We enjoy all the usual activities and festivities of the holiday season that stretches from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day—the Christmas tree, decorating the house and yard, sending and receiving Christmas cards, visiting with family and friends, etc.

For us, the special days of the holiday season are punctuated by the various recipes we’ve incorporated into our celebrations. Our Thanksgiving menu is fairly traditional, though I’ve been changing it recently to substitute make-ahead versions of recipes so that as much of the food prep as possible is done the day before. And Thanksgiving weekend would not be complete without making “turkey frame” broth to freeze for future use in a hearty batch of turkey noodle soup. Christmas Eve finds us enjoying comfort food favorites of homemade macaroni and cheese and hotdogs (yes, there’s a story there!). Christmas Day includes a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, and fresh English Muffin Bread; dinner is usually fairly simple—ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, and apple crisp.

But as the season draws to a close, I look forward to a New Year’s Day tradition I started a few years ago. In the spirit of the fresh start that the beginning of a new year brings, I plan a menu that includes at least one new recipe that I hope will be added to our collection of favorites. Browsing magazines and cookbooks and watching food television become favorite diversions as I search out candidate recipes, and my shopping lists become more exotic as I add the ingredients required for the selected recipes. This year’s recipes include roasted beef tenderloin (credit: Giada De Laurentiis) and butternut squash gratin (credit: Good Housekeeping magazine).

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