Ellen’s Hot Rolls for Thanksgiving

Ellen Mills & Aicha Katherine


I usually halve this recipe unless it’s a huge group.


  • 4 cups warm milk (warmer than room temp, but not so hot that it’s too hot to touch)
  • Add 2 packages of dry yeast
  • 5 – 6 cups of flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter or Crisco cut into small pieces
  • 2 tsp salt


  • The basic recipe uses Fleischman’s Active Dry Yeast (original, not the rapid rise, different instructions if using Rapid Rise)
  • Mix together in a warm room
  • 4 cups warm milk (warmer than room temp, but not so hot that it’s too hot to touch)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter or Crisco cut into small pieces
  • Add 2 packages of dry yeast. Let it sit for 15 minutes. It should be bubbly and growing. If it’s flat, throw out and start over. If it’s slow to grow, put it in a warmer area like the top of the stove and give it more time.
  • Add 5-6 cups of flour.
  • Knead 10 minutes on a cutting board with more flour added if it gets too sticky.
  • Let it rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size. Punch down. If cooking later, cover dough lightly with oil, cover in plastic or material to prevent it from forming crust, and refrigerate. Can last 48 hours in the fridge.
  • Place dough in round balls touching each other on an ungreased baking sheet. Cook for 14 minutes at 400 degrees (for rolls a bit smaller than a golf ball – more time for larger rolls).


This recipe was contributed by Maria Tsagrinos in honor of her father.

Maria Tsagrinos' Dad

Meat Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 lg. yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 carton basil
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 pkg. sage pork sausage
  • 1 lg. can (1lb.) tomato sauce
  • 2 reg. cans sliced, stewed tomatoes, Italian Style
  • ½ clove nutmeg, grated
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Preparation: Meat Sauce

  • Mix red wine and tomato paste in a small bowl or cup, set aside.
  • In large saucepan, heat oil/butter.
  • Add onions, sauté until translucent.
  • Add garlic, oregano, meat, and salt to taste. Brown the meat, slowly adding small portions of the **tomato paste/wine mixture throughout browning process.
  • **Add SLOWLY so as not to cool temperature of browning ingredients drastically.
  • Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped basil, bay leaves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Turn down heat, and let sauce simmer for one hour.

Bechamel Sauce


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup and 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 qt. whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 pinch fresh nutmeg
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Bechamel Preparation:

  • In saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.
  • Add flour, whisk until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  • While stirring continuously, add milk **gradually until all gone.
  • Whisk well until smooth.
  • Simmer until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 mins.)
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in nutmeg, cheese, salt, and pepper.

Preparing Pastitsio

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan or kefalotiri
  • 1 Pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • While the meat sauce is simmering, prepare the pasta. Cook until slightly underdone, remove, drain, toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In an 11x15x3-inch baking pan, add 1/2 the pasta for the first layer and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Add the meat sauce evenly over the pasta, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Add the remaining pasta on top. Carefully pour the béchamel evenly over the top.
  • Bake at 350F (160C) for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese and nutmeg / cinnamon (optional) on top, and continue to bake for another 15 to 30 minutes until the sauce rises and turns golden brown.
  • Remove from oven, cool for 20 minutes. Cut, and serve.


Hummus for a party

One 30 oz (850 grams) can garbanzo beans

one half cup liquid reserved,

one quarter cup lemon juice plus one tablespoon,

one tablespoon olive oil,

one teaspoon cumin,

one teaspoon salt,

four cloves garlic minced,

four tablespoons tahini

Apple Barbecue Sauce-Basted Smoked Chicken Recipe

Lashings of glossy, sticky, sweet apple barbecue sauce sets this smoked chicken apart.

Chef’s Note: This recipe will need to be started the day before serving. You will need a barbecue with a lid or a smoker for this recipe.
Servings: 4
Total: 24 hours

Ingredients – brine

  • 3 tablespoons cooking salt
  • 3 tablespoons garlic salt (I skipped this and used 5 fresh garlic cloves)

Ingredients – chicken, rub and sauce

  • 1 (1.4 kilogram) chicken, spatchcocked (I left mine whole and cooked it on a vertical stand)
  • 1 bag natural charcoal
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (this is too much, 1 tsp. is plenty as the chicken has been brined. Salt-sensitive might leave it out of the rub completely)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) apple juice (substitute apple sauce otherwise WAY too runny and unuseful)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) barbecue sauce
  • 100 grams unsalted butter, melted (skipped completely, this is insane to add IMO)
  • 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs.) wood chips or chunks (apple wood, ironbark or hickory), soaked in water for 1 hour


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the cooking salt and garlic salt with 4 liters of water and bring to the boil. Dissolve the salts, then remove from heat and cool completely before adding the chicken to the brine. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day, remove the chicken from the brine, pat dry and refrigerate, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours to dry the skin. (In my opinion this is unnecessary especially for a BBQ’d bird as the sauce wipes out all crispiness)
  3. Add some charcoal to the barbecue and light with firelighters – the coals will need to be red hot before adding any wood chips.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the paprika, pepper, and kosher salt in a small bowl. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and generously season with the paprika mix. Set aside for 30 minutes while the charcoal comes up to
  5. Whisk the apple juice, barbecue sauce, and melted butter in a bowl and set aside.
  6. Add a handful of wood chips to the hot coals. Place the chicken in the barbecue or smoker and cover with the lid. Keep adding charcoal and wood chips as needed – but don’t open the lid unnecessarily – to maintain the smoke and a temperature of about 155°C (311° Fahrenheit).
  7. Brush the apple barbecue sauce on the chicken after 1 hour, and again after 1-1/2 hours. By this stage, the chicken should be almost ready – if you have a probe thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temperature of 75°C (165° Fahrenheit).
  8. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the barbecue and brush one last time.
  9. Wrap the chicken in foil and rest for 30 minutes before serving.

French-style bean salad

French-style White Bean Salad

French-style White Bean Salad
French-style White Bean Salad

  • 3 each – 15 ounce cans of beans (white, cannellini, garbanzo)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (more if you want more dressing)
  • 1/3 cup green onion
  • 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar (more if you want more dressing)
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepper (bell are good but you can use Anaheim and Passilla, yellow/Hungarian peppers)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives stuffed with pimentos
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground or stone ground dijon mustard
  • pepper to taste

Canned beans are usually salted so there’s really not a need to add salt. You may want to adjust the amount of vegetables to suit your tastes.

Awesome as a side dish, it goes great on top of green salad as well. Super-healthy as people in Blue Zones eat 1 cup of beans a day.

***NOTE: served with lengthwise wedges of hard boiled eggs!!!! This salad is best if it sits overnight and the flavors meld together!

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie
Tamale Pie

This is a recipe we grew up with as kids. Our Mom, Ann Barczay Sloan, used to cook this. I went ahead and made my own version but while she was living with me, before she passed away, I asked her for HER recollection of the recipe. I present both, you can try both, hers is probably faster. I think mine is pretty rockin’, too.

Mom’s Tamale Pie

  1. Chili – can or scratch
  2. Layer or two of corn tortillas in casserole
  3. Layer on chili
  4. Layer sharp cheddar
  5. Layer green onions
  6. Keep layering to top
  7. Add water to the last bit of chili so it is like a soup. This will soak the layers
  8. Top w cheese and sliced olives
  9. Bake covered at 350. Uncover last few minutes to crisp.

Sean’s Tamale Pie


  1. One large yellow or brown onion diced
  2. 2 tbsp. Olive oil (or 1 ea. Olive oil and bacon grease)
  3. 1-½ lbs. Ground turkey
  4. 1 tbsp. Oregano
  5. 1 tsp. Cumin
  6. 4 tbsp. jarred red salsa, medium hot
  7. Black olives
  8. 2 cups 3-cheese shredded Mexican blend cheese
  9. 15 corn tortillas
  10. 1 can of enchilada sauce 19 oz. (example but in a bigger can size)


  • I like to brown the onions in pan, Salt and pepper to taste and then set them aside
  • Now brown turkey in the same pan with a little more olive oil as turkey can be very low fat and stick to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add back the onions and mix well to spread the flavors around
  • I like to grind the Mexican oregano (slightly stronger smelling and more like
  • whole flowers than standard oregano) between my palms and into the pan.
  • Sprinkle cumin on.
  • Add the salsa, not too much, its meant to be edible by kids and people who can’t handle spice
  • In your baking dish: start by pouring out a thin layer of the enchilada sauce then add a layer of tortillas followed by a layer of the spiced meat and onions mix followed by most of the cheese
  • Next layer starts with tortillas then enchilada sauce, spiced meat and onion mix then cheese
  • Final layer, the top most layer, is tortillas, the enchilada sauce then cheese then decorate with a freshly sliced olives placed around evenly. Sometimes it put a sprinkle of chili powder lightly across the top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove from oven and let it cool/set up a bit before serving.
  • This dish is even better the next day as all the flavors have melded, the enchilada sauce has been incorporated into the tortillas and it reheats amazingly well in the microwave

German Hot Potato Salad with plenty of bacon…

German potato salad with a few additions
German potato salad with a few additions. My brother had 4th’s…

This recipe is a combination of one found in Luchow’s German Cookbook, aka Speck Salat, and suggestions from my dear mother from her own recipe. The version in Luchow’s is a bit on the extreme/ridiculous side of things as when scaling up for more than 2 servings (to say enough to feed my family, ie. 5 lbs.) it would require 30 pieces of bacon.

One thing to keep in mind is that this dish is most impressive when served fresh and hot with all the ingredients mixed together at the last minute. That having been said it stores and reheats well.

*read entire recipe including notes before beginning.


  • 5 lbs. red skinned potatoes (russets won’t retain their firmness)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1-1/2 lb. bacon ends and pieces
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups beef stock made from bouillon
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cup green onions, sliced along length into tiny rings
  • 1/2 parsley


  1. Boil potatoes keeping a close eye on them so that they don’t get too soft. The skins splitting is a sign that they need to be checked but I start checking after 20 minutes with a fork just to keep a handle on things. When the potatoes are done drain and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle the skins will slide off when squeezed with a small amount of clean up here and there with a paring knife.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking render off the bacon draining it periodically to save the bacon grease for future use. Once the bacon is nice and crisp and brown set it aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  3. Cook off the onions in the bacon grease until they are clear.
  4. Add the vinegar, beef bouillon
  5. Add back bacon grease to get a nice balance between the vinegar, sugar and bacon flavors
  6. Add salt, pepper to taste
  7. All ingredients in the dressing should be done to taste! You’ll want to experiment!
  8. Right before serving mix firs the dressing mixture and lastly the green onions and parsley to the salad and serve.

***NOTE: we ended up with a sizable amount of the dressing left. If we used it all the it would be too much liquid versus the amount of potatoes. We used it for a hot bacon dressing on spinach salad!

Luchow's German Cookbook - © 1952
Luchow’s German Cookbook – © 1952

Cranberry Orange Lemon Cookies

Orange cranberry lemon cookies
Orange cranberry lemon cookies

This is a variation on a recipe that used to appear on the Sunmade Currants box. I found a similar recipe and updated it with what I had on hand, ie. oranges and dried, sweetened cranberries. They came out very good.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used salted and they were fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (cut them up small!)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl; beat until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream and egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until they are well combined. Stir in cranberries, orange zest,  and lemon juice.

Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are puffed and golden around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Update: I did a modified version of this with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. of cloves and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Very favorable addition. Next time I will try adding crushed pecan pieces.

Sweet & Sour Potato and Green Bean Salad

Sweet & Sour Green Beans and Potato salad
Sweet & Sour Green Beans and Potato salad

This recipe is still in the refinement phase which means that I may come back and adjust the amounts slightly in order to “perfect” it. Please check back as I like to try things out multiple times before calling them done.

  • 2 lb. red skinned potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise  and the cut across to make wedges. Don’t over cook, keep them al dente!
  • 2 lb. green beans, ends trimmed, steamed
  • 3 good sized shallots, minced fine
  • 1 lb. bacon (I just tried this new California bacon with no nitrites and was very happy with the flavor and quality)
  • 1/8 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I cook the bacon, potatoes and green beans ahead. I have them in a large shallow baking dish in the oven to keep them warm while I prepare the dressing. The shallots go in the pan with the olive oil. Once the shallots are cooked clear on a medium heat add the vinegar then sugar. Pull the pan out of the oven add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste. Cut the bacon into good sized chunks so it retains its flavor next to the dressing and only add it just before serving, same with the parsley.

Garlic Bread

Simple, fast, delicious. Goes great with soups, stews and Italian food.

  • Crusty sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. heaping) fresh chopped parsley

Either let the butter sit out to soften or cut it up with a knife and cream it with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix. Spread on crusty sourdough and toast in the toaster oven. Looks and tastes amazing. For a treat add some fresh garlic as well.