We enjoy this menu every Christmas! The Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Feta and Sunflower Seeds is a great light start to a deliciously festive meal! My Braciole is the star of the show. My family enjoys Braciole once a year and once a year only; it
s tradition!

Spinach Salad with Pomegranate seeds, Feta Cheese and Sunflower Seeds

3 cups Fresh spinach leaves
Seeds of 3 pomegranites
½ c. Crumbled Feta cheese, optional
¼ c. Sunflower seeds
½ c. balsamic vinegar
½ c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. agave nectar or raw honey
Pinch of white or black pepper

Wash and dry spinach leaves very well. Place into a salad bowl; add pomegranate seeds, feta cheese and sunflower seeds.

In a small bowl, combine vinegar and oil. Add agave nectar and pepper. Mix well; do not pour the dressing or toss your salad until you are ready to serve.

Tip: Always chill your greens, in this case spinach leaves, well before serving. To do so, place a paper towel over the bowl and cover in plastic wrap. The paper towel keeps the moisture off of the lettuce. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


Serves 4 hungry people

Our family has been enjoying this recipe on Christmas Day for years!
½ c. dried Italian or flavored breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese
8 slices of Provolone cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fresh spinach leaves
4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
8 thin beef slices, pounded thin
1 c. dry white wine
3 c. of My Grandmother’s Spaghetti Sauce, or your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce (see below)
Butcher’s twine

In a bowl, stir first five ingredients to blend. Stir in 2 tbsp. of olive oil; season and set aside.

Place steaks between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound thin. Sprinkle each steak evenly with the breadcrumb mixture and lay a piece of Provolone cheese and a few spinach leaves. Roll steak(s) up and tie with butcher’s twine. Brown all sides of steak in remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once steaks are browned, add wine. Bring to a boil and add marinara sauce. Cover steaks and bake for 1 hour or until tender. You can also do this in a large covered family skillet. Be sure to keep it at a low simmer, checking it regualrly to make sure it’s not burning.

Vavo’s Spaghetti Sauce

My grandmother’s sauce, what can I say? To me it’s the best sauce in the world.

(In the margin: Our five senses transport us back to times past—one minute we’re adults at home and the next, we’re back in our grandmother’s kitchen!)

3 tbsp. Portuguese, extra-virgin or Spanish olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz can) stewed tomatoes, broken up with your fingers
1 (6 oz can) tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Garlic and onion powder (my grandmother would put it in so that it looks like she’d dusted the top of the sauce with it)
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. Italian seasonings
Sugar, just a pinch to round out the flavors (lots of acidity from the tomatoes)

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, sauté the onion, green pepper in olive oil until softened. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for at least one hour.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

2 heads garlic in skin, cut heads off
3 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 stick butter, cubed
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream or milk, warmed
Salt and white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the garlic on a pie pan or inside a foil pouch and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Squeeze or remove the garlic cloves from the head and place in a small bowl. Using a fork, mash the garlic until almost smooth.

Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Place the potatoes back in the pot and return to the heat. Stir the potatoes, constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes to dehydrate the potatoes. Remove the potatoes from the heat. Add the garlic and butter. Using a hand-held masher, mash the butter and garlic into the potatoes. Add enough cream until desired texture is achieved. The potatoes should still be sort of lumpy. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

4 bunches of broccoli rabe or 2 head of crowns (pieces)
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. dried red crushed pepper
Zest from one lemon

Heat oil, garlic and red crushed pepper in pan. Add broccoli and a little chicken stock. Steam until done. Add fresh lemon zest at the end.

The Best Bread Pudding Ever

8 c. cubed day-old bread (dry bread soaks up the moisture better)
9 eggs
2 ¼ c. milk
1 ¾ c. heavy cream
1 c. granulated sugar
¾ c. butter, melted
3 tsp. good vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Caramel Sauce

1 c. granulated sugar
¼ c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter
1 c. heavy cream

Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in by 9-in baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in comes out clean. Let stand before cutting into.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium; cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture turns a lovely amber color. Stir in remaining butter until melted. Add cream. Remove from heat. Serve with the bread pudding.