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


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

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.

Don’t miss a recipe! Become a subscriber and have every post delivered to your Inbox.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

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.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries

I can not get enough of sweet, roasted chunks of butternut squash in the fall. I like to keep a whole cooked squash in the fridge to use in salads where the bright orange squash chunks take the place of tomatoes, or for use in warm, hearty grain salads made with onions, peppers, kale, and farro. Recently, I picked up a few butternut squashes and Brussels sprouts at a farmstand and roasted them with olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper.  When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with dried cranberries and a drizzle of sorghum syrup. The result was as colorful as it was yummy.

Prepping butternut squash can be a challenge. The shell is hard to peel, and it feels like you are risking life and limb when you try to cut into one. I make a shudder/squirm movement everytime I make that first cut as I try to shake off the image of me lopping off one of my fingers. Here is a cooking tip, so none of us will ever have to face that scenario, microwave the squash for a few minutes to soften the shell and then peel and slice it. To do this, cut the tips off of each end of the squash, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, pierce the squash up and down its length with a fork, and microwave for three to five minutes depending on whether the squash is cold or at room temperature.

The Recipe
Yield: makes 8-9 cups


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stem trimmed and quartered
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon McCormick’s Garlic Pepper
⅔ cup dried cranberries
2 heaping tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 400º

Prep Brussels sprouts: wash, dry, trim the stem, and quarter lengthwise.

Prep butternut squash. Microwave to soften shell and then peel, slice into discs, and dice into bite-sized pieces.

Toss butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, olive oil, salt, and garlic pepper in a bowl. Spread into two parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheets.

Roast for 20 minutes and then rotate pans on oven racks. Cook until done, about 20 minutes more. Remove pans from oven and immediately add about a third of a cup of cranberries and a heaping tablespoon of sorghum (or honey) to each pan. Stir together in a bowl and serve.

Here it is served with Brooks’s recipe for Pork Tenderloin and Perfect Rice Every Time!


Favorite Fall Desserts
Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
Mom’s Pumpkin Pie
Mom’s Apple Pie with a Cheddar Streusel Topping
Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Roasted Beet Salad

Last week, I returned home from a long vacation to a garden filled with produce and also lots of weeds.  As I cleaned each bed, I made one pile of weeds and withered plants, destined for the compost, and another pile of spring root vegetables.  After washing the veggies, I laid them out to dry. They begged for a photo. IMG_9567

All of these veggies were planted around March first. The “Scarlett Nantes” and “Calliope Blend” carrots and the “Hakurei” turnips were started from seed, the “Red Ace” and “Bull’s Blood” beets from seedlings, and the “Pontiac Red” and “Yukon Gold” potatoes, spring onions, and garlic from sets.

When you have such a sizable haul at one time, you need to divide and conquer in terms of prepping and cooking. I started with the beets because I love a beet salad and hadn’t prepared one yet this Spring.

fresh beets
@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing


Preheat oven to 400º

Wash and dry vegetables. Do not peel. Place on a sheet of parchment paper for easy clean up later. Cover with foil and roast for one hour, then turn oven off and let them stay in oven for 30 more minutes. If the beets are large, cut them in half before cooking.
Version 2 DSC_0664

When the beets are cool, peel with a paring knife.

Slice the beets and toss with vinaigrette. You may wish to add a little salt. You can serve as is at room temperature as a side dish, or serve them chilled. Either way, they are delicious and a cinch to make. I love the color tone and pattern shifts in the different varieties of beets.

Another way to eat them is in a cold salad. Here, I prepared a bed of arugula, and topped it with the marinated beets, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts, all of it tossed in a little more vinaigrette. Alternatively, you could use feta and sliced almonds.

If the beet greens are fresh and perky,


I cut them off the beet and sauté them in olive oil and minced fresh garlic for a few minutes.

Before serving, while they are still in the pan, add salt and pepper and squeeze a little lemon juice. Dinner is served!


Related Vegetable Dishes
String Bean Salad
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrot
Cauliflower Three Ways: Roasted, Blanched and Mashed
Grapefruit and Greens: A Refreshing Winter Salad
Roasted Ratatouille


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.


Blanched String Beans with Vinaigrette

We all have our go-to ways of preparing vegetables for dinner. While I may have a million ways of cooking veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower, when it comes to string beans and carrots I’m pretty set in my ways.  For carrots, I love this recipe: Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots.


For string beans, it’s the way I’m about to show you: blanched and tossed with a vinaigrette dressing. Floral decorations optional!



fresh string beans
@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
edible flowers and sliced tomatoes (optional)

Mise en Place

Prepping String Beans:

If the string beans are fresh, you only need to pinch or clip off the stem end. If they are oldish, I clip both ends. I find it’s quick and easy to do this clipping with scissors.

How to Blanch a Pot of Beans (or most any vegetable, for that matter)

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the prepped veggies.

Keep the heat on high and bring the water back to a full boil. This takes about four or five minutes.

Once the water comes back to a rolling boil, cook for just one additional minute and then remove the pot from the heat and promptly strain the veggies through a colander.


Cover the colander with a plate and let steam for ten minutes, five minutes if you want crunchier veggies.

DSC_0277 DSC_0278

Add vinaigrette and toss. Allow to set for about an hour. Toss again before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature. I prefer chilled.


Don’t stop there. Try decorating with edible flowers and cherry tomatoes for color. Here I used borage flowers and Sun Gold tomatoes from my garden. Add just before serving.


These beans are great to eat chilled the next day as leftovers.

This is a nice dish to use for feeding a crowd because you can make it ahead of time.

To make this a hot side dish:

You could skip the vinaigrette and add butter while the beans are still hot and serve as a hot side dish.

Related Posts
Sliced Beet Salad
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Cauliflower Three Ways: Roasted, Blanched and Mashed
Roasted Ratatouille


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of the Blog.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.