Top Three Nostalgic Holiday Recipes

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Sara, here

It’s not going to be fruitcake. I don’t even have a recipe for that one – never baked one! Is fruitcake a nostalgic thing or is it a cultural joke? I feel like my kids don’t even have an understanding of that joke, so maybe it’s a generational thing. Anyway, here are three recipes saved from my childhood, which I still make every holiday even though said kids don’t necessarily like them.

These treats would pile high on the lazy susan at every gathering. They bring back memories of sticky fingers, 1950’s Christmas tunes, my father’s excitement, my mother’s crafty ideas, shrimp cocktail-infused parties and the tinkle of old fashioneds in the retro glassware I think every single auntie owned and brought out just for the season.


If you can find the almond bark this recipe calls for, you win a prize. I cannot find it easily, so I find white chocolate bark and add almond flavoring to it. It’s a messy recipe, but pretty easy to do in general. Have your favorite little mini cupcake cups ready to fill, and you’ll have a quick candy set for any party.

2lbs almond bark

½ cup creamy peanut butter

2 ½ cup rice noodles (the hard ones you find in the Asian food aisle)

2 ½ cup rice Krispie cereal

2 ½ cup mini marshmallows (the colored ones are more fun!)

Heat the oven to 200F. Put bark and peanut butter into a low pan. Turn the oven off, and place the pan into the oven to melt. Oven temperatures when turned off vary, so keep the oven light on and watch it out of the corner of your eye. It won’t burn or bake, it’s just melting, so no worries. Mix the three dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pull out the melted bark and peanut butter, and gently fold into the dry ingredients. Drop the mixture into the mini cupcake cups or in clumps on wax paper. Cool completely before serving.

Mary Janes

These are awesome for anyone with severe food allergies. My cousin is allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs, but he can eat these! There’s no nut products either. Another hint – frost on the cookie’s bottom to lock in freshness.

1 cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup hot black coffee

1 cup molasses

2 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cloves

5 ½ cups flour

Mix the wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls, then slowly combine until mixed together. Chill in the refrigerator at least one hour, then roll out, cut with cookie cutters and bake at 375F for 6 – 8 minutes. Can be served plain or be frosted and decorated.

Mary Jane Frosting

1 envelope Knox gelatin

1 cup warm water

1 cup sugar

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp almond flavoring

Mix the gelatin in warm water in a saucepan. (This is a perfect recipe for your copper cookware because it’s a little bit tricky and having exact control over your heat will help you out!) Add sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in the powdered sugar and remove from the heat. Beat with an electric mixer for 10 minutes. Add the almond flavoring.

Frost the bottom of the Mary Janes and let the frosting dry at least 6 hours. This frosting will be quite firm and slightly springy, like a méringue.

Peanut Butter Balls

Be warned, this recipe makes a TON of PBB’s. Also, you don’t want to cheat and make them big, because these babies are rich and it’s hard to eat more than a tablespoon of them at one go. So roll up your sleeves and settle in. These are my middle brother’s favorites, and I dig ‘em, too.

2 cups creamy peanut butter – melted

½ cup butter – melted

4 ½ cup powdered sugar

3 cups rice Krispie cereal

1 cup chocolate chips (or more if you like chocolate…) – melted

Mix the peanut butter and butter together and add the powdered sugar. Mix with a hand or stand mixer until blended. While still warm, add in the cereal and fold together. Roll into balls (or use a melon ball scooper). Place on wax paper.

Be sure the chocolate chips are melted completely. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate so half of the ball is covered in chocolate, and place back on the wax paper, chocolate side down. Any remaining chocolate can be placed on a spoon and drizzled over the tops of the exposed peanut butter tops. Let dry overnight.

Bonus: Cheater Old Fashioneds

These drinks are the fast version of the old classic, made by my father for anyone who walks in the door. He is renowned for these, and they are dang good. I have a vision of him arriving amid newcomers to any party, balancing a round tray covered in glistening glassware and filled to the brim with these. He makes them quick, so there is no fancy muddling, and no chunky sugar cubes. He can make them sweet or sour, but this is the sweet version because it’s my favorite.


1-2 shots of whiskey

3 dashes of bitters

1 tsp cherry juice (like the bright red stuff from the maraschino cherry jar)

Fill up to the top with Sprite or Z-up

Mix well, and garnish with cherries, green olives or an orange slice

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