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Holiday Recipes



As soon as fall equinox arrives, we start thinking about food. The golden autumnal light, glinting off harvests around the nation, prompts us to consider just how we’re going to include these fruits and vegetables in the upcoming holidays. Keep them classic? Reinvent them? Or both, the way the chefs do at these hotels?


Fig & Zucchini Bread

By: Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center


  • 1 lbs. Granulated Sugar
  • 11oz Oil
  • 5 each Whole Eggs
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 lbs. bread flour
  • 2 ¼ tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 6 oz.  chopped dried figs
  • 1 lbs. Shredded Zucchini


  • Preheat Oven to 325F
  • Combine sugar, oil and eggs in one mixing bowl.
  • In separate mixing bowl combine salt, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder, and nutmeg.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Fold in Zucchini and Fig.
  • Spread your loaf pan with nonstick spray
  • Pour batter into pan leaving 1 inch from top of batter to the top of the pan.
  • Bake at 325F for approximately 30-35 minutes until batter is no longer runny.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

(Yield: about 20 whoopie pies)

By: The Essex Resort & Spa 


  • 3 cups AP Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Gingner 
  • 1/2tsp Cloves
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2lbs 6oz pumpkin puree (about 4 cups)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • Splash of Vanilla


In a bowl mix together ap flour, all of the spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Sift all dry ingredients together, and place off to side. In a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle, add in brown sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla. Mix on a low speed for about 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add in dry ingredients. Take out a large baking sheet with parchment paper on top. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter on the baking tray. Bake at a 350 degree oven for about 12-14 minutes. Should be like a small domed cake, and spring back once done. Let cool at room temperature. Once cool take two halfs and stuff them with marshmallow fluff or whatever desired filling! 


Ropa Vieja Plantain Cups

4 to 6 people appetizers

By: Costa d'Este Beach Resort


  • 2 lbs flank steak trimmed
  • ¼ cup canola or olive oil
  • 2 each fresh julienne red bell pepper
  • 2 each Julianne green bell pepper
  • 1 each large Julianne Spanish onion
  • 3 each garlic cloves 
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 3 each culantro leaves or cilantro
  • 3 each bay leaves
  • 2 cups white wine (you will have to split into 1 cup each) 
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 2 quarts tap water room temperature
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tbs dry oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs kosher salt 


Clean peppers, onion and reserved all the trimmings. Set aside, Julianne the clean pepper and onion.
Peel garlic cloves and smash, set aside. 
Clean cilantro, reserve leaves and save stems. 

Set a pot on medium heat add the vegetable trimmings. bay leaves, cilantro steams, one cup white wine, and water. 

Add beef and simmer for approx. 2 hours until fork tender. Remove from heat, strain liquid and reserve. Cool beef until able to handle with bare hands. Using a fork shred all the beef, set aside. Keep warm.

Clean pot and return to stove, set heat to medium; add canola oil, julienne peppers, onions, minced garlic, lightly cook vegetables until soft, do not brown. Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, deglaze with white wine, tomato juice, one cup of reserved beef broth and shredded beef. Add spices, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, rough chop cilantro leaves and add. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, adjust seasoning. If mixture is too thick, you can add more of the beef broth to your liking.  Set aside. 

bread pudding

Turkey and Potato Bread Pudding

By: Willows Lodge


  • 1 - loaf potato bread (medium dice)
  • 4 - c. heavy cream
  • 4 - whole eggs
  • 1/3 c. chopped herbs (parsley, chive, thyme)
  • 2 - medium yellow onions (caramelized)
  • 4 - cloves garlic
  • 2 - turkey legs (confit or roasted)
  • salt & pepper


Whip cream and eggs together.  Combine all ingredients and mix together.  Spoon into 4" ramekins.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Lean On These
Recipes For A Reinterpreted
Holiday Table
Written by:
Jen Karetnick

As soon as fall equinox arrives, we start thinking about food. The golden autumnal light, glinting off harvests around the nation, prompts us to consider just how we’re going to include these fruits and vegetables in the upcoming holidays. Keep them classic? Reinvent them? Or both, the way the chefs do at these hotels?


Given that Halloween is one of the first fall holidays, it’s only natural that pumpkins represent autumn. In 2020, the U.S. grew more than 1 billion pounds of them.

Pumpkins stem from Mexico, where the oldest domesticated seeds date back to circa 7000-5550 B.C. Indigenous peoples all over the North American continent depended on them, planting them intertwined with corn and beans. They symbolize transition, growth, and prosperity.

Everything about the pumpkin is edible, from skin to seeds, but we’re most familiar with the flesh, often made into a pie with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. At The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa, enjoy these traditional flavors married to a New England classic with the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie. It’s a delightful way to celebrate autumn and, this year, our own resilience.

Sweet Potatoes

Like a lot of us, sweet potatoes love long, hot summers. They take between 3-6 months to grow, preferring sandy, loamy soil. That describes much of the American South, where colonists cultivated this root vegetable as early as 1648.

The sweet potato was first officially connected to Thanksgiving in 1887, when writer and activist Sarah Josepha Buell wrote about sweet potato pies. Then Amelia Simmons, author of the first American cookbook, added a sweet potato-and-marshmallow casserole to the pages of her American Cookery book. By the time Thanksgiving became a national federal holiday in 1941, they were an established part of our cooking-and-dining ritual.

And while the sweet potato’s U.S. legacy launched in the southern regions of colonial America, its popularity reached far beyond. At Willows Lodge, located in western Washington state’s wine country, award-winning chefs whip up Sweet Potato and Turkey Bread Pudding for a sweet and savory dish that highlights this favorite holiday ingredient.


Thanksgiving doesn’t look the same for every American. In other words, it’s not all about the mashed potatoes. In some places, like Vero Beach’s Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa, which is owned by Emilio and Gloria Estefan, it’s about the smashed plantain.

Both versatile and common, the large, starchy banana appears on tropical tables from Asia to Africa to the Caribbean as everything from chips to a sweet, sautéed side dish.

At this oceanfront resort that’s set on the barrier islands on Florida’s east coast, green plantains are deep-fried and formed into cylindrical Plantain Cups. Then they’re filled with tasty Ropa Vieja, which is a long-simmered, shredded beef stew brimming with aromatics. It’s just one way to bring a bit of Cuban flavor to the Thanksgiving table.


The fig might not be the first fruit you think of in connection to fall. But given that the harvest doesn’t end until mid-November in California, where nearly all of the nation’s fresh and dried figs are produced, maybe it should be.

In fact, figs are far more flexible an ingredient for fall dishes than you might think. Because the blossoms are on the inside of the fruit—those crunchy little seeds are actually tiny flowers—they add terrific texture to dishes like the Fig & Zucchini Bread at Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center.

Served fresh or toasted, this quick bread is an excellent addition to a cheese or charcuterie board. And if you have any leftover (good luck with that!), you can always turn it into crumbs and make it the base of your stuffing.

takinga photo of food

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