The holidays just would not be the same without a slice of Grandma's cinnamon swirl raisin bread for breakfast or a few of your aunt's snowball cookies during a family gabfest or whatever family recipe is a traditional must-have on your holiday table.
And so the Life Department is serving up another year of holiday recipes from local readers that will hopefully tempt your tastebuds enough to get you in the kitchen to have a go at these favorite picks and possibly start a new family tradition of your own.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Gladys Campbell of Hollidaysburg makes her Peanut Butter Fudge recipe for the holidays.
For the first course, let's take a look at what Lois Bishop of Cresson has cooking - Cranberry Salad.
"I grew up with this recipe when I was a child," she writes. "I was born in 1928, and it was my mother's original recipe. She made it up herself. I've been making it ever since. I hope you enjoy."
2 cups raw cranberries put through food mill
1 cup sugar over them; let stand 1 hour
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)
1 orange, juice and skin, ground
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 small (3-ounce) box lemon Jello
Put cranberries through a food mill, put sugar over them and let stand for an hour. Drain the pineapple.
Bring the pineapple juice to a boil and pour over lemon Jello. Mix in all the other ingredients - cranberries, celery, walnuts, orange and pineapple.
Chill until set.
Now to warm up a bit, Blair County Alternate Dairy Princess and Central High School student Katherine Orczeck, 17, of Roaring Spring offers up a Butternut Bisque recipe from her aunt.
"Winter is right around the corner; soon, more snow will be falling. To keep warm, healthy, and your bones strong, try this creamy winter soup," she wrote.
Orczek and fellow recipe submitter, Blair County Dairy Promotion member Jean Sollenberger of Curryville, are promoting the dairy industry, Sollenberger said.
"I personally haven't made this recipe, but my aunt makes it every year for Thanksgiving," Orczeck said. "I enjoy this recipe because of its creamy, flavorful taste. It has become a staple at Thanksgiving, just like stuffing and mashed potatoes."
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
2 medium leeks (white portion only), sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup butter
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 6 cups)
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup half and half cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
In a large saucepan, saute carrots, celery, leeks and jalapeno in butter for 10 minutes. Add the squash, broth, and ginger; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Cool until lukewarm.
In a blender or food processor, puree squash mixture in small batches until smooth; return to pan. Add cream, salt, and pepper; mix well. Heat through but do not boil. Garnish with pecans.
No time to heat up the oven? Then Sollenberger has a recipe for you.
"This is a recipe handed down to me from my mother," she wrote. "I have never tried to bake a cheesecake since this recipe is so easy to do. I love the taste of lemon, but you can use other flavors of Jello.
"The dairy in the recipe is an easy way for anyone who does not like dairy to get the bone-building calcium found in dairy products."
No Bake Cheese Cake
1 can evaporated milk
1 large package lemon Jello
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
Put 1 can evaporated milk in refrigerator to chill, or in the freezer to get icy.
Mix 1 large package lemon jello with 1 1/2 cups boiling water and let cool, but not set.
Mix cream cheese, vanilla and sugar until creamy in medium-size mixing bowl. Add cooled Jello.
In a large mixing bowl beat evaporated milk until thick, add the cream cheese/jello mixture.
Pour into graham cracker crusts. Makes a 13 by 9 by 2 cake pan or three graham cracker pie crusts.
Top with additional graham cracker crumbs.
Chill before serving.
Not much can compete with a pierogi when it comes to a hearty potato dish that can be served as a main course or on the side.
Anna Noel of Duncansville has a recipe to satisfy.
"I've been making pierogi for 78 years, but this recipe is one my son got in a restaurant in New York 14 years ago. The sour cream you can't taste, but it keeps the dough off your hands. Enjoy," Noel wrote.
6 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Mix milk, sour cream, eggs and butter well and pour into flour.
Mix together and knead a few minutes. If dough is sticky, add a little more flour.
Roll dough and cut to size - I use a tuna can to get correct size. Fill with about a tablespoon of desired filling - mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese or cabbage or sauerkraut - and seal with a dab of water on edges. Use fork to press around edges.
Drop in salted, boiling water and cook approximately 10 minutes.
After cooking, I put them gently in a pot that has butter in it and take them out and place them on a cookie sheet. I slice onions and heat them in a skillet to serve with them.
The next dish feeds a craving for the flavonoids residing in dark chocolate, Susan Rentz of Duncansville said of her Mashed Potato Cake recipe. She said the recipe came from her father's stepmother.
Mashed Potato Cake
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (dissolved in sour milk)
1/2 cup sour milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 cup nuts
Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add mashed potatoes and beat again. Add remaining ingredients keeping nuts until last.
Bake in tube pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.
Cook's note: You can use buttermilk in place of sour milk, or put 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 1/2 cup of milk. Let stand a few minutes then dissolve baking soda in it.
Next up is a Peanut Butter Fudge recipe from Gladys Campbell of Hollidaysburg who has been whipping up batches of the confection for years.
"I have been making this for about 55 years. A friend told me about it," Campbell wrote. "When my kids were in the Duncansville grade school, they had a fun frolick every October. They would get donations of things by going around town, then whatever they got was passed out to the mothers to make the items - my dining room table would be full of peanut butter fudge the day before to sell for PTA. I just made 15 pounds in September for a family reunion. I am 83 years young."
Peanut Butter Fudge
5 cups granulated sugar
1 can Pet brand evaporated milk
16 ounces jar smooth peanut butter
1 stick magarine
13 ounce-jar marshmallow creme
Cook's note: Use Pet brand only for evaporated milk
Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan and a 4-by-8 -inch pan.
Mix together sugar, Pet milk and margarine in a dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for seven minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add marshmallow and penaut butter, mixing well by hand until blended. Pour into greased pans and cool at room temperature. Cut into one-inch squares.
Finally, for those who cannot indulge in sugar-filled pleasures for health reasons, JoAnn Kuzak Gremillion of Cresson developed a diabetic-friendly recipe for Polish Nut Roll.
Kuzak Gremillion, 71, a disabled senoior citizen who is 100 percent Polish and served nine years in the U.S. Navy, said she has been making the nut roll for several years.
Polish Nut Roll for Diabetics
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cake of yeast
1 1/2 sticks of butter
5 1/2 cups of flour
1 pound shelled nuts (ground up, but still coarse)
1/2 cup diabetic sugar (such as Splenda)
3/4 cup water and milk
1/4 stick butter
Scald 1 1/2 cups milk and cool. Mix milk with yeast, 1 1/2 stick of butter, eggs and flour.
Knead very well. Cover and let raise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.
Cut dough into five pieces and then roll it out.
Put on a cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is heating, bring sugar, water and milk and 1/4 stick of butter to a boil. Gradually add the nuts.
Paint dough with beaten egg and water. Prick with a fork. Add nut filling and roll up.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 5 rolls.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.