Celebrate Hanukkah with Crunchy Latkes and Cinnamon-Sweet Applesauce

When I was growing up we would light the candles on the menorah every night during Hanukkah. We would say the blessings over the candles and exchange gifts. One of my favorite memories of our 8-night celebration was the reciting of the blessing. Being the language nerd that I am, I felt really cool about being able to say the blessings in Hebrew.

We still celebrate Hanukkah as a family, though sometimes Hanukkah sneaks up on me and I don’t take out our menorah until the holiday is almost over! Nowadays, my sister and her family as well as dear friends who feel like family come together to my mom’s house to celebrate the re-dedication of the brisket, er…Jerusalem for our annual Hanukkah celebration. Let’s face it, it’s about the food, family and presents!

Kids Cooking and Baking Classes Westchester NY - Hanukkah Foods

My mom still wishes us a Happy Hanukkah in the same sing-song way she did when I was a little girl.

The first thing we do is light the Hanukkah candles and say the special Hebrew blessing. My nephew reminds us how to play dreidel and all of the kids have a great time playing for pennies and chocolate gelt (chocolate coins!). At our celebration, we don’t ever sing the song--we just play the game. But if you need a little rendition, here it is!  

Ready to learn more about Hanukkah? Check out 5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Hanukkah.

My mom is still hosting the loveliest dinner with a special brisket that takes her three days--yes three whole days!--to make. Trust me, it’s so worth it! We have matzoh ball soup, a sweet noodle kugel that my best girl loves to make and desert is Triple Chocolate Mousse cake from Jean-Jacques in Pleasantville, NY.

Kids Cooking and Baking Classes Westchester NY Hanukkah Foods

When it’s time for presents our kids open a slew of colorful gifts. I try my best not to cringe at all of the wrapping paper that flies around the room! Most years I contain myself and just live in the moment. Just like my childhood gifts, the gifts are small but they are always meaningful, though my mom usually gets one big gift for the kids. And so I still look forward to the gift exchange--even if it means wading through the wrapping paper that’s all over the living room floor!

I love sharing this time with my family. We are a small family, and we don’t really get to see each other enough. And I enjoy my mom’s latkes. Her crunchy and flavorful latkes are truly the vehicle for her incredible applesauce. It’s rich, cinamonn-y and when she wants to add a little punch, she pours a little apple cider into to her recipe. I have used her recipe many times and guess what? My applesauce is good, but not as good. I guess this is just part of her mom magic.

Kids Cooking and Baking Classes Westchester NY - Hanukkah Foods

But back to those latkes. What I love about making latkes and eating latkes is that it is symbolic and connects me to our ancestors. What I don't love about making them is smelling up the house so we all smell like a fried potato! And they’re the absolute, perfect treat to make with your kids.

I’ve made latkes and applesauce with the kids in my cooking classes so I am 100% sure it is possible! If you need a few tips on how to get your kids helping you out in the kitchen, check out 5 Things Your Kids Can Do In The Kitchen.

Kid-Approved Recipes: CrISPY Latkes and Naturally Sweet Applesauce

Kids Cooking and Baking Classes Westchester NY - Hanukkah Foods

This recipe, in my humble opinion, is just awesome! It’s packed with lots of seasonings that your kids will be able to add and mix with confidence. And guess what? There’s no grating involved! I mean, sure, kids could use these no-cry gloves and the veggie grater, but if they’re too young, they might not have the stamina to grate four potatoes. And if they’re older, they’d rather get back to Snapchat!

Kids Cooking and Baking Classes Westchester NY - Hanukkah Foods

With this latke recipe, you can boil your potatoes ahead of time. Then, your kids can mash them up. They can also snip the herbs, crack and whisk eggs and then, mix it all together with the frozen (thawed) hash browns that no one had to grate and risk their knuckles!

And the applesauce? It basically cooks itself. Once you’ve peeled and sliced up the apples, your little ones can add a healthy dash of cinnamon, sugar, water, and lemon juice. Within 45 minutes, you’ll have some decadent applesauce that you may have trouble sharing!

While your latkes and applesauce are cooking, why not read a story out of Jewish Tales. Each story is colorful and provides meaningful lessons. While the stories aren’t about the magical Festival of Lights, they teach lessons from iconic Jewish stories. If your kids are a bit too old for story time, your kids will love celebrating the season with this fun Hanukkah word search! Be sure to check Education.com for more reading activities! 

I’m sure they’ll enjoy! What’s your favorite part of Hanukkah? Have you ever tasted a latke before?