Category: Recipes

A Quick and Delicious Holiday Dessert

The holiday season is synonymous with many things, including delicious foods. While Thanksgiving turkeys or Christmas geese will be found on many a table this holiday season, baked goods and desserts are what many people look forward to this time of year.

Holiday hosts with a lot on their plates might not have the time to prepare homemade baked goods for their guests. Thankfully, the following recipe for “Chocolate-Strawberry Pie” from Addie Gundry’s “No-Bake Desserts” (St. Martin’s Press) can be prepared in just 15 minutes, all without turning on the oven.

Chocolate-Strawberry Pie

Yields 1 pie

1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, trimmed and halved
1 store-bought (or homemade) chocolate cookie pie crust
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
6 large egg yolks
21/2 cups half-and-half
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tablespoon rum extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additional strawberries for garnish (optional)

1. Place the strawberry halves in a single layer in the bottom of the pie crust.
2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, ginger, nutmeg, and salt over medium heat.
3. Whisk in the egg yolks to create a thick paste. Gradually whisk in the half-and-half until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
4. Add the chocolate and whisk until combined. Add the rum and vanilla extracts. Cool the mixture for 4 minutes.
5. Pour the filling over the strawberries and up to the top of the crust. Chill the pie for 2 hours or until set.
6. Garnish with additional strawberries, if desired.

Warm Up With a Classic Hot Toddy This Holiday Season

Come the holiday season, hot toddies are ideal for entertaining, providing spirited fun and a means to chasing away the winter chill.

Hot toddies have been around for centuries. Usually a mix of a spirit – either whiskey, rum or brandy – hot water, honey and spices, some believe the word “toddy” comes from an Indian drink of the same name that is produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees. Other sources say the hot toddy was created by Dr. Robert Bentley Todd, an Irish physician who prescribed a drink made of brandy, white cinnamon, sugar syrup, and water. The drink was dubbed the “hot toddy.”

Hot drinks embellished with alcohol were long used for medicinal purposes. While alcoholic beverages are no longer used as medicine, hot toddies can still chase away a chill. “Grog” is another name given to hot alcoholic drinks, or any drink in which unmeasured amounts of spirits are mixed with other ingredients. Grog may also refer to a water-and-rum mixture that sea merchants once drank. The water kept the merchants hydrated, while the rum prevented the water from spoiling during voyages.

The classic hot toddy can be a versatile drink used to keep guests comfortable and cheerful. This warm libation is soothing and savory, mixing citrus, honey and spices, which each have their various health benefits.

Although hot toddy recipes vary, the following is the recipe for a classic hot toddy, as culled by recipes from Wine Enthusiast, Imbibe and PBS Food.

Classic Hot Toddy

• 11/2 ounces bourbon, whiskey or another brown liquor
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup boiling water
• Cinnamon stick
• Lemon wedge
• Cloves or star anise

Combine liquor, lemon juice, honey, and boiling water together in a mug or Irish coffee glass. Push cloves or star anise into the lemon wedge. Add the cinnamon stick and lemon wedge to the mug. Allow lemon and cinnamon stick to steep in the beverage for a few minutes. Stir and enjoy.

Satisfy With A Simple, Spicy Appetizer

Hosting often involves serving food, and the following recipe for “Spicy Cheese Balls” from A.J. Rathbun’s “Party Snacks!” (Harvard Common Press) is sure to please hosts who want to serve their guests an hors d’oeuvre that’s simple but spicy.

Spicy Cheese Balls (Makes 35 to 40 bite-size balls)

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Put the cream cheese, cheddar, garlic, parsley, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a food processor. Process for 5 to 10 seconds, until well blended. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Spread the chopped walnuts on a plate. Shape the cheese mixture into 35 to 40 small cheese balls, each about the size of a large marble. Roll each cheese ball in the walnuts, coating the outside (you may to press a little to ensure sticking).

3. Serve the cheese balls on a large platter. You can put a toothpick in each ball, but you could also surround them with crackers and let guests use their hands. It all depends on what kind of party you’re having.

Make a Household Favorite More Healthy

Many beloved dishes might be enjoyed more often if they were only a little healthier. Author and former personal chef Michelle Dudash was once asked by a client if the she could make a healthier version of chicken parmesan. The result of that request is the following recipe for “Skinny Chicken Parmesan with Spinach,” which Dudash ultimately included in her book, “Clean Eating For Busy Families” (Fair Winds). The recipe was a hit with Dudash’s client and will surely be a hit at home cooks’ dinner tables as well.

Skinny Chicken Parmesan with Spinach (Makes 6 servings)

For the sauce:

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pinches salt
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon honey

For the chicken:

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
11/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 6 pieces, pounded to 1/4 inch
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups baby spinach
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 6 medallions (or shredded)
6 cups cooked whole-grain thin spaghetti tossed in 2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F and coat the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan with olive oil spray.

To make the sauce: Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and garlic and cook gently for 30 seconds. Do not brown. With your hand, squeeze each tomato into the pan and add basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and honey. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes, lowering the heat as needed.

To make the chicken: Combine parmesan cheese, flour, salt, pepper, and basil in a medium dish and coach chicken with cheese mixture. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When oil is shimmering, add chicken, rounded-side down, and cook until golden on one side, about 5 minutes. Arrange chicken in a baking pan. Pour remaining 2 teaspoons of oil into skillet and add spinach. Cook spinach for 1 to 2 minutes until wilted and swirl in lemon juice. Gently press spinach to release water and divide spinach on top of chicken. Spoon sauce around and over the chicken, place mozzarella on top, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake for 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve over spaghetti.

Homemade Hummus With Truly Unique Taste

Hummus provides a delicious and healthy alternative to less nutritional dips. Versatile and available in various flavors, hummus can be whipped up at home for those who prefer to make their own dips. The following recipe for “Garbanzo-Carrot Hummus with Grilled Yogurt Flatbread” from James Campbell Caruso’s “España: Explore the Flavors of Spain” (Gibbs Smith) includes some Moroccan flavors that give this easy-to-prepare recipe a truly unique taste.

Garbanzo-Carrot Hummus with Grilled Yogurt Flatbread (Makes 2 cups)

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans, drained
4 teaspoons chopped cilantro plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
21/2 teaspoons ground cumin
11/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chile flakes
2 teaspoons Moroccan Spice Blend (see below)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 batch Yogurt Flatbread (see below)

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots with 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the carrots to drain and cool in a colander.

Combine carrots and remaining ingredients, except for Yogurt Flatbread, in the work bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve with fresh, hot Yogurt Flatbread cut in wedges.

Moroccan Spice Blend (Makes about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

In a small resealable glass or plastic container, combine all of the ingredients.

Yogurt Flatbread (Serves 4)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
21/2 cups plain yogurt
Olive oil

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yogurt and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Cover the work bowl and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium. Scrape the dough from the work bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a long log and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and use a rolling pin or tortilla press to flatten it into a 1/4-inch-thick tortilla shape. Brush each “tortilla” lightly with olive oil. Grill each for about 40 seconds then turn and cook another 40 seconds.

Homemade Pie Crust Made Easy + Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe

Pot pie makes for a delicious meal, especially when home cooks go the extra mile and prepare homemade pie crust. Some may be intimidated by the idea of making their own pie crusts, but the following recipe for “Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie with Whole-Wheat Crust” from Michelle Dudash’s “Clean Eating for Busy Families” (Fair Winds) simplifies that process, ensuring a fun and easy time cooking and, ultimately, a delicious meal.

Turkey Vegetable Pot Pie with Whole-Wheat Crust (Serves 6)

For the crust:

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup corn oil
1/3 cup orange juice

For the filling:

1 carton condensed cream of chicken soup (organic preferred)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
11/4 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (or frozen sliced carrots, thawed)
1 cup leeks, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise, using white and pale green parts only
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons dried herbes de
Provence (or 1/2 teaspoon each thyme, rosemary and basil)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the crust: Combine flours and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in oil and orange juice and stir until moistened. Press dough to flatten and chill.
To make the filling: Blend soup and 1/2 cup of milk in a large bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger ball between 2 large sheets of waxed paper until it is 1/8-inch-thick or until it fits in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper. Turn dough over and carefully place in the pie pan, removing remaining piece of waxed paper. Press out any bubbles and patch holes with scraps of dough. Pour filling into the prepared pan. Roll remaining dough and lay it on top. Cut any excess dough hanging from the edges and crimp the crust between your thumb and forefinger to seal. Cut a heart into the center to allow steam to escape.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until center of crust becomes golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the pie’s center reaches 165 F, covering browned edges only with foil about halfway through cooking. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Pumpkins are readily available in fall, when people carve jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins for Halloween or serve up pumpkin pie after a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. But people who are unsatisfied with plain old pumpkin pie can add something new to their repertoire this fall by cooking up the following recipe for “Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust,” courtesy of Lori Longbotham’s “Luscious Creamy Desserts” (Chronicle Books).

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust (Serves 8 to 10)

Crust

11/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Filling

11/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
11/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup créme fraîche, homemade (see below) or store-bought, or sour cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 8- or 81/2-inch springform pan.
2. To make the crust: Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425 F.
3. To make the filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large deep bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and then the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the pumpkin purée, créme fraîche and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Pour the filling into the shell.
4. Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 F and continue baking for 1 hour.
5. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 21/2 hours. Then transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, tightly covered, for at least 10 hours, until thoroughly chilled and set, or for up to 2 days.
6. To serve, run a knife around the side of the cheesecake and remove the side of the pan. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature, cut into thin wedges with a sharp knife dipped into hot water and wiped dry after each cut.

Créme Fraîche (Makes about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup créme fraîche or sour cream with live cultures

Pour the cream into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and spoon in the créme fraîche. Let sit on the counter, with the lid slightly ajar, until the mixture thickens, from 4 to 24 hours, depending on the weather. Refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use.

Give Boring Lunches a Big Boost

Lunch might not be the most exciting meal of the day, and conventional wisdom might not suggest it’s the most important meal. But that does not mean lunch has to be boring.

For those who tend to lean on sandwiches for their midday meals, straying from the sandwich norm can provide some variety and flavor. The following recipe for “Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps” from Vicki Liley’s “Asian Wraps & Rolls” (Periplus) can make for a unique lunch for the whole family or even serve as an easily prepared dinner.

Warm Tandoori Chicken Wraps (Makes 6 wraps)

1/3 cup plain tandoori paste
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup plain yogurt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
12 chicken tenderloin fillets or 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets
2 carrots, peeled
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, halved and seeded
6 pieces naan
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Leaves from 6 fresh mint sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

In a small bowl, combine tandoori paste, 2 tablespoons yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Put chicken in a baking dish. Pour tandoori mixture over and stir until chicken is coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Light a fire in a charcoal grill or heat a grill pan. Brush grill or pan lightly with oil. Cook chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut each tenderloin into 2 long strips (if using chicken breast fillets, slice each fillet into 4 long strips).

Using a vegetable peeler, cut carrot and cucumber into thin ribbons. To heat naan, follow instructions on packet. In a small bowl, stir 1/2 cup yogurt, garlic and chopped mint together.

Place naan on a work surface. Divide chicken, cucumber, carrot, and mint leaves among naan. Drizzle with yogurt mixture. Wrap the naan around filling and serve immediately.

Impress Guests With Homemade Salsa At Your Next Soirée

Gatherings of family and friends are better with food, and few foods are more universally beloved than salsa! Whether they’re hosting a gathering for the big game or a celebration of Hispanic culture and cuisine, hosts who want to go the extra mile can forgo store-bought salsa for the following homemade recipe for “Warm Black Bean Salsa” courtesy of Judith Finlayson’s “The Health Slow Cooker: 135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness” (Robert Rose).

Warm Black Bean Salsa (Makes about 3 cups)

2 cups cooked black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed (see tip 1 below)
1 cup diced tomatoes (see tip 2 below)
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 roasted peppers (poblano or sweet), peeled and diced
1 roasted jalapeño, seeded and diced, or 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon puréed garlic (see tip 3 below)
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

Finely chopped green onions

1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine beans, tomatoes, green onions, poblano, jalapeño peppers, garlic, lime zest and juice, and cheese. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 11/2 hours, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Stir in cilantro, sprinkle with green onions, if using, and serve.

Tips

1. Use 14- to 19-ounce can of no-salt-added beans, drained. Or cook dried beans yourself (see below).
2. For convenience, substitute 1 cup drained no-salt-added diced canned tomatoes.
3. To purée garlic, use a sharp-toothed grater.

Basic Beans (Makes approximately 2 cups)

1 cup dried white beans (see tip below)
3 cups water

Garlic (optional)
Bay leaves (optional)
Bouquet garni (optional)

1. Long soak: In a bowl, combine beans and water. Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Beans are now ready for cooking.
2. Quick soak: In a pot, combine beans and water. Boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Beans are now ready to cook.
3. Cooking: In slow cooker stoneware, combine 1 cup presoaked beans and 3 cups fresh cold water. If desired, season with garlic, bay leaves or a bouquet garni made from your favorite herbs tied together in a cheesecloth. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or overnight or on high for 5 to 6 hours, until beans are tender. Drain and rinse. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. The beans are now ready for use.

Tip: If you have difficulty digesting legumes, add 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or lemon juice to the water when soaking dried beans.

Maple Pecan Scone Recipe

Scones make an ideal companion to a morning cup of coffee or tea. Simple and delicious, this recipe for “Maple Pecan Scones” from Linda Collister’s “Quick Breads” (Ryland, Peters & Small) is ideal for scone lovers who want something quick to make in the morning.

Maple Pecan Scones

Serves 6

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

A good pinch of salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1 cup pecan pieces

1 extra-large egg

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

About 3 tablespoons milk

1 greased baking sheet

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Mix in the pecans.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg with maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of the milk. Stir into the flour mixture with a round-bladed knife to make a soft, coarse-looking dough. If the dough is dry and crumbly and won’t stick together, stir in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is very wet and sticky, work in another tablespoon of flour.

Tip out the dough onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and gently work it with your hands for a few seconds so it looks smoother. Put the dough ball onto the prepared baking sheet. Dip your fingers in flour and pat out the dough to a round about 11/4 inches thick and 7 inches across. Using a knife, cut the round into 6 wedges, but do not separate the dough before baking.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave until the wedges are cool enough to separate. Serve warm the same day. The cooled scones can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 month.

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