Category Archives: Holiday Recipes

Homemade Chicken Soup with Not-So-Homemade Matzo Balls

IMG_4514I always make my own chicken soup. It is delicious broth. I usually make a few batches and freeze them because it’s a great thing to have frozen in quart containers as stock and will last for up to six months frozen. When the holidays come—whether Rosh Hashanah or Passover—I always make my chicken soup with matzo balls. I make the soup a day ahead and skim whatever fat is on there before adding my matzo balls. Keep reading for my “secret matzo ball recipe”.

INGREDIENTS: CHICKEN STOCK:

1 5lb. organic roasting chicken (I throw away the insides)

1 package of chicken wings (this was suggested to me a long time ago by my BFF Karyn and she was oh so right. It adds some fat, which translates into a lot of flavor and you will skim off the fat the next day. Thanks, Karyn…yes, I remembered!)

1 large, yellow Spanish onion; unpeeled and quartered

A big bunch of dill

4 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds

4 carrots, unpeeled and halved

Bunch of flat-leaf parsley (Use this only if you want. This time, I didn’t have it so I used only the dill.)

A bunch of thyme (if you wish)

1 head of garlic, cut in half cross-wise (skin and all)

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. whole black peppercorns

DIRECTIONS FOR SOUP:

I place the chicken, chicken wings, onion, carrots, celery, whatever herbs I’m using, garlic, salt and pepper in as large a  pot as I can find (usually about a 16-20 qt. stockpot.) Add cold water to cover chicken by at least 2 inches above the chicken but not to the top of the pot because it will boil over (very messy). Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours. I skim the soup skum (sounds lovely) off for the first half hour or so—after that, you shouldn’t have much more. I remove the chicken from the broth after an hour or so, because it is cooked and it will taste like a rubber chicken if you plan on eating it. Sometimes, I like to shred it and return it to the soup. If you are not using the chicken (what a waste of good chicken), just leave it in. It will fall apart in there. I leave the wings and discard them at the end of the 3 hours. Next, I strain all of the soup, discard all remnants, fill my containers and put in the fridge. The next day (or the day of the holiday), I usually skim off the fat that has risen to the top and make my matzo balls (recipe below).

MATZO BALLS:

This has always been my secret, but now it’s out. Okay, I own it. After years of making matzo balls from scratch, my mother (yes, my mother, the cook) turned me on to Manischewitz boxed matzo ball mix! It just wasn’t worth it. My balls weren’t as consistent as I would have liked, whereas these are always perfection! Light and fluffy and everyone always loves them. No sinkers here!

I follow the directions on the box carefully. They sell just the mix box. You will need vegetable oil and 2 eggs per box. I do add a little piece of dill inside each ball, but that’s it! Now my secret is out. Sometimes this is really the only way to go. It saves time and ingredients and is really good. No MSG or trans-fats either! So make the soup, cheat with the balls, and enjoy. There is no substitute for homemade chicken soup, though.

*You can also add thin soup noodles to this recipe, if you like. (obviously not on Passover)

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset–Apple/Walnut

DSCN2703This is my easiest Charoset. It’s traditional in the sense that it’s an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. I add a little brown sugar instead of white sugar and it gives it just a bit more character. This makes about 4 cups, but you can easily double it. My family loves it, so I always make a double batch. Remember, while a reminder of the mortar used in making bricks for Pharaoh, charoset is really just a sweet condiment of apples and wine!

Ingredients:

3 medium Fuji apples (or any other kind you like), peeled, cored and finely diced (use processor to make your life simpler) I usually use whatever is in the house, but on Passover I go through so many apples, so buy what you like (I always like Granny Smith because they are nice and tart)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (buy them pre-chopped)

1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga or just Concord Grape is fine

*20 pitted dates, chopped; or 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

*for a bit of extra added flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (optional)

Directions:

After chopping apples, stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in refrigerator ’til ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. You can also pulse everything together in processor, just be very careful not to over-process. I often do this to save time. You don’t want it too fine, so just go gently with the processor if you go that route. I do it in the processor, and I know exactly how I like it to come out, so go easy with the chopping.  If it’s a little dry or too thick, you can always add more wine. I find this always tastes better after it sits and allows the wine  to really soak and ripen for 24 hours. Before serving, check for consistency and add a little more wine, if necessary.

Baked Salami (Oldie but Goodie)

Here is an amazing appetizer if you are looking for something to hold everyone over till dinner. This is an oldie but goodie recipe, and everyone loves it always. Rarely is there a piece left over. Good Old Fashioned Kosher Salami. (the kind in the package from Hebrew National is what I’m talking about)   A-Mazing!

I have to say this is my #1 post on my blog hands down since 2011. People love this recipe.

*you will want to double recipe for the larger salami shown. Recipe below is for the smaller one.

Ingredients:

1 Kosher Salami (this is a larger one for a larger crowd)

1/2 cup Marmalade ( I like orange) but can be Lemon or Ginger

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard- I used Maille Dijon Mustard

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Score into Salami, cut into Salami in narrow slices but not completely through to bottom. Just make slices almost to the bottom. Mix all ingredients together and spread on Salami, place on a lightly sprayed baking sheet and cook for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Serve on a plate with sliced pumpernickle or rye bread or crackers. I buy that party pumpernickle bread which is already cut into small pieces and available almost everywhere.

Aunt Pammy’s Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

 

Fully Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

This recipe belongs to my sister, Pamela. She is a great cook, and this is her signature Thanksgiving Dish. We count on it every year as her contribution.  I highly suggest it if you like spicy because it is! It definitely packs some heat, be careful when you buy the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce , just make sure they don’t say Hot or you might be blowing the roof off of your Thanksgiving Dinner! Be prepared for a lot of flavor !  If your family likes spicy this is an awesome recipe, and you all know how much I like spicy by now.  This is certainly a new take on Sweet Potatoes because they aren’t sweet.  I also make a Sweet Potato dish with Marshmallows (* see recipe) and the two are always on my table, one sweet and one spicy.  Thanks Aunt Pammy.

Ingredients:

5 lbs.Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Kosher Salt –about 1/4 cup give or take a little . You’ll have to taste, start with less and add more as needed

Heavy Cream ( about 1 1/2 quarts)

Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce (canned) *look in Mexican Food Aisle in most supermarkets

Directions:

Slice Potatoes thinly and add salt. Place in baking dish you are going to use and cover with kosher salt, start with 1/4 cup and go to the 1/2 cup. Use your clean hands and toss together.

Puree Chipotles in small food processor .* you can keep pureed chipotles in fridge for up to 2 months. So you can do this step ahead.

Put approximately 1 – 2 tsp. of chipotle pepper puree in heavy cream and mix together

Pour Cream Mixture over Potatoes in an ovenproof baking dish ( earthenware is nice for this)

Place in 375 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven.

Potatoes should be somewhat set and browned on top when ready.

Enjoy! and Happy Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Walnut Bread (no butter)

I just love pumpkin and I can’t stop posting about it. Pumpkin Season is here.  I love baking this bread because the smell in the house is beyond. I usually serve pumpkin bread and a banana bread in my bread basket on Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that there is no butter in this moist, delicious bread. I make both of these way ahead of time, because they freeze so well. You can even double the recipe if you have two loaf pans, and eat one now and tuck one away for another day like Thanksgiving. It’s a nice thing to bring to someone’s house as a gift as well if you’re so inspired. Also, this bread is loaded with aromatic spices.   This recipe will make one perfect loaf.

It is also a lovely gift to bring to someone’s house .

*this bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks. Double wrap it in plastic and put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and put the date on it. Defrost, still wrapped in the plastic to avoid condensation on the bread, at least 2 hours before serving. I take out of freezer the night before I’ll be using it.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour (I sift)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts (obviously this is optional)

You will need a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, parchment paper, large bowl, medium bowl, whisk, silicone or rubber spatula.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position oven rack in the center of oven.

Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter and dust with flour, or spray with Pam. I line my loaf with a piece of parchment paper that extends one inch beyond the edge of the pan (this makes it easy to life the bread out. It is optional , just make sure you grease pan in one way or another first. If you’re not comfortable working with parchment paper, skip it. I like it but it can be tricky in a loaf pan. Just grease well, or give it a good spray.)

In a large bowl, sift the flour. Then, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well. Add the pumpkin moisture to the dry ingredients and whisk until well blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are well distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 55 – 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the center of loaf.  I let it cool for about 10 minutes, then I turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. I don’t freeze it until it is completely cool.

Pumpkin Penne Bake

IMG_9874IMG_9875I love pumpkin as you all well know by now. That’s why it’s odd that I only make it in the fall and mostly only on Thanksgiving. I suppose that’s what keeps the ingredient so special plus it’s hard to find the pumpkin puree at the supermarket after Thanksgiving. I always buy a few extra cans of pumpkin so when that pumpkin urge hits I am ready.

I like to have a pasta dish every year at my Thanksgiving dinner. Usually I make my cremini mushroom and pumpkin lasagna. This year I am making this delicious baked pumpkin penne. I am going to make it Monday but not add the cheese on top till Thursday  and freeze. I will take out of freezer Wednesday night and Thursday will  put cheese on top and bake till bubbly.  I will keep aluminum foil on it to re-heat and take off foil for last 10 minutes. To re-heat it will probably be 1/2 hour with aluminum foil on for the first 20 minutes. It should start bubbling and put a fork right in the middle to test for readiness. If it needs more time and is getting too browned put foil back on and continue heating it up. You will cook it at 350 degrees as directions state.

One of the best things about baked pasta dishes is that they freeze so well. Making them some of the easiest dishes to prepare ahead. This whole thing including chopping up sage took maybe 1/2 hour to prep. My kind of dish!

as a side dish it will serve about 10-12, as a main dish figure about 8.

Ingredients:

1 lb. box of penne pasta, cooked and drained well

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling

3 – 4  cups shredded mozzarella, divided , I used about 3 cups in pasta and another 1 cup on top. ( 2 packages 8 oz. shredded cheese) you’ll have a little left over

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cooked penne, pumpkin,  2  cup- 3 cups mozzarella, heavy cream, sage, salt and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Taste for salt.

Transfer mixture to a greased or well sprayed 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Since I was freezing I pulled it out after 20 minutes, cooled it down and wrapped it tightly and put in freezer.

Thanksgiving Corn Bread Pudding

My friend Audrey gave this to me many years ago, and it has become a staple on our thanksgiving table ever since. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. It is a favorite in our family. Can be doubled easily, just make sure your baking dish is large enough.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (unsalted) 1 stick

8 oz. sour cream (lite is OK  but not fat-free)

8 oz.  can sweet corn (drained)

8 oz. can creamed corn

8 oz. pkg. corn muffin mix

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, mix in beaten eggs, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Pour into glass baking dish (Pyrex is good and I spray it first.) 9 x 12 works fine, it’s not a very deep pudding.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts – Perfect for Thanksgiving

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My inspiration for this recipe came from Barefoot Contessa. These are my go-to nuts for Thanksgiving. Just a little something to nosh on before the big meal. I don’t like too many apps. because the meal is so huge. These last for a while so you can make ahead and keep them in a baggie or an air tight container.  These nuts make the perfect appetizers, no one who eats nuts can resist. I also like mine with a little “kick”, you can manage the heat on these with more or less cayenne pepper or chipotle powder.

Enjoy !

 

Ingredients:

vegetable oil

7 cups of nuts (you can break it up any way you want. You can do 7 cups of roasted mixed unsalted nuts or any other combination as long as they equal 7 cups. if you can’t find unsalted nuts, adjust the salt on this recipe as per direction below) 

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

3 tablespoons orange juice (fresh or container. fresh is always best (and one orange will do the trick,) but honestly no biggie.)

2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder–I use 2 teaspoons but if you really like them mild use a little less. You can also use cayenne pepper and sometimes I use a little of both.

4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves (divide 2 tablespoons for now and 2 tablespoons for later)

4 teaspoons Kosher salt (also divided 2 for now and 2 for later. don’t add second 2 teaspoons of salt if you bought salted nuts)

Preheat oven to 350

Brush a sheet pan (prefer one with sides) generously with vegetable oil (use a brush, love the silicone brushes)

First, combine nuts, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder in a large bowl (I prefer a large metal bowl). Toss to coat the nuts evenly.

Add 2 tablespoons of the minced rosemary and 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and give it a good toss (a large metal spoon works the best b/c it can get a little sticky with a wooden spoon.)

Spread nuts in a single layer on sheet pan.

Roast nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice. You will want to take them out of the oven to stir them b/c they may slide off the tray. Use a metal spatula. Roast for the rest of the 25 minutes until nuts are glazed .

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of kosher salt (only if they were unsalted) and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temp.

While they are cooling, stir them up a few times b/c they may stick together.

Taste for seasoning. They really don’t achieve full flavor until they fully cool. So you won’t know how spicy they are until they sit for a while. I’ve made these a million times and can tell you that this amount of chipotle has kick, but not psycho hot.

Serve warm, or let them cool. Put them in a container and serve whenever you like. They stay good for a long time.

*just a note: you can adjust salt, rosemary, and chipotle to your liking. I have recipe for Union Square Nuts and they don’t have chipotle and are also delish but I prefer these b/c I love the heat of the chipotle!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting–Fall Treats

photo (4)photo (16) photo (17) photo (18) photo (19)There are a few things I really love to eat. Mostly anything sweet and mostly dessert. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have an incredible sweet tooth. Funny that my name is Candi and I love candy, cookies, cakes and ice cream so very much. I would probably pass on most entrees and just cut to dessert if I had my way . When I was a kid I would gladly trade a sandwich for dessert any day of the week. Some things never change. I’d like to believe that my tastes in dessert have changed a wee bit and that I have a bit more of a sophisticated palate now but not when it comes to candy,  I still love junk candy as much as I did when I was 6. However my taste in cake has definitely improved with age. I don’t think I would have enjoyed pumpkin cake as a kid but I really love it now. Anything baked with pumpkin gets high marks in my book and if you put cream cheese frosting on it it’s off the charts.   It’s just the right amount of sugar and spice! Perfect Fall Cake and it may just find its way to my Thanksgiving Table. It really is a very easy recipe to follow ,  I made cupcakes but you can easily make this in a Pyrex 9 x13 inch pan as a sheet cake and frost it and decorate with candy corn or those little candy pumpkins!

Now you can make these without frosting and just eat like muffins with a little smear of cream cheese which wouldn’t be too bad either.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Shopping List:

1 can Pumpkin ( not pumpkin pie filling just Pumpkin) 15 oz. size

cream cheese  and paper liners for cupcakes

Staples: (things you should have in your Pantry and fridge all the time)

all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, vegetable oil, eggs, confectioner’s sugar, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and milk

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves if no ground cloves you can substitute with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg. I prefer cloves.

1 tsp. salt (regular table salt)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) Pure Pumpkin

4 eggs ( room temperature please)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 cups of confectioner’s sugar

1/3 cup softened butter ( unsalted)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 oz. softened cream cheese ( soften in microwave) not melted just softened or you can leave it out for a bit and it will soften up.  I actually used light cream cheese not fat free please. I mean the amount of calories is staggering, but you’re only going to eat 1 cupcake right? how many calories can possibly be in that????? Don’t tell me , I don’t want to know.

1 Tbsp. Milk ( I used skim plus)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I mixed all dry ingredients together then mixed in eggs ( one at a time) and can of pumpkin and vegetable oil. Mix till combined, don’t overmix. No need to sift, just put dry ingredients in a bowl first and whisk together with a whisk , get some air in there.

Pour into a greased muffin pan about 3/4 full.  I always use little paper liners and bake at 35o degrees for 20 – 30 minutes . Be careful not to over bake so the cake stays moist.  I baked for 26 minutes. I started checking on them after 20 minutes.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. I made my frosting in my electric mixer while cupcakes were cooling.

Frost Cupcakes / Cake  and if you’d like decorate with some of those little Halloween Candies like candy corn or those little pumpkin shaped candies sold this time of year. Enjoy!

*should make about 16 cupcakes , I made 12 and a mini loaf.

Baked French Toast — all time best

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DSCN4294  Now that Rosh Hashana is over it’s time to think about Yom Kippur coming up on October 9. If you’re debating on what to make and have never made this delicious French Toast now may be a good time. Truly easy and everyone will thank you.

I posted this originally back in October 2011 for Yom Kippur break fast and every Break Fast it is on the table, it’s almost a law in our family now! It is truly one of the best French toast recipes I’ve ever made.  I include it every year since my friend Ilene Stern gave it to me. I never have a single piece left. Delicious and decadent, perfect brunch and breakfast food. I almost always include it in my Mother’s Day Brunch as well. Once you’ve made this recipe there is no turning back  your whole family will love it and you’ll have to make it every time.

The only downside is that you must prepare and refrigerate the night before without cooking it, you cannot cook this dish till you’re ready to eat it, the bottom will get hard like a caramel candy would. So cook right before you’re going to serve. Enjoy!

*recipe as is should serve 6- 8 if you have more people make 2 trays!

Ingredients:

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

2 tbsp. corn syrup ( I use Karo Original light corn syrup)

5 eggs (room temperature please)

1 1/2 cups milk ( you can use low-fat, I use Skim Plus)

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 package of sliced cinnamon bread. ( Pepperidge Farm is fine) if you can get thick slices it’s great , but the thin kind will work just double stack them it will be fine) You probably will use 12 slices of bread per tray. You will have 6 stacks of 2 slices each, 12 slices total, or 6 thick slices of cinnamon bread. If you can’t find just cinnamon bread use raisin cinnamon bread it’s easier to find .

Directions:

Melt butter, add brown sugar and corn syrup and combine well. Spray a 9×13 baking dish, Pyrex works well here. Pour butter mixture into baking dish and arrange bread slices flat in the mixture ( you will double stack the thin sliced bread) Unless the bread is 1″thick you will be doubling the standard sliced bread. Squeeze the bread to fit–it should hold 12 slices ( 6 double stacks), 3 on each side of a 9×13 baking dish.

In a blender mix the eggs, milk and vanilla and pour over the bread slices, covering them completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all the liquid by the morning, so if you need to travel with it will be fine.

Uncover and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once it’s out of the oven you can dust with powdered sugar, but not necessary. Serve right from the baking dish.

*if you let this sit out too long before serving, the bottom may get hard like a praline candy. It never ever lasts long enough for this to happen at my table.

Easy Fast to all .

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