Leave a comment

It is that time of year again when we fill our homes (and our bellies) with holiday cheer. These top Chicago chefs have shared some of their favorite holiday recipes to make your planning a little easier and tastier.

Chef Nichelle Benford, founder of Dream Chef LLC

“I was raised in Chicago, but spent my summers in Augusta, Georgia. My great aunts would go to the garden in the backyard and pull greens, peppers, and tomatoes. Nothing was as perfect for a country, city girl as the freshness of the greens from the garden. Thanking Great Aunt Jennie and Momma Char!”

Nichelle’s Collard Greens

smokedcollardgreensWhat you need:

3-4 pounds collard greens, cleaned, cut and stalks removed

*this works with all greens, mustards and turnips

1.5 pounds smoked turkey (tails, butts, drumsticks)

8 cups chicken broth

*vegetarians can use vegetable broth and no meat, add additional seasoning to taste.

Water to fill a large stock halfway, after using the chicken broth

¾ cup garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pepper (jalapeno or similar)

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or ½ tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1-2 tablespoons of greens seasoning or creole seasoning (to taste)


1.    Add water, chicken broth and smoked turkey to the large stock pot. Cook on medium until boiling then reduce to simmer. This can be done while greens are being cleaned.

2.    Clean, cut and remove stems from greens.

3.    Add greens to simmering broth.

4.    Let cook for 25 minutes, until the greens have started to wilt and reduce into the broth.

5.    Add onion, sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper, jalapeno pepper.

6.    Add vinegar.

7.    Let them simmer on medium for 30 minutes.

8.    Add butter.

9.    Add greens seasoning

10. Continue to cook until tender about 20 more minutes. Make sure the greens have enough broth. If you need to, add water, but the greens make some juice on their own.

11. Once tender and seasoned to taste, they are ready to serve. Garnish with diced tomatoes.

 Chef Judson Todd Allen, CEO and Executive Chef at Healthy Infused Cuisine, LLC.

“My favorite thing about the holiday is removing myself from the hustle and bustle of food and from my companies and just doing absolutely nothing. I can devote 100 percent of my love and quality time to my family, which includes my rock star nephews and friends.  I am a naturally giving and loving person, so I am in my comfort zone here.”

Maple Bourbon Sweet Potato Crumble

sweetpotatoespicsWhat you need:

7 medium sweet potatoes

1 avocado, (small to medium)

¼ cup pineapples, crushed in juice

½ cup vanilla almond milk (sweetened)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons bourbon liquor (your favorite)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon, cinnamon

½ teaspoon, nutmeg

Pinch of sea salt

Crumble Topping

½ cup oatmeal

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ cup – pecans finely chopped

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons raisins

1/3 cup, ginger snap cookies, finely crushed

3 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Wrap each potato in foil and place on sheet tray.  Roast for about 60 minutes or until soft.  Cool, separate the filling from the skin and let sit in a bowl.  Using a potato masher, coarsely mash.  Stir in maple, bourbon, pineapples, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 

In a blender, add avocado and milk and blend until thick, smooth and creamy. 

Transfer avocado mix to the potatoes and fold together.  Pour sweet potato mix into an oiled baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans, dried fruit and melted butter and stir.

Add your crumble on top of the sweet potato.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 

Chef Jen Gavin, Creator of Edible Passport

“I purchase eggnog every year for the holidays, but unfortunately I am the only one in the house that actually drinks it, so it tends to go to waste. I found that using eggnog as the custard for my French toast was a perfect way to utilize the last of the eggnog and incorporate tons of flavor into a classic breakfast dish.”

Eggnog French Toast w/ Bananas Foster & Praline Pecans

frenchtoastpicWhat you need:

2 eggs, beaten slightly

1 1/2 cups eggnog

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup maple syrup

1 cup chopped pecans

6 ripe bananas, halved crosswise and lengthwise

2 tablespoons of Meyers dark rum

12 Slices of Brioche Bread

Softened Butter


Fresh mint leaves 

Warm maple syrup

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:

1-pint heavy whipping cream

6 tbsp Powdered Sugar

2 Vanilla Beans, split and scraped

**Pour heavy whipping cream, vanilla bean seeds, and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl

Whip on low for 1 minute with whisk attachment, and then turn mixer speed up to high.

Mix until whipped cream is stiff, about 2 minutes.


Whisk the eggs, eggnog and all the spices together in a mixing bowl until well-blended. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish. Preheat and lightly grease the skillet with softened butter

Dip one slice of bread at a time into the eggnog mixture, being sure to coat each side of the bread thoroughly.

Place the prepared bread slices into the preheated skillet, and cook, turning once, until golden brown on each side.  In a large skillet, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add banana halves and rum. Coat with the syrup mixture, and simmer 1 minute. Spoon over French toast. Serve immediately with vanilla bean whipped cream and fresh mint leaves.

Chef Rain Truth, Founder of The Cultured Vegan

What I love most about the holidays and this time of year is the opportunity to see so many of my family members and friends. It seems that this is a time of togetherness, reflection and setting goals for the future. These are the things that I feel assist you in being happy, productive and successful in life.”

Garlic Lemon Rosemary Potatoes

rosemary_garlic_roasted_potatoes_2What you need:

3 pounds new potatoes

2 handfuls of fresh rosemary

6 cloves crushed garlic

6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 lemons (2 halved, juiced and squashed 1 halved and sliced)

Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400

Mix rosemary, garlic, olive oil, juice of lemons, black pepper and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Wash potatoes and slit. Lightly boil for 5 minutes in salted water. Drain water and let cool.

Toss potatoes in bowl with marinade and massage.

Place potatoes in medium size baking dish and place lemon slices over potatoes.

Bake for 35 minutes or until tender.

As with anything you can add or subtract whatever you’d like to make it your own.

This is the canvas and you are the artist. . . .  Be free to create!

Also On The Chicago Defender:
Chicago is new fashion mecca for ethnic wear
34 photos
comments – add yours