Impress Your Guests With These Holiday Dishes

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Three members of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies share their go-to festive favorites

Photography by James Stefiuk

“I like this punch because it’s sort of an updated version of a retro party punch. It gets its inspiration from the ever-popular paloma cocktail. It’s festive, fizzy and delicious! Most of it can be made ahead of time. Simply mix all ingredients in a punch bowl, and add the sparkling beverage, ice and garnish right before the guests arrive,” says Carrie Brogren, founder of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies group.

Paloma punch holiday dish

  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups grapefruit juice*
  • 1 cup lime juice*
  • 1/2 cup orange juice*
  • 2-3 cups tequila blanco
  • 8 cups (about 2 liters) of sparkling beverage (I like Fever-Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit, but you can also use things like prosecco, Squirt, etc.)

*I use fresh squeezed juices for this recipe because it makes the flavor so much better, but you can use premade/store-bought fruit juice if you’re short on time

In a blender or food processor, add cranberries and 2 Tbsp. of water and blend until smooth. Add water as needed to keep the mix moving. Then squeeze grapefruit, lime and orange juice, if you’re making your own.

Build punch bowl by adding ice first, pour in cup of cranberry puree, add fruit juices, and finally, add tequila before mixing. Top with your sparkling beverage of choice and garnish.

I like to garnish the punch with whole lime round slices and fresh cranberries. You can also freeze some fresh cranberries for garnish and/or add fresh cranberries and small wedges of lime to your ice if you choose to make your own ice shapes. (I like using mini muffin pans to make large batches of ice cubes with fresh fruit and/or edible flowers in them.)

“This recipe is a staple salad for winter in whatever restaurant I’m working at. I use that vinaigrette for everything!” says Taylor Halley.

Wintergreen salad with charred orange vinaigrette, saffron potatoes and sour cherry gastrique holiday dish

Sour Cherry Gastrique

  • 50 grams dried sour cherries
  • 50 grams balsamic vinegar
  • 20 grams brown sugar

Soak cherries in balsamic for at least an hour but up to overnight. In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. (Strain if you want smoother sauce.)

Saffron Potatoes

  • 300 grams Idaho potatoes
  • 8 grams Kosher salt
  • 2 grams saffron

Peel and dice potatoes into small cubes (about the size of a thumbnail). Add all ingredients to a small pot with 250 grams of water and bring to a boil. Turn off and cover for 10 minutes. Strain potatoes and set in the refrigerator to cool.

  • 3 oranges
  • 300 grams white balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 8 grams Dijon mustard
  • 5 grams Kosher salt
  • 50 grams extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 grams vegetable oil
  • Honey, optional

Cut 3 oranges in half and sear flesh side down in a saute pan until black (charred), about 4-5 minutes. Deglaze pan with 200 grams of white balsamic vinegar and turn off. Take oranges out and cover until cooled off. Take flesh out of oranges, discard rinds and add to blender. In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth. (Add honey to taste if you want it to be sweeter.) Set aside.


  • 500 grams wintergreens (frisee, radicchio or kale)
  • 42 grams vinaigrette
  • 5 grams Sour Cherry Gastrique
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 7 grams toasted pistachios
  • 14 grams Granny Smith apples, julienned
  • 14 grams Saffron Potatoes

Add wintergreens and vinaigrette to mixing bowl and massage gently. Spoon or brush gastrique on the bottom of the plate. Add mixed wintergreens to the plate and top with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

“It could be a bit labor-intensive for a big party, but for a dinner party for up to 20 people, it’s not hard. We call it Christmas pie now, but the original recipe was called Alaskan mint pie with shortbread cookie crust with three layers of ice cream/heavy cream with the middle layer that is green and topped off with a meringue topping. You warm the pie just before serving so the meringue is warm and melty on top of the ice cream,” says Cheri Hall.

Alaskan mint pie holiday dish


  • 5 oz. shortbread cookies, crushed (Lorna Doone brand are my favorite)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. melted butter

In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients together. Press evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 325 F.


  • 1 quart softened vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4-6 tsp. crème de menthe
  • Green food coloring, optional (if a deeper green color is desired)

Spread half of the ice cream over the cooled crust and freeze. Beat cream until stiff, fold in crème de menthe (to taste), and add green food coloring until you’ve reached the desired green color. Spread over the first layer of ice cream and freeze until firm. Spread remaining ice cream over the whipped cream layer and freeze.

Meringue Topping

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar

Beat egg whites until foamy and add cream of tartar. Continue beating and add in sugar 1 Tbsp. at a time until stiff peaks form. Spread over frozen pie and freeze for 24 hours before heating and serving.

Ice cream layers can be made several days ahead of time; just make meringue the day before.

At serving time, preheat oven to 450 F and place the pie in the oven for 4 to 6 minutes or until the meringue just begins to brown. Serve immediately. 

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