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Christmas Eve Dinner Menu: Dessert Tray, Pt 1

cranberry-upside-down-cakeWith the dinner menu being fairly simple, I’ve spent the week baking desserts. I started with Spritz Cookies. I used this recipe, and then I divided the dough in half. I added 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about a 1/4 cup extra flour (a little at a time until it was workable dough again) and 2 tsp of lemon zest. I dusted those with powder sugar when done. The other batch was just the yummy butter half of the dough.

Next up, this cake. I had leftover Cranberry-Apple Sauce from Thanksgivingwhich I froze with this recipe in mind. It made for a very tasty fruit bottom.  Here’s the original recipe:

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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I’m not done yet. I’ll be baking more later this week, so stay tuned….



 

Holiday Baking: Spritz Cookies With A Lemon-Lime Twist

I’m gearing up for my holiday baking and thinking citrus things. I remembered I was going to try these with some citrus zest next time.

From Christmas 2014:

Spritz Cookies

I love spritz butter cookies. They’re tiny little, melt-in-your-mouth bites that go great with a cup of coffee. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make. It helped that a friend of a friend loaned me her all metal, ratchet handled press. These are not easy to come by any more, at least not when I went looking. Most of the new ones are partially plastic and received tepid reviews, especially for durability and ease of use.

Speaking of reviews, I was reading the reviews when JLB posted her favorite recipe along with her review at Amazon. That ended up being the recipe I decided to use and it worked beautifully.

Although my Christmas trees kind of look like trilobites, they taste great.

If I make these again, I might divide the dough into thirds and make one plain and then make one with lime zest and another with lemon zest and dust with citrus powdered sugar.

Spritz Raw

Here is JLB’s perfect recipe (with my thanks!):

Spritz Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened/room temp – set on counter for about 15 minutes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla mixing well. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk.

Add dry ingredients slowly to the butter and sugar and mix until the dough is in small to medium sized clumps. Now mix with your hands to form dough into a ball. (Should have a consistency similar to Play Dough, but not dry.) If your dough is sticky, add flour; a tablespoon at a time. If it seems dry, add softened butter; a tablespoon at a time. (TaMara’s Note: I gently kneaded the dough for about a minute to get the right consistency)

Load dough into press. Top with colored sugars or other sprinkles. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8 – 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets before removing and placing on cooling racks.
Makes about 5 – 6 dozen.

Me again. A few tips on using the cookie press. Put your baking sheets in the freezer, this makes the cookie dough stick when you press them on the sheets. Like putting your tongue on a frozen light pole. 🙂 I put them out on the patio to cool in between batches before pressing more cookies.

Fill the cookie press 3/4 full, that seems to be the easiest to handle.

I pulled mine from the oven while they were still light colored. One batch got a little golden. It definitely changes the flavor and I preferred the light colored ones, but experiment, you might the golden ones better.

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Sure hope my friend still has that cookie press I can borrow. Nothing beats the spring loaded metal ones.

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Grilled Vegetable Salad

This works well as a side or a nice, fresh main course.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 4 red potatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp sage, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz bag spinach leaves or spring greens
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

serving bowl, large bowl, grilling basket or foil

Mix oil and spices, toss with onion, potatoes and carrots in a large bowl, until well coated. Place in a grilling basket or wrap in foil and grill for 20 minutes, stirring or turning frequently.  Mix together lemon & butter.  In serving bowl, add greens, grilled vegetables and toss with lemon butter

white-bowl-with-fresh-spinach-leaves



 

Chicken Wings Piccata

DSC_1899 (1600x1060)Lemon goes well with chicken.  The recipe is an easy one, I adapted it for wings.  Because I’m lazy, I roasted the potatoes and the sprouts in the same tray.  The potatoes are done, albeit without much crust.  They could have done with another few minutes but the sprouts needed to come out so I called them good enough.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Sweet Tart

Blueberry Lemon Pie

Since lemons were on sale, I was planning on this recipe last week, but I never found time. This week I made time because I really wanted some lemony-blueberry goodness. It was very, very simple. Though I did manage to unnecessarily dirty quite a few dishes in the process.

The basis for the custard pie is my Key Lime Pie recipe, found here.

Key Lime Coconut Bars and Key Lime Gelato recipes are here and here.  I LOVE Key Lime.

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JeffreyW made Cabbage Rolls this week, pictured above – recipe, instructions and more photos are here

That’s it for this week. I’ve been busy with many new clients and switching everything over to a new computer. I’m really looking forward to a relaxing weekend. What’s on your plate this weekend. What’s cookin’ in your kitchen?

Tonight’s featured recipe, pictured at top, satisfied a craving for a sweet-tart dessert. Starting with my standard custard pie recipe and adding blueberry filling turned out to be just what I wanted.

Blueberry Lemon Pie

Blueberry filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups wild blueberries (I use frozen, thawed)
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar

saucepan

Add ingredients to the saucepan. Bring to a low boil and immediately reduce heat to low and let simmer until thickened. Stirring occasionally. Let cool completely.

Lemon pie:

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 9 inch graham cracker pie crust

 

Preheat oven to 250°

Combine milk & yolks with mixer until well blended. Add lemon juice and zest, mix well. Add enough blueberry filling to thinly coat the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the lemon mixture into pie shell – try to pour it in evenly, because you don’t want to spread it with a spatula and disturb the blueberries. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely and top with remaining blueberries. Refrigerate before serving, and any leftovers.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Cranberry Grilled Chicken

Cranberry Chicken 3_Snapseed2

Continuing  my week of highlighting recipes that have low salt content. This homemade sauce is tangy and sweet, plenty of flavor without added salt. To reduce salt even more, use low-sodium ketchup (or homemade ketchup) and a dash of red wine vinegar. Hoping to get a Bixby update later today.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cranberry Chicken
  2. Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower
  3. Steamed Rice (I like Jasmine with this menu)
  4. Ice Cream Sundaes

Cranberry Chicken

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*

9×9 glass baking dish, greased and skillet

Heat butter in skillet, sauté onions until golden brown. Arrange breasts in one layer in baking dish. Mix together ketchup, sugar, vinegar, mustard & onions. In a blender, coarsely chop cranberries and add to sauce mixture. Spoon over chicken. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes, until chicken is 180° in center.

*As anyone who reads the blog knows,  I keep cranberries in the freezer, having stocked up during the holidays. If you can’t find whole cranberries, use whole, canned and omit the brown sugar.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp curry
  • 1 tsp salt- or substitute 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon, quartered

saucepan

Add cauliflower, 1 inch of water and ¼ cup lemon juice in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is just tender. Drain. In saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter, sauté onion until golden, then add flour, stirring until smooth. Add milk, seasonings & cheese, stir until well mixed and smooth. Add cauliflower, stir well. Reduce heat and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Serve with lemon.   The lemon in this really brightens the flavor.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 cups whole cranberries*
  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 oz milk
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon
  • rice
  • 1 quart favorite ice cream
  • Sundae toppings

Also: butter, flour, curry, salt, red wine vinegar

Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish

This is a great recipe and you can cook it on the grill or indoors in the oven.  Add baked potatoes or rice and fresh greens from the garden for a nice summer meal.  Serves 4.

Grilled Lemon Salmon:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 – 6 oz skinless salmon fillets

zip-lock bag

Add ingredients to bag and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.  Grill on a clean, oiled grill or use a well oiled grilling pan, or broil in oven in a heavy skillet or broiler.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily.  Serve with relish.

Corn Pepper Relish:

  • 1 cup cooked corn (or canned, drained)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • ½ red pepper chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic

bowl

Combine all ingredients and let marinate while salmon cooks.  You can use the remaining peppers in a salad for your next dinner.



 

Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

Lemon Sunshine

Someone asked me if I could post a few recipes that limited the amount of salt, so this week I thought I’d focus on that. I’ll start with lemon. It makes a great substitute for salt, it adds flavor, a bit of bite and enhances the flavors of many things like fish, chicken and pastas. In this recipe, both ricotta and Parmesan are salty enough that additional salt should not be necessary.

Lemon Ricotta Linguine with Chicken and Spinach

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10-12 oz dry linguine pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 6 oz baby spinach, washed
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan, additional for garnish

shallow dish, large pot, skillet

Place chicken between plastic wrap, pound flat and place in a single layer in a shallow dish. Zest lemons and then juice them. Reserve 2 tbsp of juice, mix the remaining juice with 1 tbsp of oil and basil leaves and pour over chicken, making sure it’s well coated. Cover and marinate for 30 to 60 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.

Cook pasta according to directions. While it is cooking, heat oil in skillet, remove chicken from the marinade (toss the marinade) and cook chicken breasts over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove from heat, cover and let rest. Alternately you can grill the chicken.

When pasta is al dente, remove 1 cup of water and then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Over low heat, add lemon juice, ricotta, lemon zest, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and toss. Slowly add a 1/2 cup of pasta water, tossing to make a sauce, until the pasta is coated evenly. Add more water as needed. Slice chicken into strips and add to pasta mixture, then add spinach leaves and toss. Add pepper as desired and serve immediately with more shredded Parmesan. Serves 6

p.s. Schedule is still crazy this week, so time for recipes, but not photos. I may update later with pix as time allows. 😉



 

Quick Tip: Freezing Fresh from the Garden

 

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It’s the time of year again when things begin to ripen faster than you can eat them, but there are still not enough to think about canning or cooking down and freezing. So what to do?

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I had a bunch of cilantro and two tomatoes which were rushing to ruin and decided I needed to do something so I didn’t end up composting them. You can do this with any leafy herb, such as the basil, parsley, cilantro and veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.

I added the tomatoes and cilantro into my blender, covered with water and blended together well. I froze them in 8 oz portions, as that is the amount I would use in soup or sauce. Ice cube trays are an option, too, but that size is better for when you’re freezing intense herbs, like basil, by itself, where you would only use a tablespoon or so in a recipe.

I also zest all my oranges, lemons and limes and freeze them in a thin and flat layer in ziplock bags. Then I break off whatever amount called for in a recipe.

Herbs can also be packed in oil (click here) as JeffreyW did with his basil pictured above and tomatoes can be flash frozen whole, as JeffreyW did with the batch  pictured at the top and detailed heregreen and red peppers can be seeded and cut up into large pieces and frozen in the same manner.

There are many more ways to preserve fresh from the garden produce and I’ll try and remember to document as I go along this summer. Until then….

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Mojo Roast Chicken with Black Beans and Rice

DSC_0544 (1600x1060)I bought a bottle of sour orange juice so I could more closely replicate the mojo marinade needed for a proper roast pork  Cubano sandwich.  I haven’t done that yet, but a recipe for mojo marinated roast chicken caught my eye.  A mojo sauce is mostly olive oil with garlic, citrus, and oregano.  I used fresh oregano instead of dried in mine.  The lemon and lime juices in the recipe are intended to get to the sour/bitter taste profile of the sour orange juice when sour orange isn’t available and regular orange juice is substituted.  Lacking a rotisserie on my grill I used the beer can roaster gadget with good result.DSC_0541 (1600x1060)A recipe for Cuban style black beans and rice worked well and fit the general theme of the plate.  I have no Idea if broccoli plays much part in the Cuban diet but I like it so I steamed some florets and gave them a squeeze of lemon.  I picked the green pepper and a couple of sweet banana peppers from my container garden to make the bean dish.  The addition of a splash of red wine vinegar to the beans right before serving them really made the dish.  I never would have thought to do that but it works!