The Hub Recipe ideas for holiday entertaining

Recipe ideas for holiday entertaining

From our table to yours, try these favourite recipes from AU community members

For many people, gathering at the dinner table with loved ones is a highlight of the holiday season. No matter what tradition you celebrate, it’s a time to share, to celebrate, and to dig into favourite family recipes.

Earlier in the pandemic, when everyone was busy learning to bake sourdough or attempting other ambitious recipes to pass the time during quarantine, we asked the Athabasca University (AU) community to share their favourite recipes. The results were published in AU@Home, a cookbook featuring dozens of recipes from AU team members, alumni, and learners.

If you’re interested in trying someone else’s favourite dishes during the holiday season, AU@Home is a tasty—and free—resource. We’re sharing a few selected recipes below, but you can also view, download, or print the entire book.

From our table to yours, have a happy holiday and a healthy new year!

button mushrooms on a cutting board

Mushroom Jump (Appetizer)

Submitted by Kristine Williamson

I don’t have much luck when it comes to cooking, but this is one recipe that always gets a “call back.” I had this appetizer years ago while living in Winnipeg. It was so good I had to ask the restaurant how they made it. It turned out to be so simple, even I had success replicating it!


1 tbsp butter

15-20 medium-sized mushrooms (white button or cremini or both)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 oz. brandy

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 cup cream

1 baguette loaf


On medium heat, melt butter in sauté pan and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the mushrooms start to cook down, add shot of brandy and (carefully) ignite the alcohol. Continue cooking until the mushrooms no longer look “wet.”

Stir in the brown sugar and then add the cream. Reduce the sauce, stirring frequently, until it is dark and starts to thicken.

Serve warm with fresh-cut slices of baguette for dipping.

mulled wine

Cranberry Mulled Wine (Drinks)

Submitted by Robyn O’Neill

This reminds me of Christmas and warms you up when there’s fresh snow on the ground. Influenced by my German heritage and traditional Gluhwein, my family put a new spin on an old classic!

We make this in a slow cooker and put it as low as it can go. Alternatively, you could make on the stove top.


In a slow cooker, pour one whole bottle of red wine (750 ml), one bottle of apple pie liqueur (500 ml), and 500 ml of cranberry juice. Add a few slices of fresh ginger, at least 6 cinnamon sticks, a few star anise pieces, 1 whole lemon sliced, 1 whole orange sliced, and a bit of extra white sugar to taste.

Heat until warm and the sugar is dissolved. I like to serve with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick. If you don’t have any fresh citrus, a bit of candied lemon would be nice instead.

beef on a cutting board

Oven Roasted Beef Sirloin (Main)

Submitted by Janice Day

I love to cook but time is typically a factor that limits what meals can be made during the work week. Due to the chaos of COVID-19 and working from home, I now had the time to expand our meal options and a family with an increased desire for comfort food. This recipe requires very little prep, will slow cook all day, and will make your family salivate!


4 pounds beef sirloin tip roast

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup fresh-brewed coffee (hot)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp black pepper


Preheat oven to 325 F.

In a Dutch oven, add the oil and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the pan is hot, sear the beef on all sides—about 3 minutes per side.

While beef is searing, whisk together the soy sauce, hot coffee, garlic, and pepper.

Once beef is seared, pour the liquid over the beef and surround with sliced onion.

Place a lid on the Dutch oven and roast in the oven for 4 hours.

falafel balls

Falafel Wraps (Main)

Submitted by Miriam Gross

A few years ago, I went to Palestine to visit a friend. While I was there, I had falafel almost every day because it was so good! Now, during COVID-19, I’ve perfected my own version based on what my friend’s grandmother showed me. It is healthy, cheap, filling, vegan—and incredibly delicious!


1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours and well drained)

1/2 bunch of cilantro

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 medium onion

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 cups vegetable oil (if frying)

1/4 cup vegetable oil (if baking)

Other ingredients: pitas, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced onions, sliced pickles, tahini sauce, hot sauce


In a food processor, blend the soaked and drained chickpeas until finely ground and smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.

In the food processor, blend the onion and transfer to the mixing bowl. Next, blend the herbs until they are finely ground and transfer to the mixing bowl.

Add the salt, garlic powder, coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, and paprika, and mix all ingredients until combined thoroughly.

For deep frying, heat oil in a deep pot until it reaches 350 F.

When the oil is at temperature, add the baking soda and stir into the falafel batter.

Form tablespoon-sized falafel balls, and drop into the oil, frying for 3 minutes on each side or until deep golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

If baking, preheat the oven to 375 F. Pour 2 tbsp of oil on a large baking sheet and brush to cover the entire surface.

Mix the baking soda into the falafel batter, then form ping pong ball-sized falafel balls and place on the oiled baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tbsp of oil (use more if needed).

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the falafels and bake for 10 more minutes (25 minutes in total).

To assemble the wraps, warm a pita slightly. Spread on lots of tahini sauce. Take 5 or 6 falafel and smoosh them slightly into the pita, then add the lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and a drizzle of hot sauce. Wrap and devour!

ricotta pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes (Brunch or Dessert)

Submitted by Carole Stevenson-Roy

These pancakes are our family’s Saturday morning favourite. The recipe comes from Bill’s, a great breakfast restaurant in Sydney, Australia.


1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese

3/4 cup milk

4 eggs, separated

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt


Place the ricotta, milk, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and combine.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and then add to the ricotta mixture. Stir until combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites through the batter in two batches.

Lightly grease a pan with butter and drop 3 tbsp of batter into the pan.

Cook over low to medium heat until golden. Flip and cook until golden.

Check out more AU@Home recipes!

Filed Under:
  • December 22, 2021
Tagged In:
AU@Home, food, holidays,