Monday, December 24, 2012


                                                           Merry Christmas Eve!

It's a white Christmas  Had a lovely mass and dinner with ham, plain and sauerkraut pierogies,

 cranberry salad, orange fluff, cheesy salsa beer bread with spinach dip, clam dip and crackers, potato casserole, broccoli salad, Swedish meatballs, Mexican BBQ beans,  tiramisu, deviled 

eggs, and a host of other goodies. Merry Christmas, everyone!

                         Christmas Promise
You made outdoors Thy temple, Lord, to fit our simple prayer
That Christmas time may touch the hearts of all men everywhere
With Thine own brand of mercy, human kindness and the best
of good old freedom feelin's that we hold to in the West.

Don't let no hearts feel hopeless, Lord.  No matter who they are,
Help them look up for comfort to the Promise of the Star.
We ask no special favors, Lord, except to hope You'll bless
The friends and kin whom we hold dear, with Christmas happiness.
© 1966, S. Omar Barker, reprinted with the permission of the estate of S. Omar Barker, further reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited. 

Elsa and S. Omar Barkerphoto courtesy of the estate of S. Omar Barker

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I have a friend whose family always makes this for Christmas morning. It's easy and very yummy, the easy version of sticky buns.

Monkey Bread for Easter Breakfast

Monkey Bread

You are less than an hour away from a sweet and delicious caramel monkey bread that no one will be able to resist!

Contributed by:Jessica Walker
Nothing makes you want to get out of bed more than the smell of Monkey Bread baking in the oven. This super easy and delicious pull-apart bread is a great addition to your Easter brunch or any family breakfast!
Here is what you will need…
Monkey Bread Recipe

Open up the cans of biscuits and lay on a cutting board. Using a pizza cutter, cut the round biscuits into fourths.
Monkey Bread Recipe

In a large freezer bag (or covered bowl), mix sugar and one teaspoon cinnamon. Add the quartered biscuits and shake or stir. It is helpful to do only a handful at a time so they are evenly coated.
Monkey Bread Recipe

Once you have coated the biscuits, spread in a greased fluted tube pan. Sprinkle excess sugar mixture from the freezer bag over the top.
Monkey Bread Recipe

Add brown sugar, butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to a saucepan.
Monkey Bread Recipe

Bring to a boil until frothy.
Monkey Bread Recipe

Pour brown sugar and butter mixture over sugared your mouth watering yet?
Monkey Bread Recipe

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. After taking from oven, invert on a serving platter. What a great addition to your Easter breakfast or brunch table!
Monkey Bread Recipe

This delicious breakfast treat will be a hit with every member of your family. My favorite part? The caramel drips that are on the serving plate...I don't even need the biscuits!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


What is Christmas to you? To some folks, it's just another day. To others, it's all about stuff....commercialism and sales and earthly "stuff".  Or Santa and elves and toys. And to others, it's a birthday celebration for the namesake, Christ. There are numerous holidays around this time, I discussed Hanukkah, and the Winter Solstice etc. But Christmas is supremely special as is Easter. In fact, you really can't have one without the other. After all, as the Bible says,

Luke 2:8 
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Luke 2:10 
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
Luke 2:11
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:12 
And this [will be] the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:13 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
Luke 2:14 
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

It is the greatest gift ever given, and I LOVE celebrating birthdays!

So this has me also thinking about the things I love about Christmas. I hate the commercialism and "stuff", and I don't step foot in a store after Thanksgiving. For me, besides Christ, it's about family, tradition, life and joy, and of course...FOOD.

I make wassails in my tea pot, a mix of water, sliced orange and lemon, cloves and cinnamon sticks. Just bring this to a slow simmer through out the day makes you think of all things warm and cozy. Beautiful orange pomanders with cloves hung around and the scent of a fresh pine tree fill the air. Add to it the smells of cooking and baking Christmas goodies, and the smells wrap you in a comfy warm blanket of comfort, safety, tradition and and anticipation. I also love Christmas decorating with lots of lights. I LOVE Christmas lights and thankfully, here in the country, many folks do up pretty displays that we'll ride around to see. It is a such a bright spot in the otherwise dreary winter landscape. It's also a time for family, and we all get together on Christmas Eve with a finger food buffet and go to church for the Christmas Eve service, which is one of the most beautiful all year. Christmas Day brings the Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Special things you don;t get all year round always make this an anticipated meal.

There have been lean years some time ago where I couldn't afford a tree, or presents, or a Christmas Dinner. But I still had  my family, health, a warm house and clothes on my back, and according to recent statistics, that made me among the top 7% of the wealthiest folks in the world. Sobering.

I'll share a few pics of my decorating this's nothing grand but always cheers me up. When I was growing up with my folks on the farm, we always had a Christmas Brunch. This gave us time to do the milking and get the animals all squared away, then we could come up to eat and unwrap gifts etc. As a rural kid back in those days, it was special to get fresh citrus, Canadian Bacon and other goodies that some take for granted, at least here in the East. Some folks just look at me funny when I tell them about those days. It was wonderful.

The supper was for friends we had over one night, a fish supper. A seafood supper with tossed salad, parsleyed potatoes, grilled marinated tuna steaks, diver scallops in lemon butter, and cod fillets done in butter and old bay, home made pumpernickel bread and butter, an olive and herb cheese ball with crackers, and home made coconut custard pie!


                                                        CLAM    DIP

Clam dip is made with minced clams, cream cheese, garlic, Tabasco, and other ingredients. I make this every year and it's always a hit!


  • 1 can (8 ounces) minced clams
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • drop or two of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pinch pepper


Drain clams, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Rub a medium serving bowl with the garlic halves. Add cream cheese; beat with fork until smooth. Mix in remaining ingredients and the reserved 1/4 cup of clam juice. Blend well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Serve as a dip with crackers, chips, or vegetable dippers.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of clam dip.


While I'm not Hungarian, I do have Hungarian friends and I LOVE these. I am posting the true deal that are Kiffles, but if you don't have everything and want to cheat, you can come to a very acceptable substitute.

Easy Kiffles--

4 C flour
1 lb butter
1 pt sour cream
2 tbs sugar

Chill, then roll out like regular pastry dough.

The filling in these is jarred mincemeat with a little rum added to taste. Then bake. Easy and so yummy. The proper version is more refined and also very delicious. 

{ Hungarian Cream Cheese Cookies – Kiffles }

When I was growing up, the the holidays were marked by my Hungarian grandmother’s homemade cream cheese cookies (or Kiffles, as they are called in Hungarian). They would make their first appearance on Thanksgiving, and then she would continue to bake them until Christmas day. I couldn’t get enough of these little cookies, eating them by the plateful (and always getting caught because of the powdered sugar trail I would leave behind).
A kiffle is a moist and delicate pastry dough filled with lekvar (tart prune) or apricot preserves. This year, I have decided to continue the family cookie tradition here in Buenos Aires by making my great grandmother’s original recipe (yes, this is it). It is a simple recipe to make because only a few ingredients are required and no “special equipment” is needed!
NOTES: It is very important that you be patient and allow the ingredients to properly soften before beginning, or the dough will not come together right. Also, I suggest using King Arthur flour in this recipe because it is the best flour for baking. Since the dough is composed of so few ingredients, it is really important those those couple be of a very high quality. Splurge on the King Arthur if you can, but the recipe will work if you can’t find it (I couldn’t here in Argentina, and my cookies still came out fine).

Ingredients }

**Makes about 48 cookies
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 stick of margarin, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur flour
  • Lekvar or apricot preserves
  • Confectioner’s sugar
To Make the Cookies } Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using and electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the softened butter, margarin, and cream cheese. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix until light and fluffy.
Add 3 cups of flour and mix with hands. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. If it is too sticky, continue to add flour until the right consistency is achieved. Divide the dough into four balls, cover in plastic wrap and put in freezer for 20 minutes.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and then cut the dough into small squares. Place a dollop of lekvar or apricot preserves in the center of the square and then bring two of the opposing dough corners together atop it.
Arrange cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow to bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve!


This is a family recipe. My grandmother was from Interlaken, Switzerland, and these came with her.



Brazteli is a thin, wafer-like cookie. It can be served flat, in a roll or in cone shape. In the latter two shapes, it is often served with a filling. In Italy it is called Pizelle or Pizzelle, in France it is called Bricelet, in Norway it is called Krumkake or Krumkaker, and even in Germany and Switzerland it can be called Brezeli, Bratzel, and Cracknel.

What you will need:

1 stick butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lemon rind, grated
4 eggs
3 cups flour

Swiss Bratzeli Iron (if one is not available, a Norwegian Krumkake iron or an Italian Pizelle iron will suffice.


Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add lemon rind and eggs, one at a time. Add sifted flour and work it well into dough. Cover. Let rest in a cold place until firm or overnight. Form small walnut size balls. Place on hot Bratzeli iron and bake until golden on both sides. Cool on wire rack or while hot, swiftly roll around handle of wooden spoon or form cones by wrapping around wooden cone. Rolls and cones could be filled with whipped cream and berries.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Saturday at sunset starts this year's Hanukkah Festival of Lights! With my Jewish heritage, I look forward to this every year. I love celebrating holidays. If you don't know what this festival about, it is the miracle of lights. Since I double dip and celebrate Christmas also, it is an exciting Holiday season! Best wishes also to those celebrating other seasonal Holy Days.

Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev-- celebrates the triumph of lightover darkness, of purity overadulteration, of spirituality over materiality.
More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.
When they sought to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.
On Chanukah we also add the Hallel and Al HaNissim in our daily prayers to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of therighteous."
Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nungimmelhei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving ofChanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children.

Our personal tradition includes the giving of gelt, chocolate covered coins. 

My personal menu usually includes lamb or goose for this meal, because fat is a part of this meal as is dairy. So this Saturday, I'll do a nice roast beef brisket, rubbed with montreal seasoning, seared and scored with garlic tucked in and slow roasted in my crock pot slow and low all day and basted in merlot syrup. To die for.
Then I also serve latkes (potato cakes) and you can find that recipe on my Passover posting. 
Here's a couple of different recipes for you for this dinner.


  • 1 (16-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned mini croutons
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon prepared crushed garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius).
2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, place spinach, parmesan, onion, egg, croutons, butter, garlic and Tabasco. Mix well.
5. Shape spinach mixture into 1-inch balls using hands or a melon baller.
6. Arrange on cookie sheet spaced 1 inch apart.
7. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 15 minutes, until croutons are slightly golden.

TIP: Prepare this a week ahead of time by freezing tidbits after step 6. Freeze them on the cookie sheet overnight and in the morning transfer them to a sealable plastic bag for easier storage. Do not thaw them before baking; just increase baking time by 20 minutes.

YIELD: 6 servings
Sufganiot are deep-fried jelly doughnuts that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Sufganiot are especially popular in Israel. The oil used to fry the doughnuts are reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned, according to the Hanukkah story, in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.


  • 25 grams (1 ounce) yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups flour
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) margarine, melted
  • dash of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
  • jelly (strawberry is recommended)
  • oil for frying (canola is recommended)
  • powdered sugar


1. To make the dough: Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and wait until it rises. In another bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with the melted margarine, salt, sugar and egg yolks. Combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring. When batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit and rise.
2. To make the doughnuts: After the batter has risen, pour it onto a floured surface and roll it out. Use a glass with a small opening to cut out circles of the dough. Place a drop of jelly in the middle of each circle, and then cover with another circle of dough. Make sure that 2 circles attach well to form a closed ball with jelly in the middle. Cover the doughnuts with a towel and let rise.
3. To fry the doughnuts: Heat oil in a deep pot until very hot. Drop the doughnuts into the oil and fry on both sides until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

TIP: These sufganiot are only good fresh. After you make the dough, only fry a few at a time. Store the rest of the dough in the refrigerator.

Golden Rugalach



Egg Wash:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar


For the dough: Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles coarse sand with some pea-sized pieces of butter, about 20 times. Add the cream cheese and sour cream, and pulse until it comes together in a rough dough (with some uneven pebbles sized-pieces). Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Pat each portion into a flat square and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze dough for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the nuts in a clean food processor. Add the preserves, raisins and salt; puree to make a very smooth paste.
Roll a portion of dough into a 6 by 14-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. (Don't worry about slightly rough edges; these will be rolled inside of the rugalach.) Spread 1/4 of the filling over the surface with a small spatula. Starting with a long side, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder ending with the seam on the bottom. Press the top slightly to flatten; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for another 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (The cylinders can be frozen for up to a month.)
Meanwhile, evenly position the racks in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
Slice the cylinders into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and place rugalach seam-side down on the prepared pans.Whisk the egg yolks together and brush this glaze over the top of the rugalach. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until pale golden and crispy on top, about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Carefully transfer rugalach to a rack to cool. Serve.
Store rugalach in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.



Saffron matzo balls:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken fat, melted (schmaltz), plus 2 tablespoons, for optional garnish
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups matzo meal
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder




To make the matzo balls, bring a large pot of salted water or chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Whisk the eggs, oils, chicken fat, water, parsley, salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, add the matzo meal and sift in the baking powder. Mix together, then fold into the eggs. Cover with plastic wrap, pressed tightly against the batter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Moisten your hands lightly with water and form the matzo mixture into 24 walnut-sized balls. Carefully drop the matzo balls into the water or broth. Reduce the heat to medium and partially cover. Simmer gently until the matzo balls are cooked through, about 40 minutes. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the matzo balls to a large bowl of cold water.
Meanwhile, make the soup. Bring the chicken pieces and stock to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the soup. Remove and discard the skin, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, and reserve the meat until service. Return the remaining bones back to the broth and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes more to further develop the soup's flavor.
While the soup is simmering, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, red and green pepperscilantro, garlic and saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables in the sofrito are tender, but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the hot sauce, if using. Set the sofrito aside.
When ready to serve, strain the soup and discard the bones. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the sofrito and chicken pieces. Add the matzo balls and simmer until the matzo balls are heated through, about 5 minutes. (The soup and matzo balls can be prepared up to 2 days ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Reheat before serving.)
Ladle the soup, along with sofrito, chicken and matzo balls into bowls and serve hot, with an optionaldrizzle of the additional melted chicken fat (schmaltz).

Original recipe makes 6 servings
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 head red cabbage, cored and shredded
In a bowl, mix the canola oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, seasoned salt, pepper, and onion powder. Place the cabbage in a large glass bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage, and toss to coat. Cover, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight, stirring occasionally. Drain before serving.

The meal would not be complete without cinnamon applesauce on the side.