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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

Jacqueline P. says …

Our family always have Christmas Breakfast that is ove 50 years old. I make great tasteful apples,everyone look forward to Christmas Breakfast for my tasteful cooked apples. Our Christmas Breakfast is a wonderful time for fellowship, we have 30-40 family members and guest. Our Christmas Breakfast have been passed down to me for the last 14 years and I hope some one else will be able to make tasteful cooked apples as I have, when it is time for me to pass Chrsitmas Breakfast to someone else. Tradition is very important. Merry Christmas!

Cassie says …

My favorite food tradition is cooking it! My entire extended family always goes to my grandparents house for Christmas and about half of the people there cook one of the dishes. Good thing my grandparents have a big kitchen, because there are about 10 people in there at any one time!

Tina M says …

my favorite holiday tradition food is Roasted Turkey!!Holidays are not the same without Roasted turkey!

Lauren says …

My Nonni always gets all 10 of her grandchildren together for "Cookie Night" every year the night before our annual Christmas Eve party. The resulting cookies are the centerpiece of the dessert table, even after the introduction of the chocolate fountain a few years back. This cookie tradition holds strong even as we all grow up and more than half are in college, and some even graduated. The cookies have indeed gotten prettier as we grandkids have gotten older, but we always knew it was the love with which they were made, not how they looked that, that made them so yummy!

Shiyi says …

My family holiday tradition is to roast a goose, with a somewhat unconventional rice stuffing. The goose is the perfect size for our family of 3, and we've found that our stuffing (short grain brown rice with cranberries, mango, nuts) pairs fabulously with the goose, which is first simmered on the stovetop with spices & herbs.

Celia says …

My mom, grandma, sisters and I always enjoy mimosas around the holidays (I'm not a huge egg nog fan). At some point around Christmas tamales will be eaten, without a doubt! My mom makes these delicious rice Krispy treats with butterscotch and chocolate that are irresistible! Food is my favorite part of the holidays!

Nicolle Davis says …

My family celebrates Christmas...but we love to learn about other religions/cultures and try traditional dishes. We have discovered some great dishes from traditional Hanaukah dishes, Kwanza dishes and holidays from around the world.

Shelby Q says …

I work out consistently throughout the year so come Xmas morning, I can stuff my face with monkey bread, french toast casserole, eggs, sausage, the works. I'm pretty unrepentant when it comes to Christmas breakfast and I look forward to it every single year!

Meredith Schiller says …

My favorite holiday food tradition growing up was working on the meal prep with my Italian grandparents. As a kid I helped to stuff the artichokes and mushrooms for the holiday table and these are still dishes that we all enjoy today. This was the first year that my daughters started to actually like eating the artichokes!

Simone says …

I have never shopped at Whole Foods Market because there is not one in this area..Winning this gift card would certainly give me an excuse and reason to travel to Tampa(which is the closest to my location)to buy some of the hard to find foods and ingredients I can not find at our local food stores here. I have seen some of the recipes you have on your website that I would ike to try but I can not find the ingredients in these stores around here. Please consider me as a contestent as I would be so greatful. Thank You for reading.

maritta hunt says …

since i a new orleanian by birth and make the trek home for the holidays EVERY year without fail.... there are TONS of food traditions but my fav is the bag of raw oysters that my dad and brother and now my hubby (a illinois guy, but he's catching on fast) shuck before grilling them over open flame with a liberal dousing of butter, garlic and parmesan. sooooooo delicious and the absolute perfect appetizer for the meal ahead.

Kelly says …

Well, I know I'm late to the game, but I love this tradition: Every night of Hanukkah my mom always makes her family recipe for Sufganiyot, the traditional Hanukkah jelly-filled fried doughnut-like pastry. My sisters and I then always rate her efforts on a scale of 1-10. My sisters refrain from rating her too highly on the first nights lest she not try as hard the remaining nights. We know the sufganiyot are perfect when they have a pale stripe around the middle, a sign that the yeast had risen well and the dough floated in the oil, and those really should all be perfect 10s. We always try not to giggle while eating our sufganiyot or the powdered sugar either gets blown everywhere or inhaled! (Some people call them 'jelly doughnuts', but they really are not donuts as Americans know them. They are more similar to Berliners or Bismarcks. The dough is very different than typical donuts.)

Jule Marine says …

Breaded Pork Cutlets. My Sicilian mother used to offer Veal Cutlets, before it mattered, and then seamlessly transitioned to thin, pork cutlets, lightly breaded and in a creamy white gravy, they made a terrific side dish at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She would hammer those cutlets into tender, thin pieces. Fresh Garlic was also beaten into the meat before it was browned in olive oil and rosemary. Pulled from the flame and lightly breaded, they were baked for a couple of hours while the gravy simmered on top of the stove, in a pan not a pot, for wider stirring, rich, thick olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, flour wisked in, and salt and pepper until smooth. Cooked and stirred over medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Gradually stir in milk and cream so that no lumps form, and continue cooking and stirring until thickened. If the gravy becomes too thick, thin it with a little more cream.( but why?) After an hour or so pour over cutlets, cover with tin foil and sit in a house full of aromas..... Serve with Chianti. La vita è bella.

Alison says …

I enjoy making and eating the dressing recipe handed down from my grandmother.

maria says …

I am from Poland and we celebrate Christmas Eve with 12 dishes. It has to be seafood and anything without meat.Everything light as well.

Hillary Valentino says …

Making apple pie with my mom!

Elizabeth says …

Growing up my mom and aunt would make an old family recipe for cheese pierogis- fry them in butter and onions, yum! Christmas was typically the only time each year we had them so it was a real treat. It's hard to find the right cheese these days, so the tradition is fading, but the memories are still so vivid.

Bea says …

A Big Pan of veggie lasagna is the highlight of our meal every year. One year my family was teasing me about how much lasagna we made, so we put it pan on the scale. 20 pounds!

Bianca Smith says …

I loved stuffed mirlitones as a child. Growing up in New Orleans, my grandmother made them with such great care. We also had a side of red beans and rice, New Orleans' world famous!! It brings a smile to face. Such pleasant memories!

Sarah says …

My mom's latkas, she never uses a recipe and they are always so delicious. She is such a wonderful cook!

Laura Schofield says …

I absolutely love spending an afternoon with my kids making spritz cookies with the cookie press. Its not particularly the taste that makes me love these so much. Its more the fun memories - and I just can't imagine making spritz cookies at any other time of the year (although maybe I should try making some at a totally random day in the future!

Christina says …

This is our first Christmas as a family, we have been debating over and over what we are going to do, but it has come down to me making a home made meal of tamales (hubby's grandma's recipe) and inviting over a family from the church that is less fortunate than us to bless them with a home made meal and some small presents from us!

Heather Asplund says …

My most favorite food tradition for the holidays is by far is the lefsa that appears at the table every year. My grandma always made it and served it buttered with cinnamon and sugar. I never realized that not every family has that, until I grew up and visited my husbands home for the holidays. I was shocked to not see it on the table and ever since I make it and display my Norwegian heritage proudly :) I always get goosebumps when I unwrap it and my dad and brothers and sisters smile. It starts a wonderful conversation about my grandparents and teaches my children about the importance of family.

Bonnie says …

All the food we make together...cornbread salad, Swedish spinach balls, Swedish meatballs, apple pie, veggies and spinach dip, and of course my aunt's famous cherry cheesecake!

Deborah says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is sweet potato pie passed down from my grandma.

Tracy says …

My favorite holiday tradition is baking a large assortment of cookies and sharing them with friends, family, and coworkers. I delivered a bunch today and it always makes me happy...and hopefully the recipients as well.

Caitlin H. says …

My boyfriend's family is Swedish and I always look forward to their beautiful and fragrant Saffransbröd (Saffron Bread), which I just learned how to make last night in preparation for Santa Lucia day! Sometimes served as buns, we braided the loaves and filled with almonds and dried cranberries.

Christina says …

I married into a family of Polish ancestry, and every year we have pierogies for Christmas in the traditional varieties: potato, cheese and sauerkraut. They are bliss!

Kat says …

I love making my three bean, two chile pepper, veggie chili! I put corn and three different colors of bell pepper into also! I then let it cook for as long as possible (usually 5 hours). Mom and I had it for Thanksgiving and it was awesome!

Karen says …

My husband and sister in law have a childhood tradition of having cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning. To carry on the tradition, we bake the rolls and drop off half at her place while we are all still in our PJs.

Wendy says …

I absolutely love cooking the whole big meal. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole. I have been doing it in my family for 21 years now, since I was 13 and I can't get enough. My favorite thing is getting everything to come out at exactly the right time so we can all sit down together and enjoy the meal.

nicole says …

Love polish dinners for the holidays. Its something I always look forward to!

Angela says …

A few years ago, we made a family advent activity board. It is decorative with holiday papers that are cut into circles and numbered 1-25. They are pinned on a burlap board and under each circle is a family activity for that day. The kids do not know what each day will hold, but we do something festive for every day of December building towards the 25th. We do outings like "Go sledding in the Snow" or simple things like "Watch a Holiday Movie and eat Egg Nog Ice Cream". We add new ones every year and the kids love it.

Pam says …

For as long as I can remember my family has gathered to eat and open gifts on Christmas Eve. We are all grown and most of us have grandkids now and nothing has changed. Those of us who live close or can get home get together and share the cooking and cleaning (ick),and for the last 2 decades my father has read "The Night Before Christmas" to the children young and old.

Carmen Felix says …

Our family has the tradition of baking cookies together. As a child, my mom, dad, brother, my Nan and myself, would gather in the kitchen and pull out the flour, sugar, etc. My brother and I made sure all the decorative sprinkles and food coloring were out. As we grew older, we continued this tradition. My brother still decorates cookies with his family (all grown and with grandchildren). I have a daughter in college and our son is in high school. She will be coming home this weekend. I already have everything ready for baking and decorating. We may drop an egg here, pour liquid food coloring there, but it all makes for laughs and family memories that will never die. I love you mom, dad, Nan. I miss you all! Merry Christmas!

Martha says …

I bake and make cookies and candies and then my husband and I host an Christmas open house and invite all my neighbors in the cu-d-sac to enjoy good food and fellowship.

Dayna De Hoyos says …

My favorite holiday food is definitely definitely tamales with organic catchup. I'm saving up my calories for Christmas eve so I can eat a dozen or so.

Andi Kraker says …

Our family is dutch, so we make banket. It is a Dutch pastry, butter crispy on the outside covered in sugar and almond paste on the inside. It is yummy...and now I could only think of a way to make it gluten free!

Meredith says …

My favorite holiday food tradition is baking cookies as gifts for family and friends. I always do this with my mom and/or my sister, and now my son helps too! The tradition started decades ago when my mom's side of the family decided they didn't want "things" as gifts to clutter up their homes and made a rule that adults could only give each other cookies and other non-refrigerated food as holiday gifts. It was the better part of a decade ago that I switched all of my holiday baking to vegan so now I'm even baking healthier delicious treats as gifts and that makes me feel really good about the tradition.

Susan says …

Coffee on Christmas morning! In-laws who lived nearby came on Christmas morning to see their grandson with his gifts from Santa. Great family memories. And coffee is always good!

Shelley says …

Christmas always means a ton of pre-meal dishes set around my in-laws' kitchen. My husband makes the most amazing deviled eggs so we are on the permanent list for bringing these each year. I'm not sure what it is that he puts in there that makes them so awesome. Maybe it's love.

andrew says …

What I love making for Christmas is vegan gingerbread cookies for me and my pup.

Marie says …

I like to create my own holiday food traditions, especially now that I have a family of my own. Spicy mashed sweet potatoes, Cheesy biscuits. Anything new and different.

Nicole says …

For the past 9 years, a friend of mine hosts the Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Dinner with friends and everyone brings a dish to share. It is a great way to try out new dishes before the actually big days with family.

Stacy says …

My favorite tradition is homemade chicken and dumplings. We've had them every year for as long as I can remember. Christmas dinner wouldn't be the same without them.

Chanda says …

My Mom has been making her grandmother's homemade rolls since before I was born (and I have been helping her pan them since I could reach up to the counter to help). Our family looks forward to them every year for the holidays. Whenever she takes a pan of rolls out of the oven, everyone rushes into the kitchen and they are gone before the pan can cool down (and sometimes before they are placed on the dinner table). They are THAT GOOD! :-)

Lisa says …

New Year's Eve means oysters: lots and lots of oysters. Everyone brings some, everyone shucks some- and we all eat a lot of them. A few other appetizery things like Moroccan lamb sausage, brandade (garlicky salt cod) on toasts, Caesar fennel slaw on croutons round out the menu. And just after midnight the kids (now teens) gather in the kitchen to fire up the blow torch for the nutmeg creme brulee which we eat while sitting around reading our homemade fortunes.

Kara says …

My husband and I revealed to eachother one year that we both hate the traditional Christmas meal - Turkey, Potatoes, Gravy, Stuffing... "the works". We don't really have a very traditional holiday anyway. We decided to make the meal something fantastic - something we love, a splurge, some food we wouldn't buy otherwise. Now, we have the most giant crab legs we can find for Christmas dinner with simple sides like salad and steamed veggies and rice. Everyone we know wants to come to our house for Christmas, now!

Christina says …

My family is Ukrainian and we celebrate with a traditional Christmas Eve feast. The catch is that the meal is pescatarian(vegetarian or vegan for the very orthodox) - but it's always delicious. My grandma will start preparing three days ahead. She makes mushroom dumplings for the Borcht (beet soup) and Holuptsi (stuffed cabbage rolls) and my favorite Pirogies - which are baked dumplings stuffed with potato, cheese, or cabbage. She always complains that she doesn't like cooking, but she always manages to cook up a feast.

CHRISTI says …

Every year everybody looks forward to cookies from Mom. She makes them for every holiday, but chomping on cookies while opening gifts is the best!

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