Fresh Flavors For Holiday Celebrations


By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”


If you want to soak in all the joyous activities of fall and winter, a great place to start is through food. For many, fall signifies comfort foods, spending time with loved ones, and finding just the right gifts to help celebrate the holidays. That means creating a lot of comfy meals, finding just the right baked goods, gifting new and tasty items to friends and family, and indulging in fun holiday drinks.

Cooking up successful holiday gatherings calls for incorporating everyone’s favorite flavors, recipes, and gifts. From appetizers to the centerpiece main dish to fresh salads, roasted sides, and delicious desserts holiday cooks can take seasonal get-togethers up a notch by mixing traditional classics with newly found favorites.

I’ve listed the hottest holiday flavor trends for this year. Incorporate them in your own holiday tables or think of which of the following would make the impeccable gift to the hostess or the gourmands on your list.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Talking Fresh Flavors for the Holidays, this episode features Linda Kissam, Carey Reilly of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, and Robert Schueller of Melissa’s Specialty Produce. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

Try these three affordable nonalcoholic ciders from Martinelli’s as an aperitif, welcome drink, or with the meal. This combination also makes a fun “tasting” event for guests. Easy to find in a well-stocked market or online. Delicious cocktail recipes can be found on

Be sure to check out:

Gold Medal non-alcoholic Sparkling Cider: An elegant reminder of what cider was meant to taste like. Pressed from 100% U.S.-grown fresh apples with just the right amount of bubbles and no chemical preservatives, it’s a delicious way to celebrate any occasion.

Sparkling Blush:  Sophisticated and refreshing. This 100% juice non-alcoholic Sparkling Blush is made from U.S.-grown fresh apples with a hint of cherry juice that’s perfect for holiday foods.

Sparkling Apple-Cranberry: Tempt your taste buds with the tartest of Martinelli’s sparkling blend items. This Sparkling apple-cranberry blends the finest varieties of U.S.-grown fresh apples with cranberry juice. No added sweeteners or chemical preservatives

  • Martinelli's 24 Carrot Gold
    Martinelli's 24 Carrot Gold


Here are some great suggestions for gifting holiday flavors from Melissa’s this Holiday season. Items are available through the end of December at
Melissa’s/World Variety Produce is the nation’s largest specialty produce distributor, delivering to the global market from its warehouse facilities in Los Angeles.

Tamale Kit Party Pack: $39.99: Forty-eight fresh tamales and four choices of chiles for fillings and sauces, Melissa’s ready-to-make Tamale Party Package has everything you need to host your next “Around the World Party,” or large family holiday dinner. Order now and receive (4) Tamale Kits, (1) Ancho Chile package, (1) California Chile package, (1) Guajillo Chile package, and (1) Pasilla Negro Chile package.

Crepes & Dessert Sauces: $32.79: No time for making homemade desserts? Melissa’s ready-to-serve crepes can save you hours in the kitchen preparing after-dinner indulgences. Pair these Crepes with Melissa’s Dessert Sauces to create the most delicious, mouth-watering creations. Imagine…Crepes filled with fresh strawberries and drizzled with Caramel Sauce! This special assortment includes 2 packages of Melissa’s Crepes (each package contains 10 crepes) and 2 Melissa’s fat-free Dessert Sauces. Packaged in easy-to-use squeeze bottles, you will receive one each of our wonderful Caramel (16.7 ounces) and Raspberry (15.1 ounces) flavors.

Spice Grinders: $29.33: Quantity/Pack: 5 bottles. Melissa’s Spice Grinders are fresh, whole spices that you grind as you need. The freshest flavor comes from whole spices, but who has the time to grind their own whenever they need a little seasoning? Adding flavor is as easy as a quick flick of the wrist with Melissa’s Spice Grinders, available in Tuscan, Spicy Sesame, Everything Spice, Rainbow Peppercorns, and Himalayan Salt.

Dried Mushroom Sampler: $43.79: Quantity/Pack: 1 package for each variety (3 Ounces total). Stimulate your culinary creativity by stocking your pantry with this gourmet dried collection of mushrooms from Melissa’s. When you have this many varieties handy, your options are limitless in the kitchen. Melissa’s dried mushroom line features a Mushroom Medley blend and for more specific uses, individually packaged Chanterelles, Oysters, Porcini, Shiitake, and Morels.

Here’s a roundup of my favorite gifts from Melissa’s Produce to gift to friends, family, or even yourself! Happy Gifting!

Organic Family Box Monthly Delivery: Why are monthly subscriptions so popular? Because it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Surprise someone with this gift of bountiful fresh and organic produce for a whole year! Each month is a box full of fresh, in-season organic produce to experiment with.

Grilling Basket: $92.99: There’s nothing like a backyard barbeque year-round. This beautiful woven basket holds a bountiful array of freshly picked vegetables, making it easy to incorporate more produce into your outdoor barbeque. Also enclosed is a gourmet grill-wok topper to prevent your veggies from falling into the fire.

A Dream Come True – Wine Gift Basket: $299.99: Whether you want to say, Happy Holidays to an incredible spouse or friend, or recognize an exceptional employee or co-worker, this basket is sure to do the trick. Included in this array of fruit, depending on availability you will find exotics such as Mango, Papaya, Baby Bananas, Baby Pineapple, Asian Pear, Feijoa, Kiwi, and Kumquats along with local favorites like Grapefruit, Oranges, and Apples. Plus, savory snacks include sausage, crackers, chocolates, assorted nuts, a nutcracker, and a Hope Family bottle of wine. On the pallet, warming flavors of dark fruit, burnt sugar, and baking spices mingle with a hint of leather.  The wine finishes with full-bodied tannins that delicately linger.

On-Air Lifestyle Expert Carey Reilly has some great tips for the holiday. She is a regular contributor to Fox and Friends, Wpix11, Cheddar, and Today. Check out Carey Reilly at and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and X.

Make a list to keep organized during the party planning process. A simple list helps a great deal in preventing any overspending.

You can spend a lot of green making too many drink options. Batch your cocktails in advance and store them in the fridge.

Roll out postal packaging paper as your table runner. This will give your table a farmhouse-chic look for pennies. It’s also great to script in bold marker directly on the paper the different foods you are serving.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Arizona and the Pacific Northwest, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit



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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Arizona and the Pacific Northwest, who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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