Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Cinnammon Sour Cream ~

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a Thanksgivukkah recipe for you guys today.

What is Thanksgivukkah you ask? It’s when Thanksgiving and Chanukkah coincide! Chanukkah goes by the Hebrew (lunar) calendar and so it’s not always in December like Christmas. It has been in November before, but it’s extremely rare that in falls on Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Nate is a lovely hand model

According to Wikipedia, the last time it happened since Thanksgiving was declared a U.S. federal holiday by President Abraham Lincoln was 125 years ago, in 1888. The next time Thursday, November 28 will fall during Chanukkah will be in the year 79811, assuming the Jewish calendar is not revised. Crazy huh?

Being that Jews love to eat, and food bloggers love to cook, you can guarantee that this Chanukkah will have some awesome Thanksgiving/Jewish inspired treats.

The traditional Chanukkah foods are latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts). If you notice, both of these foods are deep fried in oil, which is no coincidence. Oil is very important to the holiday of Chanukkah. You can read more about it here if you’re interested.

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

I’ve already seen plenty of riffs on latkes for Thanksgivukkah, involving sweet potatoes rather than regular spuds. Honeslty I don’t think that’s so original, as Jews have been doing that already for years. Then I saw people made turkey donuts, which is just plain gross. I also saw a pumpkin rugelach or pumpkin kugel (pudding). 

But I wanted to be original. So I tried to think of other Chanukkah “things.” The other traditional food to eat on Chanukkah, if you can call it a food, is chocolate “gelt” or chocolate coins.Usually these coins are used to gamble while playing dreidel, a game involving a little spinning top.

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Gelt is really just money, or coins, so I figured a recipe could look like gelt without actually involving the candy that we love to eat on this holiday. That’s when it occurred to me- sweet potato gelt! I thought about using carrots since they’re smaller and would look more like coins, but they’re not as Thanksgiving-y as sweet potatoes. 

I added the dipping to sauce to make it more kid-friendly (kids love dipping!) and also to inject some more fall flavor (citrus and cinnamon) into the dish. Obviously this dish goes way beyond Thanksgivukkah and would be a welcome addition to any dinner, or even as a fun pass-around appetizer. 

I hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgivukkah! You know you want to celebrate it ;)

Thanksgivukkah! Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream ~

Spiced Sweet Potato "Gelt" with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
Serves 4
A perfect appetizer or kid's food for Thanksgivukkah or just any day of the year!
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  1. 4-5 sweet potatoes/yams (try to find ones with a small diameter to make smaller "coins")
  2. Cooking spray or olive oil
  3. salt/pepper/cinnamon for sprinkling
Dipping Sauce
  1. 8 oz. sour cream (I used low fat)
  2. 1 Tbsp orange zest
  3. 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  4. 1 Tbsp honey
  5. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cover a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes crosswise into 1/2" thick rounds. Either toss with oil or place on the prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt/pepper/cinnamon.
  3. Put potatoes in oven and cook, flipping them halfway, 20-25 minutes or until cooked and soft enough to be pierced with a fork, but firm enough to be picked up without falling apart.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, whisk dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  5. Let potatoes cool to room temperature so you can pick them up without burning your fingers and serve with sauce on the side for dipping!

Bread with Pecorino, Honey and Orange Zest ~

Since SO many of my readers requested it, I’ll do a very brief summary of my trip to Italy. I think I will have to do a separate post about my cooking class with some recipes, since there’s too much to tell about that! 

Unfortunately, my family isn’t big on remembering to take photos (thank goodness Nate loves to!), so all the photos I have were taken with my iphone.

I began my trip in Florence, where I met up with my parents who had already been traveling for a week. Here’s the famous Duomo which was a short walk from our hotel.

Duomo, Florence, Italy ~

Sadly, I didn’t consume as much gelato as i would have liked because my stomach was bothering me for most of the trip…and I was too full after meals to get it. It’s pretty crazy how often you see people eating gelato, though, and at all times of the day!

I’m pretty sure there more gelato stores in italy than Starbucks are in the U.S., and that’s saying a lot since I love in NY where there’s practically a Starbucks on every corner. But in both Florence and Milan there were at least 2 places to get gelato on every single block. 

Florence is pretty small, so we could walk pretty much everywhere. The Ponte Vecchio was so close by that we ended up walking over there for shopping and dinner a couple times. 

Ponte Vecchio, Florence ~

As I mentioned in my other post, we took a day trip to Chianti where we had a private cooking class at the Ristorante Malborghetto with Chef Simone.

Here’s our first course. A juicy, grilled porcini with rosemary, garlic and truffle oil.

Cooking Class, Ristorante Malborghetto, Chianti ~

We also made the most amazing homemade gnocchi in bolognese. We made parmesan bowls to serve it. 

Cooking Class, Ristorante Malborghetto, Chianti ~

 Here’s my mom helping make the tiramisu.

Cooking Class, Ristorante Malborghetto, Chianti ~
Here’s my dad enjoying the finished product. 

Cooking Class, Ristorante Malborghetto, Chianti ~

On the way home from Chianti, we stopped at San Gimignano, a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany. It was so so beautiful!

San Gimignano ~

We ended up doing a lot of walking while we were in Florence…we had to go up a bunch of steep staircases and hills to get to Basilica di San Miniato al Monte.Florence, Italy ~

Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Florence ~

But it was worth it because the view at the top was spectacular.

Basilica di San Miniato al Monte 2 ~ Elephant

Next up was Milan. The most beautiful Cathedral was near our hotel. The Duomo di Milano is a Gothic cathedral that took nearly six centuries to complete and was literally JUST finished, if you can believe it. It is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and the largest in the Italian state territory.

Milan Duomo ~

We were told that the church needs money, hence the billboards on the scaffolding!

Milan Duomo ~

Milan has a bike share program just like the CitiBikes that were recently introduced in NYC. Europe is way ahead of the U.S.!

City Bikes, Milan ~ Elephant

One of the days that we were in Milan, we took a day trip to Lake Maggiore. The climate in the lake region is mild all year long, and so there’s the Alpinia botanical garden above the town of Stresa there.  

We visited it and it was gorgeous.

Botanical Gardens, Lake Maggiore ~

Alpinia botanical garden  ~ ElephantEats.comAlpinia botanical garden  ~

Alpinia botanical garden  ~

But anyway, back to the important stuff…the food!

My parents have been to Florence several times now, and this was my second time although I don’t remember the first too well. Anyway, my parents had apparently been to this one little cafe that they really wanted to find again because one of the things they had was this delicious bread with honeycomb, cheese and orange zest. We walked all around trying to find the place but couldn’t. Finally my mom remembered that she had sent an email to her friend with the restaurant name in it so we went back to the hotel just to get the info! Luckily after some searching we found the email and went immediatey back out to go there for lunch. 

cantinetta dei verrazzano, Florence ~

It was called Cantinetta Dei Verrazzano and I HIGHLY recommend that if you’re in Florence, you stop in for lunch or dinner. 

We split some meats and a salad but the highlight of the meal was when the server came to our table carrying a giant honeycomb! He put out plates with a small slice of a whole wheat bread, with a slice of some sort of Pecorino Romano cheese (i think). He then scraped the honeycomb with a spoon and put the delicious honey drippings on top of the cheese. And finally he zested an orange on top. The combination of flavors was incredible and I knew I had to recreate it at home so Nate could experience it!

Bread with Pecorino, Honey and Orange Zest 2 ~

This isn’t a recipe so much because honestly, there are no real amounts, but I thought I should introduce you all to this flavor combination that somehow I had never heard of before. It’s not so easy to find honeycomb around here, so I just used regular honey. I hope you’ll try this at home!

Bread with Pecorino, Honey and Orange Zest  ~

When I finally get a chance to recreate one of the dishes I made in my Italian cooking class, I’ll be back with a recipe for that :)

Bread with Pecorino, Honey and Orange Zest 2 ~


Bread with Pecorino, Honey and Orange Zest
An easy appetizer with the most amazing combination of flavors from Florence, Italy! I don't have any amounts because it really is up to you...
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  1. Whole Wheat bread, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  2. Pecorino (or other hard cheese), sliced 1/8 inch thick and cut into pieces
  3. Honeycomb or honey
  4. Orange zest
  1. Place bread squares on a plate.
  2. Put a small square of cheese on each slice. Put a large dallop of honey on each and then zest orange on top.

Marinated Mushrooms ~

 As you know, I just got back from a short vacation to Idaho with Nate. Sorry in advance for all the photos. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. Recipe for these lovely mushrooms are at the bottom.

We stayed at Nate’s dad’s cute little log cabin. Well, it’s not so little. It also isn’t at all rustic. It has all the amenities of a typical house, complete with a beautifully updated kitchen.

Idaho Cabin ~

The cabin is kind of in the middle of nowhere. It’s over an hour from the nearest supermarket. 

Idaho Cabin ~

Idaho Cabin ~

However what the area lacks in the civilization department, it more than makes up for it in the scenery. The mountains and view behind his cabin are just spectacular. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them in all sorts of light. 

This is in his backyard with the clouds rolling in.

Idaho Mountains ~

One morning after a light sprinkling, we even got a rainbow. I was still sleeping, so thanks to Nate for capturing this one.

 Idaho Rainbow ~

Not a bad  view to have while eating dinner. We used the grill out on his patio the first night for some tasty salmon and veggie kabobs.

Idaho Mountains ~

While there we tried to spend time outdoors, obviously. The cabin is surrounded by camp sites and hiking trails. 

 4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

One day we did a 3 hour hike up to a couple pretty lakes.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

The area has had numerous wildfires over the years and you can see the devastation everywhere. Here were some burnt, dead trees along the hike. In this area the grass has mainly grown back. Some areas definitely look much much worse.

4th of July Hike, Idaho ~

Despite the fact that many trees have burned down, there’s an abundance of little baby pine trees starting to grow. I think they were my favorite part of the whole trip. This one happens to be right in his dad’s yard.

Baby tree, Idaho  ~ Elephant

There were a few areas that were so close we didn’t even have to hike. This was a short drive away and then just a walk to this little creek. There were lots of salmon in it! Apparently you can see them spawning at the right time of year.

Idaho ~

Another view of the backyard, just because.

Idaho Mountains ~

And just some more photos…

Walk in meadow, Idaho ~

Idaho ~

Ok, my final mountain shot, I promise. This was during sunset on our final evening there.

Idaho Mountain~

Now back to the recipe. I made these mushrooms as part of Nate’s bday dinner party meal. They’re absolutely delicious but chock full of garlic. If you’re planning on doing some smooching, don’t make these. Unless the other member of your party eats them too…isn’t that the rule?

Marinated Mushrooms ~

They’re really simple to make- a quick boil of the mushrooms, mix up a tasty marinade, and then let them do their thing for a while, or overnight. You’re left with a tangy, flavorful side dish that goes great with just about anything.


Marinated Mushrooms
Serves 4
A zesty, flavorful side dish
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  1. 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms
  2. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  6. 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  8. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon crushed pepper
  10. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (or a pinch of dried coriander powder)
  1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Simmer mushroom caps in salted water for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. .
  2. While mushrooms are cooking, mix olive oil, vinegar, garlic, red onion, oregano, parsley, salt, peppercorns and coriander in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. When mushrooms finish cooking, drain and add to marinade. Toss well.
  4. Marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~

Nate and I headed down to his mom’s last weekend, as we usually do when we have 3 days off. I decided to undertake a bunch of recipes that take longer than I typically have. I thought it was a perfect time to get into some yeasty things.

I had marked down a couple recipes, one for a cinnamon braid bread that I decided to make for breakfast, and the other was a Tomato Rosemary Focaccia Nate found in the NY Times. Nate loves focaccia so I’ve been wanting to make it for him. This particular recipe was “healthy” because it had mostly whole wheat flour.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~

While I waited for the dough to rise, I headed outside to pet the neighbor’s cat. He really seemed to like me, and after about 5-10 min of petting, I decided to come back inside. It was a little chilly and I was in my p.j.’s Well, the cat decided he wasn’t done being pet, so he followed me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get him to leave me alone, and I didn’t want him to get near my mother-in-law’s house because she has two dogs inside that don’t like cats.

I finally was able to trick him and quickly ran in the front door and shut it. It seemed like the coast was clear until I saw him poke his head in the window. He was looking for me!


He stayed on the front porch for about 15 min, meowing and pawing at the window. When I didn’t come back out, he then went to the back door and meowed there too for another 15 min. I felt so bad!

Finally, after about 30 min of this, I went outside and walked him back to the neighbor’s house. They were about to leave and were in the driveway, so they took him and put him inside. Phew. And I thought my cat was needy! Nate threatened to tell L.C. when we got home that I “had an affair with a floozy.”

But back to the food. Nate loves whole wheat breads, but I’m not as much of a fan. I find them a little on the dry side, and this focaccia was no exception. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but you could definitely tell it was made with whole wheat flour. If I’m going to splurge on bread/pasta, I want it to be white flour all the way!

It sure was pretty, though.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~

We had ourselves a nice outdoor dinner. There are few months of the year when I’m willing to eat outside. Usually it’s too cold, or mosquitoes are everywhere (mosquitoes happen to LOVE me).


Anyway, we had a perfect, sunny evening with a nice breeze.


Nate’s mom grilled up some chicken sausage and veggies and we served the focaccia alongside it.

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia ~

I made a chocolate pine nut tart for dessert that was as amazing as it sounds, but the recipe needs a little tweaking before I can share it. I followed the directions but ended up having to split it into two pans because there was too much crust and filling.

We had an awesome Memorial Day. I can’t believe the 4th of July is only a month away! Where has this year gone?

For the focaccia recipe, you can get it from the NY Times site here.

Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie ~

I forgot to tell you guys last week, but Nate actually has never seen the house we bought. It all happened so quickly. After our offer got accepted, I asked him to come to the inspection with me figuring he’d want to see it, but when he found out it would take a couple hours, he said “no, thank you.” Can you believe that!? Such a guy thing to do. He kind of doesn’t want to see it til the renovations are all done, but I don’t think I’m going to allow that.

Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie ~

In the meantime, our inspector never tested for lead, and the more I’m reading up on it, the more freaked out I am. Apparently it’s pretty much ok if you just paint over it and there are no areas of chipping paint. But if you’re planning to do renovations, like we are, the lead dust can get into the air and you have to hire a contractor that’s certified in dealing with that. I’m getting slightly paranoid now so I think I’m going to call in someone to test so we can take any necessary precautions.

I read that most homes built before 1960 are pretty much guaranteed to contain heavily leaded paint. This house was built in 1920 something so I’d say there’s a very good chance it has lead paint. Have any of you ever had to deal with this? What did you do?

Oh, and don’t worry, pics of the house will come soon! I’m going to try to do a drive-by this wknd and snap a pic :)

Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie ~

On another note, you know how I said I walk by the Today Show every morning? Well today I was walking by and I saw the tv screens outside showing it live, and you couldTOTALLY see me on the screen! So if you watch the Today Show (Shannon, i’m talking to you!!), watch around 8:10 every morning. I’m usually holding a pink/red bag. You can only see me on days they sit with their backs to the window. Let me know if you see me! (ok ok, i know i’m such a dork)

So I made this recipe a few weeks ago. It was really tasty, almost like a Spanakopita but in a pie. You could easily sub some other green (kale, spinach, etc) for the chard. It comes together pretty quickly because you use premade phyllo dough.

I had seen my mom work with phyllo when I was younger, and I remember she always said you had to work quickly because it dries out. She was SO right. It was a pain to work with but luckily this pie is supposed to have a rustic look so it was fine in the end.

I served this as dinner but honestly, it should really be an appetizer or side dish. It wasn’t filling at all. Nate and I ended up eating it in like 2 sittings.

Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie ~


Goat Cheese, Chard and Herb Pie in a Phyllo Crust

From the NY Times

Print this recipe!

Serves 6-8 as a side-dish

1 generous bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and washed
Salt to taste
8 sheets phyllo (4 ounces)
3 eggs
6 ounces goat cheese (I used 4 oz goat cheese and the rest feta because that’s what i had)
3/4 cup low-fat milk
2 garlic cloves, pureed or put through a press
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, chives, tarragon, marjoram (I used dill which was great!)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the Swiss chard. If the stems are wide and meaty set them aside for another purpose. If they are thin and sinewy, discard. When the water comes to a boil salt generously and add the chard leaves. Fill a bowl with cold water. Blanch the chard for 1 minute, just until tender, and transfer to the bowl of cold water. Drain, take up the chard by the handful and squeeze out excess water. Chop medium-fine. You should have about 1 cup chopped cooked chard.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blend together the eggs and goat cheese, either in an electric mixer or in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the milk and the garlic and blend until smooth. If using a processor, scrape into a bowl. Stir in the blanched chopped chard, the herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

Brush a 9- or 10-inch tart pan or cake pan with olive oil and place on a baking sheet for easier handling. Open up the package of phyllo and unfold the sheets of dough. Remove 8 sheets of phyllo and fold the remaining dough back up. Wrap tightly in plastic, return to the box if you wish and either refrigerate or freeze. Lay a sheet of phyllo in the pan, tucking it into the seam of the pan, with the edges overhanging the rim. Brush it lightly with olive oil (or melted butter and oil) and turn the pan slightly, then place another sheet on top, positioning it so that the edges overlap another section of the pan’s rim. Continue to layer in 6 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with oil – both the bottom and the sides and edges that overhang the pan — and staggering them so that the overhang on the rim of the pan is evenly distributed and covers the entire pan.

Pour the goat cheese and chard filling into the phyllo-lined pan, scraping all of it out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Scrunch the overhanging phyllo in around the edges of the pan to form an attractive lip. Brush the scrunched rim with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 40 minutes, until the filling is puffed, set and lightly colored on the surface. Remove from the heat (if it puffed up it will settle) and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Advance preparation: You can keep this in the refrigerator for a day or two but you will have to rewarm in a 300-degree oven to re-crisp the phyllo.

Nutritional information per serving (6 servings): 268 calories; 17 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 118 milligrams cholesterol; 17 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 396 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 13 grams protein