The busy holiday season has arrived, and Thanksgiving is just over a week away! We are always excited to share recipes; food brings us together, helps us to celebrate, and allows us to express our creativity. This year, we have reached out to our executive chefs for some of their holiday cooking ideas. If you’re looking for some holiday cooking inspiration, read below for a few ideas.

The Allegro Royal Sonesta Hotel ChicagoCreamy Cauliflower Casserole

Step 1 – The Cauliflower:
2 Heads Cauliflower
3-4tbsp Cooking Oil
Salt & Pepper
Instruction: Pre-heat oven to 450*. Cut Cauliflower into 4 pieces and remove core from each piece. Cut or break apart into ½” – 1” pieces (Some of it will crumble, this is ok. Collect everything together in a bowl). Toss with Oil, Salt, Pepper, and roast in oven until browned, but not burnt.

Step 2 – The Topping:
8oz Panko Bread Crumbs
2 tbsp Butter
4 oz Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tbsp Chopped Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 450* Mix Panko, Butter, Parmesan Cheese together and toast until browned in oven (it will not require much time, keep a close eye to not burn). Allow to cool at room temperature. Mix parsley with bread crumb mix after it has cooled. Set aside

Step 3 – The Sauce:
24oz Cream (or Milk)
4oz Butter (1 Sticks)
1 Cup Flour
¼ Cup Minced Garlic
Salt & Pepper
Heat milk or cream in pot. In different pot, melt butter and saute garlic until translucent. Add flour and mix together until “roux” forms and clumps are gone. Add hot cream/milk and simmer over low/medium heat, stirring frequently until sauce thickens and “flour” taste cooks out of sauce. Stir frequently and do not set stove too high as sauce can burn easily. If sauce becomes too thick, add a little more milk or cream. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4 – Finishing the Casserole
Spray or oil cast iron pan and layer roasted cauliflower inside pan. Cover with milk/cream sauce and bake in 400* oven until bubbly. Remove from oven, top with toasted bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Royal Sonesta Chicago River North Coffee rubbed lamb loin with golden raisins, coconut flakes, black lentils, and stone fruit salsa. 
This is a familiar smell and holiday feeling in my home growing up. With a couple of family members that don’t necessarily like turkey during the holidays. My aunt would try an accommodate with different dishes at the table for the holidays so everyone had something they could enjoy. From that fond memory sprouts this dish.

Step 1:
1/4 cup coffee grounds
1/2 cup garlic powder
1/2 cup onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup celery salt
1/4 cup dried mushrooms (blitzed in a food processor)

  • Combine in a bowl and dredge over lamb loin and cure mixture (on wired rack and sheet pan) for 45 min to an hour depending on size in cooler. Sear to order and desired temperature.

Step 2:
2 cups black lentils
1/4 cup golden raisin
1/2 cup small diced onion
1 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tbs tahini
1 1/2 qt water
1/2 cup coconut fat
1/4 cup toasted coconut flake

  • Cook the lentils in water until tender, drain and cool. Sauté the remainder of the ingredients until onions are cooked, add lentils the adjust seasonings salt and pepper.

Step 3:
1 plum
1 white peace
1 apricot
1 shallot
2 oz cilantro
2oz oregano
1 oz olive oil
1oz rice wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard powder

  • Peel fruit an shallot small diced, combine in a bowl and adjust seasoning.

Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown – Roasted Cornish Hens

A Cornish hen is a great option if you do not want to cook a large roast or bird for the holidays. I made two of these for my family last year for Thanksgiving. With being in the height of Covid, we did not have a large gathering like we normally do, so in cooking for my wife and kids I turned to the Cornish Hen instead of cooking a whole turkey.


2 Cornish hens, backbone removed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and place the hens on a sheet pan. I like to make a ring out of tin foil and set the hens on top of that to allow a more even cooking for the birds. Combine all spices and salt in a small mixing bowl. Pull the leaves off the rosemary and thyme sprigs and sprinkle over the hens with the seasoning. Drizzle the hens with the olive oil. Roast the hens in the oven until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165 degrees F. about 45 minutes.

Check out our Holiday Recipe Series from last year:

Holiday Recipe Series: Roasted Prime Rib

Holiday Recipe Series: Butternut Squash Soup

Holiday Recipe Series: Whole Roasted Chicken

Holiday Recipe Series: Sour Cream Corn Bread

Holiday Recipes from our Chefs: Baked Brie

Try some of our favorite festive holiday cocktails.