Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 4: Holiday Recipe Exchange/ Pizza and Poker

advent card red tree

Today we have a dual post. On Monday, we learned about Cat’s food traditions for the holidays. Today, we’ll read about Louisa’s. Food is another theme of Ana’s Advent Calendar, just as it’s a theme of the holidays. What we cook and eat says a lot about us and our traditions.

What is your favorite food for the holidays?

Second, please post your favorite recipe(s). One per comment, please. (Multiple per person is fine!)

You can take a look at last year’s recipes if you need an idea.

Instructions from last year:

Last year’s Holiday Recipes post generated an amazing wealth of tasty treat ideas. Michelle B collected all of the recipes into a surprise party favor. Michelle B has offered to do the same this year, so please make sure your recipes have clear measurements, all necessary steps, and are easy to understand. You can use either imperial (cup, teaspoon) or metric measurements, but please be consistent.

If you add an image to your recipe, Michelle B will include it in the cookbook. You can post the photo directly or a link to it.

Pizza and Poker
By Louisa Bacio

We simmer a slow Sicilian sauce for eight hours, dough from scratch, stretched and topped with all sorts of goodness. The red, black and white chips are strewn on the side table with cheer, and everyone gets ready their best game face.

There’s nothing that says Christmas Eve for this Sicilian family like Pizza & Poker.


Growing up, the gatherings tended to get exciting with a large extended family. There was the one year, I spent the later part of the night tucked under a table, hiding, with a long festive cloth hanging down as the adults got into a bit of an altercation.

Fortunately, the extracurricular activities have calmed down with the new generation. My father tends to be a traditionalist; he likes everything the same every year. The past few years, my cousins and aunt have taken over the holiday and they prefer to do themes. Last year, it was Jersey Shore – which made sticking to overdone make-up and cheetah and zebra print clothes (along with the regular food choices) pretty easy. This year, it’s turkey and the fixings.

Which means? We’ll probably be making pizza on Christmas day.

However you celebrate it – enjoy your time.

Tip: Want to try your hand on homemade pizza? You don’t need to make it from scratch. Most Italian stores sell pizza dough or you can order some from your favorite small pizza parlor. Yes, most of the time they sell it.

Hugs & kisses to Ana for putting together this wonderful event!


Winter Solstice Ménage
Sugar isn’t as sweet as her big brother, Yas, believes. After he leaves the big city to venture a small pack in the hills he’s heard about from their mom, she decides to let loose in all the best ways. Except when all hell breaks loose and she’s faced with some tough decisions, she runs … to her family.

After growing up in Los Lobos, twins Derek and Tyler Baker lived through all the hardships under the former Alpha leader. While one twin is happy playing the dating field, the other wants something more special. They both find what they’re looking for when newcomer Sugar comes for a visit.
Where Sugar goes, trouble follows. It’ll take more than one member of this pack to tame the new shifter she-wolf. But will the Winter Solstice Ménage be enough to convince her to settle down?

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127 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 4: Holiday Recipe Exchange/ Pizza and Poker

  1. Joelle Casteel says:

    In the interest of creating new traditions this holiday, I found a vegan cookie recipe that looks interesting on One Green Planet. (I’ll have to share how they are after I make them :D)

    For the Speculaas Spice Mix
    8 parts ground cinnamon
    2 parts ground nutmeg
    2 parts ground cloves
    1 part ground ginger
    1 part ground cardamom
    For this recipe, you will need 2 tbsp of Speculaas spice mix; therefore you will need 4 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1 tsp ground cloves + ½ tsp ground ginger + ½ tsp ground cardamom.
    For the Speculaas Cookies
    200g (⅞cup, or ¾ cup + half of ¼ cup) vegan butter
    200g (2 scant cups) plain flour + extra
    200g (1 + ¼ cup) soft brown sugar
    2 tbsp Speculaas spice mix
    1 tbsp ground flaxseed
    Pre-heat the oven to 180° C (356° F). Line two baking trays with baking parchment (cookie sheets).
    By hand or with a standing mixer, cream together the vegan butter and soft brown sugar. Add the vanilla paste, ground flaxseed, baking soda, and finally, the plain flour. Mix until the dough starts to look quite uniform.
    Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn over the dough onto the floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes, or until the dough is pliable, smooth and even.
    With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 3-4 mm (0.12 inches) thick. Cut the dough into shapes and place your cookie shapes onto the lined baking trays. Knead the leftover dough strands into a ball, as before, and roll out thinly once again. Cut the cookie shapes; repeat the process until the dough is exhausted.
    Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Keep a watchful eye on your oven; you don’t want to take out the cookies too soon, or they’ll be chewy, but leave them too long and they will burn to a crisp.
    Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. The cookies should be nice and crisp, and a deep nutty brown color.
    Speculaas cookies are traditionally baked in a carved wooden mold. I do not possess one so I simply cut the dough with a cookie cutter and baked the cookies on baking parchment (a cookie sheet). The result is almost exactly the same.

    * I learned the original recipe for the spice mix from The Dutch Baker’s Daughter. However, I omitted the white pepper; to me, the cookies still taste exactly as I remember them from my childhood.

    * The cookies need to be 3 – 4mm thick; in inches, this is 0.12, which I realize is a bizarre number. Suffice to say that these cookies need to be quite thin, though not wafer-thin.


    • Delphina says:

      My favorite Christmas treat is easy peasy. I slowly melt a bag of chocolate chips with a can of sweetened condensed milk. I take it off the heat when smooth and mix in a touch of vanilla and some nuts. I pour it into a pan lined with nonstick aluminum foil and cool it. When it is completely set, I flip it out of the pan and cut it into yummy bite sized morsels of fudgey goodness.
      *Disclosure – I don’t use recipes so this I don’t have exact measurements.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JoanneBest says:

        Yum!!! Sounds so delicious! And the easy peasy part makes it even better! I’m going to try this for sure, my Mom taught me how to cook so I’m pretty good with winging it without exact measurements.
        You reminded me of another recipe my Mom used to make called “Peppermint Bark” that was so simple it’s hard to believe when you eat it; just melt some white chocolate chips, pour it in a non-stick pan, take some candy canes and smash them any way you want (it’s a good stress reliever when you use a strong plastic bag and a hammer 😀 ) then sprinkle them over the melted chocolate while it’s still warm. Bam! That’s it! You can cut them in squares or whatever shape you want but we’d always wait till it cooled down and just crack pieces off into whatever shape they came out. Kinda like this:


        • JoanneBest says:

          I can’t imagine you flopping at anything, especially since you can use all the wooden spoons you want to make this most easy recipe 😉
          The reason I know it’s easy is because I myself can make it, therefore anyone can 😀
          I’m good with savory food dishes but baking? Sweets? Not so much, which is why I decided to push myself out of the comfort zone this year and follow in my Mom’s footsteps by trying to bake.
          Non-bake recipes are easiest for me, like last year’s truffles and the bark, but my usual desserts are more like : Buy a premade graham-cracker crust, add chocolate pudding made from a box and Bob’s your Uncle (I know that means something appropriate lol) The fanciest I’ve gotten is to slice bananas to line the bottom before I pour the pudding and place a can of whipped cream next to the pie 😀
          Why am I adding another recipe whenever I comment?
          I still have to go back to day 1 and day 2 to finish (hee, I almost wrote Finnish) commenting on those pages and here I am sounding all Top Chef-like when I wouldn’t even make it on Masterchef Junior 😛
          I am now going to turn back time and say “Get thee to sleep Mistress Ana!!! I mean please and thank you 🙂 ” all said with love of course ❤ OH! And respect, much, much respect!


  2. nerdgirl1115 says:

    I’ll try to remember to post some recipes when I get home later. I was having trouble yesterday posting from my phone, so I won’t try to post recipes from it. I’ve recently had to start a gluten-free diet, so if anyone has any good recipes that are gluten-free I’d love to see them. I’m working hard to cut out all refined sugars and most dairy as well. I’m not perfect. I certainly cheated over Thanksgiving.

    While I love a traditional holiday meal, I think it’s cool to mix it up and choose a theme. It really does sound like fun.

    My Mom and I are doing something new this year. We are taking a trip for Christmas. We are going to San Antonio. Should be fun. There’s no telling what our Christmas meal will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. renee200 says:

    Our family has always been big on breakfast. This is a casserole that can be made the night before and just baked in the morning. I found this recipe in book a couple of years ago and my family loves it.

    Ultimate Breakfast Croissants:

    4 croissants cut into top and bottom halves

    1 cup finely diced ham

    1/3 cup grated Swiss cheese

    1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

    1/3 c grated parmesan cheese

    4 large eggs

    ½ cup milk

    Lightly grease an appropriately sized pan. Place the bottom halves of the croissants in the dish. Sprinkle each with ham and cheese. Mix eggs, milk, and salt. Pour over croissants and cheese. Place a top on each bottom. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for several hours. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Monica Wiant says:

    My Polish immigrant mother would serve this beautiful layer cake every Christmas. It’s very traditional, not too sweet, and suitable for gluten-free diets.


    Polish Coffee-Nut Christmas Torte
    1 ½ lb walnuts, almonds, or pecans, ground very fine
    8 eggs
    1/8 tsp. salt
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    ½ tsp. baking powder
    ½ cup rum
    ½ cup water
    1 Tbsp. sugar

    For filling/frosting:
    2 cups heavy whipping cream
    Instant coffee or espresso (to taste)
    Sugar (to taste)
    ½ cup apricot preserves (optional)

    Grease a 10” springform pan and sprinkle it with 2 Tbsp. of the ground nuts.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites with the salt until stiff. Gradually add and mix in the sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks. Stir in the rest of the ground nuts and the baking powder. Pour the mixture into the greased springform pan.

    Bake for approximately 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool in the oven.

    Once the cake is cool, carefully remove it from the pan and slice into layers. Place each layer on wax paper with the cut side facing up.

    Mix rum, water, and sugar together in a measuring cup. Pour the mixture onto each cake layer, allowing it to soak in.

    For a traditional Polish cake, use apricot preserves to hold the layers together. Heat the preserves in the microwave until warm enough to spread easily without ripping the cake layers. Mix in a little water to thin the preserves if needed.

    For a more American-style cake, you can put frosting between the layers instead.

    To make the frosting, whip the cream with sugar and instant coffee/espresso until firm. Assemble the cake layers and spread the frosting over the cake. Decorate with whole nuts, candied fruit, or other festive décor.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Amy says:

    1. Pizza and poker? Sounds like my family! Except I think in addition, one of my aunt’s friends would make venison meatballs or pulled meat for sandwiches.
    2. That book looks really good! Looks like I’m already starting my holiday reading list.
    3. I have 2 favorite recipes. My mom’s amazing yogurt cookies (which I actually make at New Year’s) and homemade Chex mix. My mom’s recipe is slightly different from the one on the Chex boxes, and I think it’s better. (I eliminate the garlic because I’m allergic, but it does taste better with it.)

    Yogurt Cookies
    1/4lb butter
    1c sugar
    1 egg, beaten
    1 c yogurt
    1 tsp baking soda
    pinch salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp nutmeg
    2 c flour

    Stir baking soda into yogurt and set aside (it will really foam, so leave room in the bowl!). Cream butter and sugar. Stir in egg and yogurt. Add salt, spices, and flour to make a soft dough. Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet (or use baking paper). Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.

    Chex Mix
    1/2 c butter
    5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
    1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
    2 2/3 c Corn Chex
    2 2/3 c Rice Chex
    2 2/3 Wheat Chex
    1 c peanuts (optional)
    1/2 c pretzels
    1/2 c Goldfish, bagel chips, or sesame sticks (or a combination of these)

    Melt butter in an uncovered roasting pan at 250 degrees. Stir in seasonings and Worcestershire sauce. Gradually add cereals, nuts, and other munchies, stirring to coat evenly. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool. Store in an airtight container.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louisa Bacio says:

      I’ve never made Chex mix Amy, but I should! I buy the pre-made boxes every now and then. They make a good snack while writing!

      And thank you! I love holiday books to read (and fun to write too).


    • catrouble says:

      Hey Amy…my grandmother cut the original recipe off an old Chex box (the original 7oz size) and I have since modified it to account for larger boxes. It called for cashews rather than peanuts and of course, seasoned salt hadn’t been marketed back then so it called for chili powder, onion, garlic and celery salt along with Tabasco and Worcestershire. Oh and it called for cooking oil rather than butter. Love seeing all the different Chex recipes around. 😉

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Lynn says:

    My favourite Chrismas food is the pine nut loaf my mum makes and I’m quite fond of roast potatoes too 😊

    This is the biscuit (cookie) recipe I use with the kids. It makes a crumbly shortbread type of biscuit that can be decorated as you wish. Also delicious spread with butter when they are still warm.

    Makes 40 biscuits (cookies)

    450g/1lb plain flour (all-purpose flour in the U.S.)
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    225g/8oz butter
    200g/7oz castor sugar (which I think you call superfine in the U.S., but normal granulated is okay as a substitute)
    2 eggs
    Few drops vanilla essence

    Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs with the vanilla essence and mix into the flour mixture to form a dough.

    Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) or gas Mark 4.

    Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured board and cut into the desired shapes. We used stars, Christmas trees and a reindeer but you can use traditional rounds if you like 😛

    Bake on a lightly oiled, or non-stick baking sheet for about 12 minutes until golden and beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack and decorate as you wish.

    Personally I always skipped the baking powder and used self-raising flour but this is what the recipe says.

    Don’t put them too close together as they do rise slightly and spread. That could of course be due to the fact that I use self-raising flour. No doubt one of the expert bakers could tell us.

    If I can find a photo I’ll post one later

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Lynn says:

    As a kid we did something similar Louisa. All of the family would gather at my paternal grandparents’ on Boxing Day (26th) and the adults would play cards and the kids would play/fight over toys. My Nan would prepare a huge spread and she was a fabulous cook 😊
    I loved her potato cakes the best. Mum and I could never perfect them


  8. kaisquared4 says:

    Louisa, I will be over for pizza and poker! Your book is on my TBR list. Does your family celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes?Feast of Seven Fishes menu includes Baccalà (salted cod fish), anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams. Not all my favorites, but a big tradition on my dad’s side of the family. Here is a recipe for fried baccala, which needs almost a week of prep time because you need to soak and rinse the cod many times to remove excessive saltiness.

    Fried Baccalà
    1 package desalinated salt cod
    1 ½ cups buttermilk
    flour for dredging
    vegetable oil for frying

    Remove baccalà from water soak and pat dry with a paper towel. Marinate desalinated cod in buttermilk up to one hour before cooking. Heat vegetable oil about one inch deep in a heavy skillet or frying pan until a drop of liquid “sizzles” when carefully dropped in the oil (about 375 degrees). When oil is ready, take the cod from the buttermilk and dredge in flour, then slowly place the floured cod pieces in the oil four at a time and fry until golden brown. It should take about 5 minutes, turning over about half way through. Remove fish to a paper towels and salt. Serve hot with sliced lemons.

    My husband likes to try new desserts for Christmas and a friend of his from Australia suggested he try his hand at a pavlova. It was very yummy and he now has requests to bring it to the family Christmas on a regular basis.

    “Christmas” Pavlova

    3 egg whites
    1 pinch salt
    1 cup white sugar
    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
    1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1 pint fresh strawberries
    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Draw a 9 inch circle on the parchment. An easy way to do this is to draw around the outside of a 9 inch pan with a pencil.
    In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar gradually, while continuing to whip. Make sure sugar is completely dissolved. Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cornstarch; lightly fold into meringue with lemon juice.
    Spread a layer of meringue to fit circle on parchment, approximately 1/4 inch thick. With remainder of mixture, pipe or spoon swirls around the edges to form a shallow bowl shape.
    Bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 1 hour. Turn off oven, but leave meringue in oven for an additional 30 minutes. When cool, the meringue should be hard on the outside, and slightly moist on the inside.
    In a large bowl, combine the cream and half a cup of confectioners sugar, and whip until thickened. Decorate with fruit of your choice; strawberries are excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louisa Bacio says:

      We don’t do the Feast of Seven Fishes. Easter always had an “end of Lent” tradition, which was basically any and all meat you could think of baked with cooked rice and sauce. Kind of like a lasagne but it’s with rice. Now that takes a LOT of cooking!


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Wow! This is quite the lavish treat. (I mean the feast of seven fishes.)

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen desalinated salt cod. Now I’m curious if my local store sells it.

      I have never made pavlova, either. 😀 Sounds yummy as I love meringue.


  9. SH says:

    I have never made homemade pizza, something I should try! Your book, Louisa, sounds terrific! When I’m done here I on my way to Amazon 😉

    This cake recipe is a family favorite that I have enjoyed my entire life. If you like lemon you’ll enjoy this –

    Lemon Velvet Cake

    Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 pan. I use a Pyrex (glass) pan.

    1 box of Lemon Cake Mix, I prefer Betty Crocker
    1 small box of lemon pudding mix
    4 eggs
    1/3 cup oil
    1 1/2 cups water

    Blend on low speed until combined, pour in greased pan, cook for 30 – 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. When done, poke holes all over the cake and loosen the edges.

    Glaze – Prepare this right before cake is done.

    1 stick butter melted
    1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar
    1 1/2 cups lemon juice (any brand will do)
    Juice from one fresh lemon

    Combine ingredients, there will be small lumps of powdered sugar. Pour over warm cake. Can be served warm or cold. Although I think cold is best 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  10. JoanneBest says:

    Food, glorious food! ❤
    First of all, Louisa, you had me at pizza. I adore homemade pizza any way you make it but the fact that you have a traditional Pizza and Poker Night on Christmas Eve makes me want to do the same. It sounds like so much fun!
    When you talked about hiding under the tablecloth for some reason it brought back a memory from childhood when my Parents would have a huge Christmas Party downstairs while we three children slept upstairs (I was 5 years old), It was one of those parties where my Dad invited all his work friends, he had a suit and tie job so everyone seemed so fancy to my young eyes. I remember vividly sneaking quietly down the stairs to peek at the grown-ups as they drank and danced to big-band music and ate all kinds of goodies as I looked on, luckily I never got caught but what a sight I saw! All the men were dressed in suits and ties, the women all dressed in their finest dresses and heels, everyone laughing and dancing as I kept quiet before I ran back upstairs and dove under the covers so no one was the wiser.
    As the night went on and the booze flowed freely, a group of the adults bundled themselves up and took our sleds up the street and went sleigh riding. I can still hear the sound of their laughter and it wasn't until around 5 or so years ago that I told my Mom what I'd done. I expected her to be shocked but no, of course her Mother's intuition (and her good vision) already knew because she saw me, yet never said anything. She said I reminded her of herself as a child and didn't want to spoil what I thought was my big secret 😀

    I love making pizza at home! I've gotten dough from the pizzeria down the street as well as ShopRite, I think Pillsbury makes it as well but my favorite is using tortillas then adding whatever toppings you prefer, this way we all get our own pie with whatever we want on it. 😀
    I'm going to add a recipe for yummy sweets in another comment. Due to the chaos in my house I've been writing this comment since 8:30am. #GrrrArgh 😛


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Tortillas…that’s a great idea! I have never made homemade pizza. I used a kit once, but that wasn’t anything like homemade. Sometimes the grocery store will sell pizza dough with fixings, but it’s always seemed like a lot of work and expense when pizza (to me) is a quick convenience food. Clearly, I’m not Italian. 😀


      • JoanneBest says:

        Oh the tortilla recipe is so easy! Just brush some olive oil on the tortilla, add whatever you prefer (I love white pies with just mozzarella cheese and a few dollops of ricotta cheese), put it on a cookie sheet and stick it in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes (or until the cheese is melted and as browned as you like it) and there you go! It’s really simple if you use the shredded cheese, I sometimes pop it in for a quick lunch and it’s actually easier than making a tuna sandwich 😀
        And I’m definitely not Italian but lived we lived in the Italian section of Newark so there was some kind of osmosis thing going on 😀


  11. goofy48 says:

    Hello all !!! We have turkey tetrazini every year at my aunt and uncle’s. It’s a very simple to make.
    Left over turkey
    Cooked spaghetti
    Béchamel sauce
    Parmesan cheese
    Bread crums

    You mix the turkey, spaghetti and Béchamel sauce. Put the mix in a baking dish then top it off with the cheese and the bread crums. Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes then at broil until golden brown on top. Very very delicious

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JoanneBest says:

    In honor of Louisa’s Italian Christmas, I’m going to share my Mom’s recipe (and my absolute favorite Christmas cookie-like sweet) here’s her recipe for what we call Honey Balls aka Struffoli
    Cream together the following:
    1/2 cup of sugar
    1/2 stick of butter (or margarine if you prefer)
    3 eggs
    1 tsp of vanilla

    Then add:
    2 cups of flour
    2 1/2 tsps. of baking powder

    In a large frying pan, heat at least 2 cups of oil

    1.Mix all the ingredients together then knead until smooth (make sure it’s not sticky)
    2.Cut off a piece of the dough and roll it by hand into a long snake-like shape around 1/2 inch in diameter.
    3.Using a well floured knife, cut into dime-sized pieces and roll into balls
    4.When you have all your balls ready* drop them carefully into the hot oil and stir gently until they are all an evenly golden color.
    5.Remove from oil and drain excess oil on paper towels
    6.Repeat until all dough is used
    7.Allow balls to cool slightly

    Jar of honey (at least 1 lb)
    Multi-colored sprinkles

    1.Heat honey to thin the consistency (either place opened jar of honey in boiling water or you can use a microwave, we’re only heating it to make it easier to spread over cooked balls)
    2.Place the balls in a large bowl then pour honey over the balls making sure they are all covered with honey.
    3.After all balls are coated with honey, sprinkle generously with colored sprinkles.
    4.Put them on a plate or container of your choice.
    5.Eat them as quickly as possible because they disappear fast 😀

    *Just to clarify, the balls are all SFA 🙂
    Hopefully the picture will show up instead of the link, if not google Struffoli so you can see how yummy they look.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. awesomesub says:

    Hi Louisa, I have not had pizza for Christmas yet, but the idea is definitely great. Anything spicy is great. 🙂

    Not a real Christmas recipe either, but it is awesome (not difficult to do) and somehow I have the munchies for something fresh and fruity.

    Mandarin-quark slices
    (Is yummy, but contains gelatine and eggs)

    Preparation time: about 45 minutes, plus cooling time
    Baking time: about 10 minutes

    For the baking sheet (40 × 30 cm/ 16 × 12 in):
    a little fat baking parchment

    For the sponge:
    3 eggs (medium)
    3 tablespoons hot water
    150 g/ 5 oz (¾ cup) sugar
    1 sachet vanilla sugar
    100 g/ 3 ½ oz (1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
    1 level teaspoon baking powder
    50 g/ 2 oz/( ⅓ cup) corn flour (cornstarch)

    For the filling:
    2 cans mandarin oranges (drained weight 175 g/ 6 oz each)
    100 ml/ 3 ½ fl oz (½ cup) mandarin orange juice (from the can)
    6 sheets clear gelatine
    500 g/ 18 oz (2 cups) low fat quark
    150 g/ 5 oz (¾ cup) sugar
    1 sachet vanilla sugar
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    200 g/ 7 oz (⅞ cup) chilled whipping cream
    a little icing sugar (for the sprinkling)

    Grease the baking sheet and line with baking parchment.
    Fold the baking parchment to make a pleat along the edge facing the sloping side of the baking sheet, creating an upright edge. Preheat the oven: Top/ bottom heat: about 200 ° C/ 400 ° F; fan oven: about 180 ° C/ 350 ° F.
    To make the sponge, put the eggs with the hot water in a mixing bowl and whisk with a hand-mixer for 1 minute until foamy (highest setting). Mix together the sugar and vanilla sugar, sprinkle into the eggs while stirring for 1 minute, then continue whisking for 2 minutes. Mix together the flour, baking powder and corn flour and stir briefly into the egg mixture on the lowest setting.
    Spread the sponge on the baking sheet and put on the middle shelf in the preheated oven. Bake for about 10 minutes.
    Carefully loosen the sponge along the edges of the baking sheet and transfer onto a sheet of baking parchment, sprinkled with sugar, then carefully remove the baking parchment from the underside. Allow the sponge to cool, then cut vertically in half to make 2 rectangles about 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 in).
    For the filling, drain the mandarins in a sieve, reserve the juice and measure off 100 ml/ 3 ½ fl oz (½ cup) of this juice. Then soak the gelatine, following the instructions on the packet.
    Mix together the quark, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice. Heat up the 100 ml/ 3 ½ fl oz (½ cup) of juice you have measured. Squeeze the gelatine lightly and dissolve into the hot juice, stirring all the time. Stir about 4 tablespoons of quark mixture into the dissolved gelatine with a whisk, then stir this into the rest of the quark mixture.
    Whip the cream until stiff. When the quark mixture begins to set, fold in the whipped cream and mandarins. Spread the filling on one of the sponge layers, put the other one on top (with the underside facing upwards) and press down lightly. Smooth the sides and leave the sponge in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
    Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy.

    I have made that with wheat flour and it worked well with it. Careful that you do not let the sponge in the oven too long, 10 minutes should really do the trick, otherwise you might have to cut off some of the outside, lest it be too rubber-like or crunchy.


    • JoanneBest says:

      Okay, this is the first time I thought I might need a PhD to cook something 😀 And why aren’t you on Top Chef? (I know, American show, I keep forgetting you don’t live in the US lol)
      I won’t have time to do it until after Christmas but I’m determined to make this! Mandarin oranges are right up there with lemons for me lol
      Sure, I’ll have Google (or Bing, more points for Amazon gift cards for books!) next to me as I make it but make it I will. Thank you for sharing ❤ Yet another Angel ❤


      • awesomesub says:

        Hi Joanne, I think I just messed up with the explanation, sorry for that. The trouble is that I usually do these with German recipe descriptions, so I have slight trouble to find the best description in English. It is easier than it sounds. 🙂

        hugs ❤


        Liked by 1 person

        • JoanneBest says:

          No sorries needed Nina, it’s not as difficult in the cold light of morning as it seemed last night after the rough day I had reading all kinds of legal papers. I’m thinking I should hang a shingle outside the house and start charging a fee for all the stuff that’s being dumped on me lately 😛


  14. Julie says:

    Last year I posted a recipe for Peanut Butter Pie, so this is definitely a change. I can’t say this is my *favorite* food / recipe, but they’re a seasonally colorful appetizer and I think they’re terrific. They also generate a lot of conversation, both good and bad, when people have them for the first time. Hummus isn’t for everyone. 🙂

    And they’re easy if you want them to be.

    Holiday Cucumber Cups

    6 Medium Cucumbers
    1 8 oz pkg Lemon Hummus
    1 8 oz pkg Red Pepper Hummus
    Chopped Chives

    Create decorative stripes on the sides of the cucumbers. I use a vegetable peeler; you could also use a zester, or even just the tines of a fork.
    Slice the cucumber into 3/4-inch to 1-inch slices.
    Using a melon baller, scoop out the seeds to form a well about 1/3-inch or 1/2-inch deep, depending on the size of the slices.
    Fill half of the cups with Lemon Hummus, and the other half with Red Pepper Hummus. I try to mound the hummus just a little above the top of each cup.
    Sprinkle with chopped chives.
    (Optional) Dust the top with paprika before sprinkling with the chives. I like paprika on the Red Pepper ones, but not with the Lemon.

    Of course you can make the hummus yourself instead of purchasing it – then they aren’t as easy – but I don’t notice enough difference in taste to make that worthwhile.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Sassytwatter says:

    I’m starving now!! Love the pizza and poker I might have to borrow that to start a new tradition.

    My favorite Xmas food would be the herring that we do at Swedish Xmas but more of an acquired taste.

    So many yummy recipes that’s so neat doing a book!

    Something I find festive over the holidays is glogg which is spice wine that warms you up. Take cheap red wine bring to a simmer on the stove with some
    Mulling spices add some raisins and nuts and a nice drink that wants you up and goes great w all kinds of holiday snacks!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. pieclown says:

    Hi all. I don t have the cooking flair of my late mom. I have done a few things. Mostly trial and error, but some things came out well. One thing tat my step dad liked was a venison hamburger helper. I would use a bound of ground venison and brown it., Just before it was done I would cut a jalapeno and add it to the hamburger. I cook it and then add the helper mix. I did not drain the grease, deer is very lean, and my mom said it adds to the flavor.

    Well I need to head to bed soon.

    pie pie 4 now

    Liked by 1 person

  17. catrouble says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Louisa…love the idea of pizza and poker! So much fun. Here’s a recipe that I hope everyone will like…

    Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
    • 1/2 cup organic chunky peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. In a small bowl, use an electric mixer to cream peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg.
    3. Add rolled oats and baking soda to creamed mixture, and mix well.
    4. Line 2 baking sheets with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
    5. Roll dough into 2-inch balls, and press to flatten on the cookie sheet.
    6. Bake for 8 minutes or until the cookies turn slightly brown.
    7. Cool cookies on a rack, and store leftovers in an airtight container.

    Hope everyone enjoys.

    Hugs and blessings…Cat

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne Ferrer Odom says:

      I like the rolled oat and brown sugar elements in this recipe. Hmmmm… gonna give it a try.

      A family favorite of ours (which also happens to be gluten-free, I just realized) is this:

      * 1c peanut butter
      * 1c sugar
      * 1 egg

      Mix it all together and cook at 350 degrees for 8ish minutes. It’s a good fix if you’re having a serious peanut butter cookie craving.


    • JoanneBest says:

      You lovelies are going to make me eat healthy whether I kike it or not! I should be eating gluten-free at least once in awhile, so why not yummy cookies? 🙂

      Thank you Cat, you just make my life better and better don’t you? #ImBlessed #FBSaysWeAreTwins 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  18. larachristine2112 says:

    Okay thus was something my father got out of a magazine, probably long before some of you where born. It’s called Swiss melody and it is absolutely delicious, if not on the rich side. So here is the recipe.

    1 package frozen mixed vegtables (broccoli, cauliflower)
    1 can Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup
    1 lb. Of shreded Swiss Cheese
    1 small can of Frenches Fried Onions

    Pre heat oven to 350degrees

    In a 3 quart casserole pour in the frozen vegetables
    In a separate small mixing bowl combine Golden Mushroom soup and shreded Swiss Cheese. Pour mixture over frozen vegtables and stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 of the can of French’s Onions lighty combine. Cover and place on middle rack of oven and set timer for 25 minutes
    When timer goes off remove and gently stir. Replace cover and bake for another 25 minutes.
    When timer goes off remove from oven. Remove lid and pour remaining amount of French’s Onions and spread evenly. Return to oven, do not cover. Bake of another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve. This recipe may be doubled, but do so at the risk of increasing pant size by 1

    And there you have it. For though try this recipe I hope you enjoy it. But like all things do so in moderation.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Anne Ferrer Odom says:

    In an urban fantasy book I read just before the holidays last year, the main character’s mother had made “solstice cookies decorated in red, green, and gold, with sparkles and runes of good fortune”. We celebrate the Solstice, Christmas, and New Year’s during the winter holidays, so I decided to make such cookies.

    Just make your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or buy the yummy pre-made ones in the tubes at the grocery), then ice them in any way you like. I did this:

    * Dye vanilla icing yellow, green, and red. You can use store-bought, but it won’t harden like a royal icing will. That said, I kind of like the taste of store-bought better.

    * Yellow icing on the whole cookie

    * Green trim around the edges (you can do this by putting icing in a ziploc and cutting off the tip, then squeezing the icing through the tip around the edge of the cookie)

    * Red icing to draw a rune in the middle (same ziploc technique for this)

    * Sprinkled with yellow edible glitter flakes. (They have these almost anywhere you find cake decorating supplies

    I used runes for travel, health, … and something else I can’t remember (it’s been a year). A good guide to the meaning of runes is here:

    I also rolled my cookies out and cut them in the shape of a sun with a cookie cutter, to represent the light returning to the world. I’m not sure I would do that again, as it took a really long time (I’m not a terribly skilled baker). But it’s definitely a nice symbol to add to a Solstice cookie.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. JoanneBest says:

    Anne I must make these as soon as possible! Because my patience has been wearing thin these days I’ll first try with the yummy pre-made ones, they are delicious after all 🙂
    The decorating part sounds beautiful, if you ever have a picture I’d love to say how they’re meant to look since I’m a novice baker myself 😀


  21. Irishey says:

    Hi, Louisa! I love large family gatherings. You’re sound fun and exciting – maybe too much when things got a little TOO spirited! Love that you hid under the table! I hope that was so you could watch and not be sent from the room, not hiding because you were afraid.

    Ours extended family meals at the holidays usually have everyone bringing a dish or two. In addition to the wonderful food, the lively chatter, catching up with each others’ lives, and just hanging out watching Christmas programs, sports or playing games was always so much fun. I leave if/when arguments start. Bleh.

    My daughters and I used to play a lot of card games and board games before they grew up and moved out. Some of my best memories. I loved when they were out of school and u could be off work, so I really looked forward to their Christmas break.

    Ana wants to know our favorite holiday food. I don’t know that this is my favorite, because everything is so good, but I really enjoy having finger foods available. I prefer to graze on the veggie and fruit trays, the hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, trays of homemade cookies, candy and fudge. In fact, I could make a meal out of the veggie/fruit, some hard salami, gourmet cheese and Chex mix. Oh, and the dark chocolate fudge, of course.

    My recipe…. For Chrystal Eve, my kids and I always made ham roll-ups, and my mother always makes oyster stew/soup. We have made both from scratch for decades, and we tend to change things up a little every time we make these dishes, so I don’t know that we ever had recipes for either.

    Ham roll-ups are simply thinly sliced ham, spreaD with cream cheese to which is added mayonnaise and/or sour cream, and herbs/spices. We roll this around a thin dill pickle spear, green onion, a row of olives, etc. Then we stick toothpicks along the roll to hold it together, then slice between the toothpicks to make bite-sized pinwheels. These are awesome. You can use any thinly sliced meat to make these, and any filling.

    I will obey Ana and put the oyster stew soup in another comment under this one.

    A shifter she-wolf named Sugar….love it!


    • Irishey says:

      Oyster stew/soup…is really simple, but I don’t have exact measurements. We “eyeball it” and call it soup! 😉

      Melt butter in soup pot. Amount depends on how many oysters you use. As a general rule, I use a half stick (4 tablespoons) for one small can of oysters, or a whole stick for a large can. You don’t really need more butter than that if you add in more than one large can, but I love the richness and creaminess the butter adds, so I will use 2 sticks for 3-4 large cans if I make a large batch. You can shuck fresh oysters to use, of course, and I have done so, but with the busyness of Christmas Eve, I go for canned simplicity.

      Drain canned whole oysters, reserving the liquid. Sauté oysters in the butter until the edges curl. Add the reserved oyster liquid and bring to a simmer, cooking only for a few minutes.

      Optional – Squeeze the juice of a half lemon over the oysters when you add the oyster liquid.

      Slowly add milk to the oysters and juice, stirring constantly and carefully until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with oyster crackers (small saltine crackers), croutons or grilled/toasted bread.

      I use whole milk, or half and half. My mom uses 2% milk. I made this once with skim milk. All are good, and you can use as much or as little milk as you like to have in your soup. At minimum, I suggest you use enough to cover the tops of the oysters in the pot.

      You can thicken this to stew consistency using flour, cornstarch, or your favorite thickening agent.

      One of the ways we like to mix it up with this soup/stew is to add steamed veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, sweet bell peppers and tiny pearl onions are great together in this. I spice it up with crushed hot pepper flakes.

      Another good addition is to add fresh corn cut from the cob. I cook the corn in the butter for a few minutes before I add the oysters, using about twice as much butter. This creates a natural thickening, and gives a slightly sweet taste to the finished stew. Adding sweet red bell peppers to simmer with the corn gives added flavor and color to your dish. I don’t add salt or black pepper to the sweeter version, but some fresh sweet basil added a couple minutes before serving gives it a wonderful flavor.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Card games! I adore card games.

      I still can’t decide which recipe to post. (That, and I’ve been up since 3 AM yesterday so my brain is not working at peak capacity. But it’s been a good day, so lack of sleep is do-able.)

      I love roll-up anything. Also leaving when arguments happen. Who needs those? 😀

      Oh, and I’m giggling at Chrystal Eve. Hehe.


      • Irishey says:

        Snicker! Yes, I know, I saw Chrystal Eve and a couple other auto-correct de-assistive changes to what I intended directly after posting. I should’ve replied to my own content to correct those, but I just let it ride because I kinda like Chrystal Eve! 😉


    • Louisa Bacio says:

      For Thanksgiving, my great-aunt used to make peanut butter fudge. Talk about YUMMY! Your ham roll-ups sound similar to something we make with prosciutto, cream cheese and green onions. Another finger food!


      • Irishey says:

        Prosciutto is hard to come by around here – at least within normal driving distance, and very pricey when we can find it. I am guessing my mother had your version when she was a teen working in the gift store belonging to a wealthy lady, or saw a photo of this in a magazine when she was a young woman. She is very good at recreating almost anything she sees, tastes or touches, from scratch and often using cheaper substitute items. In this case, she created a yummy appetizer using either honeyed or smoked ham.


  22. Laura says:

    My favorite food is the stuffing. We don’t make bread stuffing for the turkey we have sausage stuffing. Mm mm, it’s absolutely delicious. Here’s a new cookie recipe I tried and enjoyed. Hope you do too.

    Christmas Ball Cookies

    Prep Time50 MIN Total Time1 HR 50 MIN Servings 24


    1 1/4
    cups butter, softened
    1 1/2
    cups powdered sugar
    teaspoon salt
    teaspoon almond extract
    cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
    Red, green and white sanding sugar
    tablespoon milk

    1. In large bowl, beat 1 cup of the butter, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the salt with electric mixer on medium speed about2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in 1/4 teaspoon of the almond extract. On low speed, beat in flour just until combined. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.
    2. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper. Shape dough into 48 (3/4-inch) balls. Roll 16 balls in each color of sanding sugar, coating completely. On cookie sheets, place balls 1 inch apart.
    3. Bake 15 minutes or until set and bottoms are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. In small bowl, beat remaining 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and the milk with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. For each sandwich cookie, spread about 1/2 teaspoon filling on bottom of 1 cookie; top with second cookie, bottom side down, to form ball.


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