Seasonal Sundays (Week 51) Show-Stopping Desserts

Seven recipes for holiday celebrations, desserts that will move tables to silent appreciation, none especially fancy, none requiring hours of preparation, none needing special tools. I hope you'll find one or two that will make their way to your table over the next while.

Seasonal Sundays, a weekly newsletter ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

THANK YOU for popping in today ... and last week and next week too. "I appreciate you." I do ... and always love hearing from many of you throughout the week. Don't be a stranger! And if you like this week's recipes, perhaps you'll share this newsletter with a friend or social circle? If you forward this message, others may separately subscribe for free right here.

Are you feeling "Christmasy"? ♥ It's not always an easy time of year and oh my, don't the expectations reach starry-sky high? Here's wishing you the spirit you seek, whatever that might be, for you.

But if you are feeling "Christmasy," then go ahead, wow, revel in it!

Because, well, Christmas shall come, the Child shall be born, shepherds shall watch and the Star shall shine, one way or another. What's done is done and what's not is not and good sleep belongs high on the To-Do list. And a good salad too, This Year, Let's Give Salads with Abandon.

My thoughts this week turn to Big-T and small-t traditions, keeping them, creating them, passing them along, investing in our own and those important to others. Food traditions, to be sure. But small moments too.

What traditions are on your list? ♥ I'd love to hear ...

About the Top Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: Over the years, I've collected a tableau of sparkly trees on the sofa table in our family room, right where my husband and I sit for morning coffee, evening chats, fireside naps, etc. Last week, after a family party with three Littles, I noticed that the vintage brass reindeer had moved into delightful new spots. What do you suppose this little reindeer is peeking so curiously over the star to see ... ?

Timing Note Look for Seasonal Sundays final edition for 2023 after Christmas (instead of on Sunday, Christmas Eve) and the first edition in 2024 after New Year's (instead of on Sunday, New Year's Eve).

So that means, it's time for me to wish you a very happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All from Alanna 2023

SEASONAL INSPIRATION: Show-Stopping Desserts

Christmas Trifle ♥, a show-stopping English trifle, my family's traditional dessert for Christmas dinner.

Gingerbread Pudding Cake ♥, an old-fashioned recipe, magical layers of cake and pudding!

Lemon Pudding Cake ♥, the old-fashioned lemon dessert, lemon cake on top and lemon pudding on the bottom, now with raspberries or blueberries.

Cranberry Pudding with Butter Sauce ♥, a popular recipe from the 1950s and 1960s, a dense, moist cranberry cake served with a rich butter sauce.

Cranberry Apple Crisp ♥, my signature dessert during cold weather. A classic sweet apple crisp, punched up cranberries and brandy-soaked currants, bright with citrus and ginger.

Chocolate Decadence Cake ♥, the ultimate chocolate experience, a dense, moist and ultra-rich almost-flourless chocolate cake. Serve in small slivers!

Finnish Fruit Tart (RahkaPiirakka) ♥, here with golden raisins, also try blueberries, cherries, rhubarb and more. One Bowl. Press-in Crust. Super Easy.

What's New?!

Wondering about a recipe from the last while? Check Recent Recipes from Kitchen Parade and Recent Vegetable Recipes from A Veggie Venture.

Easy Easy Magical Jello Bites, another fun idea for kids ♥ Guaranteed to light up kids' eyes!


Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies ♥, an easy cranberry cookie recipe with festive holiday appearance. Fresh cranberries, pecans and orange.
  • HAPPY EATERS "I can’t eat them 🙄🤣😞 but Ted loved them." ~ A text from my sister :-)
  • THE RECIPE Fresh Cranberry Drop Cookies Cookie bites bright with fresh cranberry, sweet orange and toasty pecans.

In Praise Of ...

  • ... a dozen doves nestled into the maple tree outside our dining room for hours. But haven't they heard? Twelve is for drummers drumming! Maybe our doves aren't turtle doves?!
  • ... last week I sang praises for a replacement food processor and here I am again, raving about a replacement hand mixer (what is it about small appliances going bust during the holidays?). I looked at several mixers but opted for a mid-price model with what turns out to be an excellent feature called Slow Start. You know how when you add powdered sugar or flour to a bowl and the mixer (both hand mixers and the over-rated stand mixers?) blows half of it all you, the counter, the floor, the cupboards, etc.? Well. NO MORE. I've mixed three batches of cookies with the new mixer and never once did I work the flour in by hand before finishing the mixing with the mixer and never once did the flour blow all over. In fact, I never left this slow speed, it was absolutely perfect for mixing all three batches. In my mind, this single feature is worth the price of a new mixer, whether the old one's given out or not. I bought this KitchenAid 7-speed hand mixer (affiliate link) and am happy with it but there are other options with a similar feature.

Democracy Matters

The country needs calm, thoughtful and assertive voices amid the chaos inflicted by a minority hellbent on taking/retaining generational power by strangling democratic principles and equal rights. None of us have to personally change the world. We just have to do our part.

Has anyone else heard this week's news from Texas as a primal scream? A woman's baby won't live, her own ability to bear more children is at great risk unless, as her physician counsels, she can terminate the pregnancy. She finds a lawyer who petitions the State for clarification on Texas' abortion laws. The judge agrees, her case is an exception, her physician may perform the abortion. The attorney general threatens her, her physician, any one who assists her. By the time the Texas Supreme Court tosses the earlier court decision, she has left the state (small s) for tragic but basic maternity health care elsewhere, unable to wait on the State (big S) to rule.

The horror of this is a tragedy for women across the country, not just in Texas, and not just those in their child-bearing years because even older women have daughters and granddaughters and nieces and physicians and friends.

It's also a brutal reminder that those "exceptions" in no-abortion states are worth exactly zilch, that the proposed national ban on abortion (by the likes of "moderate" Nikki Hailey ) that includes exceptions must not be allowed to happen, that the Supreme Court's decision to hear a case against mistaprithrone is very, very bad news given the extra-judicial actions the Court took in its Dobbs decision.

We are women, not cattle. We have agency over our own bodies and reproduction. Rare, safe and legal: that is the real pro-life position.


The Kitchen Parade Almanac: Looking Ahead ...

  • December 1 - 23 - PikkuJoulu (Finnish "Little Christmas")
  • December 21st (Thursday) - Winter Solstice (Official First Day of Winter)
  • December 23rd (Saturday) - Christmas Adam (Adam & ... get it?!)
  • December 24th (Sunday) - Christmas Eve
  • December 25th (Monday) - Christmas Day
  • December 26th (Tuesday) - Boxing Day
  • December 26th - 31st - Kwanzaa
  • December 31st (Sunday) - New Year's Eve
  • January 1st (Monday) - New Year's Day
  • Jan 7th (first Sunday) - Alanna's Take Down Christmas (or Else) Day
Christmas Recipes, another seasonal recipe collection ♥, special recipes for holiday baking, food gifts, Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, Christmas dinner and more.

A collection of recipes for New Year's ♥

Looking Back ...

Let the Cookie Baking Begin?

Frosty Christmas Trees ♥, my long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough, lovely gingerbread flavor and just a touch of chocolate.

Who's up to their elbows in flour and sugar?! ♥ What're you baking? Do you start with the old favorites or get tempted by new ideas?

Once I buy butter (today!), I'm itching to heat up the oven. Here's what I've got my eye on this year.

(Looking for some insider tips for successful cookie baking? Definitely check out Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend!)

Trader Joe's Test Kitchen

Need a quick hot appetizer? Go for Trader Joe's individual spanakopita, phyllo packets stuffed with spinach, ricotta and feta. They're real crowd pleasers! Just throw them in a hot oven, done. TJ has an coiled spanakopita, it looks good too but for our crew, individual two-bite appetizers work out better. Have 'em hot and just out of the oven soon after people begin to arrive!

A Quick Peek Into a Real-Life Kitchen

Just so you know, everything's not all pretty pictures around here, in the background is a pile of dirty dishes. And just like many (all?) of us, come five o'clock, I too draw a blank about what to make for supper, despite so many recipes I so dearly love. Here's a quick peek from the last week, not including the oatmeal, salad dressing and sautéed greens on repeat this time of year.

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail ♥ Just three ingredients for low-alcohol, make-ahead festive holiday cocktails.
  • THIS WEEK On Sunday, we gathered a few family for a Hunter's Feast, such an easy, relaxed night, it was. Maybe because I handed people glasses of my make-ahead signature cocktail? It's low in calories, low in alcohol, light and refreshing, extra smart for a brunch or school-night affair. So good!
  • THE RECIPE Cranberry Champagne Cocktail Festive and flexible, just three ingredients. (PIN This)

Family Shortbread ♥, spare, simple, ethereal English shortbread. Lots of family tricks and tips, all in one place.
  • For dessert (with ice cream!) and take-home goodie bags, I made three batches of my sister's amazing shortbread. Instead of cut-outs or fingers, I rolled out rectangles to cut small squares with this wavy crinkle cutting knife, then poked each square with the tines of a tiny appetizer fork. So good! (And two recipe requests!)
  • THE RECIPE Family Shortbread All the family tips and tricks to make simple, ethereal English shortbread.

Winter Stew ♥, a master recipe for a wintry meat and vegetable stew, a concept recipe that's been much-tested with many combinations of meats and vegetables, liquids and more. Shown here, elk meat, butternut squash, sherry and dried apricots.
  • THIS WEEK This recipe is so special because you can use any meat, any mix of vegetables, any fruit, any liquid and it always turns out so beautifully. But this week's version of Winter Stew is dedicated to everyone with a freezerful of venison. I used venison round with some leftover cherry-rosemary sauce, carrots and fennel, dried rosemary and thyme, some leftover red wine, even threw in some leftover venison pastrami we made last weekend. Wow. So good!!
  • THE RECIPE Winter Stew A master recipe, cook with confidence, no recipe required. (PIN This)

Famous Mustard Sauce (Carolina BBQ Mustard Sauce) ♥, Carolina BBQ mustard sauce from a handful of pantry ingredients, use as an ingredient and a condiment!
  • THIS WEEK I've been nibbling on the remnants of a rotisserie chicken for lunch all week. The breast meat is lean but not so flavorful, enter a bit of mustard. I swear, I made this way back in April, it's still good!
  • THE RECIPE Famous Mustard Sauce (Carolina BBQ Mustard Sauce) A tiny-bit spicy and a tiny-bit sweet and totally addictive.

Just Updated!

Swiss Bircher Muesli, classic overnight oats ♥, a breakfast treat with dried fruit and nuts.

Don't Be a Stranger ...

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail (my current address is in the FAQs), dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, tuck a question into a plastic Easter egg, whatever.

  • Any ideas for Seasonal Sundays? Share away!
  • December is ON. Still breathing? Good.
  • Who's baking cookies?! Today I'm making some old-fashioned date balls. I knew I bought those dates for a good reason!
  • For those who celebrate, is there a certain moment when Christmas somehow just begins?
  • Anything else? Chime in, chat away.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. When you make my recipes, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below or better still, on the specific recipe's page.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.