The lights are up, the ornaments are hung, and although Home Depot has displayed Christmas decorations since well before Halloween, the official holiday season is finally upon us. Assuming the Thanksgiving feast has had time to digest, we wanted to help you gear up for some delicious yuletide gluttony, so we’ve asked our team to share their favorite recipes. No matter how religious or secular your celebration, these dishes are sure to make it tasty.
Happy holidays, cheers, and bon appétit from all of us at Capital Investment Advisors!
Adria DeMeo’s Insalata di Frutti di Mare
Investment Advisor: Tampa Office
“In my family, the biggest holiday we celebrate is Christmas Eve, and we do the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It is an old Italian Catholic tradition to incorporate seven fish in your meal which stems from 20th-century Italian American immigrants and being unable to eat any meat in observance on the eve of a religious holiday.”
Adria’s grandmother passed down the recipe through oral tradition, but she’s reconstructed the ingredients as closely as possible. As someone who’s eaten his fair share of the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, I can safely say this looks much more impressive.
-½ pound (222g) dry-packed bay or sea scallops, cut into ½ inch pieces
-2 teaspoons grated zest and 1 cup (240ml juice from 8 to 10 lemons, divided)
-1 pound (450g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
-2 cloves garlic, crushed
-½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (135ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
-2 pounds (1kg) mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (ask the fish monger to do this for you)
-1 pound (450g) cleaned squid bodies and tentacles; bodies cut into ½ inch rings, large tentacles halved lengthwise
-¼ cup packed minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (¾ ounce: 20g)
1. In a large saucepan, heat garlic cloves in 1 tablespoon (15ml) oil over medium heat until golden — about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup (240ml) water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add mussels, cover, and cook until all mussels have opened — about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
2. Add 4 cups (960ml) of cold water to the mussel-steaming liquid. Add shrimp and squid to the poaching liquid and set over medium-high heat. Cook over.
3. Continue cooking until shrimp are cooked through and no longer translucent in the center. Transfer shrimp and squid to a large bowl, then refrigerate until chilled. Discard poaching liquid.
4. Pick all mussels from their shells, discarding shells. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise down the middle. In a medium bowl, combine parsley, the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) lemon juice, lemon zest, and the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) olive oil. Whisk well.
5. Drain scallops. Combine scallops, shrimp, squid, shelled mussels, and dressing in a large bowl. Season with salt and toss. It can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and will improve in flavor during that time.
Cary Anne Beavers’ Hershey’s Chocolate Cake & Party Mix
Client Services Associate: Atlanta Office
“When I think about my holiday memories as a little girl, I immediately think of my mom and grandmothers baking in the kitchen. The baked treats are one of my favorite things about this time of year. I chose two simple recipes, but everyone loves them. The Hershey’s perfectly chocolate cake, or as my family calls it, ‘the chocolaty chocolate cake’ and spicy Chex Mix. The chocolaty chocolate cake is the most requested cake for birthdays and is a must at our Christmas get-togethers. My dad makes the spicy Chex Mix every year for Christmas when all my siblings are home. My oldest brother is the first to ask when my dad plans to make it. He is currently deployed and won’t be home for Christmas to enjoy it with us, so it holds that much more meaning.”
Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Ingredients
-2 cups sugar
-2 teaspoon vanilla
-1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup boiling water
-¾ cup Hershey’s cocoa
-1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
-1 ½ cups baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup milk
-½ cup vegetable oil
1. Heat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour 2 x 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir the first 6 ingredients together.
3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium with a mixer for 2 minutes.
4. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
-½ cup butter (1 stick)
-⅔ cup Hershey’s cocoa
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1 cup milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Melt butter and stir in the cocoa.
2. Alternate the addition of powdered sugar and milk, beating it to a spreading consistency.
3. Add a small amount of additional milk if needed.
4. Add vanilla.
*This makes about 1 cup of frosting.
Party Mix (aka Chex Mix) Ingredients
-1 bag of oyster crackers
-1 bag of mini Ritz cheese crackers
-1 bag of small pretzels
-1 can of unsalted peanuts
-1 can of unsalted mixed nuts
-2 tablespoons of dill
-2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper
-2 tablespoons of garlic powder
-2 cups of vegetable oil
-2 packets of ranch dressing mix
Party Mix (aka Chex Mix) Instructions
1. Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large pan or bowl, then pour the oil over the mix.
2. Stir in seasonings and mix well. The mix will look oily at first, but it will be absorbed as it sits.
3. Put it in a tightly sealed container for 24 hours.
Remington Hasty’s Pineapple & Cheese Casserole
Client Service Associate: Atlanta Office
“My grandma and mom make this dish around the holidays. It has always been one of my favorites. It is super easy to make, and I promise it tastes better than it sounds! It is the perfect mixture of salty & sweet. Have it as a side with your feast, or pair it with some vanilla ice cream.”
-1 cup of sugar
-6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
-2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
-2 x 20-ounce cans of pineapple chunks, drained (reserve 6 tablespoons of juice)
-1 cup of Ritz cracker crumbs
-8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add pineapple and stir well.
3. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Combine cracker crumbs, butter, and pineapple juice and spread on top of the pineapple mixture.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Rafael Rondino’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Investment Associate: Atlanta Office
“My favorite holiday recipe is the sweet potato casserole with candied pecans and marshmallows. The reason I like it so much is the sweetness because it matches the sensation of being with family, friends, and loved ones. It’s the perfect holiday side dish because it’s so easy and quick to make.”
-3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
-½ cup of brown sugar packed
-⅓ cup softened butter
-½ teaspoon vanilla extract
-¾ cup pecans chopped, divided
-¼ teaspoon cinnamon or to taste
-salt and pepper to taste
-2 cups miniature marshmallows
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.
2. Place sweet potatoes in a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain.
3. In a large bowl (or in the pot the potatoes were cooked in), mash the sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and pepper.
4. Fold in half of the pecans and spread into the prepared pan.
5. Sprinkle with the marshmallows and the remaining pecans.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown and potatoes are heated through.
Hannah Kaplan’s Spiced Molasses Cookies
People Strategy Manager: Atlanta Office
“Alexis deBoschnek’s Spiced Molasses Cookies are a wonderfully nostalgic holiday treat reminiscent of freshly baked gingerbread. They are laced with delicious warming spices throughout, which complement the richness of the sweet molasses. They come out of the oven perfectly soft and chewy and, in my opinion, are best served warm while you snuggle by the fire.”
-12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
-1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
-¼ cup molasses
-1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
-½ teaspoon kosher salt
-2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 ½ inch knob grated (2 ½ teaspoons)
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground cardamom
-½ teaspoon ground cloves
1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of a standard mixer, add the butter, 1 cup of sugar, and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy — about 2 minutes.
3. Add the egg and mix until just combined. Add the molasses and mix until smooth.
4. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
5. With the motor running at low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined.
6. Use 1 tablespoon scoop to portion out the cookies and roll in the remaining ½ cup of sugar until fully coated.
7. Place four cookies on each baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart. Bake until the cookies have spread out and are intensely aromatic, about 10 to 12 minutes.
8. Let the cookies cool on a baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with the remaining dough. Happy baking!
Mike Parsons’ Chocolate Chip Cookies
Family Office Advisor: Atlanta Office
“For me, it is the best chocolate chip cookie you will ever have. I know it’s not a seasonal item, but my wife, Laura, only makes these during the holidays to share with family and friends. They require patience and special chocolate from NYC, but they are worth it! To make this cookie work, you must use chocolate discs (not chips), and there is none better than 60 percent dark chocolate discs from Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres. I used to bring them back from trips to NYC, but now they ship, which is awesome. I will also emphasize that finishing each cookie with a few flakes of Maldon finishing salt (available at Whole Foods) really puts these over the top!”
The link to the chocolate discs can be found here.
-2 cups (minus 2 tablespoons) cake flour
-1⅔ cups bread flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
-1½ teaspoons coarse salt
-2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
-1 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
-2 large eggs, room temperature
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-1⅓ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
-Sea salt or fleur de sel flakes for sprinkling (Maldon is the best)
1. Sift together the cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla and mix. Gradually add in the dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in your chocolate until evenly added throughout the dough. Press plastic wrap against the dough, ensuring it is completely covered, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or as long as 72 hours (we usually do 48 hours). Refrigeration is a critical step, as it allows the gluten in the dough to loosen up (you know how if you beat your dough too much, your cookies will be rock hard? Allowing it to rest for a period helps to undo some of this damage). It also helps the cookies not to spread out too much; warm dough spreads and cold dough stays in nice, uniform circles.
3. After refrigeration and when ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature so that you can scoop it out (we usually set it on the counter for an hour or two), and preheat your oven to 350 ℉. Line and/or grease your baking sheets. Scoop your dough out onto the sheets. I use an ice cream scoop, which is about the size of 2 tablespoons, but you can make them even larger if you like. Do not press the dough down; let it stay the way it is. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies (mine take about 11 minutes) or 18-20 minutes for larger cookies. Maybe do a test one first so you nail the consistency, which should be a soft, pliable cookie.
4. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on your baking sheet, then move them to another surface to cool completely. You can enjoy these warm, room temperature, or cold. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Thomas Collins’ Beef Tenderloin
Investment Associate: Tampa Office
“My favorite holiday recipe is beef tenderloin. My father has been making this recipe every Christmas for as long as I can remember, and it’s a staple in our household around the holidays.”
-4 to 5 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed, cut in two pieces, and tied.
-1 teaspoon salt
-½ teaspoon black pepper
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-4 tablespoons butter, salted, softened
-2 teaspoons garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon horseradish, prepared or Dijon mustard
-1 teaspoon rosemary, minced or thyme
The Day Before Cooking (optional*)
1. Trim the beef tenderloin if it’s not already, then cut it in half to make two pieces. Tuck the long end under and use butcher’s twine to tie the tenderloin. Watch the video in the blog post for a demonstration.
2. Season with salt and pepper and leave in the fridge, uncovered overnight or at least 10 hours.
*Not necessary, but it helps to give the tenderloin a great crust.
1. Tie up tenderloin and season with salt and pepper if you didn’t the day prior. Remove from the fridge and set on the counter for about 2 hours before cooking to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 425 ℉.
3. Place oil in a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Sear the beef tenderloin on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per side, creating a nice golden-brown crust.
4. Meanwhile, combine the softened butter, garlic, horseradish, and herbs in a small dish and mix. Slather the seared tenderloin with the butter mixture and insert a probe thermometer. If using the skillet, place in a preheated oven, or transfer to a baking dish and then place in a preheated oven. Roast until desired internal temperature is reached, about 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute before slicing into 1-inch slices.
Harris Lowe’s Carrot or Sweet Potato Soufflé
Investment Advisor: Atlanta Office
“It’s a simple recipe my mom taught me 30 years ago. I have taught my son, and we make it for the holidays every year and throughout the year.”
-1 lb. of carrots or sweet potatoes, boiled
-1 stick of butter
-2 eggs, beaten
-1 cup cream
-Salt and pepper to taste
1. Blend the cooked carrots or sweet potatoes with a mixer or immersion blender.
2. Add butter and cream.
3. Add eggs slowly by tempering them, so they don’t scramble.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook 350-400 ℉ for 45 minutes or longer to get the top browner.
Alexandra Chrzaszcz’s Thumbprint Cookies
Client Services Associate: Tampa Office
“These thumbprint cookies are my favorite holiday recipe. They remind me of my favorite childhood memories when my mom would make them every year for the holidays.”
-1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon fine sea salt
-½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
-½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
-½ cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
-1 cup peanut butter
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-About 60 unwrapped chocolate kisses
1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and have ready a cookie sheet lined with a sheet of parchment paper or a Silpat.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
3. In a stand mixer’s bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter on medium-high speed. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Add the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Next, add the flour with the mixer on low. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the dough from the bottom up and over the top — return the bowl to the mixer and mix on low for 30 seconds more.
4. Scoop out a scant tablespoon of dough and form into a ball. Place about 1 inch apart on parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, and set atop a cooling rack.
5. Place the chocolate kiss in the center of the cookie and apply gentle pressure to the inset. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Andrew Barag’s Leftover Turkey Waldorf Salad
Investment Advisor: Atlanta Office
“My family always makes this with the turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving and Christmas. This recipe just reminds me of the holidays, as it’s the only time of the year we have it. It’s just about the best thing next to leftover turkey sandwiches!”
-4 cups of cooked diced turkey
-2 large apples — one red, one green, cored and diced
-2 cups chopped celery
-1 cup chopped walnuts
-½ cup mayonnaise
-4 teaspoons lime juice
-4 teaspoons honey
In a bowl, combine turkey, apple, celery, and walnuts. In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and honey. Stir to blend well. Season to taste with pepper. Spoon dressing over turkey salad, and toss to coat.
Joel Dean’s Red Bean Gumbo
Investment Advisor: Atlanta Office
“Going to school in Louisiana introduced me to a totally new culture and way of life. The cuisines in cajun/creole country are no different, and my wife Adrienne introduced to me red bean gumbo that really has become my favorite meal. Traditionally Louisiana natives think of red beans as a dish always served on Mondays over rice with a link of smoked sausage. This gumbo variation started out as a perfect solution to making use of leftover red beans and rice.”
1 (16-ounce) can Blue Runner® New Orleans Red Beans
1 (10–12 ounce) can red kidney beans in water (if you can’t find Blue Runner, use 2 cans of regular kidney beans)
1 can Rotel
1 cup cooked long-grain rice
½ pound sliced smoked sausage
1 pound diced sugar-cured ham
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup bacon fat
½ cup flour
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
1 quart water or chicken stock
½ cup sliced green onions
½ cup chopped parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
hot sauce to taste (Crystal Hot Sauce is recommended)
In a 7-quart, cast iron pot, heat vegetable oil and bacon fat over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, constantly stirring until a dark brown roux is achieved. Stir in onions, celery, bell peppers, and minced garlic, and sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add chicken stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Stir in smoked sausage and ham and cook for 3–5 minutes. Blend Blue Runner® beans into the stock. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Use additional stock or water as necessary to maintain a soup-like consistency. Stir in kidney beans, rice, green onions, and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Return to a low boil and serve immediately. Usually served with a hard-boiled egg.
Nicole Kloenne’s Goulash
Client Service Associate: Phoenix Office
“This is the recipe that my mom and grandma have used for goulash. It’s one of my favorites because this is what we used to eat on Christmas Eve when we were kids.”
-1 1/2 pound lean ground beef, sausage or a mix of both meats.
-1 large onion chopped
-2 cloves garlic minced
-2 cups marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce, approximately 1/2 jar of 32 oz jar
-1 ¾ cups beef broth or water or as needed
-14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juices
-3 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 green bell pepper diced, optional
-1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
-1 bay leave, 2 if they small
-salt & black pepper to taste
-1 ¼ cup elbow macaroni noodles uncooked
-½ cup cheddar or mozzarella cheese shredded, optional
1. GROUND BEEF: Ground beef, gives this dish its base and adds lots of flavors, Italian sausage can be substituted for the beef for extra flavor. We used ground beef, but I have used sausage and that is also yummy. Cook meat with onion and minced garlic, drain off any extra grease.
2. ELBOW MACARONI: Use whatever pasta is on hand! Elbow, small shells, bowties, all work well. We used elbow.
3. SAUCE: Goulash has a rich zesty tomato sauce! Use your favorite jarred pasta or marinara sauce combined with a can of diced tomatoes (and the juice). We added water to cook the pasta but you can use beef broth in place. The sauce is seasoned with tomato paste and Italian seasoning for an extra boost of flavor.
4. Add some shredded carrots or red bell peppers for a bit of sweetness in the sauce. Diced celery is great in this recipe too.
5. Stretch out the meal with a can of drained kidney beans (or your favorite kind of beans). Grams used kidney, but I use red beans because they are not hard like kidney beans.
6. Top it with your favorite cheese.