Home cooks share holiday recipes and traditions

Sautéed Shrimp & Peppers | Alexis Frank


The holidays are a time when Los Angeles home cooks emerge from their kitchens with meals that reflect the city’s vast variety of cultures and traditions. We asked three residents from different backgrounds to share their holiday recipes and what makes these dishes a yearly tradition.

 Sautéed Shrimp & Peppers

  • Prepared by Alexis Frank, Los Feliz

Growing up in a West Indian household, Frank was exposed to different foods that fall outside of the traditional American family dinner. The New York native doesn’t have any strict traditions or customs but sharing the holiday with family is important. “Christmas dinner is a time for the whole family to come together and break bread,” she adds.

The sauteed shrimp and peppers she offers as a holiday dish was also “something simple that my mother would make on a late night.” Prepared with either vegetables or some white rice and black or pinto beans.


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan

While that’s heating take:

  • 1/2 lb of shrimp and season with the following:
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon one cajun seasoning

You can either chop onion, bell peppers (green, red, yellow) or purchase frozen bag of mixed peppers from Trader Joes

Place the onion, bell peppers in a pan and let soften.

Then add the shrimp, sauté for 1- to 2 minutes until pink and firm

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

  • Prepared by Stephanie Blume, East Hollywood

Native Angelino Stephanie Blume has been making kosher holiday meals for years. This Chanukah, she is making Brussels sprouts. “Regardless of your denomination, this is an appropriate dish for any festive dinner, and it’s Kosher too,” says Blume.


Have these ready:

  • 3 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Trim/clean the Brussels sprouts then cut them in half. Arrange on two baking sheets and toss with the olive oil. Roast until brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Tip:  if you toss the Brussels in a bowl with the olive oil, you’ll get a perfect coating, which makes them roast evenly.

Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, the heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick.

Tip: Please note that the reduction process takes attention and the balsamic vinegar can be pungent while cooking. I’d keep a fan going or open a window while creating the reduction.

Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, and sprinkle on the dried cranberries.

Mama’s Poppy Seed Coffeecake | Jim Schneeweis

Mama’s Poppy Seed Coffeecake

  • Prepared by Jim Schneeweis, Echo Park

Originally from a small town in central Minnesota , Jim Schneeweis bakes a poppy seed coffeecake for Christmas morning breakfast  from a recipe believed to have come from his great-grandmother.

“The coffeecake would be paired with a homemade garlic sausage, eggs and fruit served on small Christmas plates, with orange juice and coffee,” says Schneeweis. “It was always so magical to me, especially the breakfast, every part of it. When I was really young, I believed that Santa did it all. We have created a tiny version of that here in Echo Park, minus the cold and snow.”

This Christmas, Schneeweis plans to spend it by hosting an informal, afternoon dinner for neighbors and friends. Other dishes he cooks are turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and green bean casserole.


Soak 1/3 cup poppy seed in 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk. Make sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to milk.

Cream together:

  • 1 cup butter or margarine or vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • Beat in 4 egg yokes

In separate bowl mix together:

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Combine with first mixture

Slowly add poppy seed to entire mixture

Add 1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla extract

Beat 4 egg whites until stiff and gently fold into batter

Separately mix 1/2-cup sugar and 1-teaspoon cinnamon

Pour half of batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan

Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar mixture

Pour remaining batter on top and sprinkle with rest of cinnamon sugar

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.

Jacqueline Fernandez is a Los Angeles-based reporter who’s written for various media outlets such as Los Angeles Wave, The Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News.

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One comment

  1. What a great story! Thanks!

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