Chanukah is Here! Potato Latkes Recipe (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Chanukah Treat! 

Shout out to my niece Eli, who brought potato latkes to Thanksgiving! Why? Because, this year, the two holidays coincided. I have a love/hate relationship with these delicious Chanukah treats. I love to eat them, but don’t love making them. Trust me when I say oil splatters everywhere and energy must be reserved for a rigorous clean-up. I once heard a colleague say she fries hers outside on her deck in an electric frying pan. I own one, but am always cooking for a crowd. I’d need several electric frying pans…

Hmmm, food for thought!

IMG_2753

potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.
onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.
Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.
Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter

Directions

1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Thanksgiving Menu–Autumn, Tomato, Bean and Vegetable Soups

My Thanksgiving menu always includes soup. Velvety Vegetable Soup has been my go-to meal starter for years, but last year I changed it up by serving Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup. It was delicious! Friday, when the house is full and lunch includes more visitors, I’ve paired Roasted Tomato Soup and Tuscan Rosemary White Bean Soup with paninis and cheese and cracker platters.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Hope it’s filled with family, friends and some time to relax.

Hearty and Healthy Beef Stew

Cold Weather Comfort Food

I’ve made Beef Stew before, but wanted to change it up. Researching other recipes, I found some that simmered in a crockpot and some that baked in an oven. (Yes, you read right. Who knew?). I decided to use a crockpot, combining recipes for Ina Garten’s “Ultimate Beef Stew” (Food Network) and Chungah’s “Slow Cooker Beef Stew” (Damn Delicious). The only addition needed? A loaf of bread. This combination requires a bit of prep time, but it’s now my go-to Beef Stew recipe because it was hearty, healthy, savory, and delicious! Plus, there was enough leftover for future meals. Yay!

Hon, hope you find your own comfort during this strangest of holiday seasons.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped fennel*, trimmed and cored (1 large bulb)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including the juices
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 pound carrots (4-5 carrots), scrubbed and cut 1/2 inch thick diagonally
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (2 large potatoes), scrubbed, 1-inch diced
  • 2 celery stalks, cut diagonally into slices
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Add beef to the skillet and cook until evenly browned, about 2-3 minutes. (Tip: Drain cooked beef on paper towels before adding to crockpot. If there’s a lot of oil left in skillet, once it cools, wipe it down before heating up wine.)
  3. Place beef, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and peas into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, turmeric, and bay leaves.
  4. Heat 1/3 cup of the wine in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir tomato paste and diced tomatoes into the vegetables. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add to crockpot. Stir ingredients until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.

Notes:

–The original recipes call for less meat, but I used 3 pounds so that there’d be enough for now and later.

–If, like me, you’ve never cut fennel before, click here to watch Melissa Clark’s video. Now I know!

Yield: Approximately 8-10 servings.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Bite-Size Pumpkin Pies!

Thanksgiving tradition in our home calls for Apple and Pumpkin Pies so, in addition to baking Mini Apple Pies, I baked bite-size Pumpkin Pies. Referencing Sally’s Baking Addiction, the recipe below combines hers and mine. Shhh–don’t tell. I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving to try one. Hon, it was delicious!

Warm holiday wishes to you and your family.

Before baking and after.

Tips:

  • Grease or line mini muffin cups in two 24-count mini muffin pans.
  • Use a 2.5 inch cookie cutter or a 1/3 cup measuring cup to cut dough into small circles.
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction says, “These mini pumpkin pies are dough heavy– lots of crust in each bite. The filling really has to stand out, so we’ll use flavorful brown sugar and extra pumpkin pie spice.”
  • SBA also suggests using a touch of black pepper. “No one will know it’s there– all they’ll taste is a delightfully spiced flavor.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 (16oz) can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
  • small pinch black pepper (optional – see note)

Directions:

  1. Prepare pumpkin pie filling by beating 2 eggs, then adding remaining ingredients and mixing thoroughly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°.
  3. Roll pie crusts to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2.5-inch cookie cutter (or 1/3 cup measuring cup), shape mini crusts. Re-roll any scrap pieces of pie dough as needed to cut out the circles.
  4. Place the small circles of dough into greased or lined 24-count mini muffin pan(s). Press the dough flat into the bottom of the crevice and up the sides.
  5. Evenly spoon cold filling into each unbaked crust, filling to the top.
  6. Bake mini pies until the center is just about set and edges are lightly browned, about 21-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. If greased well, the mini pies pop right out using a spoon to scoop them up. Cool, then serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled and serve cold. Filling deflates a bit as they cool.
  7. Cover leftover pies tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes:

Store any leftover Mini Pumpkin Pies in the refrigerator for up to 5 days OR wrap, freeze, and defrost at a later date.

Yield: 48-50 mini pies

Mini Apple Pies

Thanksgiving Looks Different This Year!

Searching for a way to serve the holiday meal in a safe, individualized way, we’ve ordered take-out and soup containers, baked easy-to-serve desserts, and will be gathering outside on our front porch. You’d think forming mini pies in a 12-count muffin pan would be easier than rolling out dough for regular-sized pies, but it took way more time. Thanks to Live Well, Bake Often for the recipe. The results will be worth it!

Happy baking, hon! And hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped apples, approx. 6 (I used a combo of Granny Smith and Gala.)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • dash of cloves and touch of honey
  • optional, egg yolk for egg wash and decorator’s crystal sugar or some other decoration

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Roll pie crusts to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 3.5-inch cookie cutter (or a cup) cut out 12 circles from the pie crusts. Re-roll any scrap pieces of pie dough as needed to cut out the circles.
  3. Place each circle of pie crust in each cavity of a standard 12-count muffin pan. Gently press the dough down and around the sides, making sure the dough fits snuggly in each cavity of the muffin pan. Transfer the muffin pan and any leftover pie crust dough to the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the chopped apples, sugar, flour, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, and ground nutmeg, cloves and honey until fully combined. Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator and evenly distribute the apple pie filling between all of the cavities in the muffin pan (about 2-3 tablespoons per mini pie).
  5. Remove the extra pie dough from the refrigerator, cut out your designs for the tops of the pies, and place them on top. (Tip: For criss-cross pattern, no need to weave– lay 3 to 4 thin strips in one direction, then 3-4 thin strips in other direction.)
  6. Optional: Brush egg yolk on tops of pie to enhance golden color. Sprinkle decorator’s sugar on top. On the mini loaf pan pies, I sprinkled sugar snowflakes.
  7. Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes or until the pie crust is lightly golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the mini pies from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes:

Store any leftover mini apple pies in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave before serving. OR wrap and freeze pies and defrost thoroughly before serving.

Yield: 12 mini pies

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup

Image source: Taste of Home

Thanksgiving’s around the corner, which means lots of baking and cooking! This year will be significantly different as we plan to host the holiday meal outside. Hubby’s installed heaters, created a plastic barrier for a corner of the porch, and we’re altering the meal with ease of serving in mind. There will be less of us as no one’s visiting from out of town, but leftovers are welcome!

I usually serve Velvety Vegetable Soup, but wanted to change it up. Taste of Home’s recipe for Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup is a winner! It’s easy to follow, hearty, savory, and my new favorite!

Happy cooking, hon!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 2 pounds carrots (about 8 large)
  • 1-1/2 pounds parsnips (about 6 medium)
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 cartons (32 ounces each) chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk (I used 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Minced fresh parsley and sage

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Peel and cut sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips into 1-1/2-in. pieces; place in a large bowl. Add onions and garlic cloves; drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Divide mixture between 2 greased 15x10x1-in. baking pans. Roast 40-50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Transfer vegetables to a Dutch oven. Add broth, milk (or non-dairy creamer), salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  3. Puree soup using an immersion blender. Or cool soup slightly and puree in batches in a blender; return to pan and heat through. Sprinkle servings with minced herbs.

Yield:

12 servings (4 quarts)

Pass the Applesauce Potato Latkes (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

I’m reposting this recipe! Yum! 

Hon, these potato latkes tasted as good as they smelled!  I tripled the recipe below, then portioned and froze them, ready to defrost and reheat at a moment’s notice. Prepping and frying latkes is a lot of work, which is why I make them only twice a year. Yes, they’re cooked in oil. But, they’re worth it on occasion, especially if served with applesauce or sour cream.

IMG_2753

potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.

onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.

Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.

Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.

Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter

Directions

1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Fall Fete (Dessert and Decor)


IMG_2108

I recently hosted a Fall Fete, or festive celebration.

Hon, you know how much I love a theme.  And baking.  Combining my favorite season with decor and dessert energized me more than usual.  The morning after the Get Together, we drove through the stunning Lehigh Valley to visit one of our college daughters.  I guess I was still buzzing from the night before because, when I ordered coffee with lunch, the Barista said, “Decaf for you?”

Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.
Flowers, pumpkins and pumpkin trees.

Look what I found at Trader Joe’s.  I’d never heard of pumpkin trees before, but apparently that’s what those branches with real, mini pumpkins growing on them are called.

Window display.
Window display.  I love to merchandise!

I love merchandising!
I collect decor for every season and am a big fan of using what I  have and embellishing it.

Snoopy-dressed-as-a-pumpkin and youngest daughter's ceramic bunnies welcome friends.
Snoopy-Dressed-as-a-Pumpkin and Youngest Daughter’s ceramic bunnies welcome friends.

It must be the children's writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!
It must be the children’s writer in me that sees this porcupine candle as a character!

Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House.
Cupcakes, candy and a Haunted House Kit.

I couldn’t resist this Haunted House Kit from Williams-Sonoma.  Orange icing inspired the Decorate-Your-Own-Cupcake Station.  The flavor of the icing is

IMG_2112

…candy corn!  And the Hershey Kisses aren’t chocolate, they’re pumpkin spice!  So much yumminess!

Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.
Dried Fruit, Pumpkin Mini Muffins, Rice Krispie Treats and Crudites.

Apple Crumble
Apple Crumble.

You can bet I tried a little of everything!

Menu:

Pumpkin Muffins

Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rice Krispie Treats (made with M & M’s and candy corn)

Crudites

Dried Fruit

Chips-n-Salsa

Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins 

Drinks:

Hot Apple Cider

Hot Chocolate

Coffee and Tea

Wine

A candy bat is caught in a giant spider's web.
A candy bat is caught in a giant spider’s web.

The candy corn fence is adorable.
The candy corn fence is adorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!
Assembling the Haunted House looked like fun.  Maybe next year, we should have a Kids-Versus-Grown-ups Haunted House contest!

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe:  click here

Apple Crumble Recipe:  post under construction (source, Mama’s Gotta Bake)

Holiday Party for Tweens

IMG_6797Me to Tween Daughter:  “How would you like to host a New Year’s party at our house?”

Tween Daughter:  “Can I?”

Me:  “Definitely!”

My teens hosted New Year’s parties in the past, but now it was Tween Daughter’s turn. She and I had fun planning her spa-inspired birthday party, and just as much fun shopping and decorating for her New Year’s Eve party.  We kept it small with just nine guests; everyone could fit around one long table for dinner.

New Year’s decorations can be replaced with any holiday decorations, and the activities are just right for middle schoolers.

Decor:  Paper lanterns, silver snowflakes, white holiday lights, brightly colored paper goods and margarita glasses.

Paper Lanterns
Paper Lanterns

Silver Snowflakes
Silver Snowflakes

Brightly colored, holiday-themed decorations.
Brightly colored, holiday-themed decorations.

What's a party without chocolate?
What’s a party without chocolate?

Dinner Menu:  Chips and salsa, veggies and ranch dressing, mozzarella sticks, baked ziti, garlic bread and plain pasta.

Tween Daughter loves my baked ziti!
Tween Daughter loves my baked ziti.

I insisted there be a vegetable on the table!
I insisted there be vegetables on the table!

Cupcake Decorating.
Cupcake Decorating

Party Poppers.
Party Poppers

Activities:  Pictionary Man (new version of Pictionary with a “man” you draw on), cupcake decorating, home-made laser tag (involving “slingshots,” pom-poms and sticky notes), party poppers and Secret Santa. (Secret Santa givers and recipients were previously picked at a friend’s holiday party. The kids came to our house with unwrapped gifts, then we had a “wrapping station” so all the gifts would be wrapped in the same paper.)

Additional Tween Parties Ideas:  Karaoke, the video game Dance Dance Revolution, scavenger hunt, Scattergories, ice cream sundae bar, movie, trivia games such as “How well do you know…”, pinata.

Blenders and Mocktail .Ingredients
Blenders and Mocktail Ingredients

Hubby as bartender.
Hubby as bartender.

Mocktails:  Mocktail choices were Strawberry Dacqueries, Pina Coladas and Shirley Temples.  Garnishes?  Lime wedges and little umbrellas, of course!

Dessert:  Aside from the cupcakes and an Oreo cream pie, guests brought homemade rugelah,  puff pastries filled with apples, candy cane icing cupcakes and cotton candy.

Homemade Rugelah-Yum!
Homemade Rugelah-Yum!

Puff Patries filled with Apples-delicious!
Puff Patries filled with Apples-Delicious!

Candy Cane Icing Cupcakes
Candy Cane Icing Cupcakes-Adorable!

Cotton Candy-Sweet!
Cotton Candy-Sweet!

Tween Daughter with her friends.
Tween Daughter with friends.

IMG_6826

IMG_6828

IMG_6829

"Can I go with the kids?  Please!" Lucy asked when everyone ran downstairs.
“Can I go with the kids? Please?” Lucy asked when everyone ran downstairs.

Countdown:  Watching the ball drop.  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year!

Hon, how did you ring in the New Year?

Pass the Applesauce Potato Latkes (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Hon, these potato latkes tasted as good as they smelled!  I tripled the recipe below, then portioned and froze them, ready to defrost and reheat at a moment’s notice. Prepping and frying latkes is a lot of work, which is why I make them only twice a year. Yes, they’re cooked in oil. But, they’re worth it on occasion, especially if served with applesauce or sour cream.

IMG_2753

potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.

onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.

Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.

Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.

Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter

Directions

1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.