Creating Holiday Memories

Celebrating the Holidays with Tips & Holiday Recipes for Dinner

Chances are, some of your favorite holiday traditions and memories were born from entertaining family and friends in your home. And the cornerstone of entertaining is food. Chef Pano Stathakis shares a few tips and family holiday recipes for a dinner party that’s filled with more joy and less stress.

Entertaining tips

Planning is the key. Schedule backward from the party date. If you are sending formal invitations, allow two weeks for printing before mailing. Depending on the size of your guest list, phone calls are a great, personal way to invite guests too.

Line up your caterer, bartender, florist, and other vendors at least four to six weeks in advance. Will you use your china and silver or simply rent? Remember to factor in time to prep and clean if you’re using your own.

When setting a menu, provide a little bit of everything. A couple of different proteins — some combination of chicken, beef, or pork,  along with one seafood item  ­— gives your guests choices and meets a variety of dietary concerns.

Vegetables provide contrasting colors, textures, and tastes, to give the table a nice setting.

Your holiday recipes for dinner can feature heavier ingredients, such as chocolate and cream-based desserts, and spices such as cinnamon.

Stathakis suggests sharing a personal memory with your guests by asking the caterer to prepare a special family dessert or entrée.

Valet parking can be helpful, especially for smaller neighborhoods or guests who have mobility issues.

It’s common courtesy to tell your neighbors about your party and when it’s expected to end.

If someone brings wine, you can ask your guest if he or she would like it served that evening.

Hire wait service so as a host your time can be spent in conversation with your guests instead of picking up plates and filling glasses. After all, enjoying a stress-free evening in the company of family and friends should be the focus of your holidays, too.

Check out these holiday recipes for dinner and get cooking!

Trifole Greek Salad Topped with Ahi Tuna

Quick, easy & gorgeous


1 lb. of lettuce spring mix

½ head of iceberg lettuce

1 sliced English cucumber

1 cup feta cheese

¾ cup grape tomatoes

½ cup Kalamata olives

¹/ cup sliced red onions

½ cup slice pepperchinis

1 cup Greek salad dressing

8 oz sliced Ahi tuna pre-cooked to medium rare


Put chopped iceberg lettuce and spring mix layer in the bottom of the trifle bowl.

Rim with a layer of cucumbers around the outer edge of the bowl.

Add a layer of feta cheese. Add another layer of salad mix.

Rim the edge with grape tomatoes.

Rim the outer edge of the bowl with Kalamata olives.

Rim the edge with sliced red onions.

Add another layer of feta cheese.

Top with slices of Ahi tuna.

Dress salad when ready to serve.

Mile-high Coconut Cream Pie:A dream come true


2 cups of milk

1 cup of sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

4 eggs

16 oz. shredded coconut

Vanilla flavoring to taste

1 baked pie shell


Heat milk to hot to touch, but not boiling.

Combine dry ingredients, add eggs, and beat.

Pour some of the hot mixture into the egg, whisk and return to the stove.

Cook on low heat, stirring until mixture thickens. Add coconut and let cool.

Pour into pie shell and top with whipped cream icing made from 1-pint heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup of powdered sugar.

Top with browned coconut flakes.

holiday recipes for dinner

Four Cheese Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Shrimp


2 lbs. of 16/20 fresh Argentina jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lb. of bacon

1½ lb. of cream cheese

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 oz of goat cheese

2 tbs diced celery

2 tbs chopped green onions

1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Season with salt and pepper to taste

1 tbs dill weed

2 oz of Boursin cheese


Use a fork to blend all ingredients together. Use mixture within 10 days.

Cook bacon until about halfway done. Cut bacon strips in half.

Place shrimp on bacon and roll a marble-sized ball of the seasoned cheese mixture and place it on top of the shrimp. Wrap the bacon around the shrimp and cheese ball, add a slice of jalapeño pepper if desired, and secure with a toothpick.

Put wrapped shrimp on a sheet pan that is lightly coated with non-stick spray.

Cook at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

holiday recipes for dinner

Kofinia – Greek Pecan Baskets


3 cups of ground pecans

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup of ground Holland Rusks (or dry toasted bread)

1 cup sugar

4 jumbo eggs slightly beaten

¾ cup melted butter

½ lb. Phyllo dough sheets


Combine and mix dry ingredients. Alternate and add eggs and butter to the dry mixture.

Brush melted butter on each side of five sheets of Phyllo.

You should have five sheets together.

Measure and cut five across and four down to create squares.

Place each square into a muffin pan.

Pour about 2 tbs. of nut mixture into each basket.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let cool and dust with powdered sugar.

holiday recipes for dinner

Chocolate Walnut Cake

Greek twist on a classic dessert


10 eggs

1 cup sugar

¼ cup warm water

¹/8 cup vanilla

1½ cup semelina flour

½ cup flour

1½ tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1½ cup chopped walnuts


Beat eggs and sugar until light yellow and foamy with the whip attachment, about 10 minutes. The mixture should not drip off a spoon when ready. Combine all dry ingredients and add slowly to the mixture, ending with walnuts.

Pour into three 10-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 15 minutes at 375 or until done.

Chocolate Ganache


1 stick butter

1 block of semi-sweet chocolate

¾ cup of Half and Half

½ cup powdered sugar


Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Remove and whisk. Let set.

Pastry Cream


1 cup milk

½ cup sugar

¹/8 cup cornstarch

2 eggs


Heat milk until hot to touch, combine dry ingredients, and beat in eggs.

Add warm milk to the mixture of dry ingredients and eggs and return to pot.

Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens. Cool.



Get The Magazine

Never miss out on our newest stories that captivate and inspire.

Join the ELYSIAN Circle

Stay Connected