Holiday Recipe Contest winners and recipes

TBKLogoBlog-CHoliday Recipe Contest winners
We are so excited to tell you that the winners have been selected for our Holiday Recipe Contest! So many delicious  submissions were received, but we have narrowed it down to first-, second- and third-place winners in the contest categories of Entrees, Appetizers and Desserts. All nine winners and the titles of their entries are listed below. The contest called for a favorite recipe, not necessarily one that was original. When judging, we looked for recipes which were simple, delicious and festive, a perfect combination for the busy holiday season. It was great to see such diversity!
We present here not only the names of the winners, but their recipes.
All winners will receive prizes donated by Oxo brand kitchen gadgets, which have donated their fabulous kitchen tools for the Holiday Contest.
Thank you all for your participation. Sharing recipes is a wonderful way to create and pass on traditions, especially during the holiday season. Enjoy!
— Alma Schneider
• First place: Spinach and Cheese Pie, submitted Susan Tarnofsky, West Orange.
• Second place: Five Grain Delight, from  Perla Mondriguez, West Orange
• Third place: Family Sausage Lasagna, from Jamie Menake, Bloomfield.
• First place, Pumpkin Dip, submitted by Tina Ciravolo, Kenilworth.
• Second place, Seared Tuna Nachos with Wasabi Mayonnaise, from Lisa Haberman, Glen Ridge.
• Third place, Sweet Potato Casserole, Christina Malhotra, Glen Ridge.
• First place, Gingerbread Biscotti, submitted by Virginia Barnstoff, Bloomfield.
• Second place, Aba’s Cuban Rice Pudding, from “Aba” Ana Espinosa and Elaine Espinosa, Glen Ridge.
• Third place, Sweet Potato Dessert, from Robin Matthews, West Orange.Spinach and Cheese Pie
First place, Entrees
Submitted by Susan Tarnofsky

The following recipe can either be used as a light main course or cut up into smaller pieces, as an appetizer.


1 large onion, chopped into medium-size pieces
1 16-oz. bag of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 16-oz. container of cottage cheese
1 egg
3 Tbs. grated cheese
Several Tbs. grated cheddar, or other sharp cheese
1 tomato, optional
1 to 2 Tbs. canola, or other oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Saute chopped onion in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Set aside and place in mixing bowl.
Squeeze moisture from spinach and add to the bowl.
Add cottage cheese, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Beat the egg and add to bowl, mixing together all the ingredients.
Place mixture into a lightly greased pie pan, approximately 8 inches in diameter, smoothing to an even thickness.
If desired, cover mixture with tomato slices; roasting tomato first is best, but not necessary.
Sprinkle cheddar cheese over top of pie; use enough so there is a light covering over the mixture.
Bake until cooked through; the top should be browned and bubbly.
Slice and enjoy!
Note: The nice thing about this recipe is that the amounts of the ingredients can be approximate and it always tastes good.
Five Grain Holiday Delight
Second place, Entrees
Submitted by Perla Mondriguez
To turn this side dish into an entree, add cashews, slivered almonds or chicken before adding the water.
1/2 cup Italian 5 grains: farro or spelt, barley, durum wheat, rice, whole grain oats. Or, use any other medley of grains
1/2 of a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. korma sauce
1 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 Tbs. sofrito base
2 medium, green bell or Cubanelle peppers, seeds removed
2 medium onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro leaves
6 small sweet chile peppers
Heat oil
Add sofrito
Add diced tomatoes
Add water
Add korma sauce, stir
Add grains and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Family Sausage Lasagna
Third place, Entrees
Submitted by Jamie Menake
It is very important to let this rest at room temperature for at least 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving, or you will have a melty, but delicious, mess on the plate!
Ingredients for lasagna
1 package lasagne pasta
2 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella
4 links Italian pork sausage or sweet turkey sausage, casing removed and cooked until crumbly
1 32-oz. container ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 egg
1 palmful dried parsley
salt and pepper
3 to 4 cups homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite jarred red sauce
Ingredients for sauce
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 28-oz can tomatoes
1 palmful dried oregano
1 palmful dried basil
Method for sauce
Saute onion in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and spices. Cook two to three hours over low heat. Add the cooked sausage directly  to the sauce.
Method for lasagna
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta noodles according to directions, leaving it very al dente so they don’t fall apart during assembly. Cool in cold water and lay on a baking sheet covered by a drizzle of olive oil and a damp cloth.
Mix ricotta and mozzarella with parsley, egg, salt and pepper to taste.
Begin assembly in a lasagna pan with a ladleful of meat sauce to cover bottom.
Layer four to six pieces of pasta across bottom of pan, overlapping slightly.
Add about half the ricotta mixture to the pan and gently spread to cover pasta.
Sprinkle a generous handful of grated parmigiano reggiano over the ricotta and add a ladleful of sauce over cheese.
Top second layer with a layer of carefully laid pasta and cover with more meat sauce and another generous sprinkling of grated cheese.
Bake, loosely covered with foil, on a cookie sheet to catch drips, about 45 minutes or until bubbly and hot, uncovering for the last 10 minutes to brown the top.
Pumpkin Dip
First prize, appetizers
Submitted by Tina Ciravolo
6 oz. whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Puree all ingredients in blender until smooth. Serve with pumpernickel sticks or pretzel chips.
Seared Tuna Nachos with
Wasabi Mayonnaise and Ginger
Second place, Appetizers
Submitted by Lisa Haberman
Ingredients for mayonnaise
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons champagne wine vinegar
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 cups of vegetable oil
1 tsp. wasabi powder
Method for mayonnaise
Blend all ingredients except vegetable oil in blender until thoroughly combined.
While blender is running, add vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream, adding enough to achieve a thick consistency. Usually needs less than 2 cups but may need a bit more.
Mix wasabi powder with water to create a paste, add to mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise will keep in an air-tight container in refrigerator for up to a week.
Ingredients for nachos
Fresh tuna
Soy sauce
Ginger slices from the sushi section
Method for nachos
Fry wonton squares in hot vegetable oil until slightly browned. Place on paper towel to absorb oil.
Coat tuna in soy sauce and rub with black pepper.
Sear tuna in hot frying pan and cook halfway, leaving raw in the center. Slice.
To serve, place a spoonful of mayonnaise on a nacho, cut a piece of tuna and place on top. Add a slice of ginger on top. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Casserole
Third place, Appetizers
Submitted by Christina Malholtra
Serves 10 to 12
3 lbs., or about six medium, sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise and halves cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs. honey
3 Tbs. molasses
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375.
Parboil sweet-potato slices in water until bright orange and easily pierced by a knife, about four to five minutes.
Drain well and turn into a buttered 13–by-9-inch baking dish.
Whisk melted butter, honey, molasses, ginger, salt and cayenne in small bowl and set aside.
Mix cornstarch with 2 Tbs. cold water in a small bowl until totally smooth, then whisk into butter mixture. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and toss well to coat.
Cover dish tightly with foil and bake until liquid is bubbly, about 50 minutes.
Remove foil and stir gently. If desired, follow optional method below, or bake until liquid thickens to glaze potatoes, about 20 minutes longer. Cool slightly and serve.
Optional: Whisk 6 Tbs. light brown sugar and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour in a small bowl. Add 4 Tbs. cold butter cut into 1/4-inch pieces and toss to coat. Pinch mixture between fingertips until it is crumbly and resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir 1/2 cup chopped pecans into mixture. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes, cool slightly and serve.
Gingerbread Biscotti
First place, Desserts
Submitted by Virginia Barnstoff
Yield: Four dozen
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbs. ground ginger
3/4 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tbs. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together: oil, sugar, eggs and molasses.
In a second bowl, combine: flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients to form a stiff dough.
Divide the dough in half and roll each into a log about the length of the cookie sheet. Place both loaves on the cookie sheet and pat down, flattening the logs to 1/2-inch thickness.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove loaves from oven and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to touch, cut each loaf into slices on the diagonal, about 1/2-inch-thick.
Place the sliced biscotti onto the cookie sheet and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until toasted and crispy.
Remove from oven and cool on racks.
Aba’s Cuban Rice Pudding
Second place, Desserts
Submitted by Ana and Elaine Espinosa
To warm cold pudding, add milk and stir over low heat.
1 cup Spanish Valencia or pearl rice, or Goya medium-grain rice
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can condensed milk
optional: 1 can evaporated milk
In a saucepan add rice, water and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes to an hour, until the rice is very soft and all the water is absorbed. Keep adding water if rice is still hard.
Stir in milk, sugar, one can condensed milk, one can of evaporated milk, if desired, and vanilla.
Cook over low heat until desired consistency and taste.
Rice pudding can be made thicker, by cooking longer, or thinner, by adding more milk and sugar to taste.
Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.
Sweet Potato Dessert
Third place, Desserts
Submitted by Robin Matthews
Sweet Potato Casserole for Dessert is an old southern recipe from the family. Perfect with turkey or anything at all.
2 cups freshly cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 sick butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs. cornstarch
dash cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
Ingredients for topping
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup coconut
1/2  cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mash potatoes.
Add butter, egg, sugar, milk and cinnamon to potatoes and mix well.
Dissolve cornstarch in small amount of water and add to potatoes. Pour into 8-by 9-by-2-inch baking dish.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes.
Mix topping ingredients together and  spread over potatoes immediately. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Return casserole to oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

A message from OXO

Today, 25 percent of children diagnosed with cancer will not survive. There is a direct correlation between increasing research dollars and decreasing mortality rates. Progress has been made, but we are not there yet.

This year, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to support research for new and improved therapies. You can help. Bake a difference and join OXO in the movement to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

• Host a bake sale. A Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale is a sweet and simple way to get involved in the fight against pediatric cancer. Large or small, your bake sale will raise funds for new and less harmful treatments for pediatric cancer. Every dollar counts. Learn more by visiting

OXO will match proceeds from all bake sales, up to $100,000. What’s more, the Top five highest-grossing individual bake sales will be awarded $500 worth of OXO baking tools. Hosts must register their bake sale at and select “OXO” in the drop-down menu marked “How did you hear about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer?” to be eligible for the match and any prizes.

• For birthday, housewarming, thank you or “just because,” cookies make a great gift. Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site to send all natural, fresh baked-to-order cookies. 100 percent of the profits fund pediatric cancer research, so this gift feels as good to give as it tastes to receive.