22 December 2014

Classic Potato Latkes Recipe

By Sinea Pies


#potatolatkes #latkes #Hanukkahrecipes
My husband is Jewish. When I married him, I was blessed with marrying into his family's traditions, as well. I love the Jewish holidays. Hanukkah (sometimes spelled Chanukah) is the Festival of Lights and a time of joyous celebration. 

Hanukkah is NOT "Jewish Christmas." In fact, Hanukkah precedes Christ's birth by 165 years! Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, which puts it sometime in December but the date on our calendar varies from year to year. 

The holiday is an 8-day commemoration of a miracle. The miracle of the oil. You see, Israel was overrun by the Syrians. While under siege, they were forbidden to worship God. In fact, their temple was desecrated by the evil Syrian king, Antiochus. So, the heroic Judah Macabee and his sons lead a 3 year fight to regain control of their land and the temple. When they won, there was only 2 days worth of holy oil left to burn the lights in the temple. But the Lord honored their faith. God miraculously caused that oil to burn bright for 8 days until more holy oil could be found. Thus, the Festival of Lights!

More about how to celebrate Hanukkah: 

On Hanukkah, our family enjoys a delicious dairy meal that includes tuna salad, egg salad, bagels, macaroni and cheese and potato latkes! Potato latkes are potato pancakes that are fried in hot oil and served with applesauce and sour cream to dip them in. They are easy to make but plan on making a lot of them. We went through 4 platters of latkes in one seating for 10 adults and 4 little children. I used 8 pounds of potatoes and we only had a few leftovers that my future daughter-in-law, Shauna,  gladly took home for herself. She says she thinks she should have been born Jewish...she LOVES the food!

Well, I am also proof that you don't have to be Jewish to make them or love them. In fact, I hid three leftover latkes for myself and that was today's lunch! 

Here is our family recipe and some tips to make it right even on your first try!


#Hanukkah #latkes #recipes
Classic Potato Latkes

Ingredients
Serves 12
8 pounds of raw potatoes, peeled & grated
1 3/4 onion, grated
7 eggs
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups white flour
Cooking oil for frying

Directions
If you will be serving this for a party, you will want to peel them in advance. Store the peeled potatoes in cold water in the refrigerator to keep them from turning color. 
Cut the potatoes in large pieces and put them in a blender filled with cold water.
Grate the potatoes till fine.
Strain the water and press the potato to get the excess water out. 
Put the grated potato in a very large mixing bowl.
Grate the onion in the same container, till fine.
Add eggs, salt, pepper and flour and mix well with a large spoon.
Heat the oil in a big skillet (or two) on high.

DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE. 
Hot oil is a fire hazard!

Gently spoon large "blops" of the batter into the hot oil. 
Fry until one side is brown. 
Using a long handled spoon and a knife in the other hand to steady it, 
gently flip the latkes onto the other side. 
As each side is golden brown and crisp, move them onto a paper-towel lined platter.
After the oil drains off a bit, either put them on a cookie sheet in the oven on 200ºF to keep them warm or move them to a serving platter and serve immediately. 


#potatolatkes #latkes #Hanukkah #holidayrecipes

This is what a fried latke should look like.


TIP 1: to give it some "plump", when you first spoon batter into the oil, spoon one more bit of batter ontop of it. That will give your latke some volume, otherwise it will be very flat and crisp.

TIP 2: the amount of flour you will need depends on how well you drain the grated potatoes. You may find that you want to add a little more flour if your batter is spreading thin.

TIP 3: do NOT immerse the batter in oil. This is not deep-frying. The oil should come up about halfway on each uncooked latke. Immersing them will result in a much oilier product. 

#holidays #latkes #potatolatkes #Hanukkah

Do you celebrate Hanukkah? 
What dishes do you serve?


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Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase here on Ducks 'n a Row through Amazon will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you"  ... Sinea  
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19 December 2014

Snowman Craft for Preschoolers

By Sinea Pies


#kidscrafts #snowmancraft #homemadeplaydough


Last year my first adventure in making homemade playdough was the Glittery Playdough that we used for our snowman craft. It was a fun activity and the snowmen turned out so cute. The kids loved it!

As is typical with a first-time experience, though, there were some things that  I made a mental note to do differently. First, no candy for buttons. The color from the blue M&M's ran a little bit onto the dough. Also, the playdough recipe was a good one but not the best one. I later found a much nicer recipe that I shared with you in my How To Make Playdough post. It makes a much softer and more pliable dough. Very fun to use. When my students have a choice between the homemade and store-bought, they ask for the homemade every time. I'll never go back.

Playdough Snowman Craft Supplies
Homemade white playdough
Eyes
Nose
Buttons
Arms
Scarf
Hat
Display mat
#kidscrafts #holidaycrafts #snowman


This year we used colored pasta for the eyes, nose and buttons. It worked great! We had just studied the Letter J is for Jewelry and I had tons of colored pasta left from our jewelry making craft (pasta = beads.) Those little colored morsels were just begging to be used! The arms were made with pretzel sticks. Scarf? A pipe cleaner. The top hat was cut out of black construction paper.

The mat that I made last year for the glittery snowman looked so nice that I decided to do it again. It is a special way for the children to display their works of art. 

Here is a copy of the display mat for you to print and use. I recommend laminating it. There are two mats to a page.

Tip: This is a nice "keep 'em busy" craft to do at a holiday party where little children are among the guests. They will love it and so will you!



Note: this author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything you purchase here on Ducks 'n a Row through Amazon will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "thank you"  ... Sinea 

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14 December 2014

Declutter Your Way to Happiness -- a few minutes every day!

By Sinea Pies


Welcome to the holidays! I love this time of year but have you noticed that it comes with problems? Yes, dear organizers, while you are making your lists and checking them twice, homes are about to be invaded with - you guessed it - STUFF! 

Why do you think, when January rolls around, that the two hot topics in magazines are "lose weight" and "get organized?" It is inevitable. Most of us eat too much during the holidays and take in lots of things (gifts), too!

So, this year don't let it happen to you!

The weight loss thing is for you and your scale to work out. Organizing? Well, that can begin today. A little bit done here and there will keep molehills from growing into mountains of stuff that you will have to plow through later.

But first, you must believe. You must believe in the value of a clutter-free home. Let’s take a moment to discuss the “whys”.

Why declutter?
1. You’ll be able to find your stuff! How many times have you had to go out and buy an item that you know you already own? You can’t lay your hands on it, though, so to save time you buy another one! “Someday it’ll turn up!” you say.


2. Keeping the house clean is easier. You can dust, mop and vacuum with ease when there aren't piles of things to clean around. Putting your possessions away will be quicker, now, as well. No more struggling with overstuffed drawers and unmanageable closets!


3. It looks, and feels, so nice! Whether it is for your own pleasure, or the joy of being ready for drop-in-company at a moment’s notice, it is great to live in neat, beautiful surroundings. Everything is in its place. You can even do some decorating, if you want to, or take up that hobby you never had time for.

But we just said that we’ve now entered a very busy season. How do you declutter when you don’t have time? Answer: you do a little bit each day. That’s the key. Don’t write a day off just because you can’t devote hours to the task. You can do something today. Five minutes invested on a daily basis can accomplish much. Fifteen minutes daily works wonders!


Best place to start is to identify the area of your house or apartment that magnetically draws clutter. It may be a particular table, the kitchen counter, even the kitchen sink! Whatever it is, make it your #1 project.    And don’t simply clear the clutter, make it shine!

Let’s say the hot spot is your dining room table. Assess the situation. Take an overall look at what’s there. My guess is that you can say “doesn’t belong here” to most, if not all, of it.

Use an empty laundry basket or box. Put everything that belongs in the same area of the house, like the bedroom, in the basket. Now, go to where the items belong. If you have time, actually put it all away but don’t be obsessed with it. You are on a time schedule. Decluttering the table is your objective. Especially if this is an emergency cleanup operation, leave it in a nice pile for each of the owners to take care of themselves. (This may require a friendly note on top of the pile to let your family know why it’s there. They need to know that you’re not angry with them, you’re just cleaning up.)

Go right back to the dining room table. Don’t get sidetracked.

Did you know that most of us let clutter climb because we are perfectionists at heart? At first glance, the job looks overwhelming because we want everything to be perfect. Just the visual of all that has to be done can stop a perfectionist right in her (or his) tracks! The first thing to do is to accept the fact that it is NOT going to be perfect. This is a limited, strategic attack on a bigger problem that you will conquer with time.

So, get back to that table ASAP. Scoop up the next group of items and take them where they belong. Now you should be able to see the surface of the table! Do a quick dusting and shine it up so that it looks pretty!


Finally, put a beautiful centerpiece or a vase with flowers in the middle of the table. That speaks volumes to you and the rest of your family that says that the table is now off-limits for clutter! It looks too nice to mess up! This technique really works! No one wants to be the first one to put their stuff there so it really will stay clean for a while. Make it your mindset that you will not be the one to let it go back to the way it was. If you leave something on the table that doesn’t belong there, everyone else will do the same thing.

All of this decluttering project can be done in 10-20 minutes, not a whole day. Stand back and take a look. It looks great, doesn’t it? Doesn’t that feel good? Tomorrow, you’ll move on to the next stage of decluttering. Do a little bit every day, and soon your home will be neat, orderly and beautiful--ready for anything!



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11 December 2014

Meatballs Stroganoff Recipe

By Sinea Pies 

History of Beef Stroganoff  Beef Stroganoff dates back to 19th century Russia. The dish was named for a 19th century figure named Count Pavel Stroganoff, a dignitary who served in the court of Alexander III.  The beef was sauteed with onions and mushrooms and combined in a sour cream sauce. 

This creamy, comforting mixture is usually served on noodles or rice. It tastes delicious but takes so much time and effort to make. That's why many of us have opted for a simpler approach. My recipe is one of the "cheaters versions"...quick, simple and low-cost.  

easy dinner ideas


Meatballs Stroganoff

Ingredients
1 bag precooked Homestyle meatballs
1 cup-ish of sour cream
1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
1 T. cooking sherry (to taste)
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Egg noodles (extra wide)

Directions
  • Precook the meatballs in oven, according to directions. 
  • Precook noodles according to directions (1/2 bag serves 2 people)
  • Combine other ingredients in a large skillet or sauce pan and heat gently on 
  • medium heat.  
  • Add meatballs.  
  • Serve on cooked egg noodles.   
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (optional).
The Meal
Now, one of the points to this recipe is to make a delicious filling, warm meal with little effort. So, what do you serve on the side?  You may want to simply microwave some peas or green beans.  
#veggies #sidedishes
Green Beans

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Green Bean Photo by Ian Britton on Freefoto.com
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