'Tis the Season: favorite holiday recipes

Add one of Northwest Public Radio’s favorite recipes to your holiday baking and entertaining traditions. Here are recipes Gillian Coldsnow, Robin Rilette, Thom Kokenge and the rest of us suggest for celebrating the season.

Cheesecake Bars
Contributed by Kerry & Lisa Swanson

Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 40 mins | Ready: 1 hour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make pastry: Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the flour and chopped nuts and stir until mixture becomes crumbly. Set aside 1/4 cup to use as a topping.
  3. Press pastry mixture into 8-inch square pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on rack.
  4. To make filling: Beat together the white sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the egg, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix well. Spread filling mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle reserved mixture on as a topping.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack and refrigerate.

Almond Cookies
Contributed by Robin Rilette

Fragrant and buttery almond cookies

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of butter
1 egg
2 tbsp. almond flavoring (that’s right! Two tablespoons!)
2 cups flour
1.5 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup slivered almonds

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and almond flavoring. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Add almonds. Roll into walnut-sized balls and then in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. They are done when the edges begin to brown. (Watch ‘em – they burn easily!)
Makes 2 dozen

Santa's favorite oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Santa's favorites)

Contributed by Sue Sheppard

1 cup butter flavor Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Cream Crisco and sugars, add eggs. Mix in dry ingredients, then stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 min. ENJOY with a big glass of milk.

Rum Balls
Contributed by Thom Kokenge
3¼ cups crushed vanilla wafers
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1½ cups chopped walnuts
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
½ cup rum
Combine wafers, sugar, cocoa and nuts. Add in syrup and rum. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar. Refrigerate.

Lisa’s Artichoke Dip
Contributed by Jamie Huber
1 4oz. can diced green chilies (less chilies for a milder version)
2 cups parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 large can of quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained

Cut the artichokes in thirds, smaller for a smoother dip.  Combine all the ingredients. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until hot.  To brown the top, broil for two minutes, if desired.

Brie en Croute
Contributed by Gillian Coldsnow
Gillian's suggestion for a perfect holiday appetizer is on her blog.

Butterscotch Bread Pudding
Contributed by Jessie Jacobs
1 (10.75 ounce) loaf day-old bread, torn into small pieces
4 cups milk
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine bread, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and butterscotch chips; mixture should be the consistency of oatmeal. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, until nearly set. (It should have a "thigh wiggle" or wiggle as much as a well-endowed thigh.) Serve warm or cold.

Jessie noted that this recipe can be made with store-bought bread cubes (like the kind you might have used for Thanksgiving stuffing). And, like all bread puddings, this version is just as delicious with the addition nuts, coconut or dried fruit.

Gigi’s Mom’s slow sweet dough
for bread (Challah) or Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

Contributed by Gigi Yellen-Kohn


½ c butter or margarine
5 Tbsp sugar
½ c boiling water
1 egg, well beaten
1 cake yeast
½ c cold water
dash of salt
3 cups all-purpose flour (with a little more on hand)

IF BREAD: egg & water wash; sesame or poppy seeds optional
IF ROLLS:  a generous mix of cinnamon and sugar; extra butter/margarine

Cream the butter (or margarine) and sugar. Add boiling water & let cool.  Add egg. Dissolve yeast in cold water; add to butter/water/egg mix. Add salt to flour, then blend into yeast mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight or longer.

When ready to bake, let the dough rise in a warm place or any place outside the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.


Knead dough a little, and shape it as you wish. (To make a braided challah, break dough into 3 little balls, roll each between your palms until it becomes a rope, pinch them together at one end, braid them, and secure each end by pinching it to the underside of the loaf.)  On a very lightly oiled baking sheet, let rise a few minutes (30?). Brush top very gently with a little egg (yolk for deeper brown; white for simple shine). Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds if you want to. Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Test for doneness by tapping on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.


With a rolling pin, roll dough out into a big flat circle (or several circles).  Spread with melted butter (or margarine, if you must). Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon blend across the whole thing. Slice like a pizza, ending with 10 or more long skinny triangles.  (For really big rolls, stop at 8.) Roll each triangle from outside to in. Seal the little point with a drop or two of egg or water, and park the rolls sealed-side down on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet. They will expand, so leave room. Brush tops gently with a teeny bit more butter + sugar/cinnamon sprinkle, or with egg wash (see bread). Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes. (Time will vary depending on size, so watch out: don’t let them burn!)