Cooking on a Budget: Chanukah Recipes for Less Gelt

If you’re looking for ways to stretch your food budget, especially when entertaining, here are some simple solutions to help you prepare delicious dishes for Chanukah—or any special occasion—that won’t break the bank!

Honey Garlic Meatballs
Yields 8 to 10 servings (about 5 dozen meatballs)

These meatballs are absolutely addictive! Adding club soda to the meat mixture produces a light-textured meatball. Serve these on a bed of your favorite pasta or orzo (rice-shaped pasta)—now that’s using your noodle if you want to fill up your guests without emptying your pockets!

Meat Mixture

2 pounds lean ground turkey, chicken, beef or veal
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup club soda or water (approximately)
1/2 cup bread crumbs or matzah meal

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; spray with non-stick spray.
Combine all ingredients for meat mixture and mix lightly. Wet your hands and shape mixture into small meatballs.
Arrange meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, until firm. Meanwhile, prepare sauce.

Honey Garlic Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil

Combine soy sauce, water, brown sugar, honey, molasses and garlic in a large pot and mix well.
Heat until simmering. Dissolve cornstarch in orange juice and stir into simmering sauce along with sesame oil. As soon as sauce is bubbling and thickened, add meatballs.
Simmer partly covered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: These freeze and reheat well.

Oriental Coleslaw
Yields 12 servings

Your food processor will shred the cabbage in a flash, or you can slice it thinly with a sharp knife. It’s cheaper to shred the cabbage yourself than to buy packaged coleslaw mix. Sesame oil and rice vinegar enhance the flavor of this non-traditional coleslaw.

1 medium head green cabbage (8 cups shredded)
2 or 3 medium carrots, grated
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (or 6 green onions, sliced)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons Oriental sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Combine cabbage, carrots, onions and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Combine canola oil and rice vinegar with sugar in a 2-cup Pyrex measure. Microwave uncovered on high for 45 seconds, until almost boiling.
Pour hot dressing over cabbage mixture. Add sesame oil and mix well. Season to taste.
Transfer to a large serving bowl, cover and chill. (Can be made in advance.)
At serving time, garnish with almonds or sesame seeds, if using.

Note: Leftovers will keep about a week in the refrigerator.

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Honey Garlic Meatballs
Photos: Estee Gestetne

Baked Veggie Latkes
Yields about 1 1/2 to 2 dozen

This is a wonderful way to use up mashed potatoes. Large ones make a super vegetarian main dish, minis make great hors d’oeuvres.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
3 carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
2 unpeeled zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup minced dill and/or parsley
2 eggs
1 cup matzah meal or bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon additional oil (approximately)

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and mash. You should have about 2 cups. While potatoes are cooking, prepare remaining veggies. (So quick in the processor!)
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium heat.
Add onions, peppers and garlic and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Add carrots and zucchini. Cook 3 or 4 minutes longer. Cool slightly. Add remaining ingredients except additional oil. Mix well.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Form mixture into patties. (An ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure works well.) Oil your fingertips, and then lightly oil the tops of patties, flattening them slightly.
Bake uncovered at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn patties over and bake 10 minutes longer.

Note: These latkes reheat and freeze well.

Variations: Add a 10-ounce package of chopped cooked spinach, squeezed dry, to the sautéed vegetables.

If desired, you can substitute 2 cups of chopped mushrooms for the zucchini and add a dash of thyme.
Be creative and experiment with various vegetables. Leftover veggies work beautifully.

Pareve Chocolate Cake
Yields 18 servings

This dark and delicious chocolate cake is a family favorite with my readers! You can dress it up or down, depending on the occasion. The amount of batter might be too much for some food processors, so for a smaller version, see variations.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups orange juice or water
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups canola oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, instant coffee and salt. Process until blended, about 10 seconds.
Add orange juice or water and eggs. Start processor and add oil through the feed tube while the machine is running. Process batter for 45 seconds. Do not insert pusher in feed tube and do not overprocess.
Pour batter into a sprayed 9 x 13-inch baking pan or 12-cup bundt pan.
Bake at 350°F for 55 to 60 minutes, until cake tests done. Cool for 20 minutes before removing cake from pan. Cool completely.
If the cake was baked in a 9 x 13-inch pan, frost cake with chocolate mocha frosting or with your favorite chocolate frosting. If cake was baked in a bundt pan, drizzle cake with chocolate glaze.

Note: Freezes well.

Variations: Line a 10 x 15 x 2-inch jelly roll pan with baking parchment or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray. Pour in batter and spread evenly. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes. When cool, cut cake in half to make 2 rectangles each measuring 10 x 7 1/2-inches. Spread one half with frosting, top with the second layer and frost top and sides. No jelly roll pan? Use three 9-inch layer pans.
For a Chanukah-themed cake, decorate frosted cake with foil-wrapped Chanukah chocolate gelt and plastic dreidels.
For a smaller version, use 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, a dash of salt, 1 1/4 cups orange juice or water, 3 eggs and 3/4 cup canola oil. Bake at 325°F for 55 to 60 minutes.

Chocolate Mocha Frosting
Yields enough to frost a 9 x 13-inch cake, or to fill and frost two or three cake layers

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup soft margarine, cut in chunks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dissolve instant coffee in boiling water. Process all ingredients on the steel blade in a food processor until smooth and blended, about 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl once or twice. (Or beat in an electric mixer until well-blended.)

Chocolate Glaze
Yields enough glaze to drizzle over a 10-inch Bundt cake

2 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water or brewed coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate in microwave on medium for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add honey, oil, hot water and vanilla; blend well.
Drizzle over cake.

Pareve Chocolate Cake

Norene Gilletz of Toronto, Canada is a kosher cookbook author and food consultant. She is the author of nine cookbooks, including: The NEW Food Processor Bible: 30th Anniversary Edition(Whitecap, 2011) and Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap, 2009).

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This article was featured in the Winter 2011 issue of Jewish Action.
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