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December 2022: Staff Favorite Recipes

Favorite Recipes for the Holidays Christmas Tradition at My House

My family’s favorite Slovak ritual is the garlic/honey blessing, performed by Byzantine Catholics. Everyone takes a seat, and a quiet peace settles in. We all hold back our hair from our foreheads and await our turn to be anointed. My daughter, Summer, assists me by holding two small dishes — one with a clove of garlic and one with a little bit of honey. I mark the sign of the cross on each forehead with the garlic, while saying, “May you be strong all year.” Then I dip my finger in the honey and use it to make another cross on their forehead, saying, “May you be sweet all year.” Everyone is silent until the last person has been blessed.
—Ellen Wood
See LIVE LOVE LAUGH, Ellen’s monthly column on page 9 where she refers to her favorite traditional holiday dish halupki. If you’re not Slovak and never heard of a halupki, it’s ground beef, rice and onions wrapped in a cabbage leaf, a couple dozen of them nuzzling stewed tomatoes.

We have a similar dish in Cuba, only instead of cabbage we use banana leaves!
— Teresa Dovalpage, Ph.D.

Traditional Slovak Halupki
1 head cabbage, cored water to cover
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2/3 T white sugar (optional)

Place cabbage in a stockpot; pour over enough water to cover. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn cabbage every 2-3 minutes; transfer any leaves that separate from cabbage into a strainer to drain and cool. Continue to boil until all the leaves have cooked, about 15 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of cabbage cooking water. Cut out the tough, thick center ribs of any large cabbage leaves with a sharp knife.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix ground beef, ground pork, cooked rice, eggs, onion, fresh parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until combined. Lay 1 cabbage leaf on a flat surface; place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling at the base of a cabbage leaf. Overlap with the bottom of the leaf; fold in side edges and roll up. Repeat with remaining large cabbage leaves and filling.

Cut any leftover cabbage leaves into pieces and place in the bottom of a roasting pan. Layer stuffed cabbage rolls on top.

Combine tomato sauce, reserved cabbage water, white vinegar, and white sugar in a bowl; pour mixture over cabbage rolls. Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil.

Bake in the preheated oven until filling is cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 2 1/2 hours. Baste stuffed cabbage rolls every hour.

Sweet Sautée Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
I lived in New Orleans for a couple of years, which, you may have heard, is kind of a food town. Here’s a recipe I picked up during my time there, which I like to make around the holidays.

1 lb. Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves removed and cut in half
3 slices thick cut bacon
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-small shallot (or a quarter of a small red onion), diced
1 T apple cider vinegar (or sherry vinegar), room temperature
2 T brown sugar, light or dark
Sea Salt, 2 ts or to taste
Pepper, to taste

In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Saving the drippings, remove the bacon, allow to cool, and then cut into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces.

Add the Brussels sprouts, brown sugar, and salt to the bacon drippings and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently. After about 3-4 minutes, when the Brussel sprouts have begun to soften a bit, add the onion and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have begun to caramelize and the sprouts have softened and browned, about 7-10 minutes. Then add the minced garlic, bacon, vinegar and pepper, cooking until the garlic has caramelized as well, about 1-2 minutes. Serves 4
Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Bon appétit et Joyeux Noël, y’all!

— Edward Camp

Celebrating New Year’s Eve Around the World
There is a goofy way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Cuba. On Dec. 31 in the morning, we start by sweeping and mopping the house. After we finish mopping, we save the water in a bucket. Yes, it is usually dirty! (Unless, of course, we have cleaned the house the day before.) At midnight, we throw the dirty water out into the street. That means: “Out with the old, in with the new.” The New Year marks a new beginning! Because my family lived in a second-floor apartment, sometimes the dirty water that we threw from the balcony landed on an unlucky passerby!

—Teresa Dovalpage, Ph.D.

There is a similar New Year’s Eve tradition in Tibet. Most places in Asia celebrate the Lunar New Year, known in Tibetan as Losar. Their New Year’s Day is on the new moon, or the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunisolar calendar. For us in the west, it is in February or March. In 2023, Losar falls on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

For Tibetans, the day before Losar, their New Year’s Eve, is called House Cleaning Day. What about taking the day off on Monday, Feb. 20 to celebrate House Cleaning Day? What a good way to start the new year, with a nice clean house!

—Lou McCall

Non-Alcoholic Sangria
I make this non-alcoholic Sangria for all our family’s special occasions; they ask for it and prefer it to alcoholic alternatives. I made up this recipe when I gave up drinking as my New Year’s Resolution in 2019. I realized I didn’t miss alcohol so I didn’t start drinking again! The whole family can enjoy this No-Spirits Sangria, pour it in a glass with a stem and you, too, will thoroughly enjoy the festive holiday celebrations without alcohol.

1 lemon sliced with peel
1 lime sliced with peel
1 medium orange sliced with peel
1 small apple, cored, sliced with peel
1 cup of cranberry juice
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of apple juice
1 cup of grape juice
Citrus flavored seltzer water and/or non-alcoholic sparkling cider


  1. Combine the fruits and juices in a large pitcher (or split between two large pitchers)
  2. Cover the pitcher, refrigerate up to 3 hours or overnight so the flavors can blend.
  3. Prior to serving, add cold seltzer water and/or sparkling cider, stir.
  4. Pour over ice, adding fruit from the pitcher to each glass for garnish
  5. To replenish, just add more juices of your choice, seltzer, and sparkling cider.

  6. —Lynn Skall

Chile Relleno Tamale Pie
I have been fascinated for years with both Tamales & Chile Rellenos. At some point I started to make tamale eggs. Then a light went off and this is the result! What I love is how easy and fast this comes together and will easily feed a bunch of folk! Especially around the Holidays, you can even make ahead, chill, wrap well and freeze. Take out the night before, Voila! Feliz Navidad

One package frozen tamales, any flavor.. defrost and crumble into 2 piles
3 or 4 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and tear apart some large pieces and some smaller ones
One small pkg blue or yellow corn tortillas. Slice into strips, and leave some large pieces to lay at the bottom of greased baking pan
16 oz jar of salsa, your choice
1 lb. Asadero cheese, or any melting cheese, cubed into small pieces, make two piles
8 or 10 eggs, beaten (with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt — or not, your choice)
Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Layer tortilla pieces on bottom of pan
  2. Layer larger pieces of Poblanos
  3. Spread a layer of tamale crumble on top.
  4. Spoon some salsa over
  5. Sprinkle first pile of cheese on top
  6. Spread some more salsa, lightly on top
  7. Layer up again, starting with tamale crumble, pieces of poblanos, the rest of cheese, and spread more salsa.
  8. Make a lattice top with tortilla strips
  9. Pour egg mixture slowly over and around, using the handle of a spoon to make room for egg mixture to seep in.
  10. Bake at 350º for about an hour until the crust has browned. Set a timer for 45 minutes to check. Let cool before trying to slice it, use serrated knife to gently cut through the tortilla strips. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
    —Lisa Fox

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