Chanukah: Potato Pancakes Recipe

Image source–The Spruce Eats.

All Things Chanukah This Week!

I only make potato pancakes–aka potato latkes–once a year because a) they’re so delicious I’ll eat way too many of them, b) they’re a lot of work, and c) they’re messy to make. The other reason for the once-a-year-situation is my philosophy of why make one batch when the recipe can be multiplied?

Last week, I quadrupled my great Aunt Florence Goldberg’s recipe. (Shout out to cousin Claudia for sharing it with me.) Guess how many potato latkes I made? 104! (Yes, I counted.) And guess what my wonderful Hubby did? Cleaned up all of the cooking apparatus. Thanks, Hubby!

The house smell amazing, and now I have enough for several get-togethers. Happy Chanukah!

The best part of Aunt Florence’s recipe is her gem to serve the potato latkes with “sour cream and caviar when the kids aren’t around.” LOL!

Great Aunt Florence’s Potato Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes (2 Yukon golds, 2 russet), peeled and cut into chunks for food processor
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks for food processor
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • flour (approx. 10-15 Tablespoons)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • for draining after frying–brown paper such as grocery bags cut up, brown butcher or wrapping paper or, alternately, paper towels

Directions:

  1. Process potatoes and onion in food processor fitted with grating attachment.
  2. Place potato and onion mixture in a large sieve, strainer, or colander over a bowl. Apply pressure with paper towels to get as much liquid out as possible. Discard liquid.
  3. Transfer potato and onion mixture to large mixing bowl. Add egg.
  4. Add flour a tablespoon at a time until mixture holds together as a batter, approx. 10-15 tablespoons in all.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Heat a large frying pan with oil to cover bottom of pan, about 1/8 inch.
  7. Drop potato pancake mixture into pan with large tablespoon and flatten with bottom of spoon or a spatula. Pancake size– about 2 inches in diameter.
  8. Cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides.
  9. Drain on brown paper.
  10. Serve immediately with applesauce (or sour cream and caviar when the kids aren’t around.)

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen pancakes.

Tip: Potato pancakes can be frozen in single layers (parchment paper or tin foil in between). Reheat on baking sheets at 400 degrees F.

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Gluten Free Apple Pie (Recipe and Video)

Gluten Free Baking cookbook by Michael McCamley.
Gluten Free Baking cookbook by Michael McCamley.
Inspiration Photo.
Inspiration Photo.

Ready for Thanksgiving!

My apple pies are done and one of them is gluten free, so I’m re-posting the recipe and how-to video.

Unlike regular dough which comes together in a food processor, Michael McCamley’s recipe for gluten free dough in Gluten Free Baking is worked by hand. The dough is sticky and a bit messy, but the end result is delicious. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour for the pie, and have used rice flour for gluten free cookies and gluten free pancakes.

Guess what I did? I labeled the pie using my ceramics letters. Fun!

Happy Thanksgiving, Hon!

Gluten free apple pie before being baked and after!

Gluten Free Pastry Dough

Ingredients:

  • 3 2/3 cups gluten free flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) plus extra for greasing (I used Crisco vegetable shortening.)
  • 1 egg, plus extra for glazing
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)

Directions:

  1. To make pastry dough, combine the flour, xanthan gum, and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter (or vegetable shortening) with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the egg and milk (or almond milk) and combine to make dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  2. After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. On a gluten free-floured surface, divide dough in two. Roll each piece out to form a large circle*–one to line pie plate and one to become top of pie.
  4. Line pie plate with one of the pasty circles and spoon in the apple filling. (See Apple Pie filling below.)
  5. Mix together a little milk (or almond milk) and egg and brush rim of pastry with this. Add second pastry circle as a lid and, using a fork, crimp edges of dough all the way around. Pierce pie in the middle a couple of times to let out steam during baking. If you make a basket weave top, no need to pierce dough.
  6. Brush top of the pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden.

Serves 8

Apple Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups apple slices (I use a combination of Granny Smith and other varieties)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I cut the sugar to about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • approximately 1 Tablespoon gluten free flour
  • dash salt
  • 1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)

Directions:

  1. Combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, spices and salt.  This mixture will give off a lot of liquid so use a slotted spoon when spooning into pie crust, allowing you to spoon the apple mixture without the excess liquid.

Tips:

*I rolled out the dough by a)pressing dough ball down to flatten it, b)sandwiching dough between two pieces of wax paper, then c)rolling the rolling pin on top of the wax paper.  (Demo can be seen in the video.) If the dough sticks to the wax paper, you can spray the wax paper with non-stick spray.

**You can make this pie ahead and freeze it.  Let pie cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and aluminum foil.  A couple of days before serving, defrost at room temperature.

Serving options:

Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool about 20 minutes.

Serve room temperature–cool completely.

Rewarm defrosted pie– warm in a preheated 250- 275 degrees F oven, uncovered, until desired temperature.

Pre-Schoolers & Pumpkins, Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Scooping out the insides of a pumpkin with my 2021-2022 co-teacher, Hannah.

Autumn Exploration

Carving out the insides of a pumpkin with an audience of little onlookers is fun. Inviting the kids to explore its’ texture is funny. Some are game and some are not! A few reluctant kids change their minds when they see others touching the orange, wet, and stringy pulp and seeds. One girl tasted the pulp and seeds. I know who’ll be a fan of pumpkin lattes!

At the end of the school day, I collected the seeds and, hon, you know what came next. I made Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds (recipe below) and brought them in for the kids to try. Yum!

We also painted mini-pumpkins, crinkled leaves to decorate paper trees, and explored a texture tray filled with smooth acorns, bumpy pinecones, and itty-bitty pumpkins snipped off of Pumpkin Tree branches. We rolled pinecones in paint and then rolled the paint-covered pinecones on blank paper to create original prints.

Hands-on learning!

Image soure: Joy Food Sunshine

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Tips Before Roasting Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds must dry completely before roasting. Remove the seeds from pumpkins and rinse thoroughly, discarding any stringy orange pieces. Drain seeds by lining a large baking pan with paper towels, spreading seeds evenly in a layer, and letting sit for 24 hours. At the 12 hour mark, change damp paper towels for dry ones, stir to air out pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds dried for at least 24 hours
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or coconut sugar to make paleo)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Very lightly grease a large baking pan, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt coconut oil or butter in a large microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop in a 4-quart pot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Mix in pumpkin seeds until they are all evenly coated.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and mix until all they are evenly coated.
  7. Spread pumpkin seeds on your prepared baking pan in single layer.
  8. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. They are done when they start to brown.
  9. To test for doneness: remove a few seeds from the pan and let sit on the counter to cool. If they harden up the seeds are done. If they remain soft, return to the oven, checking them after 5 minutes. Continue baking in 5 minute intervals until done.
  10. Once seeds are done, transfer them from the warm pan to another pan lined with parchment paper to let cool.

Yield: 3 cups

Store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Father’s Day Cards Made by Little Feet

Little Feet Leave a Big Message!

One of my preschool classes made Father’s Day cards with handprints, while the other made Father’s Day cards with footprints. This Easy DIY Kids Craft is a homemade greeting card is so cute for preschoolers and elementary age children.

The footprints were a challenge. When the kids stepped on the paper without assistance, their feet slid. When I held the paper to their feet, the print didn’t get their toes. What worked? Making sure paint was evenly distributed (it tickled!) and guiding each child’s foot to the paper to make a quick print. Whew!

If you have texture mats (as a potter, I have a collection of them) kids can make impressions of bricks or pebbles. If not, they can draw or color a path to be cut out and placed next to the footprint.

Add the message, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day,” sign name and date and the card is ready to go!

Sweet Feet!

Supplies:

  • construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
  • paint and paintbrush
  • magic markers, colored pencil or crayons
  • glue or double-stick tape
  • optional: brick or pebbles texture mat

Directions:

  1. Using paintbrush, paint foot. Make footprint on white paper. Let dry. (Note–it may take several tries to get a full footprint.)
  2. optional: using colored pencil and texture mat, create a brick or pebbles impression. OR, draw or color a path.
  3. Cut a strip out of path. Glue or tape path by footprint.
  4. Write or print out, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day!”
  5. Write child’s name and year.
  6. Glue white paper on to background paper.

Easy DIY Kids Crafts: Father’s Day Cards Made With Little Hands

Easy DIY Father’s Day Cards!

Preschool may have ended, but my students still have a present to give–adorable, easy DIY Father’s Day cards where their handprints transform into leaves on a tree. This idea is fun for preschoolers and elementary age children. I think my students’ dads will like the message, “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Sweet!

Supplies:

  • construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
  • green paint and paintbrush
  • magic markers, brown and other colors
  • scissors
  • glue or double-stick tape

Directions:

  1. Using paintbrush, paint child’s palm green. Make two handprints on white paper. (Note-it may take a few tries to get a good print.) Let dry.
  2. With brown marker, draw tree trunk and branches.
  3. Add “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Write child’s name and year.
  4. Glue or tape white paper onto background paper.
  5. Write or print out “Happy Father’s Day!”

Easy Preschool Project for Mother’s Day

Sweet Sentiments

The Mother’s Day cards my preschoolers made are sooooo cute! One class decorated their cards with flowers and the other with hearts. Although me and my co-teacher assembled the cards, the two and three year-olds participated by painting, coloring and letting us know what they love most about their moms. These Mother’s Day cards are quick and easy to create, and they translate easily into cards for other people and holidays–think Father’s Day, grandparents, note to teachers, caregivers, etc.

Flower Card Supplies:

  • construction paper
  • non-toxic paint in two colors–green and whatever color the flower will be
  • paintbrush
  • markers
  • scissors
  • crayons

Flower Cards Directions:

  1. Fold construction paper in half. Inside, write personalized note in marker. Child colors inside of note with crayons.
  2. Paint child’s hand the flower color. Make a handprint on front of card. Wash hand.
  3. Paint a separate piece of paper green. Let dry.
  4. When green paper is dry, cut out two leaves. Draw stem. Glue leaves to base of stem.
  5. Write or print out, “Your love and care helps me bloom.”

Heart Card Supplies:

  • construction paper in two colors
  • scissors
  • markers
  • crayons
  • glue

Heart Card Directions:

  1. Fold construction paper in half. Inside, write personalized note in marker. Child colors inside of note with crayons.
  2. Cut a heart out of contrasting construction paper. Child color with markers.
  3. Glue heart to front of card.
  4. Write or print out, “I love you with all my heart.”

Easy DIY Kids Craft: Rainy Day Spring Scene

At preschool, we were asked to come up with an Easy DIY Kids Craft or Activity using only supplies found at home. Our ideas were compiled into a “Cooped-Up Activities” resource for parents.

Hon, hoping Spring blooms very soon.

RAINY DAY SPRING SCENE

Supplies:

  • paper
  • aluminum foil
  • cotton balls
  • baking cup
  • markers
  • scissors
  • glue

Directions:

  1. To make a grey sky, cut aluminum foil and glue to top of paper.
  2. To make rain clouds, glue cotton balls on top of and below grey sky.
  3. To make an umbrella, fold baking cup in half and glue together. Place umbrella on paper and glue down. Count to 20 while pressing so umbrella sticks to paper.
  4. Draw outline of umbrella handle and color in.
  5. Cut raindrops out of aluminum foil. (This is challenging as they are small and stick to fingers.) Glue raindrops under clouds.

Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread

Image source: Once Upon a Chef

This is the first time I baked Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread, but it won’t be the last! I intended to bake Coffee Cake, but didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk on hand. Searching for a recipe that contained ingredients I already had in my kitchen, I came across Jen Segal’s blog Once Upon a Chef  and found just what I was looking for. Her recipes look so good, I’m sure I’ll be referring to her blog again. The Cinnamon Apple Swirl Bread smelled amazing while it was in the oven!

Happy baking, hon.

CINNAMON SWIRL APPLE BREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced tart baking apple (such as Granny Smith)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack in middle position. Spray an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Optional:  line the long side of loaf pan with parchment paper “sling” and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.
  2. In a small bowl, mix  brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine granulated sugar and eggs. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, blend on medium speed until pale and creamy
  4. With mixer on low, gradually add melted butter followed by milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined.
  5. Add flour, salt, and baking powder to batter and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
  6. Add apples to batter and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle about 2/3 of brown sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Spoon remaining batter over top, followed by remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl layers by making a zig-zag motion through the batter once in each direction (don’t overdo it!).
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let bread cool on rack for about 30 minutes, then use parchment sling to lift bread out of pan and onto rack. Let cool completely before slicing, a few hours or overnight. Store loosely covered with aluminum foil on the countertop for up to 4 days.

Yield:  One 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf (approx. 8-12 slices)

Thanksgiving Side Dish, Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

Image source: Home Made Interest
Image source: All Recipes

Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means recipes, recipes, recipes! My Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows casserole is a family favorite, and the actual index card with the recipe is special to me because it was written by my Grandmother Ruth. It’s stained and yellowing and I keep it in a sandwich bag but, come to think of it, I should laminate it! For Thanksgiving, we prepare no less than three Sweet Potato With Marshmallow casseroles and, at the end of dinner and divvying “some to take home,” there might be about three quarters of one baking dish left over!

Happy holidays, hon!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 lb can sweet potatoes (light or no syrup preferred), drained
  • 1 (8 or 15 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained (either size works, depending on desired sweetness) 
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can lower sugar quantities if desired)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows (can use less or more of bag as desired)
  • nonstick spray or margarine or butter for greasing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 11 glass baking with non-stick spray, margarine or butter.
  2. With hand mixer, beat potatoes well. Add crushed pineapple to potatoes and mix.
  3. Separate egg and beat egg white until stiff. Set aside.
  4. Add yolk to potatoes/pineapple mixture and beat.
  5. Add brown and granulated sugars to mixture and beat.
  6. Fold egg whites into mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into greased baking dish. Dot the top with about half of the mini marshmallows.
  8. Bake for approx, 25 minutes and then dot the remaining marshmallows on top. Bake for about 15 more minutes. Remove from oven when marshmallows are lightly browned. Tip: Pay attention to marshmallows. They will puff in oven before settling. Add second half of marshmallows when first half is only slightly browned.)
  9. Total bake time is approx. 40 minutes.

Yield:  8

Prep Tip:  A day or two before the holiday, prepare casserole (steps 2-7) but do not top with marshmallows, and refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, remove prepared dish from fridge about an hour before baking. Bake following instructions to dot casserole with half of the marshmallows, bake partway, add remaining marshmallows, and finish baking.

Recipe in my Grandmother Ruth’s handwriting.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread on my hand built ceramic serving dish.

Have you heard of The Able Baker in Maplewood, NJ? It has the most delicious baked goods and the place I go to when I don’t have time to bake. Last week, I picked up a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and wondered why didn’t I think of that? This easy and delicious recipe can only be made better by adding chocolate!

Happy baking, hon.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD (OR MUFFINS)

Yield:  2 loaves

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3 1/2 cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat and unbleached flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup water

1 cup chocolate chips, add more if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat first 11 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until well blended.  Add 2/3 cup water and beat until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.  Or, add batter to muffin tins.  Bake for 1 1/4 hours for bread, 35 to 40 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 30 to 35 minutes for mini muffins.  Test centers with toothpicks and when they come out clean, they’re done.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Note:  Bread may be well wrapped and kept frozen up to three months.