How to Fold A Tree-Shaped Napkin

Dear Readers,

Stop the presses! Here’s a last-minute idea for setting the table: tree-shaped napkins!

Start with the four open corners of a napkin facing downward.

Fold each corner upward leaving a space between each fold.

Turn the napkin over. Pull the right tip over to the left side and then pull the left tip over to the right side. Tuck the top point under the folds.

 

Turn the napkin over, again. Tuck each of the fold corners under as shown in the photos.

 

And there you go — a tree is formed.

And in a nutshell:

Need ideas for appetizers, meals, and desserts over the next week? Check out Holiday Inn: Feeding a Houseful

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Thanks to my son, Andrew, for helping his mother by taking last-minute photos.

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Holiday Inn: Feeding a Houseful

Say you have a house full of people over the next week or two and you need to keep the meals rolling out. Or, maybe you have been tasked with bringing part of a meal to someone’s house for a vacation gathering. I’ve made a list of some of my favorites. The Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant is the most labor intensive, but many readers noted they substituted cooked Italian sausage for the eggplant and an easy meal was ready in no time. I’ve included my fifteen-minute recipe for marinara sauce for a quick bowl of pasta, too.

Rachelle’s Italian Sausage, Onions, and Peppers

 

 

Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Marinara Sauce 

 

 

Yummy Shepherd’s Pie

 

 

Judy’s Mom’s Meatloaf

 

 

@judyschickens Marinara Sauce

 

 

I like to make one of these delicious, crowd-pleasing chilis when I have a lot of people to feed. The Buffalo Chicken Chili is super quick, especially if you use rotisserie chicken for the meat.

Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

 

 

My Favorite Silver Palate Chili

 

 

If you are a duck hunter or know someone who is, chances are their freezers are full of ducks. Ask for a few; I’m sure your hunter friends will share. This stew, served over a wedge of hot cornbread, is divine.

Kelly’s Duck Stew

 

 

If you are a making a turkey dinner for Christmas, check out the recipes for sides under Thanksgiving Week. Note the no-fail make-ahead gravy recipe. You’ll see why reader Susie Ries traveled to her daughter’s house in Wisconsin with a Knorr’s chicken bouillon cube packed in her suitcase.

Foolproof Make-Ahead Gravy

 

 

It wouldn’t be a holiday meal in a big Italian family without batter-fried cauliflower. This is one of the most popular recipes on the blog. I love the festive Brie Bites, too. They take about fifteen minutes to assemble and bake.

Auntie’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

 

 

 

Hot Pepper Jelly and Pecan Brie Bites

 

 

Special morning breakfasts call for special crowd-pleasing foods. Here are a few of our favorites:

Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

 

 

 

The Biscuit King

 

 

50 Ways to Make a Breakfast Frittata

 

 

Fruit and Nut Bread

 

 

Desserts are my favorite food to cook. These Italian Sesame Seed cookies are not too sweet, easy to make, great dunked in coffee, and last for a long time in a sealed container. After a warm chocolate chip cookie, they are my favorite cookie on the planet. The Ricotta and Lemon Cookies are heavenly, as well.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

 

 

Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

 

 

If you are looking for ideas for foods to bring in the New Year, don’t forget to include collard greens, black-eyed peas, and pork. The greens represent the color of money and thus, economic fortune, the peas (lentils, in the Italian tradition) represent coins, and plump pigs represent prosperity. Here are the tried and true recipes I make every New Year’s Day.

Sautéed Collards (or Swiss Chard), Toasted Pine Nuts and Cranberries

 

 

Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad

 

 

Brooks’ Pork Tenderloin with an Amazing Marinade

 

 

It’s easy to spruce up your dining room table with greens from the yard. I took a walk with my dear friend, Lou Ann Brown and we came up with this post.

Winter Floral Arrangements Using Greenery from the Yard

 

 

 

Happy cooking and happy holidays to you and yours!

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Always check this website for the most up to date version of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Kugel with Raisins, Orange Zest, and Cinnamon, aka Noodle Pudding

This is how my brain works: you say Jesse’s birthday, I think carrot cake. You say Easter, I think Mom’s Roasted Lamb with Herb and Goat Cheese Topping.  For Christmas, it is Mamanika’s “S” cookies, and for Hanukkah, it’s kugel and latkes.

Holidays for me are about the joy of cooking and remembering my favorite relatives through the recipes, songs, and traditions I now share with my family (and friends!). Talking on the phone with family and close friends about what we are each cooking for a special meal or for dinner that night is one of the dearest joys of life. Each year, about a week before Thanksgiving, my mother would always call and ask me to email her copies of The Recipes. She could never keep up with her boundless collection. JudysChickens.org was started as a way to store those time-tested recipes for my brothers, sons, and nieces and nephews.

So what is kugel? It is a  sweet, baked noodle pudding often made with raisins and spices and served as a side dish at Jewish holiday meals.

I was fortunate to grow up in a blended family long before there was a name for families who came together after a divorce. In our case, our religious practices were blended, too. How many times did my stepfather light a menorah on a table close to my Italian grandfather’s creamy white ceramic nativity set? Kugel was one of the foods that became part of our blended holiday meals.

This is an old photo of my two youngest brothers.

Choosing a recipe for kugel is a lot like choosing one for Thanksgiving dressing (or stuffing) — people want these dishes to taste the way their mother, grandmother or great aunt prepared them. I love that. It shows how deep the connection between holidays, the people present at the table, and the foods served are connected in our memory and ultimately become the traditions we yearn for when family and friends come together.

For Mom’s kugel recipe, at first glance, and every glance really, there are a lot of calories from fat and sugar; that is the way this side dish rolls. In the end, after trying to make the recipe with fewer calories, I found I was only able to dial back the sugar by a quarter of a cup. Woohoo.  I love this dish!

Yield: Serves 8-12

Ingredients:

1  8-ounce package egg noodles (about 4½ cups cooked)
1 cup raisins
1  8-ounce can crushed pineapples with juice
½ navel orange, grate the peel and scoop up the juicy pulp
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to salt the water for cooking the noodles
1 pound (almost 2 cups) sour cream
2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1½ teaspoons sugar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º.

Bring salted water to a boil, add the dry noodles, and cook until done. Drain. Place noodles into a 9 x 13-inch casserole or a deep-dish casserole, as I like to do. Add the melted butter and stir. Set aside.

Pour raisins into a small bowl. Grate the peel of one-half an orange over the raisins. Squeeze out the orange’s juice over the raisins. Scoop out the pulp, chop it up, and add it to the bowl of raisins. Discard the pith. Add crushed pineapples with their juice. Mix together the raisins, orange zest, fruit, and juice until each is well distributed in the bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt, and sour cream until well blended. Set aside.

Pour the fruit mixture over the buttered noodles and stir. Add the egg batter. Stir until well blended. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for sixty minutes until the top is golden brown and crunchy and the eggy part is a little bubbly. If the noodle tips start to burn, cover the casserole with foil for the last ten minutes of cooking. Allow to cool for ten minutes before serving. If you want a creamier interior texture, cook it for only 50 minutes. I think the flavors are more intense when it is cooked for the full sixty minutes.

Happy Hanukkah to my family and friends!

Here are lots of recipes, like these Brie Bites, to get you through special meals from now until New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, I would love a good recipe for latkes. I have never made them but sure have enjoyed eating them.

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

A Thanksgiving Letter from the Neighborhood Squirrels

I am grateful for my friend, Carol Fike, who sent me an anonymous (at the time) Thanksgiving letter from the neighborhood squirrels who reside in my backyard. The squirrels ate every tomato (24 plants worth) in my garden while they were all still green. My frustration was well-documented on Instagram. When they finished with the tomatoes, they got started on and ate the starchy, green, cotton bolls.

Trying to figure out who sent this lovely, funny, thoughtful, letter, with a gift attached (from the squirrels), was the highlight of my week. Everyone needs a Carol in their life. Thanks and love you, Carol.

The squirrels were well-mannered; they carried their food to various tabletops around the yard before eating them.

Wishing all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Day Grace
Bless the food between us,
The home around us,
The family beside us,
and the love between us.

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Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.