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The Meritage Collection

During the holiday season is when home cooks and bakers dust off their family recipes and kick things into high gear. Our chefs’ tips will help to make your season stress-free and help to make your turkey juicy, holiday cookies soft and family members smile.

Check out our favorite time-saving tricks, helpful hints and tips to make this season’s bakes the best ever:


Chef JJ Burton | Banquet Chef | Paséa Hotel and Spa

If you’re looking for the perfect crunchy snack, then there is nothing better than Candied Spiced Pecans. For me the trick is fry not to bake. The high temp of the fryer oil help crystalizes the sugars while also keeping the nuts from clumping together. Start with a 3 to 1 ratio of sugar to water to get a thicker coating of sugar on your nuts (adding a dash of vanilla is great here too). Boil for 10 minutes, strain and move to a fryer or shallow pan fry around 350 degrees. Always be careful when putting anything in hot oil. Fry them just until the bubbles in the fryer start to disappear. Get some cinnamon sugar or pumpkin spice ready, when you pull pecans out of the fryer give them a quick toss with your spice mix like French fries. Lay them on a nonstick pan and let cool. When they are cool let the snacking begin!


Chef Carlo Narabal | Chef de Cuisine | Paséa Hotel and Spa

Common thing I hear during the holidays is Turkey, Pork Loin, or Chicken tend to be dry. These are all lean meat and lack the fat to retain the juiciness and because you have to cook them to a high internal temperature, they tend to dry out. Brining is a way to fix this. Brining is a form of curing to tenderize the meat and retain juices using a high water and salt ratio in addition to herbs and aromatics. The recipe below can be used for Turkey, Chicken, or Pork Loin.

  • 6 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Ice
  • 2 Cups Sugar (feel free to try Brown Sugar, Honey, or Maple Syrup)
  • 2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 10 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 each Star Anise (toasted)
  • 2 each clove (toasted)
  • 1 each Cinnamon stick (toasted)
  • 1 tbsp Black Peppercorn (toasted)
  • 2 each Lemon (halved)
  • 2 each Orange (halved)


  • Place all ingredients in a pot except for the ice.
  • Squeeze juices from citrus in the brine.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil or until sugar and salt have dissolved.
  • Transfer brine into the container you plan to brine your protein in and add the ice to cool down.
  • Make sure that the Brine is completely cool. Then add your meat.
    • For Turkey 12-20 lbs. 8-12 hours.
    • For Pork Loin 3-4 hours
    • For Chicken 2-4 hours.
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