Recipes for the Holiday Pandemic

Our tables may look different this year, but we are so grateful for Zoom guests and a chance to change things up.

While I am used to getting up at 4 am for hair and makeup and going live on tv for turkey 911, then rushing home to pop 2 turkeys in the oven and a pork roast in the neighbor’s oven while I finish the 8-10 side dishes and scatter the flowers around the tables set near the pool, the benefit of living in Florida, I learned so much this year. We opted to order curbside from a local restaurant, and I created new mini desserts and new recipes that I normally would not dare risk without testing 6 months before.

Try these recreated mini pies and mason jar pumpkin cream cheese mousse with gingersnap crust.

Enjoy these recipes and videos and, more importantly, give the country a special gift of health. Mask up—stay at home and bake cookies for nurses and hospital workers. There is no gift better than that of a thank you with a sweet bite.

I often tell people never to change a recipe for a holiday, you need to practice at least a few times to make sure you are ready and confident, 2020 has changed everything. Try these smaller versions of mini pies, tarts and Mason jar treats.


Apple and Cranberry Crostata

For the Pastry:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ pound, 1 stick very cold unsalted Irish butter (I keep butter in freezer)

2 Tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

1 ½ pounds McIntosh or Empire apples (about 3-4 large

1 cup cranberries

¼ grated orange zest

¼ cup flour

¼ cup granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ Teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon all-spice or apple pie spice

4 Tablespoon, ½ stick cold unsalted Irish butter diced.


For the pastry:

Place flour and sugar and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse just a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, keep pulsing as you add water. Stop just before mixture becomes solid mass.  Turn the dough onto well-floured marble board. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. You can freeze the crust for up top one week, thaw only until you are able to roll.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Flour your rolling pin (again I use marble). Roll pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place in tart pan or cookie sheet.

Peel the apples for the filling and core. Cut thin slices. Toss in cranberries and orange zest. Cover the tart with the apples and cranberries. Cover the tart with dough leaving a ½ inch border.

Combine flour, sugar cinnamon and all spice or apple pie seasoning in the bowl of the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating to make a circle.

Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is golden, and the apple are tender. It is easiest to serve at room temperate for cutting purposes.

Serve with cinnamon whipped cream.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Napoleon with Caramelized Ginger

Serves 4-5

        I love this recipe because it is refreshing, even if the temperature on the Florida Turkey Day is in the 80’s. Try the pumpkin filling on top of golden brown cheese blintzes for a decadent Holiday Brunch dessert

1 sheet puff pastry- thawed and cut into 9 pieces


* 1- 10 ½ ounce jar Pumpkin Curd

8 ounces of cream cheese

8 ounces whipping cream

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup powdered sugar plus extra for dusting

½-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus extra for garnish

¼ cup pumpkin pie filling

1-teaspoon sugar


* Crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Chill beaters and medium sized metal bowl in freezer

Place thawed puff pastry (30-40 minutes to thaw) on floured counter top. Cut into nine 3-inch squares. Place on non-greased cookie sheets and bake at 400 degrees until brown (Approximately 12 minutes.) Cool on wire rack.

Whip cream until almost peaked. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whip until peaks form. Set aside 2 ounces of whipped cream for garnish

Whip softened cream cheese and jar of pumpkin curd with pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin filling. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Lightly fold this filling into the whipped cream.

Chill for 1 hour

Carefully slice the puff pastry square in half. Top one layer with filling (about 3 Tablespoons), and top with half of puff pastry, repeat, top with puff pastry. Garnish with a teaspoon of whipped cream and sift powdered sugar and pumpkin pie seasoning over

the top and plate. Garnish with smashed pieces of crystallized ginger. Let sit for 4-6 hours in the refrigerator, uncovered.

* Found in most gourmet stores. (Coconut Bay Trading Company out of Palmetto, Fl. makes a wonderful Cinnamon-Ginger Candy that is perfect with this dessert.)

Options- Make the Pumpkin filling, layer in mason dessert jars with ground gingersnaps, cinnamon whipped cream, and pumpkin cream cheese mix. Top with crushed caramelized ginger

Substitute cream cheese for whole milk ricotta cheese and fill cannoli shells

Pecan bars

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1?½ cups light corn syrup
  • 1?½ cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1?½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2?½ cups chopped pecans


  • Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan.

  • Step 2

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in 1 cup of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared pan, and press in firmly.

  • Step 3

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

  • Step 4

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.

  • Step 5

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars.

Options: Freeze leftovers in batches of 4.

For a special Holiday flair add a scoop of pumpkin ice cream and sprinkle with dried cranberries

A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Judi has managed restaurants and owned restaurants in the northeast and was the founder of a successful dessert company. Today, she is a sought-after restaurant consultant, TV cook on the ABC affiliate in her hometown, and culinary editor of a city magazine. Her personal passions are culinary travel to exotic places and holiday cooking in her home for huge gatherings of friends and relatives. Her guilty pleasure? Bruce Springsteen concerts. “I follow him around the country and have for years,” she admits. “But, in every city where Bruce sings, I do check out new restaurants and talk to up and coming chefs. I want all the food news I can get.”
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