As the holidays approach, we offer a collection of time-tested recipes handed down from our ancestors.
We interview, we write, we take photos, we sell ads, we do graphic layout and we love to eat. Some of us even love to cook, as do our friends throughout the region. Most of these recipes aren’t fancy, but they’re tried and true favorites from staff members and friends of Northwest Quarterly Magazine. We share them with you this holiday season in honor of the family traditions that add so much to the quality of our lives. We hope you enjoy them and we also hope that you’ll share some of your favorite family recipes with us in the future. Meanwhile, happy cooking and happy eating!
From the Kitchen of: Bill Hughes
These Swedish cookies are a must at Christmas time from my mother and grandmother’s recipe boxes. The only way to properly eat them is to put 5 or 6 cookies on your finger and enjoy with a large glass of milk!
1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
Cream butter and sugar and add egg yolk and cream. Fold in flour and extracts. Divide dough into 2 balls, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate. Put cooled dough in cookie press and make small round circles. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Brown Paper Bag Apple Pie
A version of the award-winning “Apple Pie Baked in a Brown Paper Bag,” from The Elegant Farmer Farm Kitchen Bakery, Deli & Market, in Mukwanago, Wis.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp white sugar
6 tbls unsalted butter
4-5 Tb ice water
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup softened butter
½ cup superfine sugar
5 lbs Granny Smith apples,
peeled, cored, thinly sliced
½ cup brown sugar
2 Tb all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb graham cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bottom crust: Stir flour and white sugar together in a bowl until well-combined. Cut butter into the flour until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Add ice water 1 Tb at a time, mixing with a fork until it barely holds together.
Form the dough into a ball and roll it out to a 12-inch circle about ⅛-inch thick. Gently ease the dough into an 8-inch pie dish. Cut off any excess pastry with a knife. Finish the edge with the tines of a fork. Set aside.
Filling: Stir together apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon juice in a large bowl; set aside.
Topping: Mix ½ cup of flour, ½ cup of butter and ½ cup superfine sugar until moist and sticky.
Cover bottom crust with light, even layer of graham cracker crumbs. Fill with the apple mixture. Pinch off and flatten pieces of the topping mixture with your fingers and cover as much of the filling as possible.
Place pie in brown paper bag, fold and staple closed. Bake on cookie sheet for 1 hour. Carefully cut bag open, watching out for steam.
Optional: Instead of paper bag, use two stapled pieces of parchment paper, cut with three or four slits to allow release of steam (parchment isn’t as porous as paper).
Cool for 1 hour; serve warm with ice cream.
From the Kitchen of: Janine Pumilia
My husband’s dear Aunt Ginny Carlson, who founded the Brad-Lynn Restaurant (known today as the Stockholm Inn) with her late husband, Alf, shared this recipe with me. Delicious but rich, we reserve it for special celebrations. It’s easy to make ahead and bake just before serving.
1-2 lb. bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
Half cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 10-oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 container sour cream
¼ cup butter, melted
2 cups crushed corn flakes
Mix all casserole ingredients together. Put into greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Mix topping ingredients. Sprinkle onto casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours, uncovered.
From the Kitchen of: FHN
U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/healthieryou/html/recipes.html.
5 cups spinach leaves, packed, washed, dried well
2 oranges, peeled, chopped into bite-size pieces
½ red onion, sliced thin
½ red pepper, sliced
1 whole cucumber, sliced
1∕3 cup of light vinaigrette dressing
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss again. Serve.
Cajun Grilled Sweet Potatoes
From the Kitchen of: The Olive Oil Experience, Loves Park
1 or 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into ½ Inch slices
2 Tb The Olive Oil Experience 100-percent Robust Intensity Olive Oil
1 Tb Spice Galleria Cajun Seasoning
Cover the sweet potato slices with the olive oil and sprinkle the Cajun Seasoning over the slices. Heat grill to low heat. Place potato slices on the preheated grill rack until bubbly on the bottom. Carefully flip and do the same with the other side. May use vegetable basket on the grill or bake in 350˚ oven for 30-35 minutes. Flip potatoes halfway through the cooking time to ensure they cook evenly. Great side dish for fish or chicken. Serves 4
From the Kitchen of: Lisa Hughes
My Grandma Thorn always made sure that Apricot Ice was served up in crystal sherbet goblets on all of our holiday tables, a tradition that my mother picked up on and passed along to me. It’s easy to make, must be made ahead of time. My family has grown up loving it, as I did.
48 oz. apricot nectar
16 oz. orange juice frozen concentrate
8 oz. lemonade frozen concentrate
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
6 ripe bananas, mashed
Dissolve the sugar and water together and mix all ingredients together. Put in large bowl and put in freezer overnight. Next day beat with hand mixer well to add air. This keeps it from freezing hard and will make a wonderful sorbet consistency.
Creamy Squash Soup with Shredded Apples
From the Kitchen of: Recipe courtesy of Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, provided by Beloit Health System
2 boxes (16 ounces each) frozen pureed winter (butternut) squash
2 medium apples (try Golden Delicious or Gala)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cans fat-free evaporated milk (12 ounces each)
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Place the frozen squash in a microwave-safe dish. Cover loosely. Defrost in the microwave on medium power for 5-10 minutes, until mostly thawed. Meanwhile, peel then shred the apples using a grater or food processor, or peel and finely chop apples into thin strips. Set aside ¼ cup.
2. Warm oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add all but ¼ cup of the apples. Cook and stir until apples soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in thawed squash and pumpkin pie spice. Add the evaporated milk about ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir over high heat just until soup is about to boil.
3. Ladle into individual soup bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of apples. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired. Serves 4.
Hamburger/Green Bean Casserole
From the Kitchen of: Janine Pumilia
My mom, Naomi Whyte, has made this for decades and we all still love it!
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 large onion
Brown 1 lb. of ground meat and a chopped onion. Add two cans of green beans and two cans of tomato soup. Mix together and place inside a buttered casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes and bake in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Easy! Delicious!
Holiday Beer Suggestions
By Anthony Artale, Artale Wine Co.
Looking for the perfect beer for your holiday table? The craft beer renaissance in America means that we have an assortment of special brews with flavors to complement every course of your seasonal spread.
• Smuttynose S’Muttonator: This Double Bock beer displays smooth toffee, caramel and nutty notes with a clean lager finish. A perfect all-around beer for the dinner table.
• Blaugies La Moneuse Saison: Traditional rustic Southern Belgian farmhouse ale. Subtle earthiness balanced with sweetness that finishes dry with a peppery/herbal snap. Incredibly versatile with a wide range of food.
• B. Nektar Black Fang: A carbonated Mead with blackberries, orange zest and cloves, its combination of berry tartness, sweet orange and spice proves a perfect match for hearty stuffing or wild rice.
• Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial: A brown ale brewed with cacao nibs, cinnamon and orange peel, aged in oak for a tart, funky complexity, that goes with the rich, hearty flavors of the holiday dinner table.
• Avery Ellie’s Brown: A rich, chocolaty brown ale rich enough to stand up to roasted meats and caramelized vegetables without overwhelming the flavors.
• AleSmith Decadence 2014: A strong ale brewed with a high proportion of wheat that creates big, complex flavors that’s lighter than an all-barley. Imparts bready malt notes with stone fruit, honey and spicy grain character.
• Rockmill Cask-Aged Tripel: Aged in Middle West Spirits whiskey barrels to impart rich vanilla atop the warm spice, banana and stone fruit character. An incredible match for warm apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
• Pipeworks Obscura Batata: An imperial porter brewed with sweet potato, coconut, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean and clove. A natural pairing alongside a slice of pumpkin pie.
For more beer advice, or to find the perfect beverage for your holiday event, visit Artalé Wine Co., 6876 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, or call (815) 877-9463.
From the Kitchen of: Karla Nagy
This is my version of an avocado dip made by my cousin Steve and his wife, Rory.
4 ripe avocados
2 ears fresh corn
1 med. or 2 small tomatoes
2 Tb. med. salsa (or to taste)
2 tsp. cilantro, chopped
Chop tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Chop ends off ears of corn; remove some shuck but leave at least three layers. Microwave 2 minutes; allow to cool. Cut avocados in half and remove pit. While still in skin, gently slice the avocado downward and crosswise. With a spoon, scoop avocados into a medium bowl. Mash avocado so that it’s fairly smooth but still chunky. Add tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and salsa; mix until blended. Cut lime in half, squeeze into dip and stir. Cut corn from cobs and stir into mixture. Refrigerate at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or flatbread.
From the Kitchen of: Bushel & Peck’s, Beloit
For more recipes using locally sourced ingredients, visit bushelandpecks.com and click on the Food & News link.
1½ lb. potatoes
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
Peel and boil potatoes in salted water. Drain and mash. Let cool. In large bowl, mix potatoes, egg and salt. Gradually add flour to dough, incorporating until dough is soft and no longer sticky. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead until soft and pliable. Add more flour if dough is sticking.Using your hands, roll chunks of dough into 1-inch wide snakes. Cut the dough snakes at an angle into half-inch pieces. Add dough pieces to boiling salted water, not overcrowding pot. Once dumplings rise, cook three more minutes. Remove from water and fry in oil or bacon fat until lightly browned. The nice thing about this recipe is that one can get local potatoes nearly all year round.
Wild Rice Harvest Casserole
From the Kitchen of: Paul Anthony Arco
This is something my wife, Shauna, often makes, that our whole family loves.
5 C. diced cooked chicken
1 C. chopped celery
2 Tb. butter or margarine
2 C. chicken broth
2 cans (10.75 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1 jar (4.5 oz.) sliced, drained mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 C. uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
¼ tsp. poultry seasoning
¾ C. cashew pieces
Chopped fresh parsley
In a skillet, brown chicken and celery in butter. In a large bowl, combine soup and broth until smooth. Add the mushrooms, onion, rice, poultry seasoning and chicken mixture. Pour into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Stir; sprinkle with cashews. Return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Garnish with parsley. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.
From the Kitchen of: Chris Linden
These recipes come from my YiaYia, who, like all Greek grandmothers, couldn’t make a bad meal. It seems no family holiday is complete without baklava, a delicious dessert, or spanakopita, a bite-size appetizer and side dish.
1 pkg. phyllo (filo) dough
2 bunches green onion
3 med. white onions, chopped
1 lb. cottage cheese, large curd
½ lb. feta cheese
8 eggs, well-beaten
2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, drained
Saute onions in butter until soft. Add spinach and cook until tender. Set mixture aside to cool. Mix feta with cottage cheese and add to the cooled spinach mixture. Beat eggs well and add to mixture. Butter about six slices of filo dough, and spread on bottom of a 13×9-inch pan. Add spinach mixture, and top with more buttered filo dough. Heat oven to 350 F and bake for about 45 minutes. *Tasty tip: In the small Greek village where my YiaYia’s mother was raised, spanakopita is served with a drizzle of honey.
From the Kitchen of: Brent Hughes
Christmas Eve at my Great Uncle Floyd and Great Aunt Eleanor’s home was always the best, and many of their traditions are now carried on by my parents. Glog is served hot out of a copper pot, in small copper cups. Watch it! There’s a reason why the cups are small!
¾ cups white raisins
¾ cups seedless raisins
1 cups dry apricots
20 blanches almonds
4 cinnamon sticks
16 whole cardamon seeds
Dried peel from 1 orange (dry in oven)
12 whole cloves
Cook above in 1 quart water for 1 hour. Put in large kettle over heat and add 1 cup sugar. Stir to boiling. Add 2 quarts Mogen David Grape Wine, 6 quarts Mogen David Rose Wine. Heat just to boiling, Add 1/5 Grain Alcohol. Stir and Ignite. Burn 25-30 seconds and cover. Let stand for 24 hours in kettle without lifting cover. Strain with cheese cloth and bottle, cap (we use the wine bottles). Warm and Fabulous on a cold winter night!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
From the Kitchen of: Great Harvest Bread
Find more recipes at rockfordgreatharvestbread.com.
1 butternut squash, about 2½ lbs
2 tbsp canola oil
2 onions, sliced
3 tbsp butter or margarine divided
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, quartered
1 leek, split, cleaned, sliced thin
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water (about)
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp fresh thyme, divided
½ cup crème fraiche
1 tbsp milk as needed
1 tbsp sliced chives
Pumpkin seeds for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise, remove seeds and rub cut sides with canola oil, salt & pepper. Roast cut side down in oven 30 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Cool slightly; scoop flesh from skin. Meanwhile, in large pot over medium heat, sautee onions in 1 tbsp butter until deeply caramelized, about 30 minutes; remove onions. In same pan, add 1 tbsp of butter and cook apples over medium heat until golden brown and slightly soft. Add leeks, celery, garlic, cook a few minutes until slightly soft. Add squash, chicken broth, water, onions, bay leaf, 1 tbsp thyme, salt & pepper to taste. Cover and simmer over low heat 25-30 minutes until vegetables and apples are completely soft. Remove bay leaf. In batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth; use water if needed. Return soup to pot, add remaining thyme, season to taste. Mix crème fraiche (or sour cream) with chives; thin with milk until it can be drizzled. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with crème fraiche mixture, top with pumpkin seeds. Serve with grilled or toasted Great Harvest Bread. Serves 4-6 as a main course.