Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Guest Post From Les Petites Joies

You guys know all about my German Christmas traditions, so this year my dear friend Haley from Les Petites Joies is sharing a little taste of Southern Christmas.  Her blog is full of the little joys in life and family that make it all special. Thank you Haley for providing pieces of happiness to us all — both in person and online

Papa Soup

2 lbs. stew meat
2 lbs. ground meat
1 large diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs. frozen mixed veggies
1 lb. baby lima beans
3 boxes beef broth
1 lb. red potatoes (diced at same size of veggies)
Tony Chachere’s

Papa Soup.  Photos from LPJ.

This is a very simple but hearty soup. Start by browning your meats, onion, and garlic in a large stock pan. Once the meat is brown and onions are translucent, sprinkle liberally with Tony Chachere’s (a Cajun seasoning available in most stores). Add your diced tomatoes, veggies, lima beans, and beef broth. Let cook for a good while on simmer. At about an hour, before serving, add your potatoes (skins on). And then you are good to go. Easy, easy.


My maternal grandpa, lovingly known as papa, was a Renaissance man of sorts. He was a farmer by trade, but he was also a soldier, basketball player and enthusiast, and cook extraordinaire. All of the men in his family knew and perfected the basics of Acadian cuisine. They would use anything they caught (including squirrels, rabbits, and frogs, too) and whip up some Cajun gumbo, fried catfish or a cochon de lait for all of their family and friends.

But my papa wasn’t all spices and savory dishes; he also often tried his hand at baking. In fact, he used to challenge himself to make the Southern Living cake of the year, taking extra care to match the cover photo. Like I said, a Renaissance man — even in the kitchen.

Mom as a baby & Papa.

When we were little, we called this soup “papa soup” because it was one of his go-to meals for a family dinner (on a mostly unrelated note, we also called Fudge Rounds “papa cookies,” and when we stayed at nana and papa’s house we got to have papa cookies for breakfast — pretty sweet deal).

Dad, Papa & baby Haley. 

This soup reminds me of Christmases at home — a little town called Big Cane — and it, of course, reminds me of my papa. My papa was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known — solid, salt of the earth, laid back, and joyful. He knew how to appreciate the simple things in life and he knew that family was the most important thing there is. We miss him greatly — especially at this time of the year. I wish he were here — to teach me to not worry so dang much; to meet my husband; and to share a couple of breakfast papa cookies in that Big Cane kitchen with the forest green cabinets.  But I am so grateful that we have our memories ... and this soup on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas TV Now On Netflix!

 As you know, I don't have a television, but love watching holiday specials. 

Here's a list of the Holiday TV you can stream now on Netflix: 

30 Rock
Season 2, Ludachristmas
Season 3, Christmas Special
Season 4, Secret Santa
Season 5, Christmas Attack Zone
Season 7, My Whole Life is Thunder


Arrested Development
Season 1, In God We Trust
Season 2, Afternoon Delight

Season 1, The Spy Who Came in for a Cold One
Season 6, Christmas Cheers
Season 11, Love me, Love my Car

Everybody Loves Raymond
Season 1, The Ball
Season 2, All I Want for Christmas
Season 3, The Toaster
Season 4, The Christmas Picture
Season 5, The Christmas Present
Season 6, Seasons Greetings
Season 7, The Thought that Counts
Season 8, Jazz Records

I am not really sure why I included this show? Maybe because it is on so many stations and these episodes have become none offensive Christmas background noise. This show is actually painful to watch. My thoughts on it echo Paul Rudd's from Knocked Up below ... 

Season 1, Miracle on Third or Fourth Street
Season 3, Frasier Grinch
Season 5, Perspectives on Christmas 
Season 6, Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz
Season 7, The Fight Before Christmas
Season 8, Mary Christmas
Season 10, We Two Kings
Season 11, High Holidays

Season 2, A Very Glee Christmas

Remember when Glee was good? And Kurt and Blaine sang this adorable Christmas song? 

IMHO the other Christmas specials/later seasons in general are unwatchable. 
Season 3’s Extraordinary Merry Christmas is sort of OK but I draw the line there.

How I Met Your Mother
Season 2, How Lily Stole Christmas
Season 4, Little Minnesota
Season 6, False Positive
Season 7, Symphony of Illumination
Season 8, The Over Correction and the Final Page parts 1 & 2

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Season 6, A Very Sunny Christmas

The League
Season 1, The Usual Bet
Season 2, Kegel the Elf
Season 4, A Krampus Carol*

*I have never seen this episode. I hear it is pretty bad. Don't blame me if you are offended. I warned you. 

New Girl
Season 1, The 23rd
Season 2, Santa

Ok - On the topic of Zooey, here's a special shout out to the She & Him Christmas album. 

The Office
Season 2, Christmas Party
Season 3, A Benihana Christmas
Season 5, Moroccan Christmas
Season 6, Secret Santa
Season 7, Classy Christmas – two parts
Season 8, Christmas Wishes
Season 9, Dwight Christmas*

*Someone who writes for The Office had an Oma. Dwight consistently drops little German traditions that are spot on  — including Pelznickel

Season 4, What to my Wondering Eyes

Parks and Recreation
Season 2, Christmas Scandal 
Season 4, Citizen Knope
Season 5, Ron and Diane

Season 3, Winter in Portlandia

My favorite ladies of Portland celebrate Christmas shopping ... 

Season 1, My Own Personal Jesus
Season 2, My Monster   
Season 4, My Best Moment

Ugly Betty
Season 1, Fake Plastic Snow
Season 2, Giving up the Ghost
Season 4, Be-Shure

Other Shows Streaming on Netflix with Christmas Specials ... 
Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters, Coach, Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Mad Men, Malcolm in the Middle, My Name is Earl, Raising Hope, West Wing, Wings, That 70s Show, The Wonder Years

Not on Netflix, but honorable mentions ... 
Friends, The One With the Holiday Armadillo
Downton Abbey, 2011 (1919) Christmas Special 

There's a sentence I never thought I'd say ...

& A couple of Holiday Movie picks now streaming on Netflix ...
Trading Places  
Nightmare Before Christmas


For those of you that need a Carl refresher ...


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peanut Butter! Pretzel! Chocolate! Cookie Cake & December Birthdays

Peanut Butter! Pretzel! Cookie Cake
Optional: Chocolate! Peanut Butter! Pretzel! Cookie Cake

1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 stick (half cup) softened unsalted butter
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
½ tsp arak (or vanilla, or additional almond)
1 cup crushed pretzels
Optional half bag of chocolate chips

Cream sugars and butter.  Add in egg and extracts. Blend in peanut butter.
Now mix in dry ingredients.
Lastly add pretzels and the optional chocolate chips. (Honestly, the pretzels could be optional if you just wanted the chocolate and peanut butter, it’s your preference. I personally like both!)
Spread on a greased baking sheet — use a rolling pin to make sure there is an even thickness throughout. I also used greased parchment paper to make transferring the cake as easy as possible, but this is optional.
Bake at 350 for 14 minutes, edge should be golden brown and it can pass the toothpick test (ie nothing sticks to a toothpick that pricks the center).
Trim with Peanut-Butter-Cream Icing (recipe below) and enjoy! And maybe some glitter sprinkles ;) 

Peanut-Butter-Cream Icing
Peanut Butter + Buttercream FTW

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened  
1 ½  cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt 
½ tbs almond
½ tbs arak
2 T peanut butter
1 T brown sugar

Combine the above ingredients. This will make enough icing for tradition cookie cake trimming. If you use the recipe for cupcakes or to cover a layer cake, I would recommend doubling it.

How is this recipe different from the cookie version?
I usually only use brown sugar for the cookies. Brown sugar will add moisture when baking, so I decided to get that cookie cake texture to change the recipe to ¾ cup light brown sugar and ¼ cup sugar. I also added a little more flavoring — cakes tend to have more.  
And, of course, icing.

Some love to December Birthdays ... 
A short apology. 

With Julie a couple of weeks ago. 

I made the birthday cake above for my wonderful sister Julie.  She doesn't love chocolate, so I always set aside some cookies minus the suggested chocolate chip cookies for her.  Of these cookies, my chocolate, peanut butter, pretzel cookies, sans chocolate, are her favorite — she requested this as a cookie cake for her December birthday back in August. And, I was more than happy to oblige. But on the topic of December birthdays, I have a few thoughts.  

Dear December Birthdays,

I am sorry you tend to get the short end of the stick. December is a time of transition, finals, unpredictable weather and holiday preparedness. Which tends to means you guys get to take finals, spend money on other people and get combo birthday/Christmas gifts, or Christmas gifts for your birthday, and people are too busy.  We appreciate you December birthdays. You make us feel special twice a year, at least, when you often get passed over or that combo gift of lotion (maybe even a Christmas scented candle) once a year. I for one am going to make a promise to you December birthdays.  Those who would like to join me, please hold up you're right hand and repeat after me: 

I [state your name] promise to buy you, the December Birthday haver, two gifts — even if your birthday is December 25.  Your gift will be in your favorite colors and scents — green and red or fir and peppermint are only acceptable if those are said favorites. Lastly, you deserve a birthday cake, not fruit cake or gingerbread men. 


Happy birthday to the best person I know :) 

Hope you had a good one Julie :) 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bah, Humbug.


As many of you guys know, this blog began as a way to commemorate global recipes and traditions.  It stemmed from my own experience celebrating German, Southern and Lebanese recipes, folklore and customs. And, every year, I have shared something so special to me, German Weinachten stories from my family. Like Christkind, Pelznickel, marzipan pigs, Advent Calendars and Schnecke — to name a few. My grandmother taught me all of these wonderful things, and the recipes that go along with them.  But, this is our first Christmas without her and honestly I am just not in the spirit.

This is why I am asking you guys for some help this year generating Christmas content! I want to hear about Italian, Cajun, country, French or Australian, whatever, holiday spirit.

If you would like to contribute a guest post please email me and we can work something out! I look forward to hearing from you! 

We'd Probably Be Friends If ...

I saw the cutest list over at Sometimes Sweet called "We'd Probably Be Friends" about when you meet someone who just gets you. You know, when you find a new friend with a shared quirk or love for something just a little different. 

Danielle at SS compiled her list of eccentricities and fun and invited her followers to do the same. It was such a sweet idea, I decided to join in with the list below. 

-  Obscure Gilmore Girls references (Oy with the Poodles Already) and the even more obscure 30 Rock reference ...


- Love for The Muppet Christmas Carol and the muppets in general.

- Knowledge that Jeff Mangum and Regina Spektor are poets. But, it's OK to love Beyonce too! (Or Katy Perry.)

- We can eat lunch together with dessert and never ever talk about cheating or dieting or any other silly things like that.

- Day of the Dead <3

Part of my collection of calaveras. 

- You may have also had a Wayne Thiebaud cover photo on facebook.

Thiebaud. Pinterest

- Though we have some frilly things in common, you don't blush when I accidentally let a @#$% slip. Oops.

- You know all the words to this. 

- Your grandma taught you to cook her famous _________ .

Would we be friends?
 What's your list? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My first & Only Thanksgivukkah

For the first time since 1888 — and the only time for 79,000 years! —Thanksgiving lands during Hanukkah. My friends Adam and Leah decided to celebrate the once in a lifetime holiday by hosting a Thanksgivukkah party. 

And many other Jewish Americans have been planning special  festivities. One AP article described a Jewish School's elementary students making classic handprint turkeys with finger paint — but adding small flames to the top of the finger feathers to create Turkey Menorahs.  Others are fusing Jewish and traditional Turkey Day dishes. 

Adam and Leah made the customary Potato Latkes with Thanksgiving yams, aka sweet potatoes. And, they were delicious. 

A Thanksgivukkah plate, clockwise: Leah's yummy kugel, traditional latke,
SWEET POTATO latke & cranberry yam salad. 

Sweet Potato Latkes 

Leah and Adam sent this Latke Guide ... 

Thank you to the wonderful hosts, Adam and Leah, for making these! 
And Food 52 for the recipe

1 medium sweet potato makes 3 latkes 
Purple onion 
salt & pepper
Peanut or Vegetable Oil

Skin and coarsely grate potatoes. 
Gather shreds in rag and wring out water. 
Beat one egg and mix in shredded potato and onion — 1 egg per two pounds of potato. Add 1-2 tbs flour per egg. 
Mix well. Season with salt & pepper — and maybe spices of your choosing. 
Heat oil in sauce pan and drop spoonfuls until patties are golden brown on both sides. 
Serve with apple sauce, sour cream or Cranberry Sauce for a Thanksgivukkah twist!

Sweet Potato Latkes! 

Regular latkes — made the same way just different potatoes. 


Scenes from Thanksgivukkah
Thanks to Leah and Adam

Me & My sister wearing the autumn wreaths Leah made. Via Instagram

Leah and Adam's fur baby Oscar, love his bow tie! 

It isn't Thanksgiving without pecan pie ... this one was chocolate.

Julie & Leah

Cranberry Sangria 

Julie & Louie

The Po' Girls

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