Monday, March 7, 2011

8 Crazy Nights.....Happy Hanukkah

Originally posted 11/29/10

Good morning and Happy Cyber Monday!  I am so glad you could take a break from all that online shopping to read this!  Today’s post is a shout-out to my Jewish peeps since Hanukkah is coming.  Hanukkah starts at sundown on Wednesday, December 1 this year (2010).  I am going to share my recipe for a sweet noodle kugel, and show you the super cute menorah that I made with my 6 year old, Addy.
Addy is in first grade, and they have been learning a little bit about Hanukkah, but not enough for her, of course.  So since she was full of unanswered questions, we spent an afternoon Googling Hanukkah.  We learned all about the Festival of Lights, and she was super excited to try to make our own menorah.  We aren’t Jewish, which I am sure you gathered since we had to Google Hanukkah, but I figured we could still make a menorah…..if anything, just to learn a little bit about the Jewish faith.  Basically, I wanted her to see that Hanukkah wasn’t just 8 days of presents…..
I’m not going to go through the steps to make this menorah because it is pretty self-explanatory.  We took empty cans and painted them white.  We glued on blue ribbon and white ric-rac.  We filled the cans with beans to help the candles stand up.  I thought it turned out pretty cute!  I highly recommend this project.  It really gives you an opportunity to teach your little ones about different religions and their celebrations.  And you can bring the menorah out every year as a reminder!

My recipe for noodle kugel is really easy and super good.  I have been making this for years.  I don’t care what culture/religion it belongs too….it is just plain good!  And I’m a sucker for anything sweet. I know that “sweet” and “noodle” sounds weird together, but somehow….this works.  It is cheesy, sweet, and still just a tad savory.  It is a perfect side dish, and I could eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  But please be advised….I know nothing about keeping kosher.  I could be breaking 16 different kosher laws, so take this recipe for what it is….A gentile’s attempt at a Jewish specialty.

I start my recipe by boiling a bag of egg noodles according to the package directions, hence the “noodle” part of the dish.
To make the “sauce”, I melt about ½ of a stick of butter in the microwave.  Use a big bowl because there will be mixing involved.
To make the rest of the “sauce”, I used cottage cheese, cream cheese (softened), eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt (not pictured), currants and brown sugar. 
I mixed together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar, eggs and cinnamon.  Then, I added the cooked noodles and mixed thoroughly.
Next, I mixed in the currants.  Typically raisons are used, but hey, I don’t like raisons and this is my recipe.  Use what you want at your house, I won’t know;)
I sprinkle brown sugar over the top and then pop it in a pre-heated oven.  I bake it for about 45 minutes, covered.  After 45 minutes, I remove the foil and let it go another 10 to 15 minutes.  Watch it closely because the brown sugar could burn.
I let this sit for awhile before serving, as I like to serve it at room temperature.  It should cut into nice little squares for you.

Now hold on, while I drop some knowledge on you…..During Hanukkah,
“It is customary to eat food made with oil, commemorating the small amount of oil that lasted for eight days.  It’s also customary to eat cheese products commemorating the story of and miracle of Yehudit.”-Chabad.org
Yehudit, or Judith, was a daughter of Yochanan, a High Priest.  Her heroic deeds have inspired the Jewish people for many years.  I betcha didn’t expect to learn something today, did you?;)  Well….this recipe will give you the cheese.

Anyway, no matter what religion you are, it’s always nice to learn a little bit about the way others celebrate their faith, especially around the holidays.  And it gives you an excuse to eat kugel!  I hope you try this recipe for your family and friends!

Sweet Noodle Kugel
12 ounces egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
¼ cup butter (or ½ a stick), melted
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups cottage cheese
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup currants
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix together melted butter, cream cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon until well combined.  Mix in noodles.  Add currants to mixture and combine.  Spread in 8x8 baking dish.  Top with brown sugar.
Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before serving.

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