If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that OrnaBakes actually began with my bulkas—traditional cinnamon buns that we broke our fast on each Yom Kippur in South Africa—so it would only be right to kick off this list with my signature bake. Even if you didn’t read any further and just made these, your family would think you were a rock star! But each make-ahead dish has been tried and tested by me, and would be perfect for any holiday or family gathering.
If you celebrate the Jewish Holidays, wishing you L’Shanah Tovah, from our family to yours.
Traditional South African Bulkas
These soft, buttery buns, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, are just sweet enough, but not too rich—so you can enjoy them anytime. My favorite thing to do over the holidays is to make them with my little one. You can check out my YouTube vid for exactly how to make them. (Please give a THUMBS UP if you find it helpful!)
Cinnamon Raisin Challah
Did you know that Round Challah symbolizes the cycle of life, so what better a way to bring in a sweet New Year than to bake a fresh loaf to share with your loved ones! My cuz, Carla, taught me how to make this wonderful, sweet Cinnamon Sugar loaf, which then gave me the confidence to try other things with yeast… starting my love/hate relationship with yeast. But I will say that there’s nothing more satisfying than baking your own bread!
Chicken Marbella – from The Silver Palate
Our cousins, Leon & Judy, who live in Northern California, make their wonderful variation of this recipe for the holidays, because it feeds a crowd, you can make it ahead, and well… it’s plain delish! Make sure to marinate the chicken overnight to deepen the flavor and keep it moist. They use skinless breast halves (bone-in) and thighs, but I add some legs too—my personal fav. I love their take of using half prunes & half dried apricots. I just finely minced the garlic, or you could puree it, like in the original recipe. I use my favorite World’s Largest Olives from TJ’s and just leave out the pimentos. It’s a fabulous, easy recipe—you must try it!
Anne Burrell’s Brisket (without the bacon!)
This is a nice change from the usual, sweet, chutney, ketchup, or cola brisket recipes. Don’t freak out on me about the bacon, just leave it out! Yes, I did find it a little weird in her episode where she says, why would anyone leave out the bacon (hello… Chef Anne, do you not have any Jewish friends? Especially since it’s featured in Best Hanukkah Recipes.) but, it’s still absolutely delicious without the oink.
Becca’s Honey Chicken
My little cuz, Becca, started a blog (I’d like to think that I inspired her a teeny-tiny bit) and she shares this wonderfully simple honey chicken recipe from her grandma, Babi Frieda. I have not made this personally, but I’ve tried Becca’s version at our holiday dinner and I can happily vouch for it. You can make it ahead and freeze it, or even marinate the chicken in a Ziploc and freeze that until the day before you need it.
Easy Oven Fried Rice
This recipe was passed down in my hubby’s family, and I love that you can just dump it all in a casserole dish, bake it, and it turns out perfectly every time. (I know, fresh mushrooms would take it to a whole new level, but this is for when you need something super simple, and have everything in your pantry.)
Green Beans with a Mustard Vinaigrette
I’m ALL about making things ahead, and being able to serve them at room temperature is a plus. This is a healthy side that your guests will love.
Braised Red Cabbage
This beautiful, vibrant dish is a wonderful accompaniment to brisket, and tastes even better the day after you make it. (You can tell that the awful pic is from the early blogging days!) Granny Smith apples add tart, and brown sugar adds just enough sweet. Lovely side dish. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.
Low Fat Cinnamon Apple cake (Dairy)
You must try this cake! The cream cheese makes it super moist, without adding all the fat and calories. Only 8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per slice.
Mario Batali’s Brutti Ma Buoni (Pareve, GF)
The Italian name for these lovelies is Brutti Ma Buoni, which means Ugly But Good, but I happen to think they’re adorable. In Jewish speak they’re just good old meringues. This recipe makes a large quantity, and they freeze well, so they’re perfect for entertaining. And only 1 Weight Watchers PointsPlus value each!