The holidays are all about food–deliciously sumptuous delights that warm the tummy and soothe the soul. These special occasions present a number of gatherings that always winds up in a delightful array of holiday favorites. What are your holiday favorite foods–you know, the ones without which, Christmas and the holidays would just not be complete? Some are more universal, and particular the recipes can vary, but they are all delicious:

Buche de Noel
This holiday favorite is a sweet confection, and many recipes exist. They are all delicious and delightfully a part of Christmas! You bake a chocolate sheet cake and roll it the still hot from the oven cake up, jelly roll style. Prepare a filling of cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and melted chocolate. Quickly spread the filling onto the unrolled cake and then roll back up. Ice the cake with chocolate frosting to resemble tree bark, and add decorations of holly leaves and berries, with sprinkle confectioners’ sugar as snow.

Russian Tea
This mixture is fun to drink at the holidays, and makes a great gift, as well: Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar. To serve, boil water and add a couple spoonfuls of this mix to taste: 1 lg jar Tang, 1 ½ C. granulated sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, ½ C. lemon drink mix, ½ C. instant tea and 1 tsp. ground cloves.

Holiday Eggnog
Separate 12 eggs. Beat yolks well while adding in ¾ C. superfine sugar until sugar dissolves. Continue stirring while adding in 1-pint cognac and ½ pint dark rum. The addition of liquor “cooks” any bacteria from the eggs. Next, add in 1-pint milk and ½ pint heavy cream, stirring well. Whip the 12 egg whites till soft peaks form, then add by folding into main mixture. Stir in a little grated nutmeg. Serves about 10.

Gingerbread Cookies
In a large bowl, combine 6 C. flour, 1 t. salt, 1/ t. ground allspice, 1/ t. ground cloves, 1/ t. ground ginger, 1/ t. ground nutmeg, and 1/ t. ground cinnamon. Set aside. By mixer, beat ¾ C. soft butter and 1.5 C. firm packed brown sugar until fluffy. Add 1 C. molasses. Mix well, and scrape sides of bowl. Add and mix in 2 eggs and 1 T. maple extract. Add the flour mix in thirds, beating just until combined after each addition. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before baking. To bake, remove dough from refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When the dough is just soft for rolling out but firm, divide it into two, and roll out each half with a sheet of plastic wrap on top and bottom. Remove plastic from the top and cut with cookie cutter into shapes. Place each cookie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes till done, but with cookies still soft. Remove with a spatula and to cool. Cover with powdered sugar or decorate with royal icing.

Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x13 inch baking dish. In large bowl, mix 4.5 C. mashed (pre-baked,) sweet potatoes,½ C. melted butter, 1 C. granulated sugar, ⅓ C. milk, ½ t. vanilla extract and 2 beaten eggs. Spread into baking dish evenly. In med. bowl, mix together 1 C. lt. brown sugar with1/2 C. white flour. Add 1/2 C. butter, and stir till crumbly, then add 2 C. whole pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture evenly over sweet potatoes. Bake for 25 mins. or until slightly golden brown.