This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun." Julia Childs

Ohhh the holiday family gatherings... sprinkled with love and hugs, smiles and song.... or perhaps some on-the-downlow "don't tell your father" motherly oversharing drama....(for the cousins and I, it sometimes involved throwing soggy woggys outside our grandmother's NYC Park Ave. apt....not a neighborhood that appreciated the grade school humor #SocialStatusNeverGauranteesClass)....the once a year obligatory weekend of togetherness, whether you like(d) it or not...

*(soggy woggy: a ball of wet toilet paper, when thrown out the window in December may or may not freeze before it hits the ground, or the car beneath, or simply freezes as a splat on said car.....the car is always the target)

But, the food though....wasn't there/isn't there something really delicious at the table or wafting from the kitchen you look(ed) forward to? Perhaps a recipe you found you enjoy making, or something your grandmother made that you now make for your kids/grandkids? That yummy holiday staple that automatically makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it, regardless of what's happening outside of the kitchen...

Below are some of our Tumbleweed family favorites, which may or may not be original family recipes, but delicious nonetheless....may their flavors bring you all the warm fuzzies this holiday season, and none of the family drama...Bon apetit, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from all of us at The Weed...



 ("GiGi, can you send us your favorite holiday recipe? GiGi: "Sure, can I send Jonny's Mom's recipe?"...Lizzie’s Mom GiGi’s favorite, that she got from Jonny’s Mom Betty, that, according to Jonny, is most likely an L.A. Times recipe...)

*prep time: 30 min., cook time: 45 min.

*4 servings

1/4 c. Olive oil

1 lrg. Chopped onion

4 cloves minced garlic

1 green chopped green bell pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (14 oz) can chicken broth or 2 cups fish stock

2 cups dry white wine

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp. Chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tsp dried basil 

pinch of sugar


1 or 2 Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned and sectioned

9 fresh clams, scrubbed

9 fresh mussels, scrubbed

1 lb. White prawns (21-25 count), peeled & veined

1/4 lb. Sea scallops

Heat oil in a very large stockpot. Add onion, sauté until soft. Add garlic and bell pepper: cook 5 min. 

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, wine, parsley, basil and sugar: bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 min. (The broth can be made ahead at this point and refrigerated up to 8 hours. Reheat before adding seafood)

Add crab, cover and simmer 5 min. Add remaining seafood, tucking under crab so that it is covered with broth: simmer 5-10 min. Or until shrimp is pink and clams and mussels are open (discard any that do not open.) Serve with lots of crusty sourdough!!

*Variation: For a quicker copping, substitute  2 (32 oz) jars San Francisco Style Cioppino Sauce for the first 11 ingredients. Please in a very large stockpot. Add 1 cup wine, bring to a boil. Add seafood as directed above. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice before serving.



(Sydney’s Mom’s recipe, a Christmas Eve tradition)


French Toast: 
Butter, for greasing
1 large loaf crusty sourdough, French bread or Challah
8 whole eggs
1 and 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt1 cup of chopped pecans
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces, plus more for serving
Toppings can change- add blueberries or raspberries or even chocolate chips 

Warm pancake syrup the next morning, for serving


  • For the French toast: 
    Grease the baking pan with butter. 
    Cut the bread into thick slices and then cut the slices into large cubes. Evenly distribute in the pan. 
    Crack the eggs in a big bowl. 
    Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. 
    Pour evenly over the bread. 
  • For the topping:
    Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. 
    Stir together using a fork. 
    Add the butter with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. 
  • Add the topping to the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably). 


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle more topping over the top. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour or more for a firmer, crisper texture. 
  • Heat the maple syrup in a pan, add a few tablespoons of butter, serve french toast with a drizzle of syrup.


Variations: without the pecan topping and served with fresh mixed berries and homemade whipped cream on top or throw in some sliced bananas and chocolate chips right before popping in the oven.



(a New York Time’s recipe-Hilary’s daughter Casey’s fave to make each year)

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

 For the Hazelnut Crust

    • 1¼ cups raw hazelnuts
      1 cup rice flour
      ¼ teaspoon salt
      ½ cup sugar
      6 tablespoons softened butter, more as necessary
  • For the Cranberry Curd
    • 12 ounces cranberries
      1 cup sugar

      Peel (orange part only) and juice of 1 orange (about ½ cup)
    • 4ounces softened butter (1 stick)
      2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

Step 1

Make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins darken and crack. Put roasted nuts in a clean towel and rub off skins. Discard skins and let nuts cool.

Step 2

In a food processor, grind nuts with half the rice flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining rice flour and salt and pulse briefly.

Step 3

Cream sugar and butter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until pale and thick. Add nut mixture and combine until dough comes together. If it seems crumbly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons softened butter or a little cold water.

Step 4

Press dough evenly into a 10-inch tart pan; use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom. Prick bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).

Step 5

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chilled tart shell about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.

Step 6

While the crust bakes and cools, make the cranberry curd: Put cranberries, sugar and orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or medium mesh sieve and press cooking liquid and solids into a bowl. (Alternatively, for the most vibrant color, purée the cooked cranberry and orange mixture with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender. Press through a fine-mesh sieve.) Whisk the butter into the warm liquid.

Step 7

Put eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk a cup of warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper, then combine both and whisk together. Wipe out pot if necessary, return liquid to pot and cook over low heat until nearly bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. If using immediately, let cool to room temperature. If working ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (press wrap against curd) and refrigerate. (Curd may be cooked up to 1 day ahead.)

Step 8

Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled prebaked tart shell and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.



(Hilary’s holiday sweet of choice)

(Courtesy of The Nosher,

*It was: wake up with the sun, run downstairs, trample Mom and Dad awake, open stockings, then eat before presents….an Entenmann’s raspberry danish was always waiting Christmas morning, which made waiting to open presents only slightly more tolerable….Although I have never made this recipe, it is supposed to be a wonderfully fresh homemade version of the commercial Entenmann’s, an homage, but free of the processed nastys like corn syrup and palm oil….(Will let you know how it compares when I actually make it….)

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas

For the danish:

  • 1 cup milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 packet (7 g) active rise yeast
  • 3 cups (450 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting or as needed
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla bean (split, and seeds scraped out)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 egg yolk plus one teaspoon of water, for the egg wash

For the icing:

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp milk or water
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or ½ tsp vanilla extract


  • Grease two 8 x 6 baking dishes and line with parchment paper. You can also make one large danish in a 9 x 11 baking dish
  • .Heat the milk until warm to the touch but not too hot, about 100°F. Add the sugar and active dry yeast to the milk, and allow the yeast to proof for 5-10 minutes. The yeast will get foamy and bubbly, if it doesn’t, your milk may have been too hot or too cold and it is best to start again.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combined the flour, salt, and vanilla powder. Alternatively, you can make the dough by hand, you will just need to mix and knead for longer.
  • Add the milk and yeast mixture to the dough, along with the two eggs. On medium, mix until a very shaggy dough is formed. Next, with the mixer still on medium, add the room temperature butter one cube at a time; allow each piece of butter to incorporate before adding the next. Once all of the butter is incorporated, the dough will appear smoother and stickier. Switch the paddle attachment for the dough hook, and mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes, or until a soft, smooth, elastic dough is formed. It will start out looking very sticky and wet, but will ball around the dough hook towards the end. If it looks too wet and does not start forming a ball, you can add a few tablespoons of flour to help with the consistency.
  • Gently transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl (it will be very soft and pour out), and cover it with a damp clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until roughly doubled in size,1-2 hours, depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in half. You can make two 8 x 6 raspberry danish twists at this time, or freeze half the dough for future use (just allow it to defrost and come up to room temperature). Dust a clean surface with flour, then take one half of the dough and divide it into three equal balls. Roll each ball into a strand that is about an inch longer than the length of the baking dish, then gently twist each strand and fit them in lengthwise into the baking dish. Cover with a lightly damp clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise again for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add the jam to the danish.
  • Between the 3 strands of dough, you’ll make two strips of jam, each about a ¼ cup of worth of jam, or ½ a cup per danish (if using a larger dish, simply evenly add jam between each strand). I gently nudge the stands apart, and with a spoon, fill with jam between the strands. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown on top. Rotate once halfway through baking.
  • Once baked, allow to cool on a rack. While the cakes are cooling make the icing. Once mostly cooled, you can ice the cakes by drizzling the icing free form with a spoon, or you can fill a small ziplock back with the icing, and snip off a small piece of the corner to ice in any design you prefer.


(One of Lizzie's sis-in-law Deb's go to's, courtesy

 Gluten free

  • 5 lbs Italian sausages, sweet
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise, homemade or store-bought
  • 6 tbsp Mustard, prepared yellow
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 bottle Chardonnay wine
    In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup plus to tablespoons yellow mustard, 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon [more or less to taste] Sriracha hot sauce, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon both kosher salt and black pepper. Mix until combined, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Slice each link into 4 bite-size pieces. 5 pounds of sausages will yield roughly around 80 or so bites.

    Then add the sausage pieces into a large stockpot and pour in the entire bottle of wine. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for 4o minutes.


    To give these Italian sausage bites some color, place them onto a metal, rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Next, move your oven rack so it sits about 4 inches underneath the heating element and preheat your broiler on high. Once preheated, slide the pan of sausages underneath the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Then using tongs, carefully turn the sausages and brown for another 2 to 3 minutes.

    Then simply serve on a platter with the spicy mustard dip!



(Lizzie's sister Colleen's favorite)

 *6-8 lrg Granny Smith Apples (around 5 cups)

*4 tbsp quick cook tapioca


*1 cup sugar

*1/2 cup cubed butter

*8-10 tbsp cold water

*2 cup flour

*1 cup old fashioned oats

*1 1/2 cup brown sugar

*1/2 tsp salt

*1/2 c melted butter


Peel, core and slice 6-8 large Granny Smith apples (around 5 cups, if you go over that is fine and you can use any apples or combo of types, granny smiths won’t get mushy)

Add 4 tablespoons of quick cook tapioca (this is keep the pie from  being runny), 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar to apples set aside.  (Feel free to use less sugar if you use apples that are sweeter or prefer the sweetness of the apples (the crumble top also have sugar).


Use ½ cup cold butter (cubed), 1 ¼ cup flour and 8 to 10 tablespoons of cold water.  You can use a food processor on pulse.  You want to just mix the ingredients until they start to form a ball (slightly sticky).  You can also mix by hand using a pastry cutter or two forks.  Once the dough can form a ball, flatten by hand and then roll out the crust to fit into a 9 inch pie tin.  You will need use a some flour to help roll it out, just enough to let the dough roll out nicely.   Use the roller to help put the crust in the tin, fit it the best you can, crimp the edges with your fingers.

Fill the crust with the apple mix, set aside until the crumble top is ready.

Crumble top:

Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats (if you don’t have oats you can use 2 cups of flour) and 1 ½  cups brown sugar,  2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt with ½ cup melted butter.  Use your hands to mix and then and cover the apples with the crumble top.  Depending on how many apples you use it may look like a heaping pie, that is fine just means you might have to cook longer.

 The edges of the pie crust will burn, to prevent this, take strips of tin-foil or a pie shield to cover the edges of the crust.  Bake on the middle shelf at 425 ° for about 50-60 minutes or until the temperature in the middle reaches 195 °.


(Lizzie's choice, courtesy


  • 2 to 3 very ripe bananas mashed
  • cup melted unsalted butter , dairy-free use non-dairy butter like Earth Balance, Smart Balance or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour (I like Pillsbury gluten-free)
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum , leave out if your flour already has it in it
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs , beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Spray a 4 x 8 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas until smooth.
  • Add the baking soda to the mashed bananas.
  • Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
  • Stir in the sugar, salt, eggs, and pure vanilla extract.
  • Mix in the gluten-free flour and xanthan gum(leave out if your flour already has it in it).
  • Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
  • Bake on the center rack for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Please watch your banana bread because all ovens are different.
  • Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!
  • Store in an air-tight container.


  • Not all gluten-free flours are created equal. You may experience different baking results depending on the gluten-free flour blend you choose. I like Pillsbury gluten-free.
  • The best way to measure gluten-free flour is the “spoon & level” method. Using a spoon, scoop the flour into the measuring cup.  After you’ve spooned the flour into the measuring cup, use the back of a knife to level off the top of the measuring cup. Friends, please do not scoop the flour out of the bag with your measuring cup.
  • Three mashed bananas are equal to 1 cup.
  • Dairy-Free Options: Smart or Earth Balance Butter or coconut oil
  • Pro Tip: You can also mix it up a little by adding mini chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, or raisins. 
  • Always bake with ingredients that are at room temperature. Cold ingredients do not mix as well with room-temperature ingredients.
  • Store in an air-tight container.


P.S Julia also said: "Always remember: If you're alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who's going to know?"


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