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Delicious Dishes to Bring the Magic of the Holiday Season

Combining food & tradition with Ashley Presciutti of Wishes and Dishes


The holidays are a flurry of activity, from wrapping that perfect last-minute gift, finding yourself “up to your ears in flour” in the kitchen, and melding new traditions with old as we embrace the season. It’s a symphony of all our senses: heady scents, illustrious sights and sounds, warm touches, and perhaps most important: delectable tastes!

For Ashley Presciutti, the holidays are a special time of year. Having run her food and travel blog, Wishes and Dishes, since September 2011, she has spent the past decade developing recipes, creating content, and perfecting her skills as a food photographer, posting “primarily family-friendly recipes that are accessible for any level of cook.”


Though her interest in cooking wasn’t sparked until her mid-20s as she married, Ashley grew up with an Italian father who taught her to appreciate the love of making Italian food. She says she’s had remarkable growth since that first dish she made with dad, his famous spaghetti sauce and meatballs, and her love of family is evident in every recipe she shares. “I started Wishes and Dishes merely as a hobby, and it turned into a successful business once I started gaining followers on my blog and social media channels,” Ashley says. “Blogging my recipes gives me that extra push in the kitchen to keep innovating, experimenting, and challenging myself.”

She was first inspired to take up cooking by her husband, Nick, who often serves as her guinea pig and “official (sometimes brutally honest)” taste-tester, offering nothing but encouragement—and his graphic design skills—on her journey.


“I absolutely love what I do in that I can be my own boss, work from home, and be with my 5-year-old daughter every day,” she says. Her daughter, Eliza, enjoys cooking and baking with mom. Ashley says, “Involving her takes extra time, but it is totally worth it to see her excitement over the feeling she helped cook dinner or bake a special dessert.”

Ashley admits that trying out new recipes requires a lot of patience, one of the hardest parts of the job. She tests most recipes at least 2-3 times, and while there are some delicious dishes that made it out of the kitchen, there are also some that… have not.


“I am pretty much a completely self-taught home cook, and I learn most things by trial and error,” Ashley says, still learning something new every week in her kitchen twelve years in. Her biggest piece of advice for any novice, or anyone who just wants to cook, is “to keep trying and persevere if you’re trying to perfect a particular recipe! Massive kitchen fails make me want to melt into a puddle of tears on occasion, but I can’t let mistakes like that stop me in the future. Cooking is not always perfect!”



As for many, the holidays are a special time of year and carry a sense of magic for Ashley and her family. She likens herself to a little kid and admits that she’s been known to sometimes even start decorating for Christmas and have her tree up in October. While the decorations are always nice, she also says one of her favorite things about the season is being surrounded by family—and the food!

“The holidays are seriously magical after having a child. It’s like living my childhood all over again, something I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy,” she says.

Having started a family of her own, the holidays are even more meaningful now—even if there are still times when she’s “stressed to the max or running around like a lunatic,” but who isn’t? She has carried on traditions she followed as a child, along with starting some of her own with her husband to leave their own indelible mark on the Christmas season.


“Two things I continue to do now that I have my own family are taking long nighttime drives to see all the beautiful lights, and baking my mom’s famous cut-out cookies,” she shares, along with a delicious sugar cookie recipe featured on her blog, declaring she won’t let the magic die.


With her husband and daughter, though, “I also love the new tradition we’ve started of a cozy breakfast of warm cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, slowly opening our gifts, and lying around with Christmas music in the background.”


Find more delicious dishes on WishesnDishes.com, or follow her on Instagram at @wishesndishes, and shake up your holiday season

with some of her recipes!

 


Grandma’s Tiramisu

Prep time: 35 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 12

Traditional Grandma’s Tiramisu is an authentic classic coffee-flavored Italian dessert idea for holidays or really any occasion!


Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks

  • ¾ cup white sugar

  • ⅔ cup milk

  • 1¼ cups heavy cream

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 pound Mascarpone cheese

  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature

  • 4 tablespoons dark rum

  • 3-4 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.

  2. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.

  4. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Take the ladyfingers and drizzle with coffee mixture.

  5. Arrange half the soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a large rectangle casserole dish (9x13 works great). Spread half the mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half the whipped cream over that.

  6. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate until set, overnight or up to 24 hours for best flavor. Enjoy!

 


Italian Ricotta Cookies

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Serves: about 4 dozen

Italian Ricotta Cookies are incredibly soft with a tender texture, delicious taste, and absolutely perfect for any holiday.


Ingredients

Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 15 ounces full-fat Ricotta cheese

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons orange zest

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon salt

Glaze:

  • ¼ cup butter, melted

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed.

  3. Add eggs and beat those in.

  4. Add Ricotta cheese and mix until smooth and fully incorporated.

  5. Add vanilla extract and orange zest and blend.

  6. In a separate medium bowl, whisk flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  7. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients (one cup at a time) on low speed until a dough forms.

  8. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet (they puff up while baking). Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on cookie size and your oven, so keep an eye on them. Cookies will get lightly golden around the bottom edges. You want them to remain soft and not over-baked.

  9. Remove from baking sheet and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

  10. Spoon glaze onto cookies, add sprinkles of your choosing before glaze dries, and allow to fully set before storing.

Glaze:

  1. Mix together melted butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth with no lumps.

  2. Add additional splashes of milk or cream to attain desired consistency, not too thick and not too runny.

 



Slow Cooker Beef Tips and Gravy

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 4 hours

Total time: 4 hours 20 mins

Serves: 6

Slow Cooker Beef Tips and Gravy are perfect to serve dinner guests but simple enough for a weeknight dinner recipe! Serve it over noodles, potatoes, or rice!


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 and ½ pounds beef chuck or sirloin, cut into large bite-size pieces

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

Gravy:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 cups beef stock

  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1½ teaspoons beef bouillon

  • 1½ teaspoons sugar

  • ½ tsp dried parsley

  • ½ tsp paprika

  • ¼ tsp dried oregano

  • ¼ tsp dried thyme

  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. After cutting meat and while it is still on the cutting board, toss with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  3. Add beef in single layer (work in 2 batches if needed) to the hot skillet and let cook for approximately 2 minutes, without stirring. Let it cook until it has a nice sear/crust on one side (this will give it a lot of flavor), then continue to cook while stirring until beef is browned all over but not cooked through.

  4. Transfer beef to 6-quart slow cooker and top with chopped onions and minced garlic.

  5. To the remaining juices left in the skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Whisk in flour until dissolved. Add in remaining gravy ingredients.

  6. Bring this to a boil then reduce to a simmer until thickened to the consistency of thick gravy. Make sure you let it thicken because it will thin out a little in the slow cooker. Add to slow cooker and stir to combine all ingredients.

  7. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 5-7 hours. Beef is ready when it is melt-in-your-mouth tender. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

  8. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley for color. Serve over or with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice. Enjoy!

 



Crock Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 5 hours

Total time: 5 hours 10 mins

Serves: 4

This extremely easy recipe for Crock Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken and Potatoes is the best comfort food meal, easy enough to cook for dinner guests, and will leave your house smelling divine!


Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 6 medium Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks

  • 2.5 cups baby carrots

  • 1 large (23 oz.) can condensed cream of chicken soup

  • 1 (1 oz.) packet dry ranch dressing mix

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • fresh thyme, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Spray a 6-7 quart slow cooker with non-stick spray or use a plastic liner.

  2. Place cut potatoes and baby carrots in the bottom of crockpot. Layer chicken breasts on top of the vegetables.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream of chicken soup, dry ranch dressing mix, and milk. Pour this mixture evenly over the chicken. Place butter on top.

  4. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for about 4-5 hours OR on LOW for 7-8 hours.

  5. You can shred the chicken into smaller pieces if you wish.

  6. Top with fresh thyme (optional).

 


Caramel Apple Cheese Ball

Prep time: 10 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 10

This quick and easy Caramel Apple Cheese Ball recipe works for a holiday appetizer idea, snack, or dessert! The sweet and salty treat is perfect for a potluck or party.


Ingredients

  • ¾ cup walnuts

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese (softened)

  • 1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • ¾ green or red apple, diced

  • 1 tablespoon caramel sauce plus extra for drizzling

  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

  • Crackers for serving

Instructions

  1. Toast walnuts in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat just until browning starts, stirring often; about 5 minutes. Do not let them get too dark.

  2. Remove and let them cool completely. Chop or crush walnut into small pieces using a rolling pin or anything else you have on hand.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together softened cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well incorporated.

  4. Mix in diced apple, nutmeg and caramel until ingredients are evenly incorporated. Use hands to roll into a ball shape.

  5. Spread walnut pieces on a plate or cutting board, and roll cheese ball to evenly coat the outside. Drizzle top with extra caramel sauce and serve with crackers. Enjoy!

 



Holiday Steak Bruschetta

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 25 mins

Total time: 55 mins

Mouthwatering Holiday Steak Bruschetta made with beef tenderloin, sourdough bread, and a seasonal thyme mayo with caramelized shallots on top. This is a holiday appetizer recipe to really impress your guests!


Ingredients

Roast:

  • 1.5 lb beef tenderloin roast

  • olive oil

  • salt & pepper

Bruschetta:

  • 1 loaf baguette, sourdough, asiago loaf, or bread of choice, sliced

  • 6 shallots, sliced not minced

  • ½ cup butter + 4 tbsp for cooking shallots

Seasonal Thyme Mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's)

  • ¼ cup fig jam

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tsp pepper

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

Instructions

Shallots:

  1. Heat 3 tbsp of butter (or use oil) on medium heat then add the shallots, stir until coated, add a pinch of salt (speeds up caramelizing process) and brown them until caramelized. Caramelizing onions brings out their amazing natural flavor. Make sure the pan doesn't get too hot or the butter will burn. Continue this process of cooking and deglazing until the onions have reached the color, flavor, and texture you desire.

Roast:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Rub roast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on all sides.

  3. Melt ½ cup butter on medium/high heat in a skillet. Add roast once the pan is hot (it should sizzle upon adding or the pan is not hot enough and you will get tougher meat from the steaming).

  4. Use tongs to flip the roast to brown each side, including the ends. You want a nice brown "crust" on each side.

  5. Add more butter as you go, if needed, so you don’t let the pan dry.

  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven and tent it with foil to keep warm. Let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes.

  8. Slice thin.

Mayo:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until combined.

Bread:

  1. Sauté 2 tbsp butter in skillet. Add bread slices, in one layer. Pan fry on both sides until a nice golden brown color.

  2. Spread thyme mayo on on bread slice. Place slices of beef (1 or 2 depending on size of bread slices) on top. Top with a spoonful of the caramelized shallots and a piece of fresh thyme (optional).

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