Christmas Recipes from the NWQ Staff

We interview, we write, we take photos, we sell adds, we do graphic layout and we love to eat. Some of us even love to cook.

Most of them aren’t fancy, but the following recipes are tried and true favorites from staff members at Northwest Quarterly Magazine. We share them with you this holiday season in honor of the family traditions that add so much to the quality of our lives. We hope you enjoy these staff favorites and we also hope that you’ll share some of your favorite family recipes with us in the future. Meanwhile, happy cooking and happy eating!

Wild Rice Harvest Casserole – from Paul Anthony Arco

My wife, Shauna, often makes this tasty casserole that our whole family loves.

5 C. diced cooked chicken
1 C. chopped celery
2 Tb. butter or margarine
2 C. chicken broth
2 cans (10.75 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 jar (4.5 oz.) sliced, drained mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 C. uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
¼ tsp. poultry seasoning
¾ C. cashew pieces
Chopped fresh parsley

In a skillet, brown chicken and celery in butter. In a large bowl, combine soup and broth until smooth. Add the mushrooms, onion, rice, poultry seasoning and chicken mixture. Pour into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes. Stir; sprinkle with cashews. Return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Garnish with parsley. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Eggplant Pomadoro Soup – from Thom Kuss

This soup is so good, it blows my mind.

2 med. eggplants
3 med. tomatoes
2 med. sweet onions
6 cloves of garlic
8 C. chicken broth
1 tsp. sea salt
1 C. heavy cream
Pinch of ground red pepper
Crumbled goat cheese

Peel and halve all vegetables; brush with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove eggplant from skin with a spoon. Transfer all veggies to boiling broth, add salt and boil, partially covered, for another 50 minutes. Puree/blend everything and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Add heavy cream. Cook on low for an additional 10 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste, serve and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

Naomi’s Christmas Cookies – from Janine Pumilia

If you follow the directions and roll the dough thin, these cookies bake up nice and light. They’ve always been a staple around our home at the holidays. This recipe is from my wonderful mom, Naomi.

2 C. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ C. shortening (Crisco holds up better than butter for baking, says mom)
1 C. sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ C. milk
Finely grated rind of one clean orange

Chill dough overnight; roll out about ¼-inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Sprinkle with red and green sugar (or frost after they bake and cool). Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

My Guacamole – from Karla Nagy

This is my version of an avocado dip made by my cousin Steve and his wife, Rory, the last time they visited.

4 ripe avocados
2 ears fresh corn
1 med. or 2 small tomatoes
5-6 scallions
2 Tb. med. salsa (or to taste)
2 tsp. cilantro, chopped
1 lime

Chop tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Chop ends off ears of corn; remove some shuck but leave at least three layers. Microwave 2 minutes; allow to cool. Cut avocados in half and remove pit. While still in skin, gently slice the avocado downward and crosswise. With a spoon, scoop avocados into a medium bowl. Mash avocado so that it’s fairly smooth but still chunky. Add tomatoes, scallions, cilantro and salsa; mix until blended. Cut lime in half, squeeze into dip and stir. Cut corn from cobs and stir into mixture. Refrigerate at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or flatbread.

Spanikopita – from Chris Linden

These recipes come from my YiaYia, who, like all Greek grandmothers, can’t make a bad meal. It seems no family holiday is complete without baklava, a delicious dessert, or spanakopita, a bite-size appetizer and side dish.

1 pkg. phyllo (filo) dough
2 bunches green onion
3 med. white onions, chopped
1 lb. cottage cheese, large curd
½ lb. feta cheese
8 eggs, well-beaten
2 pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, drained (about 10 oz. total)

Saute onions in butter until soft. Add spinach and cook until tender. Set mixture aside to cool. Mix feta with cottage cheese and add to the cooled spinach mixture. Beat eggs well and add to mixture. Butter about six slices of filo dough, and spread on bottom of a 13×9-inch pan. Add spinach mixture, and top with more buttered filo dough. Heat oven to 350 F and bake for about 45 minutes. *Tasty tip: In the small Greek village where my YiaYia’s mother was raised, spanakopita is served with a drizzle of honey.

Stuffed Beef Tenderloin – from Bill Hughes

Serve this delectable treat at your family holiday gathering.

6 Tb. butter
1 C. chopped shallots or yellow onion
1 (4½ lb.) beef tenderloin
3 C. chopped fresh mushrooms
Dry red wine
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and cook shallots or onion until tender. Add mushrooms and cook over low heat until liquid is reduced by half. Let cool.

Butterfly the tenderloin by cutting the beef length-wise down the center to within a half-inch of the other side. Open the beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub with dry red wine. Spoon the mushroom filling down the center. Bring the two sides of the tenderloin up and around the filling until they meet. Tie the beef together at 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine.
Place stuffed beef in roasting pan. Roast for 40 minutes for medium rare.

Let stand 10 minutes before slicing about 1½-inch thick. Use the drippings and additional wine to make a sauce to pour over the top before serving.

Swedish Rice Pudding – from Brad Hughes

With our Swedish heritage, it’s no wonder this is a family favorite at the holidays.

1 C. uncooked rice (not Minute Rice)
2 qt. whole milk
6 eggs
¾ C. sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond
2 cinnamon sticks

Cook rice in 1 qt. milk and salt for approx. 20 minutes. In 2qt. casserole dish, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and almond together. Add rice mixture and the rest of the milk to dish and mix well.

Bake at 350 F for 1 ¼ hours or until knife comes out clean when inserted.

Carrot Soup – from Brent Hughes

This is one of my favorite soups.

2 slices bacon – diced
¼ C. chopped onion
1 clove garlic-crushed
3 ½ C. chicken stock
2 C sliced carrots
1 C. diced, peeled potatoes

Cook & stir bacon, onion and garlic in large saucepan until bacon is crisp. Stir in remaining ingredients except sour cream and parsley. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until veggies are tender (15-20 minutes).

Pour mixture into blender, cover and blend on high until smooth. Due this in batches and loosen or remove inner cap on blender cover and beat in short spurts to allow for steam to escape.

After about 25-30 minutes into baking time, insert knife into center and stir without disturbing the top. Add the cinnamon sticks and dot top with butter.

Baklava: A sweet treat – from Chris Linden

Another favorite treat made in YiaYia’s kitchen.

1 lb. filo dough
1 lb. walnuts
1 lb. pecans
1 C. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. butter

Coarsely grind walnuts and pecans and mix well with sugar and cinnamon. Melt butter and brush onto a 12x9x2.5 pan. Place 8 sheets of filo in the bottom of the baking pan, brushing each with melted butter. It’s easier to cut the filo to fit the pan. Sprinkle 1 C. of the nut mixture on top of the filo. Place three more sheets of filo on top, brushing each sheet with butter. Alternate in this manner until all ingredients have been used, saving 8 sheets of filo for top layer.

Brush top with butter.Cut through the top with diagonal lines, to form diamond shapes. Heat oven to 325 F and bake for one hour or more, until dough is brown and crisp. While still hot, cover with cooled syrup (recipe below) and let stand overnight before serving.

Baklava syrup
4 C. granulated sugar
2 C. water
2 heaping Tb. honey
1 cinnamon stick
Juice of half a lemon

Peppermint Oreo Dessert – from Lisa Hughes

This pretty dessert tastes as good as it looks!

1 pkg. Oreo cookies
½ C. melted butter
½ gal. peppermint ice cream, softened
1 can Hershey’s fudge sauce
1 med. container Cool Whip

Crush Oreos, reserving ¼ C. of crumbs for top. Mix the remainder with butter. Press in 9×13 pan. Cover with ice cream. Spread fudge sauce over the ice cream. Freeze partially and cover with Cool Whip. Sprinkle Oreo crumbs over top and add peppermint sticks for decoration. Freeze overnight. Serves 16 to 20.