Holiday Favorites from TGN Staff: Holiday Recipes

By Amber Pickler

November 25, 2021



Holiday Favorites from TGN Staff

The holiday season is upon us! We at The Gypsy Nurse would like to thank you for all you do and your continued support of TGN. This year has been incredibly challenging and trying for all healthcare workers, but especially travel nurses. We hope that you can take some time this holiday season for yourself and/or with your families.

The Gypsy Nurse staff has put together some of our favorite holiday recipes to help you prepare for your holiday gatherings. We hope you enjoy them!

Steve Curtin’s holiday recipe:

Scalloped Potatoes with Three Cheeses

This recipe is very forgiving. You can alter the amounts of milk, cheeses, and fat contents of milk (I first starting with whole and have worked my way down to 1%) without substantially affecting the outcome. You can make it 1-2 days ahead of time, or the same day you plan on serving it.


  • 1 cup (packed) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled Danish blue cheese
  • 1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, sliced into ¼” rounds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 5 cups milk


  • Preheat oven to 400. Lightly butter 10×15 glass baking dish.  
  • Mix Cheddar, Blue, and Parmesan cheeses in a small bowl and set aside.

Arrange one layer of potatoes in a prepared baking dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. 

Sprinkle onion over, then flour. 

  • Dot with 2 tbsp butter. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture over.  
  • Top with another layer of potatoes, ¾ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and 2 tbsp butter.  
  • Reserve remaining cheese.
  • Bring milk to simmer in a large saucepan. Pour milk over potatoes (milk may not cover potatoes completely).  
  • Cover baking dish tightly with foil. Bake 45 minutes.  

Uncover dish (liquids in the dish may look curdled), sprinkle potatoes with reserved cheese mixture. 

  • Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown, about 45 minutes longer.  
  • Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Reheat in a 375-degree oven. Let stand 15 minutes. Makes 12 servings. Enjoy!

Rachel Altum’s holiday recipe: 

Nana Foster’s Sweet Potatoes

This meal can be single-serve or served for many. There are no set measurements. Add more or less of what you like the best!


  • Sweet Potato
  • Bacon
  • Pecans (Optional)
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • One Banana (optional)


  • Peel and dice the sweet potato
  • Cut onions to the desired size. Long and skinny seem to be best
  • Cook bacon to desired crisp level
  • For more advanced cookers, chop up the bacon into quarter-sized pieces add bacon while cooking instead of at the end. It tastes even better, but I get nervous some of the bacon doesn’t get cooked all the way. If you do this, cook it towards the beginning.
  • Heat a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil or leftover bacon grease.


  1. Put sweet potatoes, onions, and pecans in a large bowl with a lid.
  2. Lightly coat the sweet potato, onions, and pecans in olive oil.
  3. Add cinnamon and brown sugar to the bowl. 
  4. There are no set measurements; start light and add more as you’re cooking.
  5. Put the lid on the bowel and shake that turkey feather!!! Aka, the bowl of sweet potatoes.
  6. Dump the contents of the bowl into the heated skillet, spread out sweet potatoes evenly. 
  7. If the oil starts to soak up, add butter for more deliciousness.
  8. As the sweet potato begins to soften, taste one and check that it’s the flavor you like. Add more cinnamon or brown sugar if you need it. 
  9. Once you have the desired flavor add the bacon and banana. 
  10. If you don’t have a banana or don’t like them. It still tastes wonderful without. 
  11. After the banana has melted down a bit, it is now finished and ready to serve. 

Toni Miller’s holiday recipe:

Amish Noodles & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4-6 people—I double it for Thanksgiving.



  • 2-tablespoons butter
  • 1-chicken bouillon cube
  • 2-(14 ounces) cans chicken broth
  • 12-ounces egg noodles
  • (optional shred chicken breast)


  • In a large pan, brown the butter.
  • Add broth and bouillon cube, bring to a boil.
  • Add noodles, bring to a second boil, cover and turn off the heat. (leave the pot on the same burner).
  • Let stand 30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times; add additional butter/salt/pepper to your preferred taste.

Mashed Potatoes:

Serves 6-8 people—Again, I double for Thanksgiving.


  • 1-10 lb bag of potatoes (I use Idaho Potatoes, but any kind can be used)
  • 1-stick of butter ½ cup saved for the end.
  • 1-quart of heavy whipping cream
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Fill a pot with cubed potatoes (peeled as well–unless you prefer them unpeeled)
  • Add enough water to cover the potatoes and then cover with a lid.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Drain off water.
  • Mash potatoes until smooth.
  • Add remaining ingredients and then mash everything together.
  • A heavy-duty mixer also works well instead of mashing by hand)
  • Melt an additional cup of butter.
  • Drizzle over mashed potatoes

Kathia Camacho Aponte’s holiday recipe:

Roasted Butternut Squash & Turkey Tacos


First, prepare the squash

  • 1 butternut squash (around 1 lb.)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ fine sea salt
  • ½ ground black pepper

Seasoned turkey

  • 1 lb. boneless turkey breast or cooked leftover turkey, trimmed into two-inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

Everything else you need

  • 8 six-inch corn tortillas
  • 3 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Let’s get this started.

  1. Peel, seed, and cube the squash.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  3. Place squash cubes on a baking tray and add all the squash ingredients. Toss the mixture well until all the pieces are well-coated in oil and seasoning.
  4. Bake the mixture for 30 minutes on the middle rack, turning pieces with tongs one time during cooking. While it’s roasting…
  5. Are you using leftover turkey? Reheat leftover turkey in the microwave or oven—season with some garlic salt, pepper & parsley to taste.
  6. Are you using uncooked turkey breast? Heat oil & garlic over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the turkey pieces. Season & cook for about 8 minutes, until it is browned, cooked through, and the juices run clear.
  7. Let’s put it all together! Place tortillas on a serving tray. Add turkey and butternut squash to each.
  8. Top with goat cheese, cranberries, and chopped parsley.

Amber Pickler’s holiday recipe:

Maple cider bourbon brined turkey with bourbon gravy

The general rule is that you should plan for 1-1.5 lbs of turkey per person. If you are thawing your turkey, make sure it is not already salted and seasoned. Also, allow for 1 day per 5 pounds for thawing.


  • 15 lb turkey fresh or thawed, innards removed

for the brine:

  • 32 oz apple cider
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1-gallon water

for the turkey:

  • An apple quartered
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped

for the gravy:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1. In a large pot, combine apple cider, maple syrup, kosher salt, peppercorns, rosemary, cinnamon stick, and orange zest.
  • 2. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • 3. Let cool completely.
  • 4. In a large pot or brining bag (I used an oven bag), combine the cooled cider mixture with bourbon and water.
  • 5. Add turkey and let brine for 8 to 24 hours, turning every few hours.
  • 6. Once brined, remove the turkey from the brine and place the bird on the roasting rack.
  • 7. Pat very well to dry.
  • 8. Place apple, onion, a sprig of rosemary, garlic cloves, and a stick of cinnamon into the cavity of the turkey.
  • 9. Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, and rosemary and mix well.
  • 10. Rub all over the turkey, making sure to peel the skin back from the breast and spread some of the butter under the skin.
  • 11. Tuck the wings under the body, and tie the legs together with twine.
  • 12. Pour 1/2 cup of water (or additional chicken broth, if desired) to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • 13. Bake in a 500-degree oven for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake 2 hours more, or until internal temperature (measured at the thighs) reaches 165 degrees F. Keep an eye on the turkey for the last hour, and if the skin is getting too brown, you can cover it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
  • 14. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your bird. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it is completely done.
  • 15. Remove turkey from roasting pan and cover with foil, allowing to rest for 15-20 minutes while making the gravy.

To make the gravy:

  • 1. In a medium saucepan, add strained drippings from the roasting pan and bring to a simmer.
  • 2. Shake flour and chicken broth in a sealed container (like a mason jar) for at least 45 seconds.
  • 3. Add to simmering drippings, along with rosemary and bourbon.
  • 4. Stir constantly until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • 5. Add salt and pepper, taste.
  • 6. Serve with carved turkey.
  • 7. Enjoy!

Shannon Nelson’s holiday recipe:

Granny’s Chunky Peanut Cookies


  • 1 ¾ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup of softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups salted peanuts


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Get a large bow and combine all the ingredients EXCEPT the peanuts
  • Mix at low speed and scape the bowl often until well mixed for 2-3 minutes (this must be done by hand)
  • Stir in peanuts
  • Drop teaspoons of dough about 2 inches apart on a greased cooking sheet
  • Bake for 8-12 minutes or until they are light brown
  • Take them out them to cool and eat with those you love

Regan Cary’s holiday recipe:

Corn Casserole

This side dish is perfect for 5-6 people. It can all be made in the baking dish and the leftovers are delicious!


  • 1 can whole-kernal corn (drained)
  • 1 can cream-style corn
  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (8oz)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • Optional: 
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Stir together everything except cheese 
  • Pour into oven-safe baking dish 
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until top is lightly browned
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese on top
  • Put casserole back in oven until cheese is melted
  • Enjoy! 

And we could never leave out the classic: Green Bean Casserole.


  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Pepper Black
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) any style Green Beans, drained  
  • 1 1/3 cups French’s® Original Crispy Fried Onions, divided


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix cream of mushroom soup, milk, and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
  • Stir in green beans and 2/3 cup Crispy Fried Onions.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until hot. Stir.
  • Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 minutes until onions are golden brown.

• To feed a crowd, double the recipe and prepare in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Use an entire 6-ounce container of Crispy Fried Onions, reserving 1 1/3 cup for the topping. Increase cooking time to 40 minutes or until heated through.

We hope you enjoy these recipes, and they give you something new to try.  As always, Pinterest is a great place to find recipes. Especially quick and easy ones if you are on assignment this holiday season.

Again, we want to wish all of our travel nurses and their families a happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays!

If you are a new traveler or looking into becoming a Travel Nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step by Step

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