Special Occasions

Special Occasions

Just as daily meals bring our immediate family together for good food and good times, holidays call for, and reward us with, more. We make a greater effort to get together, pulling out old recipes, sliding another leaf in the table. These celebrations stop time for a moment, as the seasons and years slide by.

Traditions and rituals link us with our extended families, our ethnic groups, our religions, and our heritage. They help us remember what is important. Even if the event doesn’t go perfectly, we come away with a deeper sense of where we come from, a feeling of being part of a whole.

Whether seeking traditional holiday dessert recipes or looking for new innovative twists on classic favorites here are some great recipes to give you inspiration for the holidays. These special occasion cookbook favorites include a variety of recipes for a festive, fun, and sweet season.

  • Complexity: easy

Heartfelt Pancakes

Serve some heart-shaped pancakes to kick off Valentine's Day -- or any other special day!

  • Complexity: easy

Holiday Cupcakes

'Tis the season when you're sure to need a special dessert to bring to a Christmas party or school bake sale. With this easy decorating tip, you and your kids can turn a batch of homemade or store-bought cupcakes into a festive treat.

Hoot Owl Cupcakes

Create Hoot Owl Cupcakes, a Father's Day craft inspired by Winnie the Pooh, with step by step instructions.

  • Time: 30 min prep + chilling and 15 min bake time
  • Complexity: very easy

Hot Dog Cookies

These crowd-pleasing cookies, shaped like miniature hot dogs in buns, are plump with possibilities. Add time-easing toppings such as green-tinted coconut for "relish" and yellow frosting for "mustard."

  • Complexity: medium

Hunny Pot Cake Pops

That willy nilly silly ol' bear, Winnie the Pooh, knew one thing for certain: Life is better with your favorite snack. Don't forget to pair these hunny pot treats with Winnie the Pooh Cake Pops


  • Complexity: easy

Magic Milk Bowl

Everyone at the breakfast table will do a double take when they witness this deliciously deceptive ruse that makes milk change color when it's poured on top of cereal.

  • Complexity: easy

Maple French Toast

The best French Toast is made from the densest bread. Challah, brioche, and sourdough are all good choices, but if all else fails, a premium sandwich bread can stand up to the task.

  • Complexity: medium

Maple-Glazed Turkey

A simple glaze makes this holiday turkey glisten while its drippings flavour the gravy with a whisper of maple sweetness

Moroccan Lamb & Apricot Kebobs

Don't let this dish's distant origins fool you -- the classic flavors of North Africa are probably already in your spice cabinet.

  • Complexity: medium

Mr. Potato Head Cake Pops

Mr. Potato Head, everyone's favorite Toy Story wise guy, gets the sweet treatment in cake pop form.

  • Time: 30 min
  • Complexity: very easy

Oatmeal Bears

Great for a Teddy Bear's picnic, tea time treat, or birthday party.

  • Complexity: very easy

Perfect Fruit Party Punch

Making fruit punch is a bit like playing mad scientist -- which is why it's so much fun to do with kids. You add a little of this and a lot of that to a pitcher until you come up with a drink that's "perfect." We made this version in just that manner, with our kids tasting every step of the way. If you don't have what we used on hand, don't worry. Just let your young scientists experiment with substitutions.

Pop's Personalized Pretzels

These fresh-baked pretzels put a personal -- and delicious -- spin on your Father's Day message.

  • Time: 80 min
  • Complexity: very easy

Potato Mice

These baked-potato mice are almost too gorgeous to eat! Makes 4 potato mice.

Rub-a-dub Chicken

An easy rub makes this chicken simply mouthwatering and forms a gorgeous crust during grilling. Make a batch of the spicy powder, store it in your cupboard, and use it all summer long to give your chicken an outrageous zing.

  • Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Complexity: easy

Rudolph and Friends

These dashing desserts pay homage to some of Santa's best-known helpers. They also make a fun activity for little hands after a holiday meal.


This was the sort of spiffed-up burger a guy can actually prepare without gourmet credentials.

  • Complexity: easy

Smiling Snowman Cake

Creating this chocolate snowman cake is fun for the whole family. My daughters enjoyed watching the snowman's personality emerge as we decorated him with candy and fruit leather.

Spice-rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Barbecue Sauce

This pork tenderloin recipe gets its zip from an easy-to-make dry rub that's applied to the meat before grilling. The modified barbecue sauce is just the right consistency for dipping. (For a milder version, omit the hot sauce.)

  • Time: 60 min
  • Complexity: medium

Strawberry Scones

The ordinary scone is too often plain and dry. This version is deliciously different. Made with fresh, juicy strawberries, it has a moist texture and a buttery flavor that's sure to please. Add a bit of lemon zest and a glittery topping of sugar -- two jobs just right for kids -- and you have a scone that's extraordinarily good.

  • Complexity: easy

Sweet Cinnamon Rolls

No longer is it necessary to go to the local bakery for great-tasting cinnamon rolls made from scratch. With this recipe, you can bake a sweet and buttery batch that everyone will find irresistible.

Tee Time Cake

Make a cake that looks like a golf hole for Dad.

  • Complexity: very easy

Towering Tree Cake

Want your holiday dinner to end on a sweet note? Finish it off with this creative Christmas tree complete with candy ornaments, an icing garland, and (of course) presents!

  • Complexity: easy


A breakfast classic.

  • Complexity: medium

Winnie the Pooh Cake Pops

With this recipe, everyone's favorite tubby little cubby is no longer stuffed with fluff: He's a tasty cake pop. And since Winnie the Pooh can't go long without his "hunny," you can use extra cake to make delectable Hunny Pot Cake Pops, too.

  • Time: 30 min
  • Complexity: very easy

Wizard Hats

Magical Wizard hats.. as much fun to make as they are to eat.

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