Cozy Christmas Day Dishes by Zara Abbasi

Zara is known for her amazing cooking and baking skills however she is a multifaceted woman. Born in New York, moved to Boston when she was 6 and eventually landed in Little Rock at 17. When she was 19, Abbasi, a student at the University of Central Arkansas, was badly injured in an auto accident. She missed a semester while relearning to walk. Graduating from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Abbasi began baking professionally while attending the Bowen School of Law.

She earned renown as the pastry chef at Little Rock’s Natchez restaurant, later creating desserts for the Yellow Rocket Concepts family of restaurants. Abbasi takes private orders for her desserts nowadays. You may have also been lucky enough to get one of her seasonal pastry boxes this Christmas.

Zara is married to John and they have 3 children: Razik, Merah, and Amila. Zara started the group FriendHER on Facebook to facilitate female friendships with people we wouldn’t already meet and is based on finding like-minded individuals to do things with. However, with the quarantine, the focus has shifted to help encourage positivity through tips, recipes, humor, projects, mental health, online book clubs and so much more.

We reached out to Zara to get her favorite recipes for a cozy Christmas morning and we cannot wait to make them!


I really love this dish because it feels like a hug to me. It’s nostalgic, warm and comforting. It also comes together so quickly so you won’t be stuck manning the stove on Christmas morning while others are having fun. I also like something savory for breakfast. That’s where you ask another family member/friend to bring a tray of bacon/sausages or eggs. Voila! Complete breakfast and hardly any of the work.


I’ve realized that adding a little magic to our days does not have to be costly or a long-winded task. Sometimes, all we have to do is come up with a good backstory. I’ve made this darling punch for our kiddos before and told them it was a popular drink for Snowmen. They drink it to stay nice and chilly all season long. That was enough of a story to get the kids to smile. It’s all I’m ever after anyways. If your kids or family doesn’t care for the coconut in this punch, you can easily leave it out. It’s also great with peppermint extract and mint ice cream if that’s more your style.


This is a great snack to keep around because we love to munch on things throughout the day. Personally, for me, sweet things in excess give me a headache. I know there’ll always be sweet things around aplenty during the holidays, so I try to make at least one savory snack so that we can stay a little balanced. This is not only an easy recipe, but I also like it because you can take this to your next cookie exchange. Not all cookies need to be sweet. And, these are so festive when cut out into star or other holiday shapes. I like to add a few herbs to give them another dimension of flavor, but they can easily be left out if not to your liking.

Christmas is only 5 days away! Give your favorite mom friends (or yourself!) the gift of more time back and mealtime covered this season. For a limited time only, when you buy a gift card, you will receive a free Bella's Kitchen mug and cocoa bomb (only for local delivery by Dec. 24,2020). Share your cozy recipes with us on instagram @bellaskitchenus.

Photography by Katie Childs.

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