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The annual cookie bake in December is a favorite time of the year in Trina Mor's family. "My sister, my two girls, some cousins, my sister-in-law and a couple of friends gather and bake for hours," says Trina. "I hope when our kids grow up they have the same treasured memories of family, food and love."

"My Italian grandmother always made these yummy bread rolls filled with ham and onions at Christmastime," says Trina Mor of her delicious Latvian Bacon Rolls, which were called "pedocks" or "pierogi" in her family. "I don't know where she learned to make them but she did it for my grandpa because it was a Christmas tradition in his home country of Latvia, and he loved her for it.

"And we all loved her for it because we couldn't wait for them to come out of the oven. She would always tell us not to fill up on them but I could never help myself!"

When Trina's grandmother passed away, many of her recipes were lost too. "As with many people from that generation, recipes were in their heads and they measured by feel and touch. So many things were lost, like the pierogi."

But years later Trina rediscovered the rolls after getting to know a client of Latvian heritage at the salon where she works as a stylist. "I asked if her family made pierogi and she looked at me like, 'How do you know what those are?' I told her the story, and her mother gave me three recipes to choose from. I thought: Wouldn't my family be surprised if I brought them to Christmas dinner?

"So I picked the recipe that sounded the closest to what I remembered, said a prayer and dug in. I'll never forget that Christmas morning pulling them out of the oven and taking that first bite. The smell, the taste…it was just like I remembered! For a moment I was a little girl again, back in my nonna's kitchen. It was so exciting to recreate something I thought was lost, and to share it with my family again."

Christmas is a favorite time for Trina, husband Mittry and daughters Francesca and Gianna in their La Canada, California home. "Christmas is a big one for our family. We get together and make Nonna's Walnut Biscotti and all the Italian cookies my grandmothers used to make. Hopefully we are passing on the tradition to our children."

Nonna's Walnut Biscotti

As Trina states, "This recipe yields a much more substantial biscotti, way better than store bought!"

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup cooled melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 Cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. In a mixing bowl, cream together the eggs, sugar and VANILLA. Add cooled melted butter/oil and mix again. In a separate bowl sift together the salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix until a sticky dough forms. Fold in the nuts. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and separate into 2 pieces. With floured hands, shape the dough into logs 10-12" long and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350° for about 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 275°. When the logs have cooled a bit, cut into cookies about 1/2-inch thick and place them back on the cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake at 275° for 10 more minutes on each side.

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 3-4 dozen

Nutritional Information: Servings 24;
Serving Size 2 biscotti (47g); Calories 200; Calories from fat 100; Total fat 12g; Cholesterol 50mg; Sodium 160mg; Carbohydrate 21g; Dietary Fiber <1g.

Nonna's Walnut Biscotti

Need any spices for this recipe?

Description Price Quantity
Single Strength Vanilla 4 oz. Bottle $13.99

"Buon Natale" Egg Bake

Trina shares, "This is something I usually make for Christmas morning because it's so easy and tasty. Assemble the night before for a stress free lunch!"

  • 6 slices wheat or white bread, crust trimmed off and lightly buttered on both sides
  • 2 1/4 Cups shredded cheese, cheddar, fontina or whatever you prefer, divided
  • 1 Cup chopped pancetta or ham
  • 1 Cup sliced mushrooms, or whatever veggie you like
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 TB. chopped green onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1/4 tsp. MINCED GARLIC)
  • 1 3/4 Cups whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Lay the bread slices in a large rectangular casserole dish. Sprinkle with 11/2 cups of the cheese. In a mixing bowl, combine the pancetta, mushrooms, eggs, green onion, MUSTARD POWDER, garlic, milk and Worcestershire. Mix well. Pour over the bread and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. Chilling overnight in the fridge is what causes the egg bake to rise up during baking.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and bake 10 more minutes. It should be slightly jiggly. If only the center moves, bake a few more minutes. Let it stand for 5 minutes and serve.

Prep. time: 15 minutes plus overnight in the fridge
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Nutritional Information: Servings 6;
Serving Size 3/4 cup (195g); Calories 240; Calories from fat 80; Total fat 9g; Cholesterol 190mg; Sodium 540mg; Carbohydrate 13g; Dietary Fiber <1g.

"Buon Natale" Egg Bake

Need any spices for this recipe?

Description Price Quantity
Mustard Powder Regular .9 oz. 1/4 cup jar $2.75
Garlic Minced 1.2 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.79