Holiday Goodies

Risky Business

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by John Byers

alice_cookbook_sm.jpg Allen Byers was a creature of habit.  He made traditional stuffing, took a nap at the same time every day and was better at giving presents in June then he was at Christmas.  Although I never would have dared suggest changing his nap time, one year I did work up the courage to suggest he try a stuffing recipe from his favorite cookbook, THE ALICE'S RESTAURANT COOKBOOK.  Even though what the book proudly declared was Alice's favorite stuffing didn't call for any of the traditional ingredients, he let me talk him into trying it. 

Elegant Entertaining

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by Holly Palance

jolly3.jpgAll I want for Christmas is my caviar pie. Which is a jolly good thing, since it's the only dish I take joy in creating.

Born without the cooking gene, my talent was always for producing and managing parties, until Brent Power, my best friend from grade school served up a delectable dip Christmas Eve 1982 at my wedding shower and I was hooked. I actually broke down, copied the recipe (my first ASK ever) and have been serving it and bringing it as my pot luck contribution ever since to ooh's and ahh's.

Prodigal Latke

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by Laraine Newman

box8.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpgI’m a California Jew. If one were to compare ethnicity in terms of packaging, we’d be ‘plain wrap’. Both my folks were Jewish, but Mom was an Atheist and Dad, well,  he grew up in the little town of Chloride Arizona and  Grandpa Harry was the Sheriff.  Once, when I was a kid, I brought a stray cat into the house. Dad hated cats. The center of his face turned purple with rage. “You git that ornery varmint outta here!”  Get the picture?

Then I met my salt of the earth, “Philly bro” husband who promised his father on his deathbed that he’d have his kids bar/bat mitzvah’d, what the fuck was I gonnna do?

Skeleton Seance Soup

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by Maia Harari

jack-o-lanterns.jpg My sister thinks I’m a great cook. She thinks my chocolate chip cookies are perfect, my panini-grilled sandwiches are divine and my omelets, the best she’s ever had. My sister also thinks Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is a gourmet delicacy. 

Chinese New Year

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by Brenda Athanus

chinese-dragon.jpgChinese New Year or the spring festival celebration lasts for 15 days starting with a parade headed by a large size red dragon dancing its way through the streets and businesses of Chinatown. In Boston, the New Year started with a bang! Firecrackers were exploding loudly echoing on the narrow street, lettuce leaves and orange peels were littering the pavement in the wake of the dragon,tossed to symbolize prosperity and good fortune.

The date for the new year changes every year. It is based on a combination of the Chinese lunar/solar calendar. Chinese New Year is always celebrated on the second moon after the winter solstice. That is why the date is never the same. Chinatown is decorated with red lanterns (red for good luck). Bright red packets with gold writing hang from all the trees outside and plants in restaurants symbolizing lucky money and everyone has been sweeping and cleaning their houses, sweeping out any bad luck from the past year.

Dreidels Anonymous

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by Laraine Newman

dreidelcandies.jpgI was recently roped I…I mean asked to participate in Canter’s Chanters Chanukah Extravaganza at my Temple. When it was first presented to me, I thought, ‘Great, our Canter is a cool guy and is probably open to doing some improv or something with the kids. That’s got to be why he’s asking me. This’ll be fun.”

But, no. He griped that the kids were positively incapable of doing improv and that was why he prevailed on my services as well as other Temple members who happened to be performers; to write and perform small vignettes that would be done eight times, as eight groups were led through the Temple. The motif was to be “You want to know what Chanukah is all about? I’ll tell you what Chanukah’s all about…”

Each group was to represent one aspect of the celebration. My friend Amy Simon, writer and performer of the wonderful show Cheerios in My Underpants, volunteered to create some sort of wrap-around to feature ‘latkes’.  She had the run of the Temple kitchen and would be making real latkes to give to the kids. Her idea was to create a Bubbie personae.

Dreidels were up for grabs so I decided to take a whack at it. I love games and this is a mindless game much like Yahtzee, only you win pennies or chocolate. 

Make Your Holiday Gifts Homemade

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by Amy Scattergood

From the L.A. Times

marshmellows.jpgConsidering everybody on your holiday gift list – friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, your kids' teachers – you might be needing a stimulus package before you even get to the big-ticket items this year. So why not take a page from your grandmother's playbook and make the smaller gifts yourself?

Not only are homemade gifts less expensive, they also capture the spirit of holiday giving in a way that purchased gifts simply can't. And if you consider the ubiquitous traffic and holiday crowds, a leisurely morning spent baking breadsticks or whipping up a batch of homemade marshmallows seems positively Zen-like by comparison.

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Dip Day

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by Mary Ann Bonitsky

seafoodpates.jpgI always hated how it got so dark, so early in the winter. One day, a friend told me I just needed to manage until December 21st because that was the shortest day of the year and from that day on it would get lighter a minute earlier each day. Growing up and working in Pittsburgh, anything that could help us through the cold and gloomy winter days was motivating, so I decided we needed to celebrate the day.

As a supervisor in a call center, I was always trying to find fun things to do with the team to keep them motivated.  I love trying new dips so I thought it would be a good idea to put the two together and officially make December 21st "Dip Day."  Everyone would bring in a different dip and it often included sharing the recipe because they were so good, garnering me a wide assortment of different recipes to use at parties and family get togethers.  I moved to Florida in 1995 and although I do not have those wintry days to put up with, I still continue to celebrate "dip day" and the extra light it brings. 


Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

Baked Mexican Layer Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Cider Cheese Fondue

Clam Jam Dip

Jumbo Lump Crab Dip

Ina Garten’s Roasted Eggplant Spread

Fig and Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Lila’s Guacamole

Baked Vidalia Onion Dip

Reuben Dip

Retro Pistachio Cheese Ball

Smoked Salmon Dip

Shrimp, Spinach and Goat Cheese Dip

Spicy Black Bean Dip 

Give Thanks and Pass the Pumpkin Bread

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by Darryle Pollack

pumpkinbread.jpgOur family will pause during Thanksgiving dinner and each of us will take a moment to mention what we're most thankful for in the past year.  Other than that, I have to confess our holiday is all about food. 

The eating begins the moment I arrive at my sister's house.  I put down my suitcase and head for the kitchen where a loaf of fresh pumpkin bread is waiting.  I'll eat my first slice of many before I even take off my coat.   

We have turkey of course, but pumpkin bread is the official food for the week of our family's Thanksgiving.  I've already done the math – and I'm worried whether the 14 loaves Carla already made will be enough for the 14 people in the family  before fights break out over the crumbs. 

Give the Gift of Peanut Butter Fudge

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by Susan Russo

fudge.jpgStill looking for the perfect Christmas gift that is easy, inexpensive, and loved by all?

Your problem is solved: give the gift of fudge! That's right. Mix up a few batches, pop them in some festive foil baking cups, and nestle them in decorative tissue paper and tins. Then kick back with a hot chocolate and enjoy your favorite Christmas movies while everybody else kills themselves looking for a parking space at the mall.

No baking is required. None. Zip. It can be made ahead and refrigerated, so it saves you time. Plus, each batch costs only a few dollars and can be made in less than 10 minutes.


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