Family Holiday Staples

By Casey DiBari and Izzy Woods1851 Contributors

With the holidays right around the corner, we’re sure people are working on their favorite holiday recipes for this grand return after COVID. We’ve decided to share a few of our favorites holiday staples, and who knows, maybe it can be tried out at your family holiday dinner too.

Chicken Francese

In my family, no Christmas dinner is truly complete without my dad’s chicken francese recipe, so I had to include it. This dinner is meant to feed a party of about 15 to 20 people, so if you want to make it for a smaller party, make sure you divide the ingredients properly!


4 ½ pounds chicken tenders

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons paprika

2 ½ tablespoons garlic powder

16-24 ounces chicken broth

Lemon juice to taste

Vegetable oil

2 lemons, sliced


Mix paprika and garlic powder into the flour. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture, you do not need to egg them beforehand.

Put vegetable oil in a skillet and fry the chicken until golden brown.

Dump the oil out and put the chicken on a platter, make sure you have a paper towel on top of the platter to soak up any extra oil and grease, and then move to a chafing pan.

In the skillet, pour the chicken broth and the lemon juice (however much you feel) and bring to a boil. Pour the broth and lemon juice mixture over the chicken.

Slice up lemons thin and put over the chicken mixture for garnish. Garnish with parsley.

Cranberry Salad

This is a traditional Thanksgiving recipe from my great-great grandmother. Every year we use the same grinder she used decades ago (easily replaceable with the food processor). This recipe will serve about 12 people with plenty of leftovers!


24 ounces cranberries

6 ounces cherry jello

3 ounces orange jello

3 cups water

1 large red apple

1 large seedless orange

1 cup granulated sugar

Walnuts (optional)

Wash cranberries, apples, and oranges. Slice apples and oranges, leave the peels. Use a food processor to finely chop the fruits into pea sized fragments. Empty into an 11 by 8 inch casserole dish. Mix fruit to an even spread in the dish.

Boil three cups of water. Mix all jello into water. Stir until all jello powder is dissolved. Allow to come to room temperature. Pour jello mixture into a casserole dish with fruit mixture. Stir in mixture. Add sugar and combine.

Refrigerate for two hours or overnight until jello consistency.

Small Cream Cheesecake

Cream cheesecake, breakfast cake, monkey bread cake, my grandmother’s old recipe has gone through many name (and a few ingredients) changes over the years, but one thing stays the same: it’s usually gone within minutes! Note, while this recipe has changed and evolved over the years, this is my grandmother’s original recipe.


6 ounces cream cheese

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons margarine OR butter

⅓ cup nuts (optional)

10 ready-to-bake biscuits (2 packages)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together into a bowl, set aside.

Cut the cream cheese into 20 pieces and flatten the biscuits. Put one piece of cream cheese and one teaspoon of cinnamon sugar in the biscuit, and pinch closed, using all biscuits.

Melt the margarine or butter and pour into the bottom of a bundt pan, along with half the sugar mixture and nuts (if using). Put 10 biscuits into the pan and put the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top. Put the rest of the biscuits on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or however long the biscuit package says.

Mashed Lemon Sweet Potato Bake (10 servings)

The lemony sweet potato mash is one of my mom’s classic holiday dishes. Whether it be Easter, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, this dish is always on the table. Once it is put in the oven it leaves a sweet and citrusy aroma making everyone eager for the meal to come.


6 sweet potatoes

1 lemon

½ cup butter

2 large egg yolks

Boil sweet potatoes until easily punctured with a fork. Remove sweet potatoes from water and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the skins of the potatoes. Mash sweet potatoes until creamy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix in melted butter, egg yolks, and juice of half a lemon.

Butter all sides of an oven safe bowl. Transfer potatoes to the oven safe bowl. Place 3 to 4 lemon slices on top as garnish. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Serve warm.

Thin Lemon Vanilla Pancakes

President Alexander was nice enough to send over his own holiday recipe to us for our article. Down below is how you make his thin lemon vanilla pancakes!


1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon liquid vanilla (the real thing, not imitation vanilla)

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pure maple syrup, warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds

Whisk the egg into milk. Mix in oil, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually whisk in flour; keep whisking until all flour is mixed in. Whisk in lemon juice and vanilla.

Melt butter in an iron or stick free skillet over medium heat.

Pour pancakes on a skillet to any desired size. Add more butter each time you pour a new set of pancakes.

Serve with warm maple syrup. You may garnish with powdered sugar and fruit, if you wish.

Important: This recipe calls for less baking powder than normal. Be careful to use just a small amount of baking powder, so that the pancakes will come out thin and crisp on the edges. You may use oil instead of butter in the skillet, but then the pancakes will not be as crisp. These pancakes are best eaten one at a time to appreciate the texture of thin and crisp pancakes.

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