Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Merry Christmas!!!

We’d love to spend the 2022 holidays with all of our friends and family.

Sharing some of our favorite recipes is the next best thing!

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Date Pinwheel Cookies

This has always been Kevin’s favorite holiday cookie!

Ingredients for filling:

  • 2½ c. pitted dates, cut
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine the above ingredients (except nuts) in a saucepan and cook over low heat until thick (5-10 minutes). Stir in the nuts and allow to cool at room temperature.

Ingredients for dough:

  • 1 c. Crisco (or butter, or combination)
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 3 well-beaten eggs
  • 4 c. flour
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla

The recipe from Kevin’s family gets fussy at this point, but he usually starts mixing the Crisco and sugar, adds the eggs, then the flour, then everything else. This dough tends to be wet. Cover and chill thoroughly.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Using some flour to prevent sticking, roll into a 9 x 12″ rectangle about ¼” thick. We usually do this on our Silpat (silicon baking sheet), but you could use parchment paper. Spread with date filling and roll up as you would a jelly roll. Here is where the Silpat works really well: lift one edge of the sheet and it helps roll it with less effort! Wrap your rolled “log” with parchment and return to the refrigerator to chill or even freeze.

Later, cut the log into slices about ¼” thick. Bake on parchment-covered cookie sheet for 11 minutes at 375º F. Leave on cookie sheet for a few minutes after removing from oven for easier handling.

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Ham Balls

This delicious meat dish is a favorite throughout the Midwest, and especially in Kevin’s home state of Nebraska. In many areas, you can even buy “ham ball mix” at the local meat counter! We really enjoy the sweet and sour quality, and it reminds us of many Chinese dishes.
At many occasions at the Eaton household, someone has been known to exclaim “Nice Balls!”
Before starting, line the bottom of your lidded casserole dish with some aluminum foil. This makes for much easier cleanup! We use an oval metal casserole like Kevin’s mom used to have (see bottom photo). Kevin’s niece Kelly sent it to us in Los Angeles, because it’s not the sort of thing that one sees here.
Ingredients for meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground ham
  • 1½ lbs. ground pork (If it’s easier to find 1 lb. ground pork at the market, just increase the ham to 1½ lbs.)
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. cracker crumbs or bread crumbs (We used crushed Rice Chex for our friend with gluten issues.)
  • 2 beaten eggs
Combine above ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into balls about 2″ in diameter and line bottom of casserole. Preheat oven to 350º F.
Ingredients for basting liquid:
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. vinegar
  • ½ c. water
  • 1 t. dry mustard (Okay to use Colman’s pre-mixed from jar, but use more!)
  • ½ t. ground ginger -or- 1 T. fresh grated ginger
Combine basting liquid ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil for a few minutes, but don’t let it thicken. Use a baster to cover the balls with the liquid, and repeat every 15 minutes. Cook at 350º F with the lid on for 1 hour, then remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes. That last 15 minutes will give a nice crust to your balls, but they can caramelize if you do it for too long. (If you make smaller balls, you’ll need to adjust your cooking time.)
Let the balls rest briefly, and then remove them from the pan. Don’t wait too long or they will stick to the foil. Pour the drippings into a gravy boat and serve with the “Nice Balls” you’ve just created!
Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio
Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio


Guy doesn’t have his mother’s babka recipe but this is a lot like what he remembers of it. It’s rich but light and not overly sweet. She always made it for Easter but it would be nice at Christmas too. She always made an angel food cake with the egg whites not used in the babka.


  • 3½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 4½ t. dry yeast
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 4 oz. melted butter
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • ½ t. almond extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 c. dried chopped fruit (I like apricots but I think my mother used raisins)

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl.

Add milk, melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts, and orange zest and mix for at least ten minutes. This will look more like a batter than a dough.

Mix in the dried fruit, cover, and let rise until doubled in size.

Pour into a buttered pan. Guy uses his mother’s angel food cake pan. Cover and let rise until it’s near the top of the pan. It will grow a little during baking but not a lot.

Bake in a 350º oven for 40 minutes. Avoid overbaking because it dries out easily.

Let cool and remove from pan.

Guy likes to frost it with a thin layer of chocolate frosting. He thinks his mother did this sometimes but not always.

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Spicy Nut Brittle

This basic nut brittle recipe has bazzaz because of curry powder and cayenne pepper. We recommend using a thermometer for this.


  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. corn syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ t. salt
  • 16 oz. nuts, chopped if you like (I am a fan of peanuts but have used other nuts)
  • 1½ t. baking soda
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper

Combine the baking soda, curry powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl before you start.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, and salt in a pan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 275º. It should be a golden color at this point.

Working quickly, stir in the nuts then stir in baking soda, curry, and cayenne mixture.

Pour onto a jelly roll pan or baking sheet. Flatten with the back of a large spoon but don’t burn yourself (Guy says, having done this exact thing).

Let cool and break into pieces.

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Stuffed Cabbage

Guy likes to make stuffed cabbage for Christmas Eve. They are called gołąbki in Poland. This isn’t a specific recipe because he improvises each year and encourages you to do the same.

To start, cut the core from a nice looking head of cabbage. Put an inch of water or so into a pot large enough to hold the cabbage. Bring the water to a low boil, put the cabbage into the pot, and cover. As the cabbage steams, the outer leaves will soften and you can pull them off one at a time with tongs. Stack them on a plate and let them cool. Add more water if it looks like it will boil off before you’re done. Eventually, the leaves will become too small for stuffed cabbage so save that core for something else or use in soup stock.

A basic filling often consists of ground meat (1½ lbs. of beef, pork, or a mixture of the two), partially cooked rice (½ cup before cooking), and onion (one large, cooked in butter), seasoned with salt and pepper. This year, Guy added a generous amount of paprika and fresh chopped dill. Wrap some filling in a cabbage leaf like a small burrito. Place your stuffed cabbage leaves into a baking dish and cover with a tomato-based sauce. That simple Marcella Hazan tomato sauce with butter and onion would be great. Put them in a baking dish, cover them with foil and bake in the 350º oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and fresh chopped dill.

You can add and subtract from this basic recipe as you see fit. You can eliminate the meat and use more rice. You can use wild rice or barley. Mushrooms are a nice addition. You can vary the seasoning of the filling and the sauce. Invent your own stuffed cabbage!

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Spicy Green Beans

These beans are like the Prik King you get at a Thai restaurant. If you don’t like spicy food, and you know who you are, you won’t like this dish!
  • 1½ lbs. fresh green beans, cut to approximately 1½” pieces
  • 1 T. or so of cooking oil of your choice
  • Thai red curry paste to taste (We use 1 T. of Mekhala Organic Red Curry Paste, which is quite hot)
  • 3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press or chopped finely
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • 1 T. fish sauce
  • 1 t. brown sugar

Place lidded sauté pan with cooking oil over medium-high heat. Cook beans in hot oil for a few minutes.

Add curry paste and garlic to pan and toss with beans for about one minute.

Add water, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, and sugar to pan and stir to coat the beans. Cover pan and let steam for three to five minutes or until they are cooked to your liking.

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Cherry Mash Bars

This layered  candy is a homemade version of a candy bar that Kevin ate growing up in Nebraska. The commercial bar is made with milk chocolate, but we like to use dark chocolate and a hint of cayenne pepper to make it more adult. We jokingly call it “crack,” because you blackout after eating it and immediately have to eat more!

Note: Package size of dark chocolate and cherry chips has recently been decreased to 12 oz., but we use 16 oz.

Ingredients for bottom cherry layer:

  • 2 c. sugar
  • ⅔ c. evaporated milk
  • ½ c. butter
  • 12 regular marshmallows (FYI: 10 minis = 1 regular)
  • ¼ t. of salt

Combine in a pan and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in:

  • 16 oz. of cherry chips
  • 1 t. of vanilla

Pour into a 9 x 13″ pan that has been lined with aluminum foil and buttered to prevent sticking. (You’ll thank us later!) Chill while preparing the top layer.

In the microwave, melt the ingredients for the top layer:

  • 16 oz. of dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ c. of chunky peanut butter
  • ¾ c. of walnuts or other (Niece Kelly uses crushed Beer Nuts!)
  • ¼ t. of cayenne pepper (Stir well to distribute evenly!)

Spread over the lower cherry layer and return to the refrigerator to set. You just made CRACK!

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio
Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio

Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing

Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing is another Nebraska favorite from Kevin’s youth. We can’t buy it in Los Angeles and have been making our own for a few years. After finding a recipe online, we adapted it to our own tastes. We think it’s better than the manufactured version, and certainly cheaper than buying it online. More about what Kevin’s family refers to as “Dorothy” here.


  • 15 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce
  • ¾ c. oil (we have been using peanut oil recently)
  • ½ c. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 1 T. corn starch
  • 1½ t. salt
  • 1 t. dried Colman’s mustard
  • 1 t. celery seeds
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • ½ t. hot paprika (though you could probably use regular paprika if you don’t have hot)
  • ¼ t. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender. Blend well.

Continue to blend and drizzle in the oil slowly so you get a nice emulsion. Put in bottles and keep in the refrigerator.

Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio
Kevin Eaton in the ceramic studio