Recipes for the Winter Holidays


Christmas Package Cheese Snack


8 oz cream cheese softened                                          ½ tsp. dried dill

¼ tsp. garlic powder                                                     1/8 tsp. salt

1 – 2 scallions                                                               ½ red bell pepper

  1. Mix the dried dill, garlic powder, and salt into the softened cream cheese.
  2. Pack the mixture into a rectangular container lined with plastic wrap (you can reuse the cream cheese box).
  3. Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours.
  4. Before serving time, set the unwrapped block of cheese on a platter and decorate it with a scallion bow and red pepper polka dots (or small squares) and give tag made from cut red pepper.
  5. Note: Final product is to look like a rectangular package, complete with green “ribbon” and red polka dotted paper, with red gift tag.
  6. Serve with choice of crackers or veggies.



Makes 1 ½ gallons


1 gallon apple cider                                    1 quart orange juice

1 quart pineapple juice (unsweetened)   1 c. lemon juice (fresh)

1 c. sugar                                                      24 whole cloves

4 sticks of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients.  Don’t boil.  Let simmer until hot.  Serve warm.


Potato Latkes

Serves 6


2 c. peeled & shredded potatoes                                  2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tbsp grated onion                                                       1 ½ tsp salt

3 eggs, beaten                                                                ½ c oil

  1. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, and salt together.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot.  Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form ¼ to ½ inch thick patties.  Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other.
  4. Let drain on paper towels.  Serve hot with applesauce or sour cream!

Time saving tip: buy the pre shredded potatoes at the supermarket to use instead of shredding your own.


Yassa (originally from Senegal)

Serves 4


4 large onions, thinly sliced                        ½ c. fresh lime juice

1 tsp salt                                                         ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 (3 ½ lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces           3 tbsp olive oil

1 medium carrot, chopped                            1 medium celery rib, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced               1 fresh hot chile pepper seeded and minced

½ c chicken broth                                      hot cooked rice or couscous

  1. In a large bowl, combine the onions, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Add the chicken and toss to coat well.  Cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 and up to 6 hours.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels.  Drain the marinade in a colander set over a large bowl, and reserve both the liquids and the solids.
  2. Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven.  In batches, cook the chicken over medium-high heat, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes per batch.  Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
  3. Add the reserved marinated onions and the carrots, celery, garlic, and chile pepper to the Dutch oven.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes.  Stir the chicken broth and the reserved marinade liquid; bring to a boil.  Return the chicken to the Dutch oven, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the chicken shows no signs of pink at the bone when prodded with the tip of a sharp knife, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Serve over hot rice or couscous.

Eid al-Adha

Kheer (Rice Pudding)


1 c. cooked basmati rice                               8 green cardamom pods, crushed

2 tbsp rose essence                                       2 tbsp ground pistachio nuts

7 ½ c whole milk                                           12 tbsp sugar

The rice is to be ground finely and placed in a saucepan with the cardamoms. Add 6 3/4 cups of milk and boil over medium heat stirring continuously. Add remaining milk and cook over a medium heat until the rice mixture thickens to a creamy consistency. Add sugar and the rose water and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Serve chilled, and garnished with nuts.

Lighter Recipes for the Winter Holidays


Pita Christmas Tree Appetizer

Serves 16


4 pita pockets                                                     16 thin pretzel sticks, halved

½ c. nonfat sour cream                                     ½ c. guacamole

2 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped                       ¼ tsp. garlic pepper seasoning

¼ c. red bell pepper, finely chopped

  1. Cut each pita into 8 wedges. Insert pretzel stick half into center of bottom of wedge to form “tree trunk”.
  2. In small bowl, mix sour cream, guacamole, parsley and garlic-pepper blend. Spread about 1 tsp mixture on each pita wedge.
  3. Blot bell pepper with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp bell pepper on each wedge as “ornaments” on the tree. If desired, cover & refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving.


Citrus Wassail

Serves 13


2 quarts unsweetened apple juice                2 c. unsweetened pineapple juice

2 c. orange juice                                               ½ c. lemon juice

¼ c. sugar or sugar substitute equivalent  1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp cloves

In a Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.


Kwanzaa Green Pea Salad

Serves 6


½ c. light mayonnaise                                        1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp vinegar                                                     1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper                                         32 oz green sweet peas, thawed and drained

1 medium onion, finely chopped                        2 eggs, hard boiled, chopped

1 tsp chopped parsley

  1. Mix together mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper to make dressing.
  2. In separate bowl, combine peas, onion, and egg. Stir in dressing.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Garnish with parsley.

Eid al-Adha

Arabic Salad


2 tomatoes, chopped                                      1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

½ onion, chopped very fine or several scallions    2 tsp cumin

dash of coriander                                               dash of cayenne pepper

1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice                                        1 tsp vinegar

  1. Put all of the above ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Add about 1 tbsp of water and mix with hands.
  3. The salad flavors if it sits for a bit.
  4. Serve with pita bread or falafel.


Sugar-Free Rugelach

Yield 64 cookies


1 c. margarine                                                   8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 ¾ c. all purpose flour                                   2 tsp vanilla extract

1 c. chopped raisins                                          1 c. chopped walnuts

2 tbsp ground cinnamon                                  1 c. apricot spreadable fruit

  1. Cream together the margarine and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend in the vanilla. Mix in the flour. Chill the dough.
  2. To make the Filling: Mix together the chopped raisins, chopped walnuts, and cinnamon. If you have a food processor, place the whole walnuts and raisins into the bowl, sprinkle with the cinnamon, and chop them together by processing in short pulses.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a 10 – 12 inch circle 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board or between two sheets of waxed paper.
  4. Spread a light layer of preserves (approximately 2 tablespoons) onto each dough circle. Sprinkle each circle with approximately 1/4 cup of the chopped nut-raisin-cinnamon mixture.
  5. Cut each circle into 16 wedges using a pastry cutter or a pizza cutter. Roll each wedge from base to point. Place point down on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 375 degrees F (or until golden). Remove to racks to cool.