Baker says …

Every Christmas morning since my kids were little (they are 21 and 25 now) I make "sticky buns". They are so easy to make as I prepare them the night before and they sit in a cold oven to rise. Then after we open presents, I simply turn on the oven for 15 minutes to bake them and then we enjoy the sticky goodness. Last year was my son's girlfriend's first Christmas with us so we were able to introduce her to this delicious breakfast tradition and she loved them! The only trouble I seem to have is that it takes regular butterscotch pudding mix, the kind you have to cook, and it is really hard to find since everything is "instant". I found a store about 10 miles away that carries it and I bought 6 boxes of it so I will be able to make this for at least the next 6 years :)

stephanie says …

My sister loves having the family gather around a big, hearty Christmas breakfast/brunch, with pancakes, scones, turkey bacon, eggs, fruit, yogurt, coffee, and anything else anyone requests. It's a wonderful way to start the morning with family!

john says …

Every Italian family must have STRUFFOLI for dessert.

christina says …

I like to make cookies each year with my children and share them with loved ones.

Louisa Donovan says …

Christmas means three big meals in a 24 hour period. On Christmas Eve, our household attends church and we come home to a festive dinner for three or four, depending on whether or not our younger son is home for the holiday. This is usually a salad and either lasagna or beef tenderloin and twice baked potatoes. On Christmas morning, my parents, who are in their 80's, arrive for present opening as they have for the past 31 years. That is followed by a brunch with wassail, egg casserole, fruit, crab hash, sausage for the carnivores in the family, and homemade cookies and sweet breads. After brunch, the rest of the family chills out while I prepare Christmas dinner for eight to twelve people. I have been told itisn,t officially Christmas if I don't make chocolate pie. Food, family, and festivity makes for an exhausting but satisfying 36 hours.

Kelly says …

Keeping my mom's stuffing alive, even after she passed. :)

Gwen Frederick says …

My Grandma Grace and then my mother always made date bars. A lot of people don't like dates but it's not Christmas without my Grandma Grace's date bars. She always had a big glass jar filled with them. She kept it on the floor where it was cool. It's mostly eggs. 5 Egg yolks and a little flour and sugar and lots of dates and walnuts. Black walnuts are the best and were easy to find in the Midwest when I was growing up. Now they're harder to find. Then you beat the egg whites and fold them in. Spread in a cookie sheet with edges and bake 'til golden. After they're cooled and cut in bars, bathe them in powdered sugar. The texture and flavor is heavenly. Now I have to make them every Christmas.

Darlene Cuker says …

Every holiday I find a new recipe to try. It could be anything that inspires me. Some old favorites may have to drop off temporarily, but no worries, it will probably show up again later. This year's new recipe is Springerele cookies. I never made them so I bought some Springerele cookie molds from House on the Hill. I'll probably bring back the Turkey encroute for Christmas, but will only use the turkey breast this time. Trying something new while holding on to old favorites keeps it interesting.

Jillian says …

Our tradition is to experiment with introducing an new food or a new way to prepare a traditional vegetable. It brings some variety to each holiday and often gives us something to carry into our new year, too. It certainly makes for interesting holiday memories. This year, we are experiementing with a Gluten-free holiday season! Cheers!

RH says …

In my home it's my Zaida's latkes served with homemade applesauce.

Taylor J says …

Ever since my grandfather's second wife joined the family, she's been making huge pots of chili on Christmas eve. We have turkey chili, beef chili, and veggie chili. She even adds a secret ingredient: Hershey's milk chocolate squares. Its become known as the best chili ever! My mom brings home made tamales from the ladies at church as an addtion, and then of course there's corn bread and honey! Not to even mention the plethora of h'ordeurves: finger sausages wrapped in pillsbury crescent roll, tortillas smothered in cream cheese, olives, and diced chilis rolled and cut into circles, cashews roasted in rosemary and garlic, cheese plate and crackers, and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon dipped in teriyaki. Let's just say its a feast!

Erin Carr says …

My favorite tradition would be making yummy baileys and ice cream milk shakes with the women of the family and watching Christmas Vacation. Clark the little lights aren't twinkling!!!!!

Buddy says …

Homemade fruitcake and homemade chex mix.

Zaina says …

Every winter I make a big pot of home made red pepper tomato cream soup with gouda, smoke mozarella, and cheddar cheese grill sandwiches, and pumpkin crumb cake. My family loves it!!

Jennifer Ismael says …

The Christmas cookies are, of course, very important. However, just as important to my kids is our homemade peppermint bark! Two of my three kids are allergic to peanuts, so we make our own homemade peppermint bark and everyone absolutely loves it!

Allie Jones says …

Each year our kids are so excited to see what Santa brought this year. So I prépare our favorite ready made Cinnamon Rolls with fresh cream cheese frosting, an Egg & Sausage Fritatta, Hot Coffee & Juice. After we've played with our new toys & napped we bring a fun dish like fruit salad to my parent's house.

misty says …

It is our family tradition that women, men, old and young, all help to bake cookies. We make tons of them on the eve, then, enjoy them on the x-mas day.

Sarajane Kostek says …

Since my mother-in-law passed my husband dearly missed a traditional polish cabbage and split pea soup every holiday so I finally learned how to make it and make it every year for him. Needless to say he is in his glory and we freeze some but initially we eat as much as we can. It is so good and also good for you given the cabbage, sauerkraut, split peas, mushrooms and the special way it must be prepared to get the full flavor.

Joanne Paige says …

For the past 4/5 years, I go to my son-in-laws family.It is held at his sister's very old Victorian home, elegant in it's simplicity,as children abound They're an amazing loving family. My daughter, his sister and his mother are amazing cooks. Gorgeous turkey cooked to perfecion,homemade, to die for, cranberry sauce,(made by my son-in-law, fruit mixed with slightly marshmallow browned on top,(MN recipe) differnt fruit plates, homemade chopped grizard gravy, apple/orange stuffing, pecan and pumpkin pies. But, the most delicious treat for me, is sitting quietly and observing the love, we all have for each other. The conversation, seeing someone enjoy a special dish, the compliments for a dish. Most, all seeing the sparkle in each other's eyes, for the simple joy of being with each other.

Samantha says …

Our favorite tradition is to make santa snacks - melt butter, graham cracker crumbs and coconut in a pot, press into bottom of 13x9 dish, sprinkle with choc chips walnuts and pecans, pour on fat free condensed milk and bake for 25 minutes!

Stacey S says …

We always have Christmas at Nana's house, so naturally its the place that gets the most Christmas decor. Every year in the weeks before Christmas, the grandkids would go to Nana's house to decorate the tree, string up the lights, and help with the Christmas baking, all while listening to country Christmas tunes. It made the whole month feel like Christmas. Now we are older, and most of us have moved away- gone to college, or, in my case, chasing dreams- so we don't get to spend every weekend preparing for Christmas at Nana's. We still help out when we get home, but its just not the same. I miss the old tradition, and hope that someday we may bring it back.

Patricia Reyes says …

Our favorite tradition is making rum balls and listening to Christmas music the day before we go to cut our tree down. Then we pack up our rum balls and go "hunting" for the perfect tree. After we find it, and get it back home, the classic Christmas movies go on and we decorate as we drink our "noel" beer and munch on finger-foods until our tree is perfectly decorated {usually after 2 or 3 trips for extra lights).

Joya (Ashley) says …

Oh the holidays are always filled with foods that hold memories. Growing up my mom would always make her mothers vegetable dish, which I officially now call "Grandma's Green Bean Thing." Haha. It's just green beans, onions and mushrooms with some salt cooked on the stove. Over recent years I've heard of the Green Bean Casserole and never had it until last year when my best friend came to live with my mother and I. It was delish, but nothing beats Grandma's Green Bean Thing; it's still my favorite. For dessert we always buy store bought pies, but then there's that special Rum Cake my Grandmother passed onto my mother that she has to make every year. I'm not a bunt cake person, but the Rum Cake is a must have for this season. When I was little I remember my fathers mother would always send me homemade Peanut Butter Palls in a Christmas tin; which of course were always amazing and didn't last long. Then one holiday she came to visit and I got to make them with her. It's been 2 1/2 years since she's passed from breast cancer and I find myself craving her Peanut Butter Balls and watching Shirley Temple like we did when I'd visit her. My dad gave me an uncles email to see if he has the recipe since they were his favorite too. It's difficult sometimes now that both grandmothers are gone, but having these memories during the holidays and the traditions they passed down from my parents to me-- words cannot describe how comforting that can be. It's like they're here with me through their food.

Nissa Lind says …

Your flourless chocolate torte recipe has become a family, holiday and special occasion favorite.

Michelle says …

My aunt's homemade potato pancakes for Hannukah!! :)

Alan says …

My family likes to eat foods of the season. A favorite is pumpkins! Fresh pumpkin soup baked and served right inside the pumpkin.

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