5 Comfort Food Dinners to Serve Family Style

This month, we welcome back Marta Rivera for more of her meal plans. Marta is a trained chef, mom of twins, an Army wife, and a Simply Recipes recipe tester and developer!

Family-style dining and meals are best served during busy holiday months. Not only do they take the burden of extensive prep off of me, but they’re also a no-frills option that allows for buffet-style (AKA serve yourself) dining. I just set the dish out on the table and everyone digs in.

This week I’m focusing on some family favorites and comfort food. We are talking pot pies, a hamburger skillet (think hamburger helper but better because it’s made from scratch), ginger pork bowls, and vegan sloppy joes.

Make these meals and watch your family dig in!

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The Best Thumbprint Cookies {Raspberry Jam}

These Thumbprint Cookies were always one of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes. Buttery cookies rolled in nuts and filled with jam or jelly.

These are the perfect addition to any cookie tray alongside Sugar Cookies and of course Gingerbread Men!

Thumbprint cookies on a cooling rack

Jam-Filled Thumbprint Cookies

When I was little, thumbprints were my favorite cookies (I used to call them thimble cookies).  While I really liked Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies and Shortbread Cookies, I always went for the Thumbprint Cookies first.

My mom used to fill half of them with raspberry jam and the other half with mint jelly so they were red and green during the holidays.

You can use any kind of jam (I like seedless best) or even make these thumbprint cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss in the middle!

I’ve made these with both pecans and walnuts and both are great but walnuts is what I grew up with!

Thumbprint cookies

How To Make Thumbprint Cookies

Some recipes for thumbprint cookies call for all butter and some call for all shortening.  I definitely prefer a combination of both as it gives the best texture and flavor. I don’t suggest using margarine in this recipe.

Once you remove your cookies from the oven, you may need to press the indent again while they’re still soft.  I place the jam in a sandwich bag and snip off the corner to make filling them easy!

Like most cookie recipes, these cookies freeze well making them the perfect holiday cookie.  I place them in layers separated by parchment paper and seal them in a plastic container. They will defrost in about 20 minutes at room temperature.

Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

Thumbprint Cookies

Buttery soft cookies rolled in nuts and filled with jam are the perfect addition to any cookie tray!

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.

  • Cream butter, shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. (Set egg white aside in a small bowl.)

  • Combine flour and salt and add in a little at a time to the wet mixture until incorporated. 

  • Divide dough into 20 pieces and roll into balls. Beat egg white in a small bowl. Dip each cookie dough ball in the egg whites and then into the nuts, pressing to adhere.

  • Place each ball of dough about 2″ apart and using the end of a spoon or your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie. Seal any cracks that form on the sides. Freeze 15-20 minutes.

  • Bake 16-18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and use the back of a ½ teaspoon to press the indents again if needed.

  • Fill indents with jam. Cool completely.

  • Chop nuts finely, they will stick to the cookie better.
  • Don’t skip freezing the cookies or they will spread too much.
  • The indent will rise a bit so you may need to press it again before you fill them. The back of a measuring spoon works well.
  • Warm the jam slightly to make it easier to spoon or pour.
  • If your jam has seeds, heat/melt it in the microwave and run it through a small sieve if you’d like.
  • Make ahead, cool completely and freeze up to 3 months.

Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 118, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 24mg, Potassium: 39mg, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 85IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 0.5mg

Keyword how to make thumbprint cookies, thimble cookies, thumbprint cookies, thumbprint cookies recipe

Thumbprint cookies on a cookie sheet with a title
Thumbprint cookies on a cooling rack with a title

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Cranberry Salsa (Make-Ahead Appetizer!) – Spend With Pennies

Cranberry salsa is a fresh and easy recipe to make over and over again all season long!

Bright and tangy, a handful of ingredients get a quick whirl in the food processor to create a flavorful holiday appetizer. Serve on its own with crackers or tortilla chips or spoon over cream cheese.

Cranberry Salsa in a white bowl with crackers

Zesty and Delicious

Serve this festive sweet and spicy side dish with favorite dippables like crackers, Crostini, or tortilla chips. The possibilities are endless!

Cranberry salsa is beautifully bright with a sweet and tart flavor.

This recipe has added jalapenos, some cilantro and some onions.

top view of ingredients to make Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa Ingredients

Fresh cranberries are what we used for this recipe, but frozen cranberries taste great too! Just let them come to room temperature before using.

If using frozen, they can be a bit watery and may need to be drained a bit before serving.

Sugar and lime juice give it that signature sweet-tart flavor.

Jalapenos make it just a little bit spicy! If you’re using canned jalapenos, stir a little of the juice into the salsa to up the spiciness!

process of blending ingredients to make Cranberry Salsa

How to Make Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa is one of those easy recipes that comes together quickly.

  1. Pulse cranberries in a food processor with green onions, cilantro, and jalapeno (per recipe below) until cranberries are chopped fine (but not too finely).
  2. Add lime juice and sugar mixture and pulse just to mix.
  3. Season with salt and refrigerate before serving for at least an hour.

PRO TIP: Feel free to adjust the sugar levels and the jalapeno spiciness to fit your preference. This recipe is super versatile so you can make your own signature blend!

Tips for the Perfect Dip

Perfect dips are made with the right combination of taste, texture, and presentation.

  • Avoid over-processing the mixture so it still maintains some structure.
  • Serve cold or scooped over a block of cream cheese for a great presentation.
  • Or, simply stir the cranberry salsa directly into the cream cheese for a delicious spread that is perfect on burgers, or for leftover turkey sandwiches!

How to Store and Freeze Cranberry Salsa

  • Keep cranberry salsa in a covered container in the refrigerator. It’s even better the next day when all of the flavors have had a chance to blend! Add an extra shot of lime juice or some freshly diced jalapenos to brighten up the flavors before serving.
  • Freeze it in zippered bags with the date labeled on them and they will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.
  • Once thawed, the salsa will likely need to be drained a bit.

More Holiday Appetizers

Did you make this Cranberry Salsa? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below! 

Cranberry Salsa

Loaded with fresh cranberries and jalapenos, this cranberry salsa is the perfect combination of sweet & spicy!

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

  • Combine lime juice (about 2 tablespoons) and sugar in a small bowl.

  • Add cranberries, green onions, cilantro and jalapeno to a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to break up the cranberries.

  • Add sugar mixture and pulse a few more times. Stir in salt to taste and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Calories: 75, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 196mg, Potassium: 71mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 144IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 1mg

Keyword best Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry Salsa, Cranberry Salsa recipe, how to make Cranberry Salsa

More Favorite Salsa Recipes

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close up of Cranberry Salsa with a title
ingredients in food processor to make Cranberry Salsa with plated dish and a title

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