Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Potato Chips

At Hanukkah, it's traditional to eat foods fried in oil to celebrate the miracle of one day's worth of consecrated oil burning in the Temple for a full eight days after the Maccabees regained control of it.

Well, potato chips are fried in oil, aren't they??? I don't know why I never thought of it before, but I'm pretty proud of myself for having this little epiphany - potato chips are a perfect Hanukkah treat! And these dipped ones have been a HUGE hit with my co-workers!

In my continuing mission to create dishes for Thanksgivukkah - the fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime overlapping of Thanksgiving with the first day of Hanukkah - I was inspired by pecan pie, by the new Lay's chocolate-dipped potato chips, and by the whole sweet-salty contrasting flavor "thing."

And so, I offer you potato chips dipped in chocolate and coated in candied pecans, with a sprinkling of sparkly sugar. These are great to snack on while watching football or ideal for folks who don't want a slice of pie but still want a little something sweet. And they're especially great as a quick 'n' easy nosh to make at the last minute when your holiday is feeling rushed.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!!!

Chocolate Pecan Potato Chips

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
32 wavy potato chips (sturdy ones)
1/2 cup candied pecans, ground
silver sugar (available where sprinkles are found)

Lay waxed paper, greased foil, or Silpats onto a countertop.

Place the chocolate chips into a small microwaveable bowl, and heat until melted; stir until smooth.

Pick up one potato chip and hold it as you dip it about 2/3 into the melted chocolate. Place onto the prepared countertop, and repeat with about 7 more chips. Sprinkle some of the pecans and the silver sugar onto the chocolate, then repeat with remaining supplies. Let the chips set for about 30 minutes or so until the chocolate is set.

Makes 32 chips.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Potato and Corn Potatonik

My very good friend, and a former restaurant chef, Kate wrote to me recently with this tantalizing tidbit: "Just discovered potatonik while reading a local obituary, and after Googling it realize that this could change everything come Thanksgivikkuh! Might be the perfect dish for blending the flavors of both traditions."

Well, remarkably - given that I work and live in the Jewish community - I had never heard of this. (Who's been holding out on me???) So, of course, I immediately did a search and found a recipe from Mark Bittman for his grandmother's recipe. A potatonik is essentially a giant latke!

But for Thanksgivukkah - the fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime overlapping of Thanksgiving with the first day of Hanukkah - we needed to incorporate some of those Thanksgiving flavors into this potato dish. So I adapted the recipe significantly while following the basic procedure, adding sweet potatoes and corn and just a bit of cornmeal.

I fried it up, watched it sizzle, flipped it (a little less than gracefully, so patching was required), cooked it more on the other side, and then plated an enormous, golden, crispy melding of Jewish and Thanksgiving culinary traditions.

Serve it with both Brandied Cranberry Apple Compote and sour cream, and enjoy every little celebratory bite!

Sweet Potato and Corn Potatonik

1 pound sweet potatoes
1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup corn kernels
3 eggs
3 tablespoons cornmeal
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup oil

Peel the sweet potato and trim the ends; grate into a large mixing bowl. Grate the potatoes and add to the sweet potato; stir together with the onion, corn, eggs, cornmeal, salt, and pepper.

Heat the oil in a 13" skillet, then carefully spread the sweet potato batter into it, flattening the mixture. Cook over medium-ish (bit more than medium, but not quite medium-high) heat for 15 minutes. Slide the potatonik onto a large platter, then cover with another platter; flip, then slide the potatonik back into the skillet and cook for another 15 minutes.

Slide potatonik onto a serving platter, then serve by cutting into wedges.

Makes 12-16 servings.

And here are some other dishes for your Thanksgivukkah feast (or for either Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, whatever you're celebrating in the next few days!):

Kugel Latkes

Loaded Baked Potato Latkes

Burek (Spiced Beef Egg Rolls)

Provolone Fritto con Marinara (Fried Provolone)

Curried Potato 'n' Pea Latkes with Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

Pumpkin Apple Bread

Sweet Potatoes Baked with Rosemary

Pomegranate Molasses-Glazed Carrots

Butterscotch Pumpkin Pudding

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last Chance to Vote!!!

Have you voted today in the Manischewitz "Happy Thanksgivukkah Recipe Contest?" I'd be so grateful if you voted for my Cranberry Orange Thanksgivukkah Rugelach!

There's a $1000 grand prize waiting for me, if all of you could please vote for me. The more the merrier for this party!

Just click here to vote, and then be sure to share with all your friends. Voting ends today!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Another Day, Another Vote!

Have you voted today in the Manischewitz "Happy Thanksgivukkah Recipe Contest?" I'd be so grateful if you voted for my Cranberry Orange Thanksgivukkah Rugelach!

There's a $1000 grand prize waiting for me, if all of you could please vote for me. The more the merrier for this party!

Just click here to vote, and then be sure to share with all your friends. Voting ends tomorrow!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Have You Voted Yet???

Have you voted today in the Manischewitz "Happy Thanksgivukkah Recipe Contest?" I'd be so grateful if you voted for my Cranberry Orange Thanksgivukkah Rugelach!

There's a $1000 grand prize waiting for me, if all of you could please vote for me. The more the merrier for this party!

Just click here to vote, and then be sure to share with all your friends. Voting continues each day (1 vote per person per day) until November 24.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Have You Voted for Me Today?

Have you voted today in the Manischewitz "Happy Thanksgivukkah Recipe Contest?" I'd be so grateful if you voted for my Cranberry Orange Thanksgivukkah Rugelach!

There's a $1000 grand prize waiting for me, if all of you could please vote for me. The more the merrier for this party!

Just click here to vote, and then be sure to share with all your friends. Voting continues each day (1 vote per person per day) until November 24.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Thanksgivukkah Rugelach + A Voting Request

According to Wikipedia, rugelach [rug-uh-LUCK] are "a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic (European) origin. Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling." Some are filled with chocolate, some with apricot, and they always seem to contain nuts. They're a bit like pastry, a bit like a cookie.

These are more cookie and less pastry, and I've varied the fruit filling because next Thursday is Thanksgivukkah - a mash-up of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah - and Turkey Day flavors were warranted for the traditional Yiddishche treats.

Remember that Jewish "days" actually begin at sundown and then continue through the night and the day, ending at the next sundown. The first day of Hanukkah begins on the evening of Wednesday, November 27 and continues until sundown on Thursday, November 28. That means that it coincides with Thanksgiving!!! It's only happened once before, since Thanksgiving is a relatively new holiday; and it's not going to happen, by mathematicians' calculations, for another 70,000 years. Yup, 70,000! Thanksgivukkah is literally, truly, amazingly a once-in-a-lifetime holiday!!!

This calls for a celebration!

So for the next few posts, I'm taking traditional Jewish foods and putting a Thanksgiving-ish spin on them in honor of the holiday ... like with these rugelach filled with cranberries, which are also featured (very slightly tweaked) in the Manischewitz "Happy Thanksgivukkah Recipe Contest."

There's a $1000 grand prize waiting for me, if all of you could please vote for me and then share the link on Twitter or Facebook or email or even good ol'-fashioned word of mouth so your loved ones can help, too. 40% of the judging to determine finalists will be based upon votes, so the more the merrier for this party!

Just click here to vote, and then be sure to share with all your friends. Voting continues each day (1 vote per person per day) until November 24. There has been some mishigas with the site and with difficulties in voting; so if you have trouble, don't start schvitzing - I appreciate the thought! THANK YOU to everyone for your help - it's a mitzvah (good deed)!

Cranberry-Orange Rugelach

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons orange marmalade

In a medium saucepan, toast the walnuts over medium-low heat just until fragrant; place into a small mixing bowl.

Add the cranberries, sugar, and water to the now-empty saucepan; bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly and pressing down onto the cranberries to mash them. You should have 1 cup of filling; stir filling mixture and marmalade into the walnuts and set aside.

1 cup butter-flavor shortening, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine shortening and cream cheese; stir in egg and salt. Stir in sugar, then stir in flour - dough will be crumbly. Empty the dough onto the countertop and knead until it comes together. Divide dough into 4 portions.

Roll one portion at a time into a 12" circle on a lightly floured countertop. Spread with 1/4 of the cranberry mixture, spreading to within 1" of the outer edge.

Cut the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter into 4 equal portions to make 16 portions. One at a time, starting with the outer edge, roll a portion of dough towards the center to form a spiral. Place onto the prepared cookie sheet and repeat until the entire circle of dough has been rolled.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cookies are golden and feel set when pressed. Let cool on a rack. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

To finish the cookies, place a scant 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar into a large freezer baggie. Add two dozen cookies, shake to coat them in sugar, then remove them to a serving tray and repeat with remaining cookies.

Makes 64 cookies.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cappuccino Chip Kugel

I received a package of granola in the mail - I always appreciate gifts of food! Jessica's Natural Foods, based less than an hour away in Birmingham, had sent samples of its Almond Cherry variety and also its new chocolate-hazelnut one, Motor City Crunch.

Because the products are made with oats that are certified gluten-free, I started thinking about other dietary concerns, as well, and decided to make a dish that is normally off-limits to those who have issues with gluten and also with dairy. Since one of my very favorite foods is kugel - a sweet noodle pudding which is prohibitive to many because of its pasta, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, and crumb topping - I thought it would be a perfect thing to make.

Often, foods that make significant substitutions of ingredients to accommodate health concerns can have an odd consistency or an "off" taste. This kugel, however, baked up beautifully and was a huge hit with everyone who tried it; until I told them that it was both gluten- and dairy-free, no one knew there was anything different about it.

I love kugel, and so I'm happy to welcome those who couldn't eat it before to the party! It's a great cold weather comfort food.

Cappuccino Chip Kugel

8 ounces medium gluten-free noodles
1 12-ounce container Tofutti sour cream
2 tablespoons instant decaf coffee granules
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup pareve/non-dairy chocolate chips

1/2 cup Jessica's Gluten-Free Motor City Crunch granola
1/2 cup Jessica's Gluten-Free Almond Cherry granola
1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped
1/8 cup brown sugar
small pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 9" round baking pan.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together sour cream, coffee granules, vanilla extract, sugar, and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drain noodles, rinse briefly under cold water, then add to the sour cream mixture; combine well, then pour into prepared baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together granolas, almonds, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted margarine over the granola mixture, stir to combine, then sprinkle over noodles.

Bake for 35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes about 10 servings.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pear Compote with Gingered Shortbread Crumbs

Ah, the joys of being a food blogger! One of the significant perks is getting to taste, try, and tinker with all sorts of products; and when that product just happens to be some lovely wine ... well, it's a good day in Mary Land.

I was the very happy recipient of a bottle of Gnarly Head Chardonnay, described as having "bright, tropical fruit aromas and flavors of pineapple, citrus, pear and melon with a touch of vanilla on the finish." And while I was not at all averse to sipping the wine with dinner, you know I always like to cook with it, too. The brightness, the acidity, and the hints of fruit offer a tremendous boost to flavors.

We all know I have a sweet tooth, although the Chardonnay would be lovely in savory dishes, as well. So - of course! - I spent an entire day craving a dessert. When I first tasted the wine, I felt it would be perfect with pears; it was a bit tart, a bit sweet, and it immediately triggered a sense that these ingredients would be ideal complements to each other.

I thought about poaching pears, but that's been done many, many times before; and so, I varied the theme a bit by cooking a fragrant compote instead, and teased a bit of the vanilla hints from the wine, as well, by using vanilla sugar rather than the plain ol' variety as everything simmered.

But I didn't just want soft fruit - there needed to be some crunch, some texture. And regular readers know that I have an obsessive love affair with shortbread cookies, with their richness and beautiful simplicity; they seemed to be a stellar contrast to the luscious pears. And how could anything go wrong when adding a touch of spice with candied ginger?

This dessert - sophisticated comfort food - turned out far, far better than I'd even hoped! Sweet pears, accented by the Chardonnay, layered with crisp and buttery cookies ... sigh. I had planned to save some of this to take to work the next day, a treat to look forward to; but it was so exceptionally good that I devoured the entire thing in one sitting!

Quick, simple, and oh, so luxurious! Gnarly Head Chardonnay, ripe pears, and shortbread ... all you need for a beautiful fall dessert.

Pear Compote with Gingered Shortbread Crumbs

2 large Anjou pears, very ripe
1/3 cup Gnarly Head Chardonnay
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced candied ginger
1/2 cup shortbread cookie crumbs

To finish:
whipped cream

Peel and core pears, then cut into 1/2" dice. Place into a small saucepan, then add wine and sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Mash pears with a fork until they're the consistency of applesauce, then boil 5 more minutes to evaporate most of the liquid. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar, ginger, and cookie crumbs; cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, just until crumbs are lightly golden.

Layer the crumbs and pear compote in small parfait glasses, or just place some of the compote into small bowls and sprinkle crumb mixture on top. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream.

Don't combine the compote and the crumbs before serving, or the crumbs will soften; they're very nice with a bit of crunch to them.

Serves 2.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin Polenta with Sausage, Peppers, and Greens

After indulging in a lot of junk and convenience food lately, I was feeling the need to eat better, to get back to the way I prefer to eat.

Craig would eat burritos or pizza every night of the week; throw in some chicken fried rice for variety, and also his daily bagel, and you've pretty much got his eating regimen. He also likes burgers. He eats like a college kid, which I can personally vouch for 'cause I've got one of them, too. Even though they're both capable of branching out and are both, truth be told, willing to try new things, Jeremy and Craig would happily eat only three foods for the rest of their lives.

I'm not like that. I have a very low boredom quotient, so I almost never want to see the same thing again. Even if I go to a favorite restaurant, I try new dishes. And as much as I like sweets and chips and other stuff I shouldn't eat - and I completely take responsibility for baking and for buying the naughty items at the grocery store! - I also really love simple but sophisticated dishes with spices, vegetables, and other nice things.

And so, for an evening when I was eating and working alone, I had a vision of what I wanted for dinner. It started with the notion of pumpkin, which is ubiquitous now; but I wanted to go beyond pumpkin muffins and such. So I thought of stirring it into polenta, a.k.a. cornmeal mush. (Everything sounds better in Italian!)

To top this warm comfort food, I wanted lots of vegetables - the stuff that Jeremy and Craig are none too keen on. Neither will eat peppers, one will eat only white mushrooms, neither is keen on greens, one can't eat spicy food or have alcohol ... groan. But they weren't having dinner with me and imposing their little quirks! I threw it all into the mix!!!

I'd looked forward to this meal all day long while I was at work. I turned on the tunes and danced a bit as I chopped and stirred, since I had the house to myself. The kitchen smelled amazing as everything bubbled and simmered, and then it was ready. I tasted the dish and it was everything I'd hoped for - comforting, warm, and elegant. Full of nutrition and color and flavor.

A perfect dinner for fall!

Pumpkin Polenta with Sausage, Peppers, and Greens

2 links hot Italian sausage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1" pieces
1 small red pepper, seeded, cored, cut into 1" pieces
8 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup baby spinach leaves
freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup white wine
generous pinch of kosher salt
2/3 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup pumpkin purée

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage on all sides; set aside.

Add the oil to the skillet, then add the onion and red pepper; sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softening and starting to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and the salt; sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the kale and the spinach, cooking for 5 minutes until most of the liquid has cooked off.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and the wine to a boil with the salt. Turn heat down to medium-low, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal; cook for 1 minute, until thick. Whisk in the pumpkin.

To serve, place a generous dollop of polenta onto a plate, then top with the sausage mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan.

Serves 2 generously.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Post from Jenn's Food Journey: Big Red Chili

I can't tell you all how happy I was when Mary emailed me the other day and asked if we were going to keep up our tradition of a recipe exchange in honor of the Nebraska vs. Michigan football game! She and I have both been quite busy and I really thought we might pass on it this year, but some things just can't be passed by ... and this is one of them!

We have had two great years of recipe swapping which have included two different cornbread recipes from Mary on my site - Cheesy Cornbread and Amazin' Maize 'n' Blue Cornbread - which, by the way, I have made and they are both DE-Licious!!

This year, I had a hard time trying to come up with something that was traditional for Nebraska, so instead, I decided to showcase a chili recipe that I came up with a few years ago that I believe is a good tribute to Nebraska and its football fever. If you have never been to Nebraska, let me just tell you that there isn't a lot to do - not that it's a bad thing, it's just the truth. I believe that is why Nebraska football is so loved and so very big in the state. We have no professional teams and no inner state rivals, so our love does not have to be divided! Although Nebraska has not done very well in the last two years against Michigan, I am still hopeful that they will surprise everyone and pull out an upset!!

So, here is my tribute to all things Nebraska - football, beef and more beef (the only thing missing is the corn)! And here's to another great year of recipe swapping and rivalry!! Thank you, Mary for this fun tradition!!

Nebraska at Michigan
Saturday, November 9
3:30 p.m. EST on ABC

Big Red Chili

Created by Jenn's Food Journey

Printable Recipe


2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and stem removed, chopped
1 pound boneless bottom round steak, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup beer
3/4 cup beef broth
2-3 Tablespoons chili powder (add two, taste, add more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used chili garlic Cholula)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon tomato paste OR 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 teaspoon beef broth
salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes on medium low or until the onions are tender. Add the jalapenos and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add the steak and turn up the heat to medium. Cook for 2 minutes and add the ground beef; stirring occasionally. Cook until the steak and beef are no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the beer and beef broth, stirring to combine. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, hot sauce and tomato sauce. Stir until everything is well combined. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add the tomato paste or cornstarch slurry and stir. Cover and allow to simmer another 2-3 hours or until the steak becomes tender and the chili has thickened. Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

No Kid Hungry ... and How You Can Help

How can your sweet tooth help to feed hungry children???

By tempting you to click on this link to make a contribution (any amount is welcome!) to No Kid Hungry, which will then give you access to download an e-cookbook from Solo Foods that's filled with 35 recipes for sweet treats and desserts that were contributed by "the top bloggers around the internet" ... including li'l ol' me, with my recipe for Bear Claws. I am enormously proud to have been invited to contribute to such a cool project, and to support the exceptional work of this organization.

No Kid Hungry is "a nonprofit organization that works to end childhood hunger in America. Hunger in children affects everything from nutrition to socialization and education. It has been proven that hungry children are distracted at school and lose the basic skills needed to achieve higher education. No Kid Hungry funds school breakfasts, summer meals, and solutions community-wide. They are working to educate kids and families about nutrition and budgets to encourage healthy shopping. No Kid Hungry works tirelessly to raise awareness throughout the United States, where many Americans are unaware of childhood hunger. By placing a spotlight on this important issue, we can make a difference in thousands of childrens’ lives."

Especially now that November is here and food benefits have been cut to millions who were already struggling (working poor, people with disabilities, people who just need some help because of unforeseen circumstances), it's more critical than ever to support organizations that help to provide nutrition and sustenance to children.

So click on this link and donate, then download, and then share both the link and the fabulous baked goods you'll make with all your new recipes ... :)

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