The Oplatki Tradition and Holiday Wishes

Every year since before I was born, my family has had a Polish Christmas Eve tradition. We wash our hands with a silver dollar before dinner, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest members of the family. It’s like…the sweetest tradition ever. This is to bring a year of financial goodness for everyone (I’m still waiting for mine to kick in…since 1997…)

My family celebrates Christmas Eve with oplatki and other Polish traditions, granting each other wishes for the coming year.

Then we feast on the Polish delicacies: pierogi (stuffed dumplings), gwumpki (cabbage rolls), kapusta (saurkraut), kielbasa (sausage–even though traditional Polaks don’t eat meat on Christmas Eve), and kolacky (cookies).

After the feast, we bust out one of my favorite parts of the evening: the oplatki (communion-like wafer of goodness). With the oplatki, everyone walks around to the members of the family, and shares with them three wishes and three pieces of their oplatki. When I was a kid, we all hated it. We would try to give Grandpa the biggest pieces, and ask for just the tiniest little bites for ourselves. As we got older, my sister and I would fight over the leftovers.

The thing was, three wishes to each family member can seem…tedious. I wish you happiness. Oplatki I wish you health. Oplatki I wish you lots of money. Oplatki Repeat for each person. From the time I turned 12, my aunt would always wish that I found love. Oplatki And so it would go until everyone had shared wishes with everyone else in a big happy family love sharing wish sharing circle. Oh and they hand fed the oplatki into your mouth, just like communion. (Click that if you’ve never read about my First Communion. Seriously. Go. I’ll wait.)

Anyways, back to wishes… I’ve already told you about my super awesome Christmas List… April, the sassy-pants behind First Time Mom & Dad granted me some wishes. Five of them for the holidays. Here they are in all their beautiful glory.

  1. I wish for the perfect job. One in which I am appreciated as a member of a team. One in which I can ask questions and offer answers/suggestions. One in which I make a decent salary, so that I can take my amazing boyfriend out to a fancy dinner once in a while. One in which I don’t feel worked to the bone, but I want to work hard for. One that makes me feel needed. You hear that, potential employers? I’m looking for the perfect job. Are you it?

  2. I wish for cancer to go away. Someone near and dear to our hearts is battling and I wish for her. To fight it. To beat it.*

  3. I wish for sponsorship from a cheese company. (Come on, we’ve got to lighten things up after the last one!)

  4. I wish for world peace world travel.

  5. I wish for cookies.

Cookie Monster Meme

 What are your 5 wishes?

*Brian’s mom passed away in March of 2013. We still miss her.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tasty Tuesday: Asparagus and Brussels Sprout Salad

While I’m still in the process of getting my foodie section up and running, I figure that now is as good a time as any to give you a teaser post! My friend Valerie started a Tasty Tuesday weekly, so I thought I’d join her today.

Last year, I discovered Brussels sprouts. I know what you’re thinking… Seriously, Chrissy? Last year? How old are you? 10?

Until last year, I had only ever had frozen Green Giant Brussels sprouts (OK, maybe that should be sprout-singular) and I thought it was gross. Cue Brian’s mom, the best roast-maker ever, who would cook lamb roast with all sorts of delicious veggies. And the Brussels sprouts from her garden were delightful. And I wanted Brussels sprouts all the time.

Similarly with asparagus (as I had only ever had nasty overcooked stringy foul-smelling beasts of asparagus), I tasted a fresh al dente asparagus a few years ago when a chef friend of mine made me try it. Also delightful.

So I was hungry for some veggies one night and Googled (as I tend to do) to see if other people combine asparagus and Brussels sprouts into one dish. As it turns out, yes…they do.

I stumbled upon a Warm Asparagus and Brussels Sprout Salad recipe at Lauren’s Latest and modified it to suit what I had in my cabinet.

I subbed out the pomegranate seeds with dried Craisins, the bacon with ham, the white onion with a red onion, and added a little olive oil because there was no bacon grease. I also added crumbled goat cheese, because everything tastes better with cheese.

I’ve made this salad several times since, and I actually think that I prefer it served chilled. Here’s what I did the last time I made it. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 lb  Brussels sprouts (shredded)
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus (cut)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb turkey bacon (OK if you’re missing 2 slices)
  • 8 oz Craisins
  • 8 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Start with a 1/2 cup of sliced almonds.

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Toast the almonds in a skillet (I didn’t use any oil here).

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

After removing the almonds, fry the turkey bacon with a little cooking spray. (Also okay if you accidentally tear the bacon in half when you’re pulling it out of the container.) I’m not a big turkey bacon fan, but Trader Joe’s makes a pretty good one. And my mom doesn’t eat red meat or pork, so I had to be accommodating.

Microwaved turkey bacon

It’s not okay to microwave turkey bacon when you realize you want to cook all of it instead of just half a package… This is the result. These two lonely slices made their way into the mouth of the garbage bag (because we still didn’t have a garbage can yet…)

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

I wasted a lot of little containers taking pictures for you. I hope you’re impressed.

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

After removing the turkey bacon to let it cool, saute the onions in the oil until they are translucent.

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Chopped asparagus (no icky bottoms, thankyouverymuch).

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Add the asparagus to the onions

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

I could lie and say that I shredded the Brussels sprouts myself…but really… would I do that to you?

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Bagged Brussels Sprouts from Trader Joe’s. Making my life easier one plastic bag at a time.

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Add the chopped Brussels sprouts to the asparagus/onions

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

After you chop the turkey bacon, add to the pan

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Add the almonds back into the pan

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Craisins are super pretty 🙂 Mix them into a slightly cooled salad

Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, Onions, Almonds, Turkey Bacon, Craisins, Goat Cheese

Finish the whole thing with the goat cheese. *Drool*

There you have it. One of my favorite side dishes. I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. Except for the goat cheese with my sister. Apparently, she hates goat cheese. Apparently she didn’t know that until Thanksgiving. It was actually hilarious watching her expression.

What’s your favorite veggie side dish?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!