All the wonderful people in the audience were so welcoming, and the energy in the room lifted me into a state of euphoria. When I walked onstage and Oprah greeted me with open arms, a great big smile and hug, I quickly lost my jitters and felt right at home. After the show was over and I said my goodbyes and thank-yous to the incredible staff who helped me put this whole meal together, I headed to the Oprah Store before going to the airport.

While shopping there, the manager of the store came over to me and quietly whispered in my ear that Ms. Winfrey wanted to see me in her office. I ran out the door and across the street—and didn't even bother to put on my coat in the -8° weather! When I arrived in Oprah's office, she was already in warm sweats and fluffy slippers. She greeted me warmly and proceeded to tell me how she would be launching her new network down the road and thought I would be perfect to have a cooking show sharing all that I love about home, family and, most of all, cooking! She took my breath away. That was two years ago.

The dinner that I make every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas started my dream-come-true chapter in my life. Here is everything you need to know about preparing the dinner:

For Christmas Day this year, I'm going to add a Christmas Crackle Ham as well. Check out my recipe.

Blessings! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!


My new show, Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love, debuts on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network January 3 at 3:30 p.m. Watch a sneak peek.


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