5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays


Holidays are about bringing people together and, especially here in the South, I believe there is no better way to serve your family and friends than to prepare them something good to eat. As much as I love Pinterest, I decided to dig out the old family recipe cards and books. Below you’ll find five of my favorite “secret” family recipes for the holidays. Whether you consider yourself a horrible cook, need something you can make ahead of time, are in a pinch to prepare an easy dish for a last-minute potluck, or have time to make a more involved dessert for your friends to enjoy, there is something for everyone on this list.

5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays Charleston Moms5. Fresh Apple Pound Cake

Not sure what to do with all of the apples you picked at the apple farm this year? Though a little more involved (but oh so worth it!), this pound cake is a true holiday treat. If you love apples, you’ll really love this cake. Tip: I like to add a little dusting of cinnamon on top for extra spice!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups of sugar
3 large eggs (room temp)
1 cup pecans
2 cups chopped apples
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup of corn oil
2 tsp vanilla

½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp milk

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla at medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Fold in pecans and apples. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 325 degrees oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Combine topping ingredients in a pot on the stovetop, and bring to boil over medium heat. Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Dribble brown sugar topping over warm cake.

5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays Charleston Moms4. Vegetable Casserole

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “healthy” side dish, but at least it has vegetables in it! Not only is it tasty, but I love that it is budget-friendly and versatile, meaning you can switch up the ingredients to accommodate what you have on hand in the pantry. For example, the “Cream of . . . ” Campbell’s Soup has a variety of flavors, and the type of vegetables used can be swapped out for others as well. Feel free to tinker with this recipe and change ingredients as needed.

1 can white shoepeg corn, drained
1 can French-style green beans, drained
2 tbsp chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper (optional)
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup

½ box Ritz crackers
½ stick butter or margarine
4 oz slivered almonds

Mix all ingredients together (except for the topping) in a casserole dish. Crumble Ritz crackers, then mix with melted butter or margarine and the slivered almonds. Put topping on casserole mixture and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Serves 8-10.

5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays Charleston Moms
3. Cherry Dessert

I’ll be honest with you: Grandma didn’t have a name for this recipe. It’s a hit for get-togethers and especially popular with the grandkids. Four simple ingredients and no baking required! Sure, it’s only “semi-homemade,” but no one will care when it comes time to eat it. Consider making it the day before your event and keeping it in the fridge to save yourself some time.

1 box instant vanilla pie filling
1 ¾ cup milk
1 can of cherry pie filling
1 carton of cool whip
Graham crackers

Make pudding with the milk and put it in the fridge for a few minutes. Take out and mix in the cool whip. Put one layer of whole graham crackers on the bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of pudding mix and another layer of graham crackers. Add rest of pudding mix, then top with the can of cherry pie filling. Keep in the fridge for a couple of hours to set before eating.

5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays Charleston Moms2. Onion Pie

Before you scroll past this one, hear me out! This pie is surprisingly good! It’s one of my husband’s favorites. What’s great is, it’s cheap and easy to make. Also, I would bet most people haven’t tried it before if you wanted something unique to take to a potluck.

1 cup crushed saltine crackers
½ cup melted butter or margarine
1 large onion
¾ cup milk
2 slightly beaten eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Combine saltine crackers and ¼ cup melted butter or margarine and spread evenly in a pie dish to make the crust. Chop and sauté large onion and remaining butter or margarine until the onions are translucent, then pour over the crust. Beat milk, eggs, and salt and pepper together and pour over the onions. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

5 Secret Family Recipes for the Holidays Charleston Moms1. Chocolate Mint Cookies

Last, but certainly not least, is my all-time favorite holiday cookie recipe. The recipe makes a lot, but you can easily cut it in half or quarter it. That just goes to show how good these are . . . Grandma knew she would need to make a lot for the family (and wanted some leftovers for herself, too!) It isn’t a quick and easy recipe, but that’s why I recommend making a bunch and freezing them. They are just as good thawed (or even still frozen!) as they are fresh. Trust me, these cookies will go quick at any holiday party you bring them to.

9 tbsp cocoa
1 ¼ cup and 3 tbsp shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 ½ tbsp water
2 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup extra sugar (for rolling cookies)

Cream shortening and sugar, then add the egg. Beat until light and fluffy. Add corn syrup, water, and flavorings and mix well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and then add to the creamed mixture, beating until blended. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Move to wire rack and cool completely. Yields 6 to 7 dozen.

Let me know in the comments if you try any of these recipes!

Happy holiday cooking!