Diva Tasting: Complete Menu for Group….

So Cassie and I are cooking for the whole High School this week.  I thought I’d share our menu and shopping list.  These recipes are for 6-8 not for the large group we are serving.
SHOPPING LIST & Recipes 
PASTA ALFREDO
3 Rotisserie Chickens
3 Bags Frozen Peas And Carrots Thawed
6 Large Alfredo Sauce
1 Large Ricotta Large
4 Teaspoons Spices
4 Cups Parmesan or Mozzarella Cheese Shredded
4 Cups Heavy Cream
4 Boxes Pasta
Garlic Bread\TEXAS TOAST
Directions:
Cook Pasta in salted water
Bone Chickens
In a large bowl mix Alfred sauce, ricotta, cream and spices blend well. Fold in shredded chicken, cheese, fold in pasta and spread evenly in baking dishes. Pour into a 9x13x3 baking pan. Bake at 350 Degrees until Cheese is bubbling. About 1 Hour.
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TURKEY N DRESSING
ROASTING BAGS LARGE
TURKEY BREASTS 10 Lbs feeds 8-10
Butter
Garlic Powder
Wash turkey and pat dry. Season with butter and spices. Place in large cooking bag and cook on 300 degrees for about 3-4 hours.
CHICKEN GRAVY
Ingredients
1 Jars Gravy Mix
1 Packs Dry Gravy Mix
1/4 Cup Butter
1 Pinch Salt
4 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
8 Cups Chicken Broth
Sea Salt And Pepper To Taste
Directions
  1. In a large pot pour gravy mixes and jars and bring to a low boil on medium heat.
  2. Stir in fresh rosemary. Place flour in a lidded jar with half cup of the chicken broth…shake well to combine. Add flour mixture to pot and cook and stir for about 3 minutes.
  3. Whisk in broth, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
  4. Turn heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer a few minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Skim off any extra fat from the surface of the sauce.
DRESSING:

1 Cup Salted Butter

1 Box Self Rising Cornbread Mix

2 Med. White Onions, Chopped

2 Stalks Celery, Chopped
1 Bags Of Herb Dressing
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Teaspoons Dried Sage
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
6 Cups Chicken Stock
Directions
Prepare corn bread as directed on package. Cool, and crumble.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions, and celery in butter until tender, but not brown.
Place corn bread and bags herb dressing in a large bowl. Season with sage, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper remaining herbs and spices. Mix in chopped parsley, cooked vegetables and. Stir in  chicken stock. This mixture should be a bit mushy. Transfer to a greased 9×13 inch pan.
Bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour until brown on top.
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GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Ingredients
2 Large Packages Frozen Green Bean Cuts
1 (10.75 Ounce) Cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup More to Taste
1 Pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated
1 (6 Ounce) Can French-Fried Onions
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; add green beans and cook just until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  3. Mix green beans and cream of mushroom soup together in a bowl; spread into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over green been mixture and top with French-fried onions.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted and browned, about 30 minutes.
MASHED POTATOES
3 Bags Frozen Mash Potatoes Thawed
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 (8 Oz) Pkgs Cream Cheese Softened
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Half-And-Half
DESSERTS
Ice Cream Delight
22 Ice Cream Sandwiches Cut in Half
1 (16 Oz. Cool Whip Thawed
2 Large Pkgs of Instant Chocolate Pudding
4 Cups Heavy Cream
1 (8 Oz ) Cream Cheese
1 Jar Chocolate Sauce
2 Cups Pecan Nuts Chopped
Direction:
  1. In a large bowl mix pudding, cream, cream cheese until well blended. Fold in whipped topping and blend.
  2. Cut ice cream sandwiches in half. Place along bottom of a high-sided 9×13-inch serving dish. Repeat until bottom is covered.
  3. Spread with half of the whipped topping. Pour chocolate sauce on top. Sprinkle with half of the nuts.
  4. Repeat layers with remaining ice cream sandwiches, whipped topping, and nuts. The pan will be full. Cover and freeze. Will last for up to 2 months. Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares.
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Pineapple Dump Cake
Basic Dump Cake dessert Queen Version
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
1 Box Butter Cake Mix
1 Can (about 20 Oz) Crushed Pineapple
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup (2 Sticks) Butter, Melted
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease or spray, baking dish.
2. Empty the cans of pineapple (even the juice) in a medium bowl with brown sugar; mix well. Dump pineapple mixture into the 9×13 baking dish.
3. Distribute dry cake mix evenly over fruit in the 9×13” baking dish. Pour melted butter evenly over the dry cake mix (you can help this by using a rubber spatula to spread the melted butter).
Top with chopped nuts.
4. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until fruit begins to bubble up through the cake mix and the top is golden brown. Serve warm or chilled. Ice Cream is nice poured on top.
Cake Mix Peach Cobbler 
Ingredients
2 Cans Sliced Peaches In Syrup Or 24 Ounces Fresh Or Frozen Fruit Of Your Choice
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Box Butter Cake Mix
1 (12-ounce) Can Of Ginger Ale or Mellow Yellow, (A Flavor That Complements The Fruit Of Your Choice).
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Arrange cut-up fruit on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle Brown Sugar on Top and fold into fruit.
In a medium bowl, mix the dry cake mix with the soda of choice until batter is smooth. Spread over the fruit evenly.
Bake for about 1 hour, until cake tests done in the center. Serve while warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Diva Musing: Christmas in Mexico …..

 Christmas in Mexico 
In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from December 12th to January 6th.
From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the ‘Posada’ processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns.
In each Posada, children are given candles and a board, with painted clay figures of Mary riding on a donkey and Joseph, to process round the streets with. They call at the houses of friends and neighbors and sing a song at each home. The song they sing is about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house. But the children are told that there is no room in the house and that they must go away. Eventually they are told there is room and are welcomed in! When the children go into the house they say prayers of thanks and then they have a party with food, games and fireworks.
Each night a different house holds the Posada party. At the final Posada, on Christmas Eve, a manger and figures of shepherds are put on to the board. When the Posada house has been found, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to a midnight Church service. After the Church service there are more fireworks to celebrate the start of Christmas.
One game that is often played at Posada parties is piñata. A piñata is a decorated clay or papier-mâché jar filled with sweets and hung from the ceiling or tree branch. The piñata is often decorated something like a ball with seven peaks around it. The peaks or spikes represent the ‘seven deadly sins’. Piñata’s can also be in the form of an animal or bird (such as a donkey). To play the game, children are blind-folded and take it in turns to hit the piñata with a stick until it splits open and the sweets pour out. Then the children rush to pick up as many sweets as they can!
As well as the posada’s, there is another type of Christmas play known as Pastorelas (The Shepherds). These tell the story of the shepherds going to find the baby Jesus and are often very funny. The devil tries to stop the shepherds by tempting them along the way. But the shepherds always get there in the end, often with the help of the Archangel Michael, who comes and beats the devil!
Nativity scenes, known as the ‘nacimiento’, are very popular in Mexico. They are often very large, with the figures being life size! Sometimes a whole room in a house is used for the nacimiento, although this is less common now. The figures are often made of clay and are traditionally passed down through families. As well as the normal figures of the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and Three Kings, there are often lots of other figures of different people, including women making tortillas, people selling food and different animals and birds, like flamingos! The figures can be bought from markets in cities all over Mexico. The baby Jesus is normally added to the scene during the evening of Christmas Eve. The Three Kings are added at Epiphany.
Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Mexico, but the main/most important decoration is still the nacimiento.
Christmas Eve is known as ‘Noche Buena’ and is a family day. People often take part in the final Posada and then in the evening have the main Christmas meal. Popular dishes for the main Christmas meal include Pozole (a thick soup made with hominy, chicken or pork and chilies with is topped with greens), roast turkey, roast pork, tamales, bacalao (salt cod), romeritos (a green vegetable that’s cooked in a mole sauce with potatoes and shrimps) and there are normally salads served as side dishes such as Ensalada Nochebuena (Christmas Eve salad). For dessert bunuelos are very popular, they are fried pastries sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or a hot sugar syrup. Bunuelos come in two shapes flat and round/ball! To drink there might be Ponche (a warm Christmas punch made with fruit) and Rompope (a drink like egg nog which often has rum added to it!).
At midnight, many people go to a Midnight Mass service, known as the ‘Misa de Gallo’ (which means Mass of the Rooster as people are up early like Roosters!). There are lots of fireworks to celebrate Christmas Day.
Poinsettia flowers are known as ‘nochebuena’ (Christmas Eve) flowers in Mexico.
People in Mexico also celebrate ‘los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ on December 28th and it’s very like April Fools Day in the UK and USA. 28th December is when people remember the babies that were killed on the orders of King Herod when he was trying to kill the baby Jesus.
In some states in Mexico children expect Santa Claus to come on December 24th. In the south of Mexico children expect presents on January 6th at Epiphany, which is known as ‘el Dia de los Reyes’.
On el Dia de los Reyes the presents are left by the Three Kings (or Magi). If you’ve had a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, you might also get some candy on el Dia de los Reyes!
It’s traditional to eat a special cake called ‘Rosca de Reyes’ (Three Kings Cake) on Epiphany. A figure of Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever has the baby Jesus in their piece of cake is the ‘Godparent’ of Jesus for that year.
Another important day, is La Candelaria ‘the Candles’ or Virgen de la Candelaria ‘Virgin of Lights or Candles’ (this is also known as Candlemas in other countries around the world) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. Lots of Mexicans have a party for Candelaria.
In Mexico, presents might also be brought by ‘El Niñito Dios’ (baby Jesus) & Santo Clós (Santa Claus)
In Mexico most people speak Spanish (Español), so Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’. In the Nahuatl (spoken in some parts of central Mexico) it’s ‘Cualli netlācatilizpan’ and in the Yucatec Maya language (spoken in some parts of the Yucatán Peninsula) it’s ‘Ki’imak “navidad”‘. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
The largest ever Angel Ornament was made in Mexico. It was made in January 2001 by Sergio Rodriguez in the town of Nuevo León. The angel was 18′ 3″” high and had wing span of 11′ 9″! Perhaps the most amazing thing about the angel was that it was completely made out of old beer bottles, 2946 of them!

https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/mexico.shtml

Diva Tasting: Yogurt Coffee Cake…

Yogurt Coffee Cake
Ingredients
Pecan Topping:
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
Coffee Cake:
1 Serving Nonstick Cooking Spray
1 Cup Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Applesauce
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
Directions
  1. Stir together pecans, white sugar, and brown sugar for the pecan topping in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly spray a fluted tube pan (such as Bundt(R)) with cooking spray.
  3. Combine brown sugar, applesauce, coconut oil, and butter for the coffee cake in a large bowl. Mix with a spatula until butter is almost completely mixed in, with some chunks remaining. Mix in yogurt, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, remaining 1 teaspoon baking soda, and salt; stir until batter is well mixed and a light brown color. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed in the batter; batter will be thick.
  4. Scoop 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out evenly so it is flat. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the pecan topping. Repeat with remaining batter and pecan topping.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 48 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and then flip carefully so the sugary pecan-topped side remains on top. Serve warm.

Diva Musing: British Holiday Perspective….

British Holidays

Many American Christmas traditions trace back to England, like the main staples of decorating your home, putting up a tree, exchanging presents and having a mid-day dinner. Why not British it up a bit more this year? 

1. Letters
It is very common for school age children to write letters to Santa Claus. But, the Brits take it a step further and burn the letters in the fireplace so the ashes fly up the chimney and Father Christmas can read the smoke. If, like many, you don’t have a fireplace/chimney … surely you can find alternative means. Just be safe!

2. Stockings
Rather than hanging stockings above the fireplace, British children hang them at the end of their bed hoping they will be filled by Christmas morning. That would be a nice surprise to wake up to. At the same time it might be difficult for “Santa” to fill without waking the wee ones.

3. Crackers
The 
cracker is a paper tube, covered in foil, twisted at both ends. It’s shaped like a large sweet with hidden treasures inside. Each person crosses their arms, using their right hand to hold their cracker, and pulling their neighbor’s cracker with their left. POP! The cracker will make a bit of a  bang with the contents spilling out which usually is a joke to be read at the dinner table, a small trinket and a paper crown.

4. Crown
Everyone is a king on Christmas! The paper crowns are made of tissue paper and unfold into an actual crown. Adults and children alike don the crown making it a colorful sight. The paper hat was added to the crackers in the early 1900s and the tradition has carried on.

5. Mid-Day Dinner
Christmas dinner is similar to that of the U.S. with a roast turkey, goose or chicken and trimmings. But, there are some specialty items that aren’t as common such as parsnips which are a root vegetable similar to a carrot. It’s a familiar taste but it’s fun to incorporate a new veggie to the table. Brits love their pudding but Yorkshire Pudding isn’t pudding-pudding like you would think. It’s more like a flakey, deflated biscuit with the center just waiting to hold your gravy. Does a trifle sound familiar? Oh boy, Rachel on Friends tried to make a traditional English trifle but the recipe pages stuck together and she mixed together a trifle with sheperd’s pie. It is indeed a layered cake but strictly no beef.

6. Wassail
Wassa-what? Wassail literally means “good health” or to “be healthy” and in this case is a hot, mulled drink. There are different ways to serve it like a hot cider but it may also be made with a base of wine. It was originally topped with slices of toast as sops (piece of bread to soak up the liquid.) Mmm, wonder why wine drenched bread went out of style? Well, Brits may question Americans’ craving for eggnog over the holidays.

7. Royal Christmas Message
The tradition of sending out a Christmas Message to the public began in 1932 with George V. Current day the Queen gives a speech on Christmas Day at 3pm in England. You can gather around the tele with your loved ones and watch it on BBC America … that’s about prime Christmas present opening time on this end with the time difference. BBCA will air it later in the day to allow family time. Check your listings for exact times as the day approaches.

8. Tea
Christmas tea usually rolls around 6pm and it is round two of a sit down with family and treats. Pretty much, any proper English event involves tea. Mince pies or sausage rolls might accompany the tea party. Rather than breaking out the Lipton, which would be spat at by any visiting Brit, we suggest PG Tips that originated in the UK in the 1930s. If you can’t find them at a local shop you can do a quickie order from Amazon.com.

9. Boxing Day
Boxing Day follows Christmas day and is a nationally recognized holiday in the UK, also called a bank holiday. It was originally the day for servants and tradesman to receive presents from their employers but it’s now basically a big shopping day for Brits. It’s similar to Black Friday in the U.S. Your boss may wonder why you didn’t go into the office as it’s not an official holiday in the U.S. Maybe celebrate this one after work and get your shop on?

10. Next Year
Brits say you need to take your tree and decorations down within 12 days of Christmas or you’ll have bad luck for the next year. Don’t be that house on the street with blinking lights that go on through Valentine’s Day! Get that stuff down and get on with the New Year!

http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2012/12/british-up-your-christmas-holiday

Diva Tasting:

Broccoli Casserole
Ingredients
Crumble:
1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1 Teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice Powder
3 Tablespoons Cold Butter
Filling:
1 Head Broccoli
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Small Onion, Sliced
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Cups Sour Cream
1 Cup Half n Half
2 Cups Grated Cheddar Cheese, Divided
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Mix flour, bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and five-spice powder together in a bowl. Cut in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter using your fingers until mixture resembles pebbles. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Cut the stem off the broccoli and use a spiralizer to cut into ribbons. Cut the head into florets.
  4. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cornstarch, pepper, and nutmeg; mix well until roux begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk, stirring continuously, and continue to cook until sauce begins to thicken, 3 to 4 minutes more. Mix in 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Stir in broccoli until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour mixture into a baking dish.
  5. Top mixture with remaining Cheddar cheese. Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over the top. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the crumble has browned and sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Diva Musing: Chanukah….

Another perspective on the holiday seasons this time of year….

The Miracle of Chanukah

Chanukah was a miraculous military victory, but a tiny cruse of oil proved more miraculous and enduring in the memory of the Jewish people.

In the wake of Alexander’s appearance in and departure from Jerusalem, relations between Jews and Greeks were so good that an exchange of cultures took place. Each influenced the other. For the Jewish minority, however, what began as a small undertow of assimilation — such as giving children Greek names and speaking the Greek language — became a surprisingly powerful, high-speed rip current threatening to drag the caught-off-guard Jews out to the sea of complete assimilation.

Jews who embraced Greek culture at the expense of Judaism became known as Misyavnim, or Hellenists. Estimates are that a third or more of the Jewish population was Hellenist, including those who reversed their circumcision, ate pork, bowed to idols and even became self-hating enough to side with the enemies of Israel. Hellenism threatened to annihilate the Jewish world through assimilation in ways tyrants tried but could not do by force.

Had the situation continued as it was, the Greeks would perhaps have won the battle by default. However, they overstepped themselves.

Here Come the Greeks

At the beginning of the year 190 BCE, the situation between the two great post-Alexandrian empires, the Seleucid and the Ptolemaic, deteriorated badly. The Seleucids mounted an invasion that took their army through the Land of Israel, which was sandwiched in-between.

Whenever a foreign army comes into a country it changes the view of the populace. Instead of an attractive culture, the Greeks were now an occupying enemy. Instead of something to be imitated, now they became something to be resisted.

The Jewish people are very stubborn. The same person who is so stubborn that he will not observe the Torah in freedom will observe it with passion if forbidden from observing it. He becomes stubborn the other way.

A good case could be made that if the Communists in Russia would have left the Jews alone they would have completely assimilated. However, once told that they could not be Jewish a certain percentage of Jews decided to be Jewish at great risk. That happened with the Greeks as well.

Progressively More Intolerable Laws

The Greek army exerted a very heavy hand against the Jews. First, they forced Jews to finance their war through collection of taxes. Then they forced them to quarter their soldiers in Jewish homes. Finally, the Greeks were determined to crush the Jewish religion.

First, they took the statue of Zeus and mounted it in the courtyard of the Temple. Next, the Greeks banned the observance of the Sabbath on the pain of death. Then, the Talmud (Kesubos 3b) records, there was a period of time which lasted a number of decades when the Greek officer in town had the right to “live” with a woman on her wedding night before her husband-to-be.

The Greeks also banned circumcision. Whoever circumcised his child was put to death; both child and father were killed. Then the Greeks demanded that altars to the Greek idols be established and that sacrifices be offered on a regular basis in every Jewish town. Finally, the Jewish educational system was entirely interrupted.

The Jews Rebel

About the year 166 BCE, a group finally stood up to the Greeks: Matisyahu (Mattathias) and his family, known as the Hasmoneans. We do not know much about them except that they were of noble descent from the priestly class (Kohanim), including those who had served as High Priests.

They lived in a small town called Modin, which was about 12 miles northwest from Jerusalem. (The town exists today, and is about 20 miles west of modern Jerusalem.) One day, a Greek contingent marched in, set up an altar, gathered all the Jews and forced them to sacrifice a pig to Zeus.

They then asked for a Jewish volunteer to perform the sacrifice. One stepped forward. As he approached the altar Matisyahu stabbed him to death.

Chaos broke out. The Greek army attempted to subdue the crowd, but the Jews were armed and slaughtered the entire Greek patrol. There was no turning back now.

The Maccabees

Matisyahu had five sons, all of whom were people of great organizational leadership as well as pious, committed Jews: Johanan (Yochanan), Simon (Shimon), Jonathan (Yonason), Judah (Yehudah) and Eleazar.

They ran to the caves and organized an army – not to fight an open war, but a guerilla war. Originally they organized of force of about 3,000 men. Eventually it grew to 6,000 and never reached more than 12,000 men.

The General of the Army was the great Judah, known to the world as Judah the Maccabee (or Judas Maccabaeus as he was called in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost). “Maccabaeus” is the Greek word for hammer, but the Jews took it, as Jews are wont to do, and made it Jewish by declaring that “Maccabee” stood for the first four letters in Exodus 15:11, meaning, “Who is like You, God?” — which was said by Moses and the people after the miraculous drowning of the Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds.

An enormous Syrian-Greek army, numbering almost 50,000 men, marched into Judea. Judah the Maccabee marshaled his forces and with guile and courage outmaneuvered the far larger Greek army, forced it to divide and then destroyed its various components, killing many thousands and forcing the survivors to flee north to Syria.

It took many years, but their hit-and-run tactics wore down three great Greek armies. However, the Jews paid a very heavy price in terms of blood. Matisyahu died in the early going. Judah Maccabee was killed in the third great battle. Eleazar died while attacking an elephant. Johanan and Jonathan were killed as well. The only Maccabee brother who survived was Simon.

The Miracle

The last famous battle was for the fortress of Antonius, which guarded the Temple. When Antonius fell, the Jews came back to the Temple. They shattered the statue of Zeus and cleaned the Temple to the extent that they could. Any priests who worked for the Greeks were sent away or executed.

They only found one small flask of uncontaminated oil with the seal of the High Priest. By Torah law, the flame of the Menorah (Candelabrum) in the Temple could only be lit with specially prepared pure olive oil. The amount of oil remaining in the one uncontaminated flask was only enough to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to produce a new batch of pure oil.

What could they do?

They lit it — and it miraculously burned for eight days. That is why Chanukah lasts eight nights (the festival was established a year later by the Rabbis).

What is Chanukah?

The Talmud does not say much about Chanukah. There are perhaps forty lines spread out in different volumes, whereas almost all the other holidays have an entire Talmudic volume about them. In addition, the few words the Talmud has to say about Chanukah are cryptic. Perhaps that is why Chanukah has been subject to reinterpretation, as it has been in our time. People make whatever they want to make out of it. However, that is a mistake, a tragedy.

In the Western world, it has the misfortune of falling out in December. Therefore, in the homes of many Jewish people it has sadly became the Jewish version of the December holidays, a mixture of commercialism and non-Jewish traditions and ideas.

What is Chanukah?

What the Talmud does say is that the important thing is to “advertise the miracle.” People have to recognize that a miracle took place. It is vital to keep the wonder in Chanukah. That is why the rabbis gave more emphasis to the miracle of the lights than the military victory.

Wars come and go. Even the glow of miraculous victory can fade. Young people today do not think that Israel’s War for Independence in 1948 was such a miracle. In 1967, Jews expected a second Holocaust. Now people brush the miraculous Six Day War off as nothing special.

History provides numerous examples of outnumbered forces defeating a superpower using guerilla tactics. Was the Maccabean victory so miraculous? That was the question Jews at the time must have asked themselves.

However, when the small flask of pure oil that could only last one day lasted eight days it proved that there was a miracle that happened there. The little flask of oil shed light on the big military campaign. “Not by the army, not by power, but through My Spirit, says God” (Zechariah 4:6). Chanukah is about the little light that sheds a great light.

There is an indefinable, spiritual, electric charge that binds the generations together that cannot be found in any book. It can only be had when parents and grandparents do things like sitting together with their children around the Chanukah lights celebrating, discussing and advertising the miracle; experientially getting in touch with the wonder of the past, the wonder of the present, the wonder of life.

What Ever Happened to the Hellenists?

Chanukah is a very popular, emotional and beautiful holiday. However, the necessity for Chanukah begins with the story of the invasion of Greek culture and the weakness of the Jews in responding to it. It originates from the growth of an enormous sect of Hellenists within the Jews, who even supported the Greeks during the war.

What happened to the Hellenists? Their influence all but collapsed in the wake of the defeat. They would never return again as Hellenists, because the war brought out their true colors as traitors and they lost whatever appeal they could have had to the Jewish people.

Most of them retreated to the city of Caesarea, which remained a Greek city (and later would become a Roman city). They were just not part of the Jewish people any longer.

Their demise punctuated the fact that more than a military victory, the miracle of the oil signified that Chanukah was a victory of the spirit of the Jewish people, a victory that granted them the right to observe the Torah. That is why its memory and the people who observe it have endured.

https://www.jewishhistory.org/the-miracle-of-chanukah/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA_rfvBRCPARIsANlV66NWuzid1mrIV0wrEDJZoLOfvnDyhoqMFjSyg0y3zfQMZO5296CQtyYaApZ1EALw_wcB

Diva Tasting: Rose Timbale…

Rose Timbale
Serves 4
1 Bunch Of Cleaned Chard
2 Cups Of Robiola Cheese (or Substitute A Mixture Of 1 ½ Cups Mascarpone And ½ Cup Ricotta),
1 Box Of Wavy Lasagne
1/2 Lb Of Romanesco Broccoli,
½ Cup Grana Padano Cheese,
Lemon,
Thyme,
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil,
Salt And Pepper To Taste
Directions
Preheat oven to 350F
Step 1: Prepare the robiola spread
Combine the robiola or substitute cheese mixture with ½ cup of grated Grana Padano cheese, salt, pepper, and few thyme leaves, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and the zest of half a lemon until a cream forms.
Step 2: Cook the greens
Roughly chop the Swiss chard and sauté it in a pan with a pinch of salt for 2-3 minutes.
Boil the Romanesco broccoli florets in salted water for 2 minutes and strain.
Step 3: Cook the lasagna sheets
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the Wavy Lasagne pasta sheets for 8 minutes, then soak them in iced water for 1 minute, and lay them on a clean tea towel. Cook and fill them two at a time so that they remain flexible and do not tear while being filled.
Step 4: Make the rose rolls
Spread the Wavy lasagne sheets with the robiola mixture, top with the Swiss chard and the Romanesco broccoli, then fold them over to form rolls. Cut them in half.
Step 5: Assemble the timbale and bake
Arrange the rolls upright in a casserole dish (8×8). Sprinkle the timbale with grated cheese, drizzle a bit of oil on top and bake for 10-15 minutes.