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….



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pears and Grilling

Pears Pecorino Walnuts

Sometime contributor Michael Fallai shares a lot of terrific recipes on Facebook. The only hitch is they are often in Italian. Tonight’s featured recipe was one of those. If you ever want a laugh, let Google translate a recipe for you…and don’t let dissolve cheese in a water bath, or let your wine evaporate on flame lively intimidate you.

Perusing the weekly ads, I pulled together a few recipes based on what was on sale this week and headed out to the grill.

First up, Curried Turkey Burgers, recipe here. Great served on fresh pita and grill some fresh eggplant from the garden.

Collard greens were everywhere at the farmer’s market last weekend, so Collard Greens with Bacon seems timely, click here.

The dinner menu took advantage of the abundance of pears right now, Grilled Salmon in Dill Sauce with Pear Raspberry Salad. Click here for recipes and full menu.

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JeffreyW and Mrs. J made some delicious looking Cream Horns (and to this Italian girl, seems the only difference between these and Cannoli is the filling). Purty pictures and directions can be found here.

What’s on your menu this last weekend of August? What garden fresh items are you enjoying right now? What are you grilling up?

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top) became a poignant reminder of the earthquake in Italy. I had pulled it off the Italy site, translated it and put the ingredients on my shopping list just days before it hit.

Here is my version:

Pasta with Pears, Pecorino and Walnuts

  • 10 oz linguine pasta
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large pears, very ripe, cored and cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (plus extra for garnish)
  • 4 oz cream cheese or Mascarpone, cut into small cubes
  • dash of white wine (opt)
  • salt and pepper to taste

skillet, large pot

Bring water to boil in large pot, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.  Drain but do not rinse and add back to pot, off heat.

While pasta is cooking, heat skillet on medium heat, add walnuts. Stir constantly until lightly toasted, remove and set aside.

Add butter to skillet and melt before adding pears. Stir gently until well coated with butter. Cook until softened, gently stirring occasionally (you don’t want to break up the pears).

Add both cheeses and stir in completely. Let simmer on medium heat until lightly boiling. Add wine and let simmer away (about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta, pear mixture and walnuts in large pot and mix well. Serve with extra Pecorino for garnish.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, enjoy fading days of August – TaMara



 

Dinner Menu: Salmon in Dill Sauce with Raspberry Pear Salad

Haven’t posted a dinner menu for a while. Pears are on sale right now, so I wanted to take advantage of that. It  has nothing to do with me being tired of plums, grapes and tomatoes. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

On the board tonight:

  1. Salmon in Dill Butter Sauce
  2. Rice
  3. Pear-Raspberry Salad

Salmon in Dill Butter Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 4-6 oz boneless, skinless salmon fillets
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup chicken broth

skillet

In skillet, melt butter, add dill & lemon juice.  Brush lightly over fillets.  Add chicken broth to remaining butter in skillet and bring to a low boil, lower heat and let simmer until reduced by half .  Grill fillets for 3 to 4 minutes each side (be sure and oil grill rack well before using.  You can also grill on foil or in a grilling pan).  Drizzle with sauce.

Pear-Raspberry Salad

  • 8 oz walnut halves
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz baby greens
  • 2 ripe Bartlett pears
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing

baking dish, serving bowl

In baking dish, toss walnuts with oil, soy, ginger, salt & garlic.  Toast in a 250° oven for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are crisp. In serving bowl add lettuce.  Seed and slice pears, add to lettuce, along with raspberries, bleu cheese, & walnuts.  Toss with dressing.

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Apple-Raisin-Walnut Crisp

Caramel Apple CrispI love fruit crisps. They are quick and easy to make and with all the good ingredients I feel less guilty about the sweet treat. This one kicks up traditional apple crisp a notch.

Apple-Raisin-Walnut Crisp

  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored & sliced (peeling opt)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

8×8 glass baking dish, lightly greased, small mixing bowl

Place apples, cinnamon, raisins, nuts and ¼ cup sugar in baking dish, mix well.

In mixing bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar, add flour and oats, mix until crumbly.  Crumble over the apple mixture.

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes until top is golden brown.  Let cool.

Alternately you can use this cast iron skillet method for making the crisp.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Black “Forbidden” Rice

Pineapple riceI love rice. It’s a staple in my diet. I especially like brown rice and was very excited when brown jasmine and brown basmati were available at my local store. I make a big batch and refrigerate it for the week. It’s easy to warm it for a simple side. It also makes a quick lunch – heat it up, add some nuts, ponzu sauce, or butter, maybe leftover veggies and yum.

While rice is usually considered a side dish, I love it as a main course. That’s what most of tonight’s recipes are, including the featured recipe, which was inspired by a bag of black rice given to me by a friend. She wasn’t sure what to do with it and thought for sure I would. I didn’t, but had some fun experimenting.

To start off, pictured above is my Pineapple Rice Bowl, the complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

Then there is Wash Day Beans and Rice, recipe here.

JeffreyW gives a great review on his Rice Cooker, click here and then uses it to make Fried Rice, recipe here.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? We have great weather right now, but snow is coming. Don’t forget to share your recipes, rice or otherwise, I’m always looking for something new.

Black rice 2a

Tonight’s featured recipe was inspired by a bag of black rice, also know as Emperor or Forbidden Rice, in my pantry. It’s a heritage grain and it has a complex flavor – it’s deep, nutty, savory, earthy. I had never even heard of it, much less tasted it. I cooked up a cup of it and it was love at first bite. But what to pair it with – it easily overwhelmed chicken and pork, and the flavors did not balance with beef. I did use it with some crumbled Spicy Italian sausage and that worked, the balance was right. What I thought it really needed was a citrus or vinegar pairing, some veggies, I wasn’t sure about nuts. Time to experiment.

Limes were on sale this week, so I settled on a citrus vinaigrette and fresh veggies paired with the rice (pictured above) for last night’s dinner and I think it worked out very well.  Walnuts worked well, cashews were overwhelmed by the rice. I served it warm, but it was good cold today.

Black “Forbidden”Rice with Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • snow peas (or veggie of your choice)
  • tomatoes (grape tomatoes work well)
  • toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh limejuice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • dash of orange juice
  • pinch of lime zest
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • honey to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

saucepan, serving bowl

In the saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer on low until all water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cut snow peas into about four pieces each, half the grape tomatoes, and lightly chop the walnuts. (You’ll notice I had to settle for ripe on the vine tomatoes yesterday – no grapes to be found).

For the vinaigrette, whisk juices, vinegar, ginger and honey together. Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Give it a quick taste and add more ginger and honey as desired.

Toss rice and veggie mixture with vinaigrette and serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

That’s it for this week. Next week pull out your favorite Super Bowl snack recipes and we’ll focus on those for the recipe exchange. Have a good weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Peaches and Peppers

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JeffreyW’s garden bounty

Another week just flew by and it’s time for the recipe exchange. I came home from NE with a car full of fresh vegetables from my brother’s garden. I’m afraid some of tomatoes did not survive the change in altitude very well. But I made fresh salsa with them and all was well.

I gifted my family with Palisade peaches and with the few that were left, my mom made Peach Cobbler (recipe here). At that link you can also see a photo of the 110 year old house I considered putting a bid on before heading out on my trip.

Dinner menu this week was Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs and another cobbler. For the full dinner menu, recipes and shopping list, click here.

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JeffreyW turns his garden bounty into spicy Five Pepper Jelly.

Finally, JeffreyW was showing off his Five Pepper Jelly, and I wish I canned because I LOVE pepper jellies. How he transforms peppers into jelly, click here and what he does with it, yum, click here (warning, click and you’ll want biscuits and gravy).

For the pet lovers, Bixby took time out from his daily adventures to write a diary entry here.

Cooler weather has put me in the mood for fall recipes, especially soups. What are you looking forward to making as fall approaches? What is on the menu for the weekend?

Tonight’s featured recipe has to be all about the peaches again, since it’s a short two to three weeks of sweetness. This recipe is sweet and spicy, great for lunch or dinner.

Spicy Peach Dressing

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Purée all of the ingredients, except oil, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Continue to blend, on low, while adding oil slowly. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate.

Spinach Chicken Salad

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 small sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb cleaned baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces crumbled bleu cheese or chevre

Place the chicken in a plastic zipper bag with ½ cup of dressing. Marinate 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove chicken, discard marinade and grill until cooked through (165 degrees at center).

Toss the spinach, onion, walnuts and cheese with the remaining 3/4 cup dressing. Slice the grilled chicken and arrange on top of the salad.

Serving: 4 to 6

That’s it for this week. Have a good weekend and enjoy the last full week of August, I know I will.  – TaMara

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Monday Thoughts: House Hunting and Recipes

Jicama Slaw FinalI just put jicama on the grocery list and I plan on making Jicama Slaw (recipe here), perfect for late summer heat. And it makes 6 to 10 servings, so I’ll have it on hand for the week. I can’t complain too much about the heat, because as far as Colorado summers go, this one has been pleasantly mild. Late afternoon showers keep things from heating up too much.

Rainy Weekend

I wanted to talk a bit about house hunting. I know it must seem like I’ve been shopping forever (trust me, it feels that way to me, too). Timing is everything. I started my own business four years ago and two years ago it became my full-time gig. Once that happened, I clearly needed more room as I worked at my home “office” 3 to 4 days a week. I ventured out into the market right at the time things heated up to bubble status. Houses are selling at a ridiculous amount over list.

Luckily, I have great clients, two who are actually custom home builders and one who is a financial whiz. They’ve been very helpful and confirmed my own intuition. I’m taking their advice, waiting out the bubble and trying to find my patience, both for myself and the critters. We all need more room to stretch out and we will find it.

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NOT my actual kitchen LOL

But in the meantime…ugh my kitchen. It’s just unworkable, especially for blogging and photos. No light, cramped space, crappy stove. I’ve been living on salads and diet Coke all summer. I do have a backlog of recipes that I will just have to start posting, sans photos.

And when we do move, then not only can we celebrate, but there should be some fun as I document the inevitable upgrades.

Until then….TaMara

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Frozen Treats: Vanilla Nut Crunch (and Bonus Kitteh)

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It was time to break out the ice cream maker and cool things off. I’d been focusing on gelatos the last couple of summers, but yesterday I wasn’t interested in standing over the stove and stirring an egg mixture. I dug out the instruction manual for my Cuisinart machine and sure enough, there were some simple cream-only recipes. I decided to start with vanilla.

I have two favorite ice creams, one was Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy, RIP (their new hazelnut is inedible IMHO) and Blue Bell’s Moo-llenium Crunch (fingers crossed they can come back from the shut down). I’ve mastered Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato and it’s a fine substitute for Wavy Gravy, so this time I thought I’d tackle the crunchy vanilla ice cream from Blue Bell.

From their description:

Classic vanilla ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds and walnut pieces.

The nuts and crunch

Vanilla ice cream recipe? Check. Dark chocolate? Check. Caramel chunks? Nope, but we’ll get to that. Roasted pecans? Nope, will have to live without because I was not going to drop everything and run to the store. Almonds and walnuts? Check and check. On to the recipe:

Vanilla Nut Crunch

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp really good vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds (raw or roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (raw)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional 😉 )

mixing bowl, ice cream maker

In the mixing bowl, combine milk, sugar and salt, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, fold in nuts and chocolate. Freeze until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

Remember the caramel bits? I had a bottle of caramel syrup which made a nice topping and when I was done, it was pretty darn close to Moo-llenium Crunch. I’m sure pecans will make all the difference next time.

And here is a bonus kitteh because he had to “help” me take the photos today.

Z-Man Whatcha making

For tomorrow – Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  Until then – TaMara

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