Holidays, The Dia Way!


6-10 Macintosh apples, depending on size

1 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar (3/4 cup if you bypass dark brown sugar)

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 kosher tsp salt

1 large egg beaten

1/3 melted butter

1 tbsp nutmeg

1 cup heavy whipping cream (optional but HIGHLY recommended)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees & lightly grease a 9X9 glass baking dish. Then, peel and thinly slice Mac apples being sure not to include parts of the seed casing aka “toenails”. It’s gross but you’ll never forget to pay attention to them now! Then add apple slices to the baking dish filling to the tippy top. They will cook down, I promise.

Sift flour, sugar, 1 tsp salt together in large bowl. You can use a whisk to blend for 1 min if you don’t have a sifter. Then add 1 beaten egg to mixture and spoon it over the apples making sure the mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Melt 1/3 cup butter in a small bowl and then pour on top of crisp mixture. Sprinkle with dusting of nutmeg.

Bake 350, 50-60 minutes until it’s a golden brown on top. Trust your heart and nose, they will know when it’s done. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks (this also helps with holiday stress management).  Serve apple crisp warm with a dollop of whip cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg as dessert or a delicious breakfast treat.

I love this recipe because it’s passed down from my great grandmother Margaret “Marge” Hudson, for whom I got my name. She taught my father how to make her famous apple crisp when he was young, and he would make it every fall at least a few times for holiday parties or a sweet treat. Sure, you could buy a machine to peel, core and slice the apples, but there’s something therapeutic and calming about the process, that reminds me of her, taking time and care to make something delicious and full of love by hand.

Plus, your home will smell of apples and nutmeg for at least 24-48 hours!


Vegetarian Bacon Bits

– 2 1/2, thick slices country style bread, torn into 1″ pieces

2 cups kettle style potato chips ( we use Cape Cod)

4tbsp. unsalted butter

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3 sprigs thyme leaves picked

1 tsp. Hot smoked Spanish Paprika

1/2 cup chopped parsley

4 garlic cloves – lemon

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

Pulse 4 garlic cloves in a food processor until finely chopped, about 15 seconds. Add bread and potato chips and process in long pulses until coarse crumbs form, about 1 minute. Heat butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add bread crumb mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cook in skillet, stirring until mixture is coated in butter and fragrant. Transfer skillet to oven tossing every 5 minutes until crumbs and chips are golden brown, 15-20 minutes. – Finely grate lemon zest from lemon into small bowl, add thyme leaves and paprika and toss to combine. – Remove crumb mixture from oven and immediately toss in thyme mixture. Let cool.

Mashed Potato Ingredients:

4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes scrubbed

1 head of garlic

5 sprigs thyme

2 tsp. black peppercorns lightly crushed

1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter

4 cups whole milk

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 lemon

Place Yukon Golds on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Roast until very tender, about 80–95 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the head of garlic in half crosswise and place in a medium saucepan with thyme, peppercorns, butter, 4 cups milk, and 1 Tbsp. salt. Using a vegetable peeler, remove wide strips of zest from half of lemon and add to pot; set the rest of the lemon aside for the topping. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove from heat, cover, and let sit at least 30 minutes.

When potatoes are done, use a paring knife to remove skins (it’s important to do this while they are very hot; hold them in a kitchen towel to protect your hands), then pass them through a ricer or food mill fitted with the fine disk into a large pot (or simply mash them in the pot with a potato masher). Return garlic mixture to a simmer, then add through a fine-mesh sieve into pot with potatoes and discard solids. Set potato mixture over medium heat and whisk until liquid is incorporated and potatoes are very smooth and bubbling. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Plate the mashed potatoes and sprinkle the bacon mixture over top (don’t forget to sneak in a few tastes in during this step!).


My husband and I are vegetarian, so over the years we have gotten creative with some of the more traditional holiday dishes. This mashed potato recipe is a go-to every year. The vegetarian bacon bits option can be used as a topper for any dish, its addicting!


1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium-large ones)

10 ounces pennette (or other small, short pasta)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

¼ teaspoon paprika (plus more to sprinkle on top)

3 ounces crumbled feta (about 3/4 cup)

1 ¾ cups grated sharp cheddar (plus 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top)

Fresh sage leaves (for garnish, optional)

salt (to taste) pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 400°F and put on a big pot of salted water to boil. While the oven is heating up and the water is boiling, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into medium sized pieces. When the water’s boiling, add the potatoes and cook them for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Scoop them out of the water into a large bowl with a slotted spoon or handheld strainer (pro tip: hold on to the sweet potato water to boil your pasta).  Mash the potatoes masher or fork until you get a mushy soft texture that’s mushy and soft.

In another pot, gently melt the butter, add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Then turn off the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. When it’s all combined and smooth, put the heat back on and bring the sauce to a light simmer. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon until your sauce has thickened to coat the back of the spoon. Add the mustard, paprika, and season with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that you’ll be adding more salty cheese later on.

Bring the sweet-potato water back up to a boil and add the pasta until it is almost al dente, that’s about 2 minutes before the cooking time on the package. Hold on to a couple of cups of the pasta water and drain the remainder. Add the pasta to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine. Fold the feta into to the sweet potato and pasta, then add the mixture into the pot with the sauce and mix gently, folding in the white sauce adding the 1 ¾ cups cheddar as you go. Add pasta water as needed to maintain a gooey, smooth texture. Taste as you go to adjust seasonings.

Then transfer the sauced pasta into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle on top the remaining cheddar and a dash of paprika.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned and the dish is bubbling.

Recipe adapted from

This is my go-to recipe because it is generally a total crowd-pleaser. Every time I’ve made it for people I get asked for the recipe. The salty, savory cheese perfectly complements the earthy sweetness of the potatoes, plus you get a little smokiness from the paprika. It makes for a great cozy dinner on cold nights!


4 eggs,

1 cup matzo meal

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp club soda/seltzer

2 tbsp oil

Start by beating the eggs well. Then, mix in the matzo meal and salt. Add club soda. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Boil a large pot of water and add a drop of oil. Once the water has boiled, wet your hands with cold water to form balls from the matzo mixture, and drop them gently into the boiling water. When the water starts to boil again, turn it down to a simmer. Cover and let cook for one hour.

Then, make your favorite basic chicken soup, or a brothy veggie soup if you are vegetarian. My favorite chicken soup recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. Or, feel free to use any brothy soup your heart desires! Once the soup is ready, add in these matzo balls instead of noodles. Just make sure to cook the matzo balls for a few minutes extra with the soup before it’s served. If you are short on prep time, try making the matzo balls a day ahead.



I love this recipe because it was passed down from my grandma to my mom and now to me. My grandma was such a fabulous outgoing woman and this was one of her signature dishes. It’s like a bowl of comforting goodness. When it’s cold outside there’s nothing better than getting cozy with a bowl of delicious soup.



5 strips of bacon
8 chicken thighs (I prefer boneless, skinless but bone-in, skin-on is the traditional way)
Salt, Pepper, Ground Cumin, 2 tablespoons of lime juice
Olive oil for sautéing
2 cups white onions, chopped
2 cups green bell peppers, chopped
5 garlic cloves, mashed
3.5 cups chicken broth
1 (12oz) bottle of beer (I prefer Pacifico, Stella, or any pilsner-style beer)
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Bijol Powder
1-2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive stuffed with pimentos, chopped
1.5 teaspoons salt
3.5 cups parboiled rice

In a large Caldero (dutch oven), sauté  the bacon over low heat to render out the fat – about 10 minutes.

Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, a little cumin, and lime juice.

Once the fat is released, remove the bacon and increase the heat to medium-high. Add in the chicken, brown both sides, and remove from pot.

Add a little olive oil to the same pot and sauté  the onion and green peppers until the onions become translucent. At this point, add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add the chicken broth, beer, browned chicken thighs, tomato sauce, bijol, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and olives to the pot. You can even chop the bacon and add it in as well. Bring to a boil uncovered.

Once the pot comes to a boil, rinse the rice and stir it in. When enough liquid has evaporated, the rice will start to become visible. Bring the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is fully cooked and not soupy.

Stir the rice and serve with fried maduros (ripe plantains).

I love arroz con pollo because it reminds me of home. Growing up in Miami, Fl in a Dominican-Cuban household, my mom always cooked meals from both cultures. It was important to her to teach me about my roots. I didn’t fully appreciate it then, but I certainly do now.

My husband Kevin who is Haitian-Cuban and I love cooking Caribbean food because it helps us stay connected to where we are from now that we live in Texas. And nothing says the holidays like Coquito which is a coconut-rum drink served during the holidays in the Caribbean.




2, 1 ounce packages dry onion soup mix

1/2 tsp paprika

2 pounds lean beef stew meat cut up into bite size pieces

5 medium potatoes peeled and diced

2 to 3 cups baby carrots

1 small yellow onion chopped

2, 10 ounces each cans cream of celery soup

1 cup ketchup

In a large plastic bag, combine the dry onion soup mix and paprika. Add the meat to the bag and shake to coat meat with the seasoning mixture. Once meat is coated, spread evenly in a greased 7 quart crock pot.

Cover the meat evenly with diced potatoes, carrots and onion.

Mix the cream of celery soup and ketchup in a small bowl. Pour mixture over the meat and vegetables.

Cover the crock pot and cook on low heat for 8 hours or until the meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender.

Stir to combine ingredients then serve!


We used to eat this every Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house. She is no longer with us so it is even more special when my family carries on this tradition and laughs at memories of her trying to make us all get seconds and thirds.


*Main Photo Credit: Stylist Jaclyn Glass

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