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  • HDT Team

HDT Holiday Traditions

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Happy Holidays from the staff of Happy Dancing Turtle. We want to share with you some of our favorite traditions and recipes that we’ve used over the years as we met and dined with our families. Some are more classic while some are different, indeed! However, the main reason behind them is they are a reason we get together with our friends and families during the holiday season.

Colin M’s Rosette Recipe  

We’ll start with dessert, which indeed seems like a good place to begin. For, what are the holidays without holiday treats?

When Colin was a child, his mother would let him run the deep fryer, which delighted him very much. She recently allowed Colin’s little girl to run it this season, which worried him just as much. Rosettes are a delicate batter-based sugar sprinkled cookie. You take this flower shaped iron and dip it into the batter, and then fry the heck out of it. Once done, you sprinkle sugar or cinnamon on them. I’ve even heard of people sprinkling lemon juice on them for a change. Any way you eat them, they’re really light, despite them being deep-fat fried batter. Yum!


Check out this hand-written recipe card!

Apparently, Colin’s mother got this recipe from a woman who lived on a farm just over the hill from the farm she grew up on. Lucille is still alive, by the way. At 95 years old, she still drives, lives on her own, and hosts parade viewings in Kensington, MN from her front yard.

Look at the grease spots and thumb prints showing up on the card! You can tell this is a well-used recipe just by how much it’s been used.

Chris G’s Kowalski Kraut & Noodle Recipe

Our resident chef Chris had a large assortment of recipes to offer for his traditional holiday recipe, yet he chose this one for its unique flair. He says that it’s a tradition in his family that in order to have a good and prosperous year ahead, you must eat sauerkraut on New Years Eve.

Because almost no children like the taste of kraut, his aunt came up with this recipe, so even the most finicky little one could have a great new year without too much fuss.


  1. 12 oz package of thick wide egg noodles

  2. 2 cups butter

  3. 1 onion thinly sliced

  4. 1 lb polish sausage (or kielbasa) cut into thin slices

  5. 2 cups of sauerkraut

Boil egg noodles and drain

Using two stick of butter saute the onions until translucent

Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes

In a crock pot or roasting pan, mix in noodles, kraut, and sausage mix. Top with the rest of the butter and keep warm until serving.

Good Luck All Year!

Allison R’s Buttermilk Salad Recipe

Our Food & Water Security Program Coordinator is a bit embarrassed to admit that this jello salad is her family’s treasured holiday recipe. She tells that it’s always been on her holiday table ever since she was a kid. Her grandmother passed away a few years ago and not only has her treasured “grape salad” made it to every holiday table since, her handwritten recipe card for Buttermilk Salad has also been used every year.

In an attempt to “health it up” for her family, Allison has added real whipped cream instead of cool whip and homemade kefir instead of buttermilk.

It just looks good, though, doesn’t it?


Doesn’t it just look yummy?!


  1. 8-10 oz pineapple juice

  2. 6 oz Jello – Allison uses red almost exclusively

  3. 2 cups buttermilk

  4. 1 large cool whip (8-9 oz)

Mix pineapple juice and jello to a boil. Set aside to cool

Mix buttermilk and cool whip together.

When jello is cool, add to buttermilk & cool whip mixture

Refrigerate in mold of your choosing.

Shirlee A’s Lefse Recipe

Lefse making is a grand tradition in Minnesota. I don’t think I’ve been to a holiday without having some offered. Shirlee’s recipe is goes all the way back to her grandmother, who, understanding that sometimes you need to feed a small family and sometimes you need to feed an army, split the recipe into full, 3/4, and half sized portions. How convenient!


Lefse Making. Photo by Karinsen via Flickr

1Gallon Portion

  1. 1 tsp salt

  2. 2 Tbsp butter *room temp butter is best

  3. 3 cups flour

  4. 10 lbs bag russet-light cold, mashed potatoes

3/4 Gallon Portion

  1. 3/4 tsp salt

  2. 1 Tbsp + 1.5 tsp butter

  3. 2.25 cups flour

  4. 7 lb bag russet-light cold mashed potatoes

1/2 Gallon Portion

  1. 1/2 tsp salt

  2. 1 Tbsp butter

  3. 1.5 cups flour

  4. 5 lb bag russet-light cold mashed potatoes

Mix well. Cold potatoes should be rolled on hard flat surface with a dusting of flour to keep things rolling smoothly.

Roll until lefsas are 1/8 inch think.

Bake on lefse griddle and rack to cool.

Lay lefse in rows and cover with flour sack/towel.

Check out this recipe card, though. The little touches that let you know it was a well used recipe. The addendums on the right, allowing for larger or smaller batches. Along with the instructions for working a large team together to get the batches done. I love this. Thank you for sharing, Shirlee. How very heartwarming.


Thank you, Shirlee!


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