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Ottumwa Stories: Holiday Recipes from Our Family to Yours
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Ottumwa Stories: Holiday Recipes from Our Family to Yours

Let the Greater Ottumwa Convention & Visitors Bureau plan your holiday meal!

The holidays are all about family. We’re sharing our favorite holiday recipes with you, everything from breakfast to side dishes to dessert and drinks, you’re sure to find a new recipe here to add to your family’s celebration.

From our family to yours, happy holidays, Iowa!

Christmas Morning French Toast Bake

Laura’s Christmas Morning French Toast Bake

Make Christmas morning extra special with an overnight French toast bake. It's so easy to prepare the night before, and all you have to do in the morning is heat it up. This frees you to spend more time with the family while it bakes.


  • 1 loaf crusty bread, at least a day old
  • 7 eggs 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla Cinnamon sugar topping: 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 Tbsp cinnamon pinch of salt 1/2 cup butter, cubed small


1. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and transfer to dish.

2. Mix eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over bread.

3. Cover with cling wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

4. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl, cutting in the butter last.

5. Cover with cling wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

6. On Christmas morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle topping evenly over the bread mixture.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Begin checking at 45 minutes, making sure the top of the bread doesn't overbake.

Sausage Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

Laura’s Sausage, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing

This amazing stuffing recipe will be the perfect addition to your Christmas table this year. It takes a little bit of prep work to get it ready, but it's totally worth the effort. Make this dish up ahead of time, then cover with cling wrap and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. On Christmas Day all you'll need to do is put it in the oven and heat it up!


  • 1lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion
  • finely chopped 2 stalks celery
  • finely chopped 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ripe Granny Smith apple
  • finely chopped 2 small boxes herb stuffing mix
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup pecans
  • roughly chopped 1 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a large cast iron skillet, thoroughly brown the sausage.

3. Add onion, celery, and garlic, cooking until all are slightly soft.

4. Stir in apple, then the stuffing mix.

5. Once heated through, slowly add the chicken broth and stir to combine.

6. Fold in the pecans and cranberries.

7. Pour mixture into baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately and cover any leftovers with foil. (There won't be much left over, though - I promise!)


Mackenzie’s Baked Brie

This yummy holiday appetizer has creamy Brie slathered in sweet or spicy jelly and baked in puff pastry. Spread it on crackers or fruit. It’s easy to make it your own with lots of fun variations


  • ½ package puff pastry, thawed for 40 minutes at room temperature
  • 1 (8 oz.) when baby Brie
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of your favorite jelly (you can also spread with dried cranberries or cherries)
  • 1 egg white mixed with a scant 2 teaspoons cold water


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Gently unfold the puff pastry sheet, mending any tears in the pastry. Cut the Brie in half horizontally, making 2 circles.

3. Place one half, rind down, on the pastry. Spread with jelly and then place the other half of the Brie, rind up, on the jelly.

4. Fold pastry over the cheese, trimming excess pastry as needed, and then seal the edges.

5. Cut decorative shapes from the excess dough.

6. Place dough shapes on top and then brush entire top of the pastry-cheese bundle with egg white and water mixture.

7. Place the cheese bundle, seam down, on a lightly greased baking dish.

8. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with crackers or bread, or with fresh strawberries, apples, pears, or grapes.


Andy’s Caribbean Christmas Rum


Mix together:

  • 1 bottle of regular gold rum
  • Add in 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pieces nutmeg
  • 1 piece star anise
  • Seal the rum tightly and put in a dark place for 2 weeks. Open and enjoy some delicious homemade spiced rum.

Want to see one more holiday recipes? Click here to make sure you’re signed up for our weekly emails, and you’ll find a super-secret, super-special treat next week.

Image credit: Greater Ottumwa CVB

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