NTC Staff Share Their Favorite Christmas Food

christmas food montage

At this time of year, the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas are all around us! And then there are the tasty foods that capture the spirit of the season. We asked our NTC staff what epitomizes Christmas for them and here’s what they said. 

Rev. Cammy Gaston, Director for the Center for Leadership Development

Chex Mix. My husband Matt's mom loved to make it and she added Cheerios. Hot Chocolate is also a favorite!

Rev. Debra Hobbs Mason, North Central District Superintendent

When I was a child, my Grandma Vance (mom’s mom), would make the most delicious and most beautifully decorated Christmas icing cookies. They always lived away from us because my Grandpa was a UMC pastor in the Texas Annual Conference and we lived in Dallas. When we arrived at their home a few days before Christmas, we would immediately look for the cookies, barely stopping for a hug and to tell them how our year in school was going. Because my brother and my cousins and I would eat every cookie we found, she began to put them in multiple cookie tins and hide them in different places, in cabinets higher and higher as we grew. Whenever I eat one today, I think of her and smile!

Lisa Putnam, IT Manager

My all-time favorite Christmas treat is my mom’s sugar cookies. As a child, I loved to watch Mom roll out the dough and use the Christmas-shaped cutters to cut them out. Of course, my favorite part was decorating them with sugar sprinkles. I’m not much of a baker, so making these cookies as an adult is not my favorite thing to do, but my kids absolutely love them. When they were in college, my mom would send them cookies at Christmas time. My son Aaron would often finish them off in one sitting! So now I make several batches every Christmas and ration them out to my kids so my husband has some left! Their favorite cookie shape is the “splat” – the last bit of dough that is too small

Rev. Dr. Owen Ross, Director of the Center for Church Development

My great grandmother's dressin' recipe. I have no idea how it is made, but my mom has the recipe on a card where my great grandmother wrote it down.

Pam Hughes, Communications Director

Every year my family celebrates Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Fishes. The tradition comes from the Italian side of the family, and it's a meal we look forward to all year! My dad cooks up a whole slew of seafood dishes - mussels, clams, boiled shrimp, scallops, lobster tail, crabcakes and more - and we gather to eat and celebrate as a family between Christmas Eve services. 

Rev. Andy Lewis, Director for the Center for Missional Outreach

Cookies and milk set out for Santa on Christmas Eve. My kids would tell you I went all out when they were little creating the “magic” of a visit from Santa Claus. Of course, when setting it all up, I had to take a bite or two of the cookies.

Monica Frazier, Communications Coordinator

Every year for Christmas we would make hundreds of pecan crescents to give as gifts to teachers and family friends. I remember helping smash the nuts in a ziplock bag as a small kid, but Mom wouldn’t let me lick the beaters because of the raw eggs. Laulie and I still make these every year at Christmas

Liz Lancaster, Metro District Admin

My mother is Italian (really Sicilian). Growing up she always made pizzelles. I knew when the pizzelle iron came out there would be hours of pizzelle making. While our family enjoyed the traditional pizzelle made with anise extract, other flavors are also very good.

After my mother retired from full time work, she would make pizzelles for her friends at Christmas of various flavors and place them in lovely tins. In 2016, my father went into a nursing home mid-November. During several conversations with my mother during this time she talked about how she did not know how she would make pizzelles for her friends that year. Since I was planning a trip to see my parents in early December that year, I told her I would bring my pizzelle maker, and we could make pizzelles together. So, I did. Double the pizzelle makers, double the fun. We spent several evenings making pizzelles and packaging them and then delivering. It is a wonderful memory.

Every year my mother inquires if I have made my pizzelles. Since she is coming to visit me in Dallas this year, I think we will make pizzelles together once again.

Anise Pizzelle Recipe:


  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • ½ teaspoon anise seeds (optional)
  • Pinch of salt

How to make batter: 

  • Melt butter and allow to cool.
  • In mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until light yellow. 2-3 minutes on medium high speed
  • Add melted butter, vanilla extract, anise extract and anise seeds to the batter and stir until combined.
  • In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, salt and the baking powder.
  • Fold the dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Do not over mix.

How to cook pizzelle cookies:

  • Spray pizzelle iron with non-stick spray. Heat pizzelle iron according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Place 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into the center of the pizzelle press' molds.
  • Close the lid and bake for 40 to 50 seconds or until light golden in color.
  • Remove from the iron with a chop stick and cool on a cooling rack.
  • Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Dust lightly with powdered sugar (optional)

What is you favorite Christmas food?

Published: Wednesday, December 6, 2023