Festive Foods

by Julie M. Waxman

Although the holidays may be celebrated a little bit different this year with smaller gatherings, and or virtual parties, one familiarity remains, festive foods. Children of all ages drool over the old recipes that will eventually be theirs. Whether it’s latkes on Hanukkah or mince pies on Christmas, every culture has culinary traditions for whatever holidays they celebrate. Growing up, my family essentially celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. Because of this, I am a huge fan of mixing up traditions and doing something out of the ordinary every year. My personal favorite is pie for breakfast on Christmas day. Everything, except the shortbread cookies I bake, is in the shape of a pie. In honor of all the recipes that will be prematurely handed down this year, here are a couple of my favorite traditional holiday cravings.

Holiday festive foods


Potato pancakes

Hanukkah is the Festival of Light. It celebrates the rededication of the second temple of Israel when, during the Maccabean revolt, the oil to light the temple burned for eight days even though there was only enough for one. In celebration of the “Eternal Light” we eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah. Latkes are potato pancakes made with potatoes, egg, flour or matzos and onions. I like to make them right before it’s time to eat so they are hot, crispy and dripping with oil.

Julie’s Latkes of Love

3-5 large gold potatoes

1 large Vidalia onion

2 large eggs

¼ to ½ cup flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large frying pan heat about two inches of oil over Med/Hi heat. Shred the potatoes and onion in a colander, drain as much liquid as possible, I like to use paper towels to absorb excess liquid as well. In a large mixing bowl combine the shredded potatoes, onions, eggs, salt and pepper. Add flour and mix well. I like to mix it by hand. When the mixture stays together form patties and drop into the heated oil. Cook until the latkes turn a deep golden brown and then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Crescent Cookies are festive foods


Austrian Vanilla Crescent Cookies

Winter wakes up my senses, especially my sense of smell. I love baking cookies for Christmas, and these are a favorite of mine. Tis the season to celebrate with family and friends, with the use of vanilla, walnuts (almonds or hazelnuts work as well), sugar and flour, whenever I bake these melt in your mouth treats my house smells like Christmas.

Julie’s Almost Traditional Vanillekipferl

1 cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1cup ground walnuts

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar*(I tend to be impatient and leave out the vanilla sugar instead, I add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, combine the flour and butter until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix until dough is crumbly but will hold together when pinched between two fingers, like wet sand. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and shape it into a crescent, repeat until you have filled the cookie sheet with crescents 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Once out of the oven, dust each cookie with confectioner’s sugar.

Cool cookies on a cooling rack and serve.    Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Share your Story with us…

Real stories are a powerful way for families to understand the benefits of foster care and being adoptive parents. Whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee, adoption changes you. Each time you share your story with someone, you will be reminded how all the pieces of your adoption or foster care journey came together.