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75 Make-Ahead Holiday Recipes

Want to deliver a beautiful holiday spread, but don't want to neglect your guests? Use these lifesaving make-ahead recipes to help you get out of the kitchen and into the party!

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Favorite Cheesy Potatoes

My family loves these potatoes. I make a large batch in disposable pans and serve them at all our get-togethers. The holidays aren't the same without them. It's also a super recipe for Christmas morning brunch. —Brenda Smith, Curran, Michigan
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Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy

Ease the holiday time crunch with a make-ahead turkey recipe that's ready to serve when you are. It's a great choice for potlucks, too. —Marie Parker, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Mom's Buttermilk Biscuits

These fluffy biscuits are so tasty slathered with butter or used to mop up every last drop of gravy off your plate. I can still see Mom pulling these tender gems out of the oven. —Vera Reid, Laramie, Wyoming
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Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

My family loves gravy, so I can never have enough homemade gravy on hand for a holiday dinner. The base for this one is prepared with turkey wings and can be prepped in advance. —Linda Fitzsimmons, Fort Edward, New York
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White Christmas Cake

"Wow!" is the reaction from family and guests when they see and taste this lovely three-layer beauty. White chocolate, coconut and pecans make it so delicious. You can bake the cake layers in advance and freeze them. Then assemble and decorate the cake the day of the party. —Nancy Reichert, Thomasville, Georgia
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Marinated Mozzarella

I always come home with an empty container when I bring this dish to a party. It can be made ahead to free up time later. I serve it with pretty frilled toothpicks for a festive look. —Peggy Cairo, Kenosha, Wisconsin
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Classic Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

These make-ahead mashed potatoes save me a ton of time on Christmas day. No more frantically whipping the potatoes while hungry family and guests hang around the kitchen! —Marty Rummel, Trout Lake, Washington
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Vanilla-Butter Sugar Cookies

These are one of my favorite cookies to bake for Christmas. The dough recipe is versatile and you can use it for other holidays, too. Children like to help with decorating. —Cynthia Ettel, Glencoe, Minnesota
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Perfect Winter Salad

This is my most-requested salad recipe. Serve it as a side salad along with your holiday meal, or enjoy it for lunch the next day with cubed turkey or chicken on top. —DeNae Shewmake, Burnsville, Minnesota
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Chocolate-Filled Cookies with Peppermint Frosting

Baking is one of my favorite traditions around the holidays. These special cookies draw you in with candy-topped frosting and seal the deal with a chocolate center. —Deborah Puette, Lilburn, Georgia
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Meatballs in Honey Buffalo Sauce

My family loves the sweet and spicy combination and declared this recipe an instant favorite just for that reason. The meatballs start sweet but finish with a little heat! —Anne Ormond, Dover, New Hampshire
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Easy Microwave Mint Fudge

I make these creamy, smooth squares not only for Christmas, but also for Valentine's Day. This easy microwave fudge is just as good as any you'd buy in a confectionery. —Donna Roberts, Manhattan, Kansas
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Cream Cheese Turtle Cups

Sometimes the best thing about a cookie is the memories made. My daughter and I love to make and eat these “turtles.” —Lesa Renner, Kingsport, Tennessee
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Pecan Raisin Bread

We love raisin bread and also enjoy the nutty flavor of pecans, so I decided to combine the two for this delectable loaf. It smells terrific and the taste…oh-so good! —Lora Sexton, Wellington, Texas
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Maple-Pecan Pork Chops

For a standout holiday dinner, start with this change-of-pace entree. Begin by simmering the chops in apple juice, then drizzle with sweet maple syrup and top with crunchy pecans. —Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Wassail Bowl Punch

All ages will enjoy this warming punch. The blend of spice, fruit and citrus flavors is scrumptious. You can assemble it before heading out for a winter activity and sip away the chill when you return. It's ready whenever you are. —Margaret Harms, Jenkins, Kentucky
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Frosted Eggnog Cutout Cookies

My husband loves the creamy richness of eggnog, so I add it to the dough and buttercream icing in these cookies. Top each one with a sprinkle of nutmeg. —Joan Sarge, Asheville, North Carolina
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Sweet & Salty Snowmen

My son and I made these pretzel snowmen using different candies. They make fun table decorations when set in glasses of coconut “snow.” —Carol Berndt, Avon, South Dakota
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Overnight Pancakes

Our kids love waking up to these golden, fluffy pancakes. The buttermilk batter is refrigerated overnight, making them perfect for busy mornings and special occasion breakfasts alike. —Lisa Sammons, Cut Bank, Montana
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Mediterranean Pastry Pinwheels

These quick appetizers are irresistible. The flavors of sun-dried tomatoes and pesto balance beautifully. —Kristen Heigl, Staten Island, New York
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Glazed Candied Fruit Cookies

Even if your family doesn't care for fruitcake, they'll love these festive cookies studded with candied fruit and pecans. A caramel glaze adds a delectable touch on top. —Susan Hein, Burlington, Wisconsin
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Sacher Torte

Guests will be surprised to hear that this Sacher torte recipe starts with a convenient cake mix. Each bite features chocolate, almonds and apricots. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Honey Challah

I use these shiny beautiful loaves as the centerpiece of my spread. I love the taste of honey, but you can also add chocolate chips, cinnamon, orange zest or almonds. Leftover slices of this sweet challah recipe work well in bread pudding or for French toast. —Jennifer Newfield, Los Angeles, California
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Mocha Cookie Pretzels

Looking for something special to bake up for the holidays? Try these elegant mocha-frosted pretzels. They're great with coffee and make an eye-catching addition to any cookie platter. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Slow-Cooked Sausage Dressing

This savory dressing gets amped up with apples and pecans. It cooks easily in a slow cooker so the stove and oven are free for the other dishes you're preparing. —Raquel Haggard, Edmond, Oklahoma
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Red Velvet Spritz Cookies

I had never come across a red velvet spritz recipe, so I decided to create one. The hint of cocoa makes these taste like red velvet cake. Add peppermint flavoring for a little extra kick. —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

There's nothing like a bowl of warm oatmeal in the morning, and my spiced version works in a slow cooker. Store leftovers in the fridge. —Jordan Mason, Brookville, Pennsylvania
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White Chocolate-Cappuccino Cookies

These adorable cookies shaped like coffee cups don't last long with my friends and family. For an even richer flavor, I use a mocha latte coffee mix. —Nancy Sousley, Lafayette, Indiana
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Festive New York-Style Cheesecake

My mother-in-law received this recipe from an Italian friend many years ago. I added the chocolate-nut crust. It's our favorite holiday dessert. —Gloria A. Warczak, Cedarburg, Wisconsin
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Overnight Baked Eggs Bruschetta

I like to spend as much time as I can with my guests when they stay with me for the holidays, so I rely on make-ahead recipes to help make that happen. Because most overnight brunch casseroles are so similar, I came up with a breakfast bruschetta for a fun change of pace. —Judi Berman-Yamada, Portland, Oregon
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Mint-Chocolate Bombe

This is a refreshing dessert you can keep in the freezer and take out anytime. It's gorgeous, and never fails to impress! —Mary Kisinger, Medicine Hat, Alberta
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Chocolate-Filled Cream Puffs with Hot Fudge Sauce

I grew up eating my mother's homemade cream puffs. Now I make her recipe when I need to bring a treat to work. Everyone loves them so much I have to triple the batch! —Diana Voland, Martinsville, Indiana
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Frozen Cranberry Orange Salad

This cranberry creation is so good it could almost be a dessert. The salad freezes firm, but is easy to cut into serving size pieces. —Suzanne Merrill, Nampa, Idaho
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Lebkuchen

It's tradition for my family to make these German treats together. The recipe came from my great-grandmother's cookbook, and judging from the amount of requests I get, it has certainly stood the test of time. —Esther Kempker, Jefferson City, Missouri
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Bacon, Cheddar and Swiss Cheese Ball

When it’s time for a party, everyone always requests this ultimate cheese ball—it’s such an impressive appetizer. And if you’re a party guest, it makes a fabulous gift for your hosts.—Sue Franklin, Lake St. Louis, Missouri
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Mint-Filled Cookies

I tuck a peppermint patty inside these treats for a fun surprise. The bites will melt in your mouth. —Karen Nielson, St. George, Utah
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Cherries in the Snow

Dried Oregon cherries dot this light, creamy rice pudding. We developed this recipe for our guests with dietary concerns who still want a treat. It's sugar-free and fat-free. What’s not to love? —Barbara Sidway, Baker City, Oregon
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Orange Cranberry Bread

These moist loaves are packed with the zesty taste of cranberries and orange peel. I suggest serving slices toasted with butter or cream cheese. —Ron Gardner, Grand Haven, Michigan
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Rudolph Treats

These adorable goodies are a fun treat for kids, neighbors and friends. Get the little ones involved and let them help you create a new holiday tradition. —Abigail Vandersaul, Saint Paul, Missouri
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Creme de Menthe Squares

This layered bar hits all the sweet spots: It’s airy, creamy, crunchy and the perfect mix of cool mint and rich chocolate. It has a vintage dessert appeal that no one in our family can resist. —Marilyn Blankschien, Clintonville, Wisconsin
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Grandma's Raspberry Rugelach

I remember sitting on my great-grandmother's couch with a pad and pen in hand as she told me each ingredient and measurement for her special rugelach. Her recipe stands apart because it's a fun twist from typical versions. —Dalya Rubin, Boca Raton, Florida
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Cheese/Grape Appetizers

These small bites are well worth the time they take. Serve them as part of an antipasto platter or as a cheese course alongside your favorite wine. —Eleanor Grofvert, Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Chocolate Cutout Cookies

I love gingerbread cookies, but my grandchildren don't like the ginger flavor. Now I use chocolate and watch them smile as they take that first bite. —Nancy Murphy, Mount Dora, Florida
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Mulled Wine

This mulled wine is soothing and satisfying with a delightful blend of spices warmed to perfection. Refrigerating the wine mixture overnight allows the flavors to blend, so don't omit this essential step. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Lemon Rice Salad

This salad makes a refreshing side dish for a special occasion meal. I take it to holiday potluck suppers and other family gatherings. People enjoy the combination of flavors, and I like that it can be made ahead. —Margery Richmond, Lacombe, Alberta
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Make-Ahead Butterhorns

Mom loved to make these lightly sweet, golden rolls. They're beautiful and impressive and have a homemade taste that makes them memorable. —Bernice Morris, Marshfield, Missouri
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Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate Pods

Who doesn't love a steamy mug of hot chocolate on a snowy day? Now you can give friends, neighbors, co-workers or anyone who deserves a treat the pleasure of this indulgent drink with these giftable hot chocolate pods. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Spiced Orange-Cranberry Chutney

The aroma of simmering chutney signals the start of the holidays and sets the mood for my seasonal baking. Try it as an appetizer along with cream cheese and graham crackers. —Pat Stevens, Granbury, Texas
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Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Cookies

These pretty pink cookies always turn out so tender. They are the hit of my holiday! —Barbara Nowakowski, North Tonawanda, New York
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Christmas Crunch Candy

Treat family and friends to a yummy brittle for the holidays. Made with cashews and Rice Krispies, it's loaded with crispy-crunchy goodness. —Amanda McLemore, Maryville, Tennessee
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Brisket with Cranberry Gravy

Cranberry sauce adds a pleasant sweetness to this slow-cooked brisket. Use jellied sauce instead of whole berry sauce if you like. —Nina Hall, Spokane, Washington
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Overnight Reindeer Rolls

Kids love helping in the kitchen. This year, have a little fun making these reindeer-shaped rolls with your little bakers. And make sure to take pictures because the treats will be gone before you know it! —Chris O'Connell, San Antonio, Texas
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Citrus Gingerbread Cookies

Orange and lemon zest give gingerbread cutouts a refreshing twist. Brushing a honey glaze over the top adds a subtle shine and an extra touch of sweetness. —Monique Hooker, DeSoto, Wisconsin
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Cranberry Cream Cheese French Toast

My friend makes this French toast bake with blueberries, but I make mine with cranberry sauce. Either way, it’s divine. It makes a great brunch dish for Christmas morning. —Sandie Heindel, Liberty, Missouri
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Maple-Bacon White Chocolate Fudge

Maple-Bacon White Chocolate Fudge

Tired of the same old fudge? Try my recipe with white chips, maple flavoring and bacon. Then be prepared to share the recipe! —Mindie Hilton, Susanville, California
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Sweet Potato Tortellini with Hazelnut Sauce

Using wonton wrappers instead of fresh pasta dough makes homemade tortellini easy to prepare. For more formal dinners, this makes an impressive vegetarian entree. —Charlene Chambers, Ormond Beach, Florida
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Buttons and Bows

Biscuit mix hurries along these nutmeg-spiced buttons and bowknots. They're a fun breakfast treat to enjoy on a snowy morning. Serve with hot chocolate or coffee for dunking.
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Barbecue Glazed Meatballs

Stock your freezer with these meatballs and you'll always have a tasty appetizer on hand. We even like to eat them as a main dish with rice or noodles on busy weeknights. —Anna Finley, Columbia, Missouri
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Christmas Lights Cookies

What better way to brighten chilly winter days than with light-shaped cookies? My classic dough recipe has been a holiday tradition in our family for years. —Carolyn Moseley, Dayton, Ohio
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New England Lamb Bake

This dish is hearty and perfect for warming up on a chilly winter evening. The aroma is almost as delightful as the dish itself. —Frank Grady, Fort Kent, Maine
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Lovely Lemon Cheesecake

Wait for the oohs and aahs when you present this luxurious lemon cheesecake recipe. The lemon flavor gives it a bright, tangy flavor. —Margaret Allen, Abingdon, Virginia
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Crunchy Chocolate Mint Balls

Get a jump on the holidays by making these four-ingredient truffles and tucking them away in the freezer to save for gift-giving. Present them in mini cupcake holders for an extra-special touch. —Amanda Triff, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
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Almond Crunch

Once you start eating this taste-tempting treat, you may not be able to stop! Matzo crackers are topped with buttery caramel, chocolate and slivered almonds...and then baked to perfection. —Sharalyn Zander, Jacksonville, Alabama
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Overnight Egg Casserole

This is my go-to breakfast dish when hosting overnight guests for the holidays. Because you prepare it the night before, all you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning. —LaVonne Propst, Sweet Home, Oregon
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Creme de Menthe Truffles

I found this in a box of recipe clippings and decided to give them a whirl. I'm so glad I did! The minty flavor is perfect for Christmas. —Joe Mattes, Amana, Iowa
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Cranberry-Orange Sangria

Letting this sangria sit in the fridge overnight improves the fruitiness, making it the perfect make-ahead drink for a holiday party. It's also nice with a splash of brandy. —Maria Regakis, Somerville, Massachusetts
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Frozen Peppermint Delight

If you’re looking for a dessert that’s festive, delicious and easy to make, this is the one for you. Drizzled in hot fudge sauce and loaded with pretty peppermint pieces, this almost tempting treat will have guests asking for seconds. —Pam Lancaster, Willis, Virginia
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Jumbo Banana-Pecan Muffins

These tender muffins are topped with a delightful streusel. They make a great treat for Christmas morning when served with fresh fruit and coffee. —Pam Ivbuls, Omaha, Nebraska
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Mocha Punch

I first tried this smooth, creamy punch at a friend's Christmas open house. It was so special and distinctive I didn't leave until I had the recipe. Having a frosty glass of this chocolate punch is almost like sipping a chocolate shake. —Yvonne Hatfield, Norman, Oklahoma
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Bacon Quiche Tarts

Flavored with vegetables, cheese and bacon, these memorable morsels are bound to be winners at any brunch. The tarts are impressive but also quite easy to make. For garnish, sprinkle on some chopped green onion. —Kendra Schertz, Nappanee, Indiana
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Chocolate-Strawberry Pretzel Cookies

Every year I come up with a new recipe, and this is one that's been requested over and over. Who would ever guess how good pretzels are in cookies? —Isabel Minunni, Poughkeepsie, New York
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Amaretto Ricotta Cheesecake

There's a good reason why this cherished recipe was handed down to me by a relative. It's a keeper! The amaretto and ricotta make for a truly unique dessert. —Isabel Neuman, Surprise, Arizona
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Bacon Vegetable Quiche

This bacon quiche is so versatile. You can use Vidalia onions, green onions or leeks. Asparagus can take the place of broccoli, and you can use whatever fresh herbs or cheese you have on hand. —Shannon Koene, Blacksburg, Virginia
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Overnight Cranberry-Eggnog Coffee Cake

To use up leftover eggnog, cranberries and pecans from the holiday season, I added them to a classic coffee cake recipe. Mix it all together the night before, and bake it in the morning. —Lisa Varner, El Paso, Texas
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Buttery Ganache Cookie Cups

Our family wanted to share our love of ganache-filled cupcakes, so we made them into cookies. Even better: we bake the cookies in muffin cups, fill with ganache, and get the best of both worlds! —Adela Srinivasan, Parker, Colorado

Amy Glander
Amy is a book editor at Taste of Home where she gets to pour her passions for food and storytelling into trade and series cookbooks. When she’s not writing or editing, you’ll find her antiquing, cooking and baking from her favorite vintage cookbooks and exploring Milwaukee’s urban beauty with her digital SLR in hand.

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