Category Archives: Holiday Specific

Italian Stuffing


My sister, Adrianna is half- Italian and her mother’s family has some incredible authentic recipes. This stuffing requires a considerable amount of preparation, but the results are well worth the effort!

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 bags stuffing mix
  • 8 carrots
  • 1 whole head celery
  • ½ bushel parsley
  • 5-6 cloves garlic chopped fine (to taste)
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • ½ bag walnuts chopped very fine
  • ½ Parmasan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Large container free range chicken broth
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup cranberries or raisins


Prepare vegetable, walnut, and cheese mixture:

  • Cook onion and garlic until slightly brown.
  • Add vegetables and cook until they are “aladante.”
  • Add walnuts to vegetable mixture and cook some more.
  • Add Parmasan cheese after the vegetables are cooked.
  • Cook cheese and vegetables together. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Prepare egg, stuffing, broth mixture:

  • Separately, beat eggs and add to stuffing. Allow to melt.
  • Add chicken broth to eggs. Stir.
  • Add olive oil.

Combine all ingredients:

  • Mix cranberries/raisins into veggie mixture and add to stuffing.
  • Put into mixture in a pan. Bake for ½ hour until it’s brown.

Tags: ,

Super Sweets


These are my sister’s version of mashed sweet potatoes. Generous amounts of butter, brown sugar, and sour cream are added to sweet potatoes/yams. If you are on a diet, I would try one of the other sweet potato recipes on this site, but if you are looking for a moment of indulgence, these fit the bill.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves 5-6


  • 5-6 yams (1 yam per person)
  • 1 1/2 cubes of butter (6 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 16 oz. whole milk or sour cream
  • Cinnamon and salt to taste


  • Boil water and cook yams, leaving skin on.
  • Drain yams in cold water and peel.
  • Place yams in a bowl. Stir in butter and allow it to melt in hot yams.
  • Add cinnamon, brown sugar, and milk/sour cream.
  • Mix all ingredients using a masher or whipper until fluffy.
  • Sprinkle a little cinnamon and/or salt on top.

Tags: , ,

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples

I concocted this recipe for Christmas 2011, knowing I wanted to make something with sweet potatoes and apples to go with my homemade cranberry sauce and green beans. After some Google searching, I found a recipe I liked, but thought it was too bland. So, I doubled the measurements for the non-sweet potato ingredients and it was a hit!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Makes 4-6 servings


  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 5 medium sized sweet potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I suggest Granny Smith because the tartness of the apples offsets the sweetness of the other ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Dash of cinnamon to taste


  • Prepare Sweet Potatoes:
    • Add sweet potatoes to boiling water and cook until tender. You know they are done when the skin starts to fall off in the pot).
    • Place sweet potatoes in metal strainer. Run cold water over them for a couple minutes to cool them off.
    • Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently peel skin off with your fingers.
    • Mash in a large bowl using a potato masher or large fork. Set aside. (Be sure to measure potatoes before mashing to confirm you have enough).
  • Prepare Apple and Butter Mixture:
    • Melt butter in a large saucepan.
    • Add diced apples and cook until tender.
  • Combine Ingredients:
    • Add apple and butter mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes and stir until well blended.
    • Stir in apple juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  • When ready to serve, heat over low heat until hot.

Tags: , ,

“Eggs Fantastic” Casserole

Aunt Jaymie
Original Source:  Gatherings Cookbook, by The Junior League

“Eggs Fantastic” is Aunt Jaymie’s family holiday breakfast. Not the healthiest meal in the world, but everything in moderation, right? After all, the holidays only come once a year. You won’t need to eat lunch after this.

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:


  • 12 eggs
  • 1/ 3 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound bulk sausage, any type
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¼ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ pound cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ pound mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Salsa


  • Beat eggs & sour cream.  Pour into buttered 13 x 9 casserole dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until eggs are set.
  • Saute sausage, onions & mushrooms.  Season with salt & pepper.  Drain fat.  Spread meat mixture over eggs & top with grated cheeses.  Bake at 325 degrees until cheese melts & casserole is heated through, about 30 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:
Serve with salsa.

Aunt Jaymie’s Tips:
Bake the egg base the night before, sauté the sausage & grate the cheeses.  (Skip the onion & mushrooms). Then it’s quick to put together and bake.




Tags: ,

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Aunt Jaymie
Original Source: Food Processor Cookbook

While this recipe does not have the same heritage and tradition as my grandmother’s German Coffee Cake, which I make for Christmas every year, it is much easier to make. I made the sour cream version for Thanksgiving this year to test it out before Christmas! My father and brother could not decide which cake they liked better, so they asked me to make one of each next time. We’ll see about that! : )

Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  • Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Reserve.
  • Chop pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon in food processor with steel blade until mixture consists of fine crumbs. Reserve.
  • Cream butter in processor, adding sugar slowly in a stream.  Add eggs & process until smooth.  Add sour cream & vanilla  & process.  Add flour mixture in two batches, processing with quick on / off pulses.
  • Pour half of batter into buttered tube pan.  Sprinkle with ½ topping mix.  Repeat.
  • Bake at 350 degrees about an hour.

Aunt Jaymie’s Tips:
Use an angel food cake pan, greased & floured, that has a removable bottom.



Pumpkin Bread (Trader Joe’s)

There are days when you don’t have time to prepare a loaf of bread from scratch and that’s when high quality mixes can be a blessing. Trader Joe’s has some of the best bread mixes I have tried and I often pop a loaf in the oven when I need a break from homework or just want something to snack on. All you have to do for their pumpkin bread is add eggs, oil, and water to the mix, pop it in a pan, and you’re done. Your friends will never know you didn’t spend hours in the kitchen waiting for the dough to rise. This particular mix is only available in the fall, so stock up on it! My roommate Michelle suggests eating a warm slice with a glass of milk. Yum.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 55 to 60 minutes

Ingredients (from side of box):

Pumpkin bread with homemade glaze.

  • 1 full package of mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • 1/2 cup almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar and small amount of milk (if maxing glaze)

Instructions (from side of box):

  • Prepare: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a standard 9×5 pan with butter or cooking spray.
  • Mix: Combine eggs, oil, and water in a medium bowl. Add mix. Fold together with rubber spatula until batter is smooth (approximately 1 to 2 minutes). For holiday bread, add cranberries and/or almonds.
  • Pan: Spread batter in pan, filling corners and leveling top.
  • Oven: Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Yields 10 to 12 slices per loaf.
  • If making glaze: Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with milk, adding teaspoons at a time to desired consistency.  Spread over warm loaf. Cool before slicing.
  • Muffins: Follow mixing instructions. Portion batter into lightly greased standard muffin tins, 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.
  • For high altitudes: Add 2 Tbsp. water to above ingredients.

Trader Joe’s Baking Tips:

  • All ovens bake differently. Always double check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer before baking.
  • Check bread at the minimum baking time by inserting a toothpick in several locations. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is finished. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 5, 2011 in Breads, Desserts, Holiday Desserts



Simple Green Beans

Aunt Anni

(Based on a recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook)

Aunt Anni gave me this recipe for Thanksgiving 2010 when I suddenly found myself in charge of holiday food preparations while I was in the middle of studying for finals and writing papers during my first semester of graduate school. Since I was short on time, I started calling all of my aunts asking for quick, easy recipes and these green beans fit the bill.


  • Green beans
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Butter and seasonings to taste


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil
  • Add a good amount of salt (~ 2-3 tsp. for a medium saucepan full of water)*
  • While the water is boiling, wash and trim the beans (Aunt Anni just chops about a quarter inch off both ends by the handful)!
  • Once the water is boiling, toss in the beans, bring water back to a boil, and cook the beans until they start to turn bright green (about 3-5 minutes for haricot vert and 4-5 minutes for regular beans).
  • Drain beans in a colander. Immediately turn on cold water and add a large handful of ice to the beans in the colander. Mix the ice around so that all the beans are cooled.**
  • Once the ice has melted, return the drained beans to their saucepan.
  • When you are ready to eat, reheat the beans with butter and seasonings (but watch the salt, since the water was so salty!) You can do this up to an hour ahead of time.

*Make sure you use a pot that is large enough for the beans to “swim” a bit. You don’t want them to be too crowded or else they won’t cook evenly.

** The ice gives the beans a pretty bright color and seals in the flavor.


Tags: ,

German Coffee Cake


Coffee cake has always been enjoyed on Christmas mornings in my family. Christmas simply wouldn’t be Christmas without this breakfast staple. My grandmother (Grandmama) made it for her five children. In turn, my mother and all her sisters made it for their families. After my mother passed, I started to carry on the tradition by making it for my father and brother. Someday, I hope to make it for my own children when the time comes.


 Coffee Cake

A Recipe with a Long Genealogy:

This recipe has a long genealogy. As the below excerpt from Grandmama’s cookbook shows, her grandmother made coffee cake for her when she was a little girl. Upon tracing my roots on, I discovered that my great-great grandmother, referred to as “Grandma” in the story below, was born Augusta “Gussie” Ovitz Von Wilamowitz on October 14, 1878 in Wisconsin. Her mother was born Wilhemina Keehn on August 3, 1851 and died October 6, 1944. Wilhemina had seven children with Henry Von Wilamowitz (1851-1924) who she married on April 15, 1870 in Wisconsin. She died October 19, 1960. Grandmama got the recipe from Aunt Babe who I assume is the “Auntie” in the story. She was probably one of Grandma Ovitz’s six siblings.

Further research revealed that the surnames Wilamowitz and Keehn are both of German origin which confirms family legend that my maternal line emigrated to the U.S.A. from Germany. When I Googled “German coffee cake recipes,” I found that the ingredients and instructions exactly matched the ones in Grandmama’s recipe, so it is safe to assume that this recipe came from my fourth great grandmother or her mother before her- whoever emigrated from Germany. I do know (from that Grandma Ovitz’s husband was a first generation American and his father Otto Von Wilamowitz was born in 1806 in Germany. 


History of coffee cake recipe (reprinted from The Ince Family Cookbook):

“When I went to Delavan as a little girl, Mommo would always take me the first morning down to Grandma’s house on the corner. Grandma’s house was a one-story white frame house with a green roof and green trim. The front porch, which was on the left side of the house, was glassed in. In back was a garage (but no car), and two big rain barrels where Grandma collected rain water. Once she washed my hair in her rain water and rinsed it with vinegar and water.

In the dining room there was usually a wooden frame by the window with stretched burlap where Grandma and Auntie always wore long dresses, a white apron, and Grandma’s black high shoes had buttons. I remember her best sitting in a rocking chair where she would be tatting with ivory bobbins or stitching material together for quilts. Mommo and I would walk back up the hill carrying two coffee cakes, which were always waiting for us for me at Grandma’s. I would eat them in the mornings with stewed apricots, always with Poppo and Mommo in the dining room. They would last a day or two.”

        – Jean Gregory Ince, 1993


Preparation Time: 4 hours
Cooking Time: 25 minutes



  • 1 cup scalded milk, hot
  • ¼ cup Crisco or butter (shortening)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 yeast cake (may be substituted for dry yeast)
  • Grated rind of ½ lemon


  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut in until it is like course meal.


  • Put sugar and shortening in a bowl, pour hot milk over them. When lukewarm, crumble in yeast cake or stir in dry yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  • Add beaten egg and lemon rind.
  • Stir in 1 ½ cups flour with salt sifted in.
  • Add raisins and stir in remaining 1 ½ cups flour.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 2 ½ hours.
  • Grease tins, put dough in with spatula, and pat down with floured hands.
  • Cover with topping and let rise for one hour.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:
You can eat this cake with dried apricots as Grandmama did when she was a little girl or with coffee and scrambled eggs (my preference).

Chef’s Tip:
Be very careful when adding the yeast. If using dry yeast, follow the instructions for activation on the package and use a thermometer if possible. The milk cannot be too hot or too cold. It must be lukewarm. Otherwise, the dough will not rise properly and you will end up with something other than cake.



Cranberry Streudal Pie

(Original source:

I made this pie for Dad’s 68th birthday. He was experiencing some serious back pain at the time and was on intense painkillers. I wanted to do something to lift his spirits, so I stayed up until 2:00 am the night before baking this pie and brought it by the house after class on his birthday. Since Dad’s birthday is November 23, he saved most of the pie for Thanksgiving two days later. (Of course I also baked an apple pie and pumpkin pie for the holiday).

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes



  • 1 lb. (16 oz. or 2 cups) fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup white sugar*
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)**

*This is a very tart pie. Add more sugar if you like your pie on the sweeter side.

** I don’t use walnuts because no one in my family likes them. You may substitute for a different kind of nut (i.e. pecans) or simply leave them out.

Streudal Topping

  • ½ cup walnuts– optional
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. shortening (butter)
  • Pastry shell for 9 inch single crust pie


  • Smash cranberries.***
  • Stir in sugar and 1/4 cup flour.
  • Pour filling into pie crust.
  • Smash walnuts into small pieces. Stir in brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and shortening with a pastry blender or Cuisinart. The mixture should be crumbly. Sprinkle over pie.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes, or until done.

*** You can smash the cranberries with a Cuisinart or potato masher. If using a Cuisinart, add berries very gradually and alternate between “Chop” and “Puree” settings. You don’t want the berries to be liquefied, but they should be crushed into pieces and easy to mix with the sugar and flour.



Sweet Potato Pie

Aunt Gail

Truly a Southern pie, this is my favorite dessert, period. Aunt Gail was a marvelous cook and she never made a dish I did not enjoy. My step grandmother Martha Webster Thompson made the best sweet potato pie on earth and used to serve it to me with sweet tea while I did my homework at her house in Martinsville, VA as a kid. Unfortunately, none of us ever got Martha’s recipe, but Aunt Gail’s comes very close.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-50 minutes

Ingredients:Sweet Potato Pie


  • 1 ½ cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs. potatoes)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups evaporated milk (large can)


  • Combine dry ingredients.
  • Beat eggs with milk.
  • Mix all together and blend until smooth.
  • Heat filling in a sauce pan until almost boiling, and then pour into an unbaked pie crust.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 425; reduce heat to 350 & bake 15-20 minutes more.

Chef’s Tip:
If possible, use organic sweet potatoes. You will notice an enormous difference in the flavor of the pie.


Tags: ,