It’s time for our first-ever Holiday Traditions Recipe Contest!

Sarah Nasello

Sarah’s Bio

I am so excited…I love a good recipe contest and to kick off the holiday season the folks here at CommonGround North Dakota (CGND) are helping me host our first-ever Holiday Traditions Recipe Contest! This contest is designed to celebrate the joy of holiday baking through the generations! We are seeking recipes for a holiday sweet treat that has been passed down (or up) in your family or friend circle from one generation to another. This can include recipes for cookies, cakes, bars, candy, pies, etc.

All entries must include the recipe, the name of the specialty, a photo of the treat and a short story about the recipe, its heritage and why it’s important to you – one to three paragraphs in length (between 50 to 200 words, max). Your photo should look as festive and appealing as possible and you may submit more than one with your entry.

I will review each recipe submission and select three recipes for our final round. Each recipe advancing to the finals will be prepared by me (Sarah) for review by an independent panel of judges, who will taste each specialty and read each story to select our finalists. Judging criteria will include the taste and appearance of the holiday treat, as well as the quality of the story and photo(s) submitted.

The finalists will be announced here on the blog and all CGND social media platforms, and each finalist’s recipe, story and photo will be published on the blog. The public will then be invited to review each finalist’s recipe and story online and vote for the holiday treat they would most like to make or eat. The winner will receive a $200 VISA Gift Card! To enter, please review the CONTEST RULES & GUIDELINES. Next, pick your favorite recipe, snap a photo of it and send us your story. To give you an idea of what a typical entry should look like, here’s a sample with my own holiday tradition story. Give it a read, and then GET BAKING!

Sarah’s Festive & Easy Peppermint Bark (a sample entry)

My mother made peppermint bark every Christmas season, and this is the recipe that kicks off the holiday baking season in my family. It’s also the recipe I used to introduce my then 3-year-old son to the wonderful world of cooking, and we’ve made it together each year since 2006 when he was just two years old.

Each year, we begin our holiday baking-palooza with a batch of Peppermint Bark – this is the first sign in our house that Chrsistmas is coming. Festively pink and minty, I like to package the peppermint bark in clear cello bags wrapped with pretty holiday ribbons to give as gifts to teachers, party hosts and friends. Peppermint Bark’s pretty pink color will brighten up any cookie platter and its refreshing mint flavor makes it the perfect pre-mistletoe treat.

This is a great holiday goodie to make with children, who can help crush the candy canes, stir the bark and break it into pieces. And, with only three ingredients, this sweet treat is easy to make and tastes even better when small hands have helped.  Christmas just wouldn’t be as merry without our beloved peppermint bark.

CLICK HERE for a printable version.

Sarah’s Festive & Easy Peppermint Bark

1 package vanilla almond bark
12 candy canes, regular size (not the small canes)
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Blend the candy canes in a food processor until desired texture is achieved. We prefer to blend them until all large pieces are crushed, and the mixture is just a little grainier than sugar, which results in a wonderfully crunchy, but not tooth-damaging, texture.

Melt the almond bark in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, until all lumps are gone. Remove from heat and stir in the crushed candy canes and peppermint extract until thoroughly mixed.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and pour the bark mixture onto the sheet, smoothing out to reach all edges. Once all the bark has been transferred, lift the sheet up with both hands and gently bang it down on the counter a few times to smooth out the mixture. Place in a refrigerator or cold place and allow to set until completely hard, at least one hour.

When bark is hardened, peel from waxed paper and break into pieces (like toffee or peanut brittle). Store in an airtight container until gone.

Get the recipe: Sarah’s Festive & Easy Peppermint Bark

Featured crops in this recipe:

  • Sugar
  • Soy

More seasonal recipes you might enjoy:

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Homemade Crescent Rolls
Rosemary Smashed Buxton Potatoes
Carrot Ginger Soup
Barley Sweet Potato Salad
Sicilian Pork Tenderloin with Savory Peppers
Maple Glazed Pumpkin Cookies


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