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Enjoy a festive menu for holiday celebrations

Spinach Christmas Tree Salad (Family Features)

Enjoy a festive menu for holiday celebrations

(Family Features) Creating a holiday menu doesn’t have to be hard. The key is focusing on dishes that can please loved ones of all ages and palates. Find more holiday recipe inspiration at Culinary.net.

This Spinach Christmas Tree Salad offers a festive option that adds a seasonal presentation to the table. Find more at FreshExpress.com.

Servings: 6

2 packages (5 ounces each) Fresh Express Baby Spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries, divided
1/3 cup pistachios, divided
1/2 cup feta cheese, divided
1 red pepper, cored, cut into thin strips
1 large apple, thinly sliced, cut into star shapes

1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
3 tablespoons cranberry juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In large bowl, toss baby spinach with 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/6 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup feta cheese. Transfer to Christmas tree cake mold. Neatly arrange spinach leaves to create smooth surface.

Arrange red pepper strips, trimming as needed, to create garland. Arrange remaining dried cranberries, remaining pistachios and remaining feta cheese as “ornaments” on top of spinach. Create tree topper with one apple star; place remaining apple stars around “tree.”

To make dressing: In blender, process cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, brown sugar and salt until smooth.

Creamy Au Gratin Potatoes with Kale and Gruyere
Recipe courtesy of Wisconsin Potatoes

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves shallots, diced
4 large kale leaves, finely chopped (discard stems)
2 pounds red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch
2 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 325 F.

In small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, salt, black pepper, garlic and thyme; stir constantly, until cream starts to bubble, 4-6 minutes.

When bubbling, remove from heat and stir until slightly cooled. Let cream sit.

Heat large (12-inch) oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter melts, add shallots and kale leaves. Sauté until kale is tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Turn off burner.

Add sliced potatoes to skillet, fanning over top of kale.

Use slotted spoon to remove garlic and thyme from heavy cream. Pour heavy cream over potatoes.

Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake until potatoes are tender, 75-85 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and turn on broiler. Discard foil.

Sprinkle gruyere and Parmesan cheeses over potatoes, tucking some cheese between potato slices.

Return skillet to oven and broil until top is golden brown, 5-6 minutes.

This rich, festive Cranberry Cheesecake combines classic flavor with a homemade cranberry compote-infused layer above a crust sweetly made using C&H Light Brown Sugar and graham crackers. Top with fresh and sugared cranberries, rosemary springs and whipped cream for a tempting treat. Find more sweet eats at chsugar.com.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cranberry Compote:
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup C&H Light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons C&H Light Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups C&H Organic Raw Cane Sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup cranberry compote
fresh cranberries, sugared cranberries, rosemary sprigs, whipped cream

Cranberry compote: In medium saucepan, bring cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and orange zest to boil. Lower heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until most cranberries burst. Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature then transfer to bowl; refrigerate.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 8-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

In medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, butter, brown sugar and salt. Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.

To make cheesecake: In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth. Add cane sugar and beat 2-3 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Beat 1 minute until incorporated.

Add one egg at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add sour cream and mix 1 minute. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. In medium bowl, mix half of cheesecake batter with 1/2 cup cranberry compote.

Wrap springform pan with aluminum foil and place in large roasting pan. Pour cream cheese and cranberry mixture into prepared pan. Top with remaining cream cheese batter. Place roasting pan in oven and add hot water to 1-inch of springform pan. Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until cake looks set in center. Remove from oven and rest 1 hour. Refrigerate in pan overnight.

Decorate cake with fresh and sugared cranberries, rosemary springs and whipped cream.