CNN presenters share their favorite dishes for the holidays


By Kristen Rogers, Madeline Holcombe and Amanda Sealy, CNN

Don Lemon’s Louisiana Crayfish Mash and Brianna Keilar’s Chili Macaroni are some of the favorite family recipes our CNN presenters love to cook this time of year – and now they’re showing us how they do it. So grab an apron and have fun!

Dr Sanjay Gupta’s cellar

Gupta let us into his house as he showed his daughters how to make his mother’s chai, or spiced ginger and cardamom tea.

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom
  • 3 teaspoons of brown sugar (optional)
  • 3 tea bags, preferably strong black tea like Assam
  • 1 half and half cup


1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan or small saucepan. As the water heats up, add the ginger, cardamom, and, if using, brown sugar.

2. Once the water has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low so that it simmers with light bubbles. Add the tea bags and half and half.

3. Let the liquid boil slowly again, then remove from the heat.

4. Remove the tea bags and carefully pour the tea into a teapot or cups.

Brianna Keilar Chili Macaroni

To pay tribute to the deployed soldiers, Keilar educated us making Chili Mac Game Day, “the US Army’s most popular ready-to-eat meal,” and a themed cocktail for the Army-Navy football game.

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped + 1 more for garnish, chopped (optional)
  • 5 cups of beef broth
  • 8 ounces of tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of spaghetti (1 package)
  • Lots of grated medium cheddar cheese


1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, brown the ground beef and 1 chopped onion, about 10 minutes. Brianna likes the ground beef to be more broken up, so she used a hand potato masher or pastry blender to separate the pieces (you can also do this with a spatula).

2. Drain the fat if necessary.

3. Add the beef broth, then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cocoa powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili pepper. Jamaica, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer – uncovered so that the chili reduces – for 1 hour.

5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente.

6. Remove the bay leaf from the pepper. Use a spoon to scoop out the fat if necessary.

7. Serve the chili over spaghetti. Top with cheese and, if you prefer, 1 chopped onion.

Harlow’s Poppy Apple Crumble

Harlow enlisted his children, Luca and Sienna, this year to help him put together the Apple chips she grew up with her mother, Mary Harlow.

Makes 8 servings


  • 5 apples, preferably Honeycrisp
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional, but highly recommended)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). If using a glass pan, preheat to 375 F (191 C).

2. Peel and thinly slice the apples and place them in a buttered 8 × 8 inch baking dish.

3. To make the oatmeal mixture, combine in a bowl: cinnamon, brown and white sugars, flour, salt and oatmeal.

4. Mix 1/3 cup of the softened butter into the oatmeal mixture with your fingers.

5. Spread the oatmeal mixture over the apples and press lightly.

6. Cook until top is a little brown and apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve hot. Top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Louisiana Crayfish Smothered Don Lemon’s

Lemon and his mother took us through this ancestral recipe which has passed through the generations of his family, transmitted by mothers to their children.

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound (at least) of crayfish tails
  • Crayfish fat and juice
  • 5 tablespoons of margarine or unsalted butter
  • 1 package of Cajun smothered mixture
  • Celery velouté (1 to 2 tablespoons per pound of crayfish)
  • Cream of shrimp (1 to 2 tablespoons per pound of crayfish)
  • Tomato soup (1-2 tablespoons per pound of crayfish)
  • Mushroom velouté (1 to 2 tablespoons per pound of crayfish)
  • Sprinkle with Creole seasoning, preferably Tony Chachere
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped, green stems only


1. Open the crayfish tails, making sure to drain the fat and juice into a bowl or plate.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine. Then add the whole muffled mix pack.

3. Add the desired amount of cream of celery, cream of seafood, tomato soup and cream of mushroom to the pot.

4. Add the crayfish, fat and juice to the pot, stirring and breaking off the tails.

5. Add a little seafood broth and a pinch of Creole seasoning to the main pot.

6. Bring to a boil, stirring often.

7. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

8. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes.

9. Make sure the seafood is cooked through at 145 degrees, then top with green onion and serve over rice.

Erin Burnett’s Oyster Stew

It took a while for her mother’s oyster stew recipe to grow on Burnett. But now she appreciates it so much that this year she transmitted the holiday tradition to his young children.

Makes 4 servings


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 3 ¾ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil)
  • White onion, diced to taste (optional)
  • 2 dozen raw oysters, freshly shelled, or about 1 quart of potted oysters, drained
  • 2 cups of skimmed or whole milk (can be adjusted to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt + more to taste
  • Ground white pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)


1. Melt the butter in a large pot over low to medium heat (or, if using extra virgin olive oil, heat the oil).

2. Add the onion; sauté until softened and translucent, being careful not to brown, about 8 minutes.

3. Add the fresh oysters. Cook until edges of oysters just begin to curl, 3 to 4 minutes. “Oysters don’t take long to cook, but you don’t want overcooked and chewy oysters,” Burnett said. “Just keep an eye on it.” “

4. Gradually stir in small amounts of milk, then watch the heat so that the milk simmers, forms only tiny bubbles and does not boil. If it boils, a coagulated film may form and the stew may taste burnt.

5. Season to taste with celery salt and white pepper. Garnish with parsley, then serve.

Alisyn Camerota linguine with white clam sauce

Camerota shared a recipe that she said her Italian-American family would cook for the Seven Fishes Festival every Christmas Eve.

Makes 6 servings


  • Salt for pasta water
  • 1 pound of linguine
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + extra to add at the end, to taste
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 anchovy fillet (to deepen the flavor)
  • 2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams in clam juice
  • 2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams in clam juice
  • 1 6.5-ounce can whole clams
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley + sprigs for garnish
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Ground black pepper, to taste


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. (In Italian for “to the tooth”, al dente means that the pasta should be cooked enough so that it is no longer hard but has a slight resistance when you bite it.) Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet. Sauté garlic in oil over medium-high heat until garlic is golden, about 1 ½ minutes. Remove the garlic (leaving the oil in the pan) and set aside.

3. In the same pan, add the red pepper flakes and the clam juice from two of the cans. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced, about 10 minutes. Dissolve the anchovies in the sauce. Add the rest of the chopped and sliced ​​clams (without the remaining juice) and heat through.

4. Transfer the pasta to a large serving dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then add the chopped parsley, lemon juice, pepper, whole clams (no juice) and, if using, more extra virgin olive oil until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you wish.

5. Garnish with the parsley sprigs and the reserved golden garlic slices.

John Berman’s nachos

Not yet comfortable in the kitchen? Even the most novice cook can handle these nachos. No recipe required.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Madeline Holcombe, Sherry Liang and Kristen Rogers contributed to this story.

Comments are closed.