TASTE OF TOTOWA

A culinary exchange of recipes in a virtual cookbook for the whole community to enjoy and share

APPETIZERS

 
Baked Clams Oreganata John S. Bradley’s Baked Clams Oreganata
About this recipe: Over 30 years ago, I signed up for cooking classes through the Wayne Adult School in Wayne. As my husband will attest to, I did not know the first thing about cooking and could barely boil water. How fortunate for me (and my family lol) that the late John S. Bradley was the instructor in the classes that I enrolled in. John was a passionate cook sharing his love of fresh ingredients, methods, timing and best of all his delicious recipes with the class. He taught me so so much about the art of cooking; I am forever grateful to him for imparting his love of the culinary arts and the world with his students and will always treasure the memories of his classes and the recipes shared. This recipe is one of my favorites and is the most requested dish that family and friends ask me to bring to their gatherings

Two cans of minced clams
Two medium to small onions (finely minced)
6-8 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
2 tablespoons of parsley (preferably Italian)
One lemon (cut in wedges
½ cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
½ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon of oregano
¼ cup lucatelle romano cheese
Salt to taste
Baking sheet
Clam shells (real, porcelain or aluminum)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil and add the onions first, then the garlic.

Cook briefly without browning. Add the clams plus the juice.

Add parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer this for about 2-3 minutes.

Turn off heat and gradually add breadcrumbs, stirring constantly until mixture is still moist
Place mixture in clamshells (porcelain or aluminum) play on cookie sheet
Sprinkle cheese on top of clams, prior to placing them in the oven.

Bake until golden –approximately 20 mixtures. Serve immediate wit

Submitted by Anne Krautheim

Brie en Croûte
About this recipe: Baked Brie in pastry, is a perfect little package of warm and melted cheese. Prepare it to fancy up your dinner table, your holiday party or just for that very special -you! 
This delicious appetizer barely needs a recipe; store-bought frozen puff pastry makes it super simple. 
Note: The rind is edible so it’s not necessary to cut it off. If you have excess puff pastry dough gathered on the top of your wrapped brie, you can trim it off or make cute design like leaves, braid, etc. and an egg wash will also give it a nice gloss and color. Fillings or toppings are very versatile too and you can change it up with different nuts, dried fruits, jams even herbs. I often choose the fig option, since my mother always sends me jars of her homemade fig jam from their own fig tree, so how do I choose anything else? Sometimes even the walnuts are hand picked, cracked and sorted by my father, who loves to collect nature gifts, especially from the mountains near their lake house by Prespa Lake.
  • 1  sheet frozen puff pastry , thawed

  • 4 heaping tbsp fig spread/ fig butter of fig jam

  • 1/4  cup  chopped walnuts

  • 1   8 oz.  wheel of brie cheese

Preheat oven to 420°F. Unfold the pastry sheet on your work surface and roll it out in an approx. 10-inch square.

Spread half of the filling you are using, in the center of the pastry and sprinkle it with half the walnuts. 

Place the brie in the center over the filling and top it with the remaining spread and walnuts.

Gently fold the puff pastry edges up around the cheese, making sure it’s sealed all around.

Place the wrapped brie on a parchment paper covered baking pan.

Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Let it stand at least 5 minutes before slicing and serve it with assorted crackers, crostini, apple or pear slices, extra fig butter or jam. Enjoy!

Submitted by Anica Nestorovski

Hommos (Hummus)

1 can of chick peas
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs. tahini
1 tsp. salt
1/2 olive oil
4 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cumin

Combine ingredients in blender - blend at high speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth.

Add extra lemon and salt if desired. Pour into a small bowl.

Garnish with fresh parsley, sprinkle with paprika and cumin powder lightly and serve.  

Delicious with Syrian pita break or carrots & celery sticks.

Note: Drain some of the liquid from chick peas and reserve if needed for a thinner dip. 

Submitted by The Sedita Family

Homemade Hummus
Marinated and Stuffed Cherry Peppers
About this recipe: These cuties are a must to any charcuterie board, tapas board, antipasti plate or just Meze (Mediterranean appetizers enjoyed with some grappa) They can be stuffed with mozzarella and/ or prosciutto, or like in my recipe, with homemade cream cheese. These peppers were our yearly harvest, but can be easily found at the local farmer's market. As per the pictures, you can see that I was short on them, and had to improvise with a few jalapeno ones, and I was not mistaken to do so.

Prepare and marinade the peppers

 

-2 pounds of cherry pepper, washed, cored and deseeded 

-2 cups of water

-3 tbs white vinegar

-1 1/2 tbsp salt

-2 1/2 tsp sugar

Boil the liquid until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Let it cool down almost completely and then add the prepared peppers.

Let them marinade for 24 h, mixing them for a couple of times making sure they are completely covered with the liquid, inserting a saucer to cover the peppers, might help. 

 

While the peppers are marinating, prepare 

 

The cream cheese.

 

- 1/2 gallon full fat milk

- 4-5 tbs lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

- 1 tsp salt (saltier side is recommended here, so might need more salt)

 

 

Boil the milk in a heavy bottom saucepan, lower heat, carefully add the acid, tablespoon at a time, and mix it with a wooden spoon. Curds will start forming, stop adding the acid, if the milk has completely separated into curds and yellowish green whey. Let it cool for a few hours, before straining the liquid through a colander or strainer, lined with cheesecloth, over a large bowl. Let it strain for 20 min and then squeeze the liquid by twisting the ends of the cheese cloth. Using a processor, or processor like blender, process the cheese curds with salt into a smooth consistency. That's your freshly made cream cheese. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days, or use it right away. 

 

Strain the peppers well, and now fill them with the cream cheese. Arrange the peppers snuggling in clean and sterile jars.Fill the jars with light olive oil and store them in the fridge. They should be ready to eat after a few days, after everything is infused and marinated in the oil. These jars can also be canned ,to be preserved for a longer period. In my house, no such thing is needed! Enjoy! 

 

Notes: When cleaning the peppers, since most of them are hot, make sure you wear your vinyl gloves. When preparing the cream cheese, do not throw away the whey! It is very nutritious and if you mind the taste, it can be used as a substitute for the liquid in your homemade bread, rolls, or fried bread. ( That's an idea now, one more reason to make that long forgotten fried bread )  When processing the milk curds, you can add your garlic, fresh herbs, and have a delicious spread. But if using it to stuff these peppers, my advice is -  add only chopped italian parsley and test for salt! 

The leftover oil from the jars might be spicy hot, but it will be great for adding it to your salads, cook your eggs.. dip it with bread.

Submitted by The Netorovski Family

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Taratur ( Tar-ah-tour )
About this recipe: Taratur is a traditional Macedonian side dish, which is similar to Tzatziki, but it is not the same. Tzatziki is thick, whereas the yogurt for Taratur is a lot thinner, because Taratur is meant to be eaten with a spoon.

1 large cucumber, peeled and finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt 

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried or fresh mint (optional) 

Mix everything and serve in individual bowls, drizzled with some oil and mint for garnish.

Enjoy a cold, Macedonian cucumber gazpacho on its own, on a hot summer day!

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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SIDES

Easy Baked Beans- Tavche Gravche 
About this recipe: Baked beans is a national Macedonian dish, cooked in almost every household, at least once a week. It is also my try for a meatless Friday meal, but somehow fried or grilled sausages, always find their way in the baking pan. 

1 pound dried white beans (Great northern beans, navy beans- I prefer the organic kind ) sorted and rinsed

1 large white or yellow onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

 2 dried sweet peppers  or 1 fresh red pepper- deseeded 

for the roux

1/4 cup canola oil

 1 1/2 tbsp - 2 tbsp sweet paprika

 salt

black pepper

2 tbsp dried mint

Place the beans in a large pot and soak them in plenty of water overnight or 8-12 hours. Rinse them well and add fresh water to cover for about 2 inches above the beans and then add the garlic, onion and pepper, Boil and simmer on low for around 30-40 min or until the beans are soft, but not falling apart. Once the beans are cooked, remove the softened pepper, peel it and mash it with a fork, mash the garlic too and return everything in the cooked beans. While the beans are still on a low heat, prepare the roux. Slightly heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in the paprika and keep stirring until just thoroughly combined and fragrant. Pour the roux into the pot with the beans and stir, add salt and black pepper, to taste, lastly add the dried mint. Carefully pour the beans into a large casserole dish, a dutch oven, or a large clay pot. You don't want to pour in all the water; add enough water to barely cover the beans. Garnish it with rounds of onion slices and bake it in a preheated oven at 400F. for around 30 min. The beans are done, when a crusty layer forms on top and most of the water is evaporated. Let it cool for 15 min before serving and time  to grill some sausages, and make your salad or this salad:

Grilled peppers, roughly chopped

chopped tomato

chopped garlic

Mix everything with light olive oil, add salt and serve. Enjoy!

 

Note: Pre Soaking dried beans is a must, as is adding plenty of mint, especially if you have a gentle stomach. I dry my own mint on a paper towel over a cookie rack, for a few days, making sure it's completely dry before storing it in a jar.  When cooking dried beans, and need to add more water while they are cooking, always add hot water, or else you will "break" the cooking process. Tavche Gravche ( tav-cheh grav-cheh) is best baked in a clay pot, and adding the dried peppers gives it a perfect sweet and smoky flavor, but when in a situation, where all the dried peppers at the store are hot spicy ones, I reach for a fresh red one. Adding any other vegetables or spices, will change the authenticity of this dish, as is making it from canned beans, ahem..

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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SOUPS/SALADS

 
Escarole, Bean, and Pasta Soup 

½ C ditalini pasta

2 T olive oil

2 Garlic cloves, minced

4 C rinsed chopped escarole

6 C vegetable broth

½ t oregano

¼ t salt

¼ t red pepper flakes or reg pepper

15 ½ oz can cannellini white beans, rinsed and drained

4 T grated pecorino romano cheese

 

  • Cook pasta as on package

  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring often

  • Add escarole and cook, stirring often, for one minute

  • Add the broth, oregano, salt, and pepper

  • Cook and bring to a boil. Cook about 3 minutes until escarole is tender

  • Add the can of beans and cook 2 minutes

  • Stir in the pasta and mix well. Remove from heat. Add to four bowls and top with cheese

Submitted by Mary Ellen Welker

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ENTREES

 
Baked Millets (gluten free breakfast/ lunch)
About this recipe: As gluten free whole grains, millets are an excellent option for those in need of alternatives. They are a great source of fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals like calcium and iron, carbs and essential fatty acids that give children strength and immunity, that they need while growing up! One way to include it in your diet is this “Baked millet” A hearty, healthy, nutty, cheesy breakfast or lunch dish that is a favorite in my family! You can always tweak the recipe by changing toppings or adding them in this very easy, basic recipe!

1/3 cup millet

2 eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk

2-3 tbsp plain yogurt

1/4 tsp baking powder

salt to taste

feta cheese or any kind of cheese by choice                                            

 

Soak the millets overnight, rinse well and cook them for about 10 min, or until done.

Drain excess water and let them cool. In a bowl whisk the rest of the ingredients and add the millets.

Add toppings like mozzarella, feta cheese, sesame seeds or mix them in as by your preference!

Pour the mixture into a buttered dish and bake it approximately 20 min at 425F until set and has a slightly golden crust!

Serves 2. Enjoy! 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Banana Oat Pancakes (Gluten free, Dairy free)
About this recipe: My son LOVES these pancakes and even makes them himself! So easy, yet so yummy! Enjoy!

• 1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
• 1 Tbsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
• 2 ripened bananas
• 1 Tbsp organic pure maple syrup
• 1 Tbsp ground flax
• 1 cup unsweetened (sweetened if you like your pancakes sweeter) vanilla coconut milk
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• Preheat griddle over medium heat.

• Add all ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. It should have the consistency of a slightly thick smoothie. If it’s too thick add 1 Tbsp of milk at a time to thin. But, you still want a fairly thick consistency so they come fluffy. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes to “fluff up.”
• Pour 1/3 cup of the batter onto the pan and cook until bubbles pop up across the pancake. We like them lighter, so we flip a little before the bubbles form. Flip and cook for another 45 seconds – 1 minute.
• Serve with any topping you choose. Our favorite is organic pure maple syrup! I usually get about 9-10 pancakes out of this recipe (we make them on the smaller side).

Submitted by Jennifer Caggiano

Easy Mexican Lasagna
About this recipe: This recipe was presented at the Totowa Library's cooking class!

2 lbs. of ground beef

1 can of refried beans

1 can of green chilies

1 envelope of taco seasoning

2 Tbs. hot salsa

12 oz. of uncooked lasagna noodles

4 cups of shredded Colby Monterrey Jack Cheese (divided)

1 jar of mild salsa (16 oz.)

2 cups of sour cream

1 can of sliced black olives

3 green onions chopped

Diced tomato


Pre-heat oven 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink.

Drain, stir in beans, chilies, taco seasoning and hot salsa.

In a greased 13 x 9 baking dish, layer a third of the un-cooked noodles and meat mixture.

Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers 2 times. Combine mild salsa and water.

Pour over top, cover and bake 1 hour or until heated through.

Top with sour cream, sliced olives, green onions, and remaining cheese, and bake 5 minutes.

Take out and let rest 15 minutes. Enjoy!!

Submitted by Doreen Makoujy and Lynn Tedeschi

Holiday Mac and Cheese
About this recipe: This creamy comfort food is one that our family traditionally makes on Christmas Eve to go along with a ham!

1 lb elbow macaroni
6 Tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash of pepper
4 cups milk
1 lb sliced American cheese (torn into small pieces)

Melt margarine. Cook onions in margarine until tender.

Combine flour, salt and pepper and add to onion mixture.

Add milk all at once and stir and cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Add cheese a little at a time while stirring until all the cheese is melted.

Cook and stir a minute or two more. Stir sauce into cooked macaroni and serve!

Submitted by The Swetlitschnyj Family

Plant-Based Gluten Free Chickpea Meatballs
About this recipe: I grew up in an Italian family, so to have a plant-based and allergy-free version of an Italian dinnertime staple makes me smile! My family approves and gives these 2 thumbs up! Hope you enjoy! :)

Chickpea Italian Meatballs:
• 1 small onion
• 5 cloves of garlic
• 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
• 2 tbsp flax meal mixed with 1/4 cup water
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• handful of basil
• 15 oz chickpeas, 15 oz can or 1.5 cups dried, soaked, cooked
• 1 tsp oregano
• ½ tsp parsley
• 1/2 tsp salt, less or more depending on the chickpeas
• ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (omit if not desired)
• 2 tbsp nutritional yeast or plant-based parmesan “cheese”
• ¼ C Quinoa flakes or gluten free bread crumbs

1. Heat 1/2 tsp oil or simply a little water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent
2. Pulse the pumpkin seeds in a food processor until a coarse meal. Add the onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine.
3. Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl. Add quinoa flakes and mix in. Taste and adjust salt and flavor.
4. Chill for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
5. Make meatballs of the mixture and place on parchment lined sheet. 1 to 1.5 inch meatballs (16 to 18). Bake at 425 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden.
6. Serve with gluten free pasta or zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce. Enjoy!

Submitted by Jennifer Caggiano

WW Eggroll in a Bowl
About this recipe: Serving size is 1 1/2 cups for zero points if using chicken or shrimp.. I used shrimp (chopped) and added it to the mixture after the cole slaw, because it cooks quickly,
Can also be wrapped in eggroll wrappers and cooked in an air fryer for an additional point or two!

1 tsp minced ginger
4 1/2 cups packaged coleslaw mix
3 medium scallions
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken (98% FF)

1. Brown our choice of meat in a medium non stick pan or wok until cooked through then add the ginger.
2.Add so sauce and sesame oil.
3. Add full bag of coleslaw, stir until coated with sauce.
4. Add chopped scallions , mix thoroughly and cook over medium high heat until cole slaw has reduced by 1/2.

Submitted by Lynn Tedeschi

Stuffed peppers Macedonian Way
About this recipe:  Another traditional dish, a must try! Any kind of peppers can be used, as the matter of fact, you can even use tomatoes, cored onions, eggplants or zucchini. Today on the menu were, farmers market peppers variety.

1 large onion / finely diced

1 large carrot / finely grated

1.5 pounds ground meat

salt, pepper

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1 cup white rice/ sorted and rinsed

2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley

1 tomato  

1 tbsp spice " Vegeta" /mix of dried vegetables -optional

8-10 large peppers/ washed, cored and deseeded

2 tbsp.oil

approx.4 cups of water

1 tsp flour-optional/ or rice flour for GF

Preheat oven to 420°F.

In a frying pan add the oil, carrots and onions, cook for 5 minutes or until softened.

Add meat to the pan, season and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until no pink remains.

Add rice, paprika and parsley in the end.

Fill the peppers with the prepared mixture. Use teaspoon for filling.

You can close the peppers with pieces of tomato or potato, or the saved stems.

Grate the tomato in a deeper roasting pan and arrange the peppers.

Poke them a few times with a fork or knife.

Mix 1 tsp of flour with 1 cup of water and use the same frying pan to boil the water before adding it to the roasting pan. Add more water if needed, as the peppers should be halfway covered with it. Cover and cook approx. 45 to 50 minutes, remove cover and cook for 10 minutes longer or until peppers are nicely roasted and the rice is cooked. There should still be sauce in the pan after the meal is done.

We like to enjoy our peppers with a side of a cold yogurt sauce ( Tarator) rec. to be posted.

Tip: Washed, deseeded peppers can be frozen and stuffed when needed without defrosting.

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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DESSERTS

 
Avocado Banana Muffins
About this recipe: These are delicious and allergy friendly to accommodate our families dietary restrictions!! Plus they are healthy and refined sugar free!

1 large ripe avocado or 2 small avocados
1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup coconut milk or milk of choice
2 flax eggs (1 flax egg= 1 TB Flaxmeal + 2 TB) or 2 large eggs
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or honey – only for kids over 1 year)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour of choice

(for Grain Free I use 1 cup Cassava flour, 3/4 cup Tigernut flour and 1/4 Cup coconut flour)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mash banana and avocado first in a large mixing bowl.
Add all wet ingredients and mix well.
Add dry ingredients – mix well.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Put in greased or lined mini muffin tin. Bake 350 Degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes or until center is fully cooked (so toothpick comes out clean). Mine take about 14 minutes!
If you use a large muffin tin bake for 12-15 minutes or until the center is fully cooked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Makes about 24 mini muffins. Enjoy!

Submitted by The Caggiano Family

Beer Cookies
About this recipe: These traditional sweets are usually made during the lent period before Easter and that makes them a vegan friendly deserts! They have a specific aroma from the beer, and it is not necessary to use any kind of additional essences or vanilla, except for a lemon wedge in the syrup. This recipe has been cherished and saved for almost 100 years in my family, and it is quite simple!                                                      

Dough:

1 cup lager beer/ hefe weissbier

1 cup canola or sunflower oil

2 1/2 cups + 1 heaping tbsp flour

1/2 cup semolina

4 tsp baking powder

 

Filling:

Chopped walnuts and apricot or peach preserves

Syrup:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup water

1 Lemon wedge

Topping:

Finely ground walnuts

 

First boil the sugar and water for the syrup for 5 min and add the lemon at the end. Let it cool completely. While the syrup is cooling mix everything for the dough with a wooden spoon, it will be a soft greasy dough. Divide it in to 24 balls and flatten each in your palm, adding chopped walnuts, approximately 1/4 of a walnut and 1/4 tsp of the preserves. Close them while gently pressing, and arrange them on a non greased, baking sheet lined, cookie tray. Bake for approximately 20-25 min on 400F until they have a nice light golden color. While still hot dip few at a time in the cooled syrup letting them sit for a few seconds. If you have more syrup left, repeat again and then go roll each cookie in ground walnuts. Arrange them in one layer, and let the flavors soak over night! Enjoy them the next day if you can resist!

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Candied Pumpkin Preserves
About this recipe: Tis the season for pumpkin everything! This year I managed to grow only one, or should I say, this year the squirrels missed one! It was a very precious one and so I decided to preserve it and enjoy it for at least some time, and  even share a small jar with our dear neighbors, who witness my daily saga with the big and little critters in my flower and vegetable garden. This preserving or making candied pumpkin, is also made in many countries, has different names, but the ingredients and the process is the same. If you enjoy the pumpkin flavor, sweet pumpkin pie, this is a must try! The process might seem long, but the final crunchy on the outside, sweet and soft inside pumpkin bites, floating in a fragrant sweet syrup, surely is a treat for your taste buds.                                                     

-2 pounds peeled and cleaned pumpkin / white pumpkin, yellow pumpkin, butternut squash/ cut into cubes approx. 1x1.5 inch. A crinkle cut knife will do a great decorative job here (dollar store one is just perfect)

-1/2 gallon water

-1/4 cup food grade pickling lime like Mrs. Wage's brand 

Let the pumpkin pieces sit in the lime water for 2 hours making sure they are completely submerged, then rinse really well for 4-5 times in clean water.

 

In a large pot over medium heat dissolve 

- 10 cups of water

- 6 cups of sugar 

Add the pumpkin cubes and let it cook on medium heat for approximately 2,5 to 3 hours, until the pieces change color and start turning translucent. 

Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, let it simmer for 5 min more and remove the pot from heat. Cover it tightly with damp kitchen towel, and let it sit until its completely cold. Store it in clean jars or glass containers in the refrigerator or process your jars in a water bath for longer lasting.

 

Note: Add your favorite pumpkin spices, like cinnamon stick, cloves, orange peel, cardamom pods, lemon slices, vanilla, halfway during cooking and discard them before storing in jars, and maybe add walnut pieces when its cold, right before storing ! Delicious either way!

My grandmother would make this pumpkin preserve, mixing it with young baby eggplant, peeled and sliced and white seedless grapes, all set in lime water before cooking, to keep their shape and firmness. I do like to keep those traditions in my family and have done this way as well! 

Now I am off to stir my homemade plum marmalade, my children's favorite! 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

Easy Ricotta Cake
1 Box of Duncan Hines butter recipe yellow cake mix
2 lbs. Ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
9 x 13 x 2 pan, sprayed with Pam

Mix ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla
Mix the cake mix according to directions and pour into pan
Pour cheese mixture over cake mix
Bake 350 45-55 minutes
Enjoy!

Submitted by The Makoujy Family

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Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo Almond Bars

Shortbread Ingredients

2 cups almond flour

2 tablespoons coconut flour

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel Ingredients

1/2 cup creamy almond butter

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt (if nut butter isn't salted)

 

Chocolate glaze                                                    

1/4 cup semi sweet vegan chocolate morsels/ enjoy life brand works great/ 

1 tsp coconut oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° and line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper or two bread loaf pans. 

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 11-13 minutes, or until sides are slightly brown. Let cool while preparing the next layer.

In a medium bowl, combine almond butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Mix until completely smooth. If needed, microwave in 10 second increments to make mixing easier. Pour over cooled crust and place in the fridge to harden. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Once the caramel mixture is hardened, prepare the chocolate glaze. Melt the chocolate, mix in the coconut oil and pour over the caramel layer. Refrigerate until hardened- about an hour.

Once the chocolate is set, remove the candy by pulling up on the parchment paper. Place entire square on a cutting board and cut in half one way and in eighths the other way, creating 16 candy sticks. 

Store in fridge. Tip: warm the knife before cutting, for smooth sides!  Enjoy! 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups almond flour (or almond meal for a cakier texture)

1/4 cup coconut oil , melted (non-vegans can use butter)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (at room temperature)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips - dairy free if vegan (or cacao nibs, for sugar-free)

 

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. Add in the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir again.

Fold in the chocolate chips, then drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your fingers to flatten and shape the cookies to your liking-- they will NOT spread when baked, so make them the shape you want.

Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes, until the edges are lightly golden. The darker they get, the crispier they will be.

Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then serve warm or allow to cool to room temperature. These cookies can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours, but they will start to dry out if not stored in an airtight container. For best shelf life, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Gluten Free and Vegan Donuts
About this recipe: Healthier donuts, that are protein packed, not fried, not overly sweet and perfect for dark chocolate lovers, like my girls! They are also top 8 allergy free!

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour

2 tbsp. coconut four

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup liquid sweetener like maple syrup

1/3 cup non dairy milk/ or coffee sweetened by choice- brings out the chocolate flavor

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp oil

1 tbsp apple sauce or pumpkin puree

Melted vegan chocolate (around 3 tbsp and 1/2 tsp coconut oil) for the glaze and sprinkles or glaze by choice

Mix everything and bake in a donut shaped pan in the oven for approximately 15 min at 375F or use a mini donut maker. Glaze and enjoy!

*Fill a ziplock bag with the batter and cut a corner, for easier handling, when filling the holes of the pan or the donut maker.

*I use a convenient mini donut maker- makes 15-16 mini donuts! 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Grandma Ann’s Honey Balls (Struffoli)

4 Cups of Flour

1 Cup of Sugar

6 Eggs

1 Small Bear of Honey

1 Small container of colored sprinkle balls

Vegetable oil for frying

 

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. 

Roll out the dough to a thin pencil texture. 

Cut into small pieces and fry in hot oil. 

Drain on paper towels.

When all honey balls have been completed, place on a serving dish. 

Pour 1 jar of honey over the balls and mix well. 

Then sprinkle with colored sprinkle balls.

Submitted by Jaynie Brusco

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Kolaczki
About this recipe: My babcia taught my mom and my mom taught me. I am passing the tradition of these cookies down to my daughters. They are delicious little Polish treats!

1/2 lb cream cheese

1/2 lb butter

2 cups of flour

powered sugar

fruit preserve fillings

2 top sweet cream

 

Mix cream cheese, butter and flour together like a dough.

Form ball and then moisten with sweet cream.

Wrap in wax paper and place in fridge overnight.

Roll out dough to a thin level and cut into squares.

Add a teaspoon of filling to the center and pinch corners closed.

Place on parchment paper on cookie sheet and bake at 350 til golden brown.

Remove and sprinkle with powered sugar.

Submitted by Alisa Zvalaren-Nordt

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Krakelingen
About this recipe: Gerry Eastman, longtime Totowa resident and former elementary school teacher for the Totowa School District, has been baking Krakelingen cookies annually since she was a little girl. Krakelingen are traditional Dutch Christmas cookies.

1 Pound of High Grade Butter (we use Keller’s)

2 Cups of Flour

Scant ½ Cup Ice Cold Water

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

 

Place the butter (hard from the refrigerator) in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the flour, using a pastry blender and cutting the dough into smaller than a dried split pea. Gradually add the ice cold water to the dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board. (Too much flour makes the dough too tough) to about 1/8” thickness. Then form the dough into a log, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Remove the dough from the wax paper and roll out again. Form the dough again into a log, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, repeat roll out (lightly floured board) to form a rectangle 16-18” long.

Cut the rectangle crosswise so that you have two 8-9” long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into ½” strips that are 8-9” long.

Place one cup of granulated sugar in a plastic bag.

Remove a strip of dough from the board by grasping one end and using a lightly floured spatula, gently freeing the strip from the board. Place the dough strip in the bag of sugar and shake it until thoroughly coated.

Remove the strip from the bag and place it on an ungreased cookie sheet. Form the strip into a figure 8, tucking the cut ends under the cross over and pinching them together.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees until the edges are lightly golden brown. Cool on the tray for a few minutes so they can be handled, and then remove them to wire cooling racks.

Layer on wax paper in a tight-lidded container. These cookies keep well for 1-2 weeks. To keep longer, store in the refrigerator. They freeze well for longer storage.

Submitted by Gerry Eastman

No Bake Cheesecake
Graham Cracker Crust:
12 whole graham crackers
1 Tbsp sugar
8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick) melted 

 No Bake Cheesecake filling:
12 oz cream cheese- room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups Heavy whipping cream- chilled 
12 oz mascarpone cheese 
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
14 grams unflavored gelatin- 2 packs 
1cup fresh strawberries

Strawberry topping: 

1 cup strawberries
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
7 grams unflavored gelatin bloomed in 3 tbsp.water
red food coloring/optional 
6-8 fresh strawberries 

Instructions
Oil the bottom and sides of a 9” springform 
In a food processor, process all the ingredients for the crust and press evenly on the bottom of the pan. Freeze 15 minutes or refrigerate 30 minutes for crumbs to set
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and the granulated sugar. Beat on medium/high speed until fluffy and smooth.
In a separate bowl beat the heavy whipping cream, until fluffy and add the 12 oz mascarpone until well combined and smooth. 
In a bowl, add 1/2 cup cold water, mix in the gelatin and let it bloom, to absorb the water. Microwave gelatin for 30-35 seconds,mixing halfway, until is fully dissolved and looks clear.  

With mixer on med-low speed, combine the mascarpone cream filling with the cream cheese filling and  gradually add the gelatin and beat until well incorporated.

Divide the filling in to the same two bowls again and add the pureed strawberries in one / or skip this part and add to the entire cream cheese filling.

Cut 6-8 strawberries, or as much is needed to cover the sides of the springform. 

Carefully fill in the springform with the cream cheese filling, making sure the strawberries stay in place and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
For the strawberry topping, blend the strawberries with the water, add the sugar and let it simmer in a pot, on low heat for 10 min. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer while hot and add the bloomed gelatin until completely dissolved, add the lemon juice and red food coloring. Let the syrup cool before spooning over the chilled cheesecake. Let it set overnight and enjoy.
Tip. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the springform pan, then warm up a wet kitchen, cloth towel in the microwave, and rub it around the sides of the springform pan, to easily remove the ring.

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

Saragli Baklava
About this recipe: Saragli is a traditional, rolled, Greek baklava, or also known as pinwheels baklava. It is another variation of many baklavas made by many cultures, so rolled or layer, it's always a delicious and rich tasting dessert. 

1/2 pound phyllo pastry #4 -completely thawed and at room temperature

1/2 a pound walnuts 

1/2 pound unsalted butter- melted

 3 tbs sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground clove

For the syrup: 

1 cup of water

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

2-3 tbs lemon juice

cinnamon stick, orange peel

 

Process the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon and set it ready for arranging the baklava.

Lay out a phyllo sheet, brush it with the melted butter, top it with another sheet, brush that one with butter too, now sprinkle the walnut mix and top it with a new sheet. Continue brushing each sheet with butter, adding the walnuts on every other one and stacking them evenly. Now roll the sheets tightly on the shorter side, into one roll log, and using a very sharp knife, cut slices about 1 inch but not too thick. Carefully arrange the pieces in a lightly buttered baking dish touching sides, but not overcrowding. ( I used  a 11 inch round cake pan) Brush any remaining butter on top and bake them 30-35 min in a 325 F preheated oven, until golden in color.(baking depends on the thickness,)  Let them cool completely before pouring over the hot syrup.

 

In a pot, dissolve the sugar with the water, add your spices, orange peel, let it boil and simmer on low medium heat for about 7-8 min. Add the lemon juice and simmer for another 7-8 min more. Pour the hot syrup over the cold pastry, let it sit overnight to soak in the fragrant syrup, at room temperature, and resist covering the pan, so the phyllo doesn't get soft and soggy. There it is, you made saragli!(pronounced sa-ra-GLI) EnjoyI

 

Note: Baklava does not really need to be refrigerated, can stay at room temperature just fine, actually that's how it is preferred, to be served. I like to keep it in the oven, and freeze some in a tightly closed tupperware. Freezes perfectly, like all syrupy desserts. Omit the honey, change the butter to margarine and it will be vegan! 

The best baklava I have ever tasted, was the one made with homemade and hand rolled phyllo, but who has the time to do that now? Or maybe I do? And make one completely homemade, hand rolled, covid free baklava!  

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

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Skinny Classic Cornbread (WW Friendly)
About this recipe: I made the recipe into muffins for portion control purposes. i reduced the baking time to between 8-10 minutes. The smart points are 2 for each portion. Any additional condiments will add additional points.

1 cup skim or unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs separated
4 Tbsp Light butter made with canola, meted
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups self rising flour
3/4 cup zero point white granulated sugar substitute (recommended Lakanto Monk Fruit
Baking Sweetener)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, vanilla and meted butter and stir.
4, Add the cornmeal, self rising flour, sugar, skim milk, salt and baking powder.
5. Stir until JUST combined Do no over mix.
6. In a small separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
7. Fold in egg whites into the batter.
8. Pour batter into prepared 9 x 13 baking pan.
9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes ot clean.
10. Cut into 24 equal servings.
11. Serve with melted butter or honey for additional points,

Submitted by Lynn Tedeschi

Tiramisu Cupcakes

1 box of favorite vanilla cupcakes mix ( 24 cupcakes)

16 oz cream cheese

1 3/4 or 2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 cup of strong coffee

Cocoa powder

 

Bake cupcakes as per the box instruction and let them cool.

While they are cooling prepare the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla essence.

Whip the chilled heavy cream and fold it in the cream cheese- do not over mix! 

 

Assembly:  

Make few holes with a toothpick or a skewer in the cupcakes.

Dip and hold the top of the cupcakes in the cooled coffee for few seconds.

Sprinkle more coffee on the top if needed.

Let them sit for 10-15 min before frosting and lastly sift the quality cocoa powder!  (Tip: sweeten the coffee as per your taste with sugar or light corn syrup, add 1 tbsp of Kahlua, Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur for a stronger kick ) Enjoy! 

Submitted by The Nestorovski Family

Winemakers Grape Cake
About this recipe: I grew up in the Tikvesh valley- Macedonia's and overall Balkan's biggest wine region, where a family owning a vineyard is as normal, as growing flowers in your yard. Wine and rakija/grappa making is very traditional, as is producing grape molasses, canned grapes, grape compotes, grape sweet preserves, grape jelly, grape juice, raisins, but never I have hared or eaten a cake with grapes! I was shocked, how those ladies did not have that wonderful idea, to incorporate the flavorful sweet grapes, as the ladies from Italy and France did, and have been making this cake for years, over the harvest period. I think I broke that circle when I made it, served it to my parents, that were visiting here at the time, and they loved it! My mother took notes and this recipe is spreading to the regions of southeast Europe.. my mom, a modern time cake influencer.

Olive oil for greasing 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Beaumes-de-Venise or other Muscat wine

1 1/2 cups seedless grapes, washed and dried ( soaked in baking soda solution and rinsed really well, to remove the pesticides )

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush 10-inch-diameter springform pan with olive oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment; brush parchment with olive oil.

Sift flour and next 3 ingredients into bowl. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons oil in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in eggs, both peels and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with wine in 3 additions. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle the grapes.

Bake the cake until the top is set, about 20 minutes. Drop bits of  the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on the top and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted into center, comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes longer. Enjoy it warm or cold with the rest of your wine! 

Notes: Soaking fruits and vegetables in baking soda solution is suppose to deep clean them from the dirt but most important, from the pesticides, as soaking in vinegar water solution too. Another way to clean grapes, and as I do with the blueberries too, is to rinse them, sprinkle baking soda and salt over and shake the bowl for a minute, rinsing well again, repeat if needed. 

I like baking this cake as all of my coffee cakes in a sheet baking pan, instead of a springfom. I grease and sift flour(shake off excess) to prevent sticking and do not use baking paper then.

Submitted by Anica Nestorovski

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DRINKS

 
Apple Cider Sangria

About this recipe: Great Cocktail for the fall and Thanksgiving

One bottle of white wine (your favorite)
2-1/2 cups of Fresh Apple Cider
1 cup of Carbonated water or club soda
1/2 cup Vodka
Cinnamon Sticks
2 Apples Sliced
2 Cinnamon Sticks

Add all ingredients to a large pitcher, let sit, except carbonated water add before serving, serve over ice

Garnish with additional fruit and cinnamon sugar mixture to rim the glass

Submitted by Debbie Andriani

Dirty Shirley

About this recipe: My dad would always buy me a Shirley temple when we went to his V.F.W in Passaic. It stuck with me as I got older and I added the vodka.

vodka, grenandine,sprite, maraschino cherries for garnish.

1 shot of vodka,

1/2 cup of sprite,

1 shot of grenadine,

as many cherries as you want!

Mix together and enjoy!

Submitted by Alisa Zvalaren-Nordt

Italian Old Fashioned

1.5 ounces Bourbon Whiskey (We like Woodford Reserve)
.75 ounces of Disarrono Amaretto
3 dashes of Orange Bitters


Stir all of the above in a glass with a large ice cube. 

Optional: Serve with an orange wedge and Woodford soaked cherry.

Submitted by Uncorked - 650 Union Blvd.

Strawberry Lemon Fizz

1.5 ounces of your favorite Vodka (We like Tito's)
3 Lemon Wedges
1 Strawberry (without stem/greens)
Simple Syrup to taste
Seltzer Water to fill the glass

Muddle lemons, strawberry with a splash of simple syrup.
Mix in vodka and seltzer water

Submitted by Uncorked - 650 Union Blvd.