The holidays are a time to celebrate — and celebrate we do. Many people's calendars get maxed out this time of year. Chances are the season has you dashing through a flurry of shopping dates, parties, family meals and gift-giving.

The following recipes will help you slow down and savor all the reasons there are to celebrate, without adding (more) stress to your social calendar. Both festive and beautiful, these dishes are also simple, requiring minimal time and ingredients. Now that's a recipe for holiday togetherness.


Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini

Courtesy of

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Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini / Photo by

What you need:

Goat cheese

Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Balsamic glaze (store-bought, or use recipe below)

Fresh basil, chopped

Thin Italian bread

Garlic powder

Olive oil

Cook's note: I did not provide amount of ingredients as it depends on how much you want to make. You can use as little or as much of each ingredients as you would like. (I prefer a lot of everything.)


What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet; set aside.

2. Drizzle olive oil on bread and dust with garlic powder. Bake in oven for about 7 minutes, or until toasted and crispy. Let cool slightly before adding goat cheese.

3. Spread goat cheese on each piece of bread and top with sun-dried tomatoes, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and fresh basil.


For the balsamic glaze

Pour 1/2 to 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and continue simmering until thickened. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn!


Cranberry Walnut Holiday Cheese Log

Courtesy of 5 Minutes for Mom

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Cranberry Walnut Holiday Cheese Log / Photo by

What you need:

For the cheese log

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated*

1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

1 green onion, finely sliced

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

*Be sure to use a good quality white cheddar. It will add a ton of flavor.


For the coating*

1 green onion, top only, finely sliced

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

*You can mix it up by adding crumbled bacon, pine nuts or any kind of fresh herb you like.


What you do:

1. Add all cheese log ingredients to a large bowl and mix until well combined. Using the same spoon, roughly form it into a log shape, and place the bowl in the refrigerator. (It doesn't have to look perfect at this point. You'll be able to manipulate it when you add the coating.)

2. Spread the coating ingredients on a large plate. Remove the cheese log from the refrigerator, and pick it up with your hands. Place it directly on the plate with the coating, and roll it to coat all sides. (Most of the topping will stick immediately, but you can use your hands to press on any that falls off, filling in the bare spots.)

3. Gently pick up the log, and place it on your serving platter. Sprinkle additional cranberries, walnuts and green onions around the platter for garnish. Serve with crackers, pita chips or sturdy veggies like carrots and celery.

Cook's note: If you make this in advance, set it out about 30 minutes before serving to let it soften.


Peppermint Crunch White Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Courtesy of Kim Lange of The Baking ChocolaTess

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Peppermint Crunch White Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers / Photo by

What you need:

10 ounces Ghirardelli white chocolate melting wafers or chocolate

8 graham crackers

Crushed peppermint*

*If peppermint isn't your thing, sprinkle with chopped nuts, toffee, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, chocolate, peanut butter drizzles, cookie crumbles, etc. Pretty much anything goes.


What you do:

1. Place chocolate in microwave-safe container. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir thoroughly (product keeps its original shape until stirred). If not completely melted, continue to microwave at 15-second intervals and stir until smooth. Overheating will cause wafers to burn.

2. Using a fork, dip graham crackers one a time, coating the graham cracker on both sides, then place on parchment paper.

3. Add crushed peppermint to top. Let sit at room temperature until chocolate is set.