Happy last night of Hanukkah!

Hope you are all enjoying this holiday season with all things fried and delicious. I was so glad to be able to spend a few days with my family in LA this year for Hanukkah. To celebrate, we made ALL the latkes. It’s so worth it to make latkes from scratch and we had fun experimenting with some new recipes this year. 

 

My dad and I  started our latke conquest  with traditional potato latkes from Judy Zeidler whose the original queen of Jewish cookbooks. To speed things along we used a food processor instead of a hand grater. A tip to get the latkes extra crispy is to squeeze out any water once you grate the potatoes. You’ll be surprised how much water there is so squeeze out as much as you can in a dish towel over a sink. Also you should only flip the latkes once per side and you will need lots of oil and lots of patience! 

  

Next up were Sweet Potato Curry Latkes from the memoir/cookbook Stir from Jessica Fechtor. You can find the recipe here. These had a very subtle kick to them because of the curry yet there wasn’t much heat just flavor. They were definitely the crowd favorite. Be sure to change out the oil between different batches to not mess with the flavor.

   

We were intrigued with a zucchini pancake recipe in the LA Times and had to add them to the tasting. These were a fun twist to the typical latkes and much more delicate because no potatoes were used. We swapped out dill for mint which was a great combo with the zucchini. Traditional and sweet potato latkes are great served with a bit of applesauce , for the zucchini ones you could try sour cream.

And of course no Hanukkah is complete without a brisket. The Smitten Kitchen  tangy spiced brisket I made over Passover is still my favorite brisket recipe and my family loved trying it finally too. The caramelized onions on top and sweet/sour type sauce make it especially tasty. Brisket never photographs well but this one is seriously delish.

 

We rounded out the meal with an arugula and pomegranate salad, steamed green beans, noodle kuggle, and our family’s favorite cranberry apple cobbler for dessert.  My dad and I always have a blast together in the kitchen.
 

Loved having Lisa and Lucas in town from Houston to celebrate their first Hanukkah! 
 

Hope you all had a great holiday and Happy New Year! Xo, Sarah

Last minute gift ideas!ย 

In case you are still searching for the perfect gift, here are some of my favorite options this holiday season that won’t break the bank or take forever for shipping. What’s on your last minute gift list? 

1)  For your white elephant exchange or friend who loves to bake. How cute is this mini apple crisp pan?! Only $10 and I found this at my local Target

 
 

2) For your friend whose always taking iPhone pics.   iPhone photo lens attachments beats carrying around a huge camera. I was thrilled to receive this as a gift this year and it’s made a big difference with my pictures. Mine comes with the macro, fish eye, and wide angle lenses. There are many options on Amazon and most under $20.  

 

3) For your brother or friend who always wants to play cards against humanity get them FunEmployed Game on Amazon. This will be their new favorite addition to game night. So much more creative and improv based, we loved it. Each player has to “interview” for the drawn job based on the qualification cards they have. Totally absurd and hysterical. 18+ and perfect for family bonding. Approximately $10.
 
4)  For the hostess with the mostest or your cheese obsessed friend. Give them a gorgeous marble cheese board with a fun quote from  Anthrpologie.   Small one is  $58 and large is $108 but they are currently 30% off. 

 
5) For your friend who loves trying new cookbooks, below are some of my favorites. Perfect for Hanukkah gifts too because all have Jewish inspired recipes. All of these can also double as coffee table books. All available on Amazon

 
6) For your dad, grandpa, or  your favorite Houston chef. Give them a gift certificate to BrisketU, so they can learn the proper technique for smoking the perfect brisket. The BBQ backyard pitmaster class is on sale for $69. Attendees learn everything necessary to smoke a true Texas brisket: from fire starting and management to wood selection and smoke profiles, how to trim and rub the meat, how to cook and slice, serve and taste.  

 

7) For your workout buddy or sister, give them a gift card to ClassPass so they can mix up their workout routine and try a bunch of new studios.  

 

8) For the whiskey loving guy in your life, get him personalized whiskey glasses. I recently gifted these and was very impressed with the quality of the glasses, the monogram, and the fast shipping.

  

9) For your mom who needs a spa day, get her a gift card to a local massage place or treat to her mani/pedi. My mom who lives in LA is obsessed with the massage garage in Culver City and we usually go together when I’m home. No frills but the massage is better than most high end spas. If you need something cheaper, gift bath bombs from Lush and a face mask.

  

  
10) For your coworker whose always up for coffee breaks, get them a Swell water bottle. It keeps iced drinks cold for 24 hours, hot drinks hot for 12 hours, and will look chic on their desk.  

  
I also always love gifting fuzzy socks, seasonal teas, movie gift cards, Rosenblum wine that I like to pretend is from my family vineyard, and framed photos that captured a memorable moment with me and the recipient. What are you most excited to gift this year? Xo, Sarah

3 Things ย  ย 

 1) Epic pajama party birthday brunch hosted by the insanely talented  Maple and Love.

 

 Look at that tablescape, pure holiday heaven! We feasted on quiche, crepe cake, homemade cheese/herb breakfast rolls, pumpkin bread, nespresso flat whites, and an apple tart. Everyone had such cute PJ’s and we also played a holiday themed game of scatergories. Goal for 2017 is to have more pajama parties. Nothing like grocery shopping at HEB in a onesie to pick up berries for this celebration. Definitely worth it. For cute holiday PJ’s check out Target’s huge collection.

2)  Banana Drop Cookies

 
Anyone else crave homemade fresh out of the oven cookies at 11 p.m? Tis the season for late night holiday baking. These are pretty guilt-free and filled with bananas and oats. I blended 2 bananas, 1 cup of oats, 1/4 cup of oil, and 1 tsp of vanilla in my Vitamix. Could use any blender for this. Then stir in 1 more cup of oats and 2/3 of a cup of chocolate chips. Bake for 20 min at 350โ€ข. Makes a great  breakfast cookie too. 

3) Orange and Avocado Salad 

 
This recipe was inspired from The Forest Feast cookbook. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks ever and her dishes are all beautiful, fresh, healthy, and make  vegetarian food look dreamy. We had extra pomegranates which added a nice colorful addition. This was a salad for a Shabbat meal while I was home in LA and granted the CA avocados really are the best! This is a great starter to a holiday meal to add some balance before the indulgences. 

Hope your holiday season is off to a great start! I’ll be posting more holiday recipes and a round-up of some of my favorite foodie gifts and cookbooks. Stay tuned!