Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

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Fresh fruit salad in winter is a real treat and this recipe is delicious, combining several fruits including apples, kiwi, blackberries, pomegranate, bananas and Mandarin oranges. The dressing is fresh and tasty delivering a nice side to compliment any meal.
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Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Salad

  • 8 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented (I used Cuties)
  • 4 apples, diced
  • 4 ripe kiwis peeled and diced
  • 4 bananas, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1 large)
  • 1-2 cups blackberries (I added to the recipe)

Combine all salad ingredients. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from CookingClassy.com

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

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Two of my favorite flavors…raspberry and lemon…together they are heaven. When we were planning older daughter Megan’s baby shower we made these cupcakes.  The cupcakes (which you cannot see) were divine and the icing tasted wonderful, although it didn’t look as wonderful as I would have liked. The icing had a lumpy look to it but not in taste or texture.

The theme of the shower surrounded children’s books so we purchased edible children’s book toppers on Etsy. Adorable!

I’ll make the cupcakes again but I’ll play with the icing to get it just right!

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Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 24 regular cupcakes

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two large lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

For the Frosting:
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed) (use 2 cups for 1.5x recipe of frosting)
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons milk, if needed

To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Position the rack to the center of the oven.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites until well blended.

Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the zest has moistened all the sugar.  Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter in at medium speed for 3 minutes, until very light.  Add in the extracts and then one third of the flour mixture, while continuing to beat on medium speed.  Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat in the rest of the milk and eggs until fully incorporated, then mix in the remaining of the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium speed for a full 2 minutes to aerate.  Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake pans.

Bake for 18-22 minutes (for regular cupcakes) or 10-12 minutes (for miniature cupcakes).  The cupcakes are done when they pass the toothpick test and are springy to the touch.   Cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the frosting:
Puree the raspberries in a blender and then push through a fine mesh strainer to discard the seeds; set aside. Cream together the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment.  Beat in the vanilla and most of the raspberry puree, until fully combined.

Stir in the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until reaching desired consistency.  Use more or less sugar as needed, and add more raspberry puree to taste.  If the frosting is too thick, beat in milk one tablespoon at a time.

Source:  My Baking Addiction, originally from Dorie Greenspan and Seeded at the Table 

Runza

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I know Runzas are a staple to my Nebraska and Kansas friends but not something we grew up with in Iowa.  A few years ago I was watching the television show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where they visit Lauer-Krauts  in Brighton, Colorado.  A friend and I made the trek to Brighton to try one of their krautburgers and they were delicious, but frankly, too far a drive when you have a craving.

This recipe was close to what we experienced and I decided to give it a try.  It was very good and I would love to try making them with either a mixture of fresh cabbage and sauerkraut or simply with sauerkraut.  Growing up in Iowa, Mom’s homemade sauerkraut was amazing and I now love all things kraut!

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RUNZA

Makes 10 Runzas

Dough:

1/4 oz packet of dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3 1/2 cups bread flour
12 tablespoons salted butter
2 teaspoons salt

Filling:

1 pound lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoons salted butter
1 Vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 head cabbage, chopped

  • To make the dough, combine 3/4 cup of very warm water, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it blooms. If you’ve never done this before, pop yourself some popcorn and sit back and enjoy the show. You’ll know what I mean when the “blooming” begins. Okay, maybe it’s not that cool…
  • Add 3 of your eggs and whisk with your yeast mixture.  Add 2 cups of your flour to the liquid and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, the sugar, the remaining flour and salt and mix well.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.  Place the dough ball in a buttered bowl and let sit for one hour at room temperature.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least an hour.
  • Remove the dough and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll into separate balls and let sit covered while you make the filling.
  • Speaking of the filling, get your ground beef sizzlin’ on a skillet.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned, then remove the beef from the skillet with a spoon and place it in a bowl, leaving most of the grease behind.  Add your butter to the skillet and begin sizzlin’ your onion.  Cook until translucent, about 10 minutes or so.  Add your garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Add this whole mixture to the bowl with the beef.
  • Next, using the moisture still in your skillet, get the pan nice and hot.  Add your cabbage and stir constantly until the cabbage is lightly browned and translucent-ish.  It may seem like a lot of cabbage at first, but it shrinks down substantially.  Add the cabbage to the beef mixture.
  • Flatten your balls of dough with a rolling pin.  Each dough saucer should be about 8 inches in diameter.  Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in the center of each dough-saucer and pull the edges together and pinch to enclose the filling in the dough.  To avoid a thickened dough-seal, I actually cut off the excess dough with cooking shears.  If you don’t do something like this, you’ll find a doughy center as you take your first chomp.
  • Preheat the oven to 375° while the runzas sit and rise for a bit.  Brush some of the egg (your remaining egg of the 4 you originally had) on the top of each runza to give it a nice browning while in the oven.  Cook the runzas on a greased baking sheet for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe from Highheelsandgrills.com 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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Cold winter nights mean hearty soups in my kitchen. Broccoli Cheddar Soup is always a favorite when dining out but I’ve rarely made it.  This is a great recipe that has become a family favorite.

IMG_7524BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP

1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (I used regular half-and-half)
3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls

  • In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté   over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  • Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
  • In a large heavy-bottom pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
  • Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
  • Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
  • Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
  • Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne.  Stir to combine.
  • Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
  • Optional: I used a Braun hand blender to blend the vegetables into a creamier consistency.
  • While soup simmers, grate the cheese. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
  • Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.

Recipe slightly adapted from Averiecooks.com  

Focaccia with Carmelized Onions, Pear and Blue Cheese

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Pears have been plentiful this year and I had to find a savory recipe to use extra pears when I discovered this fantastic recipe.  The focaccia recipe itself is wonderful and worthy of a totally different set of toppings; however, it’s hard to beat pears and blue cheese.

This is a recipe I’ll make over and over and over…

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FOCACCIA WITH CARMELIZED ONIONS, PEAR AND BLUE CHEESE

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 large Bosc pear, cored and sliced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used Gorgonzola)

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the oil; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and the salt and knead until smooth.
  • Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let stand for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the sheet and press it down to fit. Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the dough rise until puffed, about 20 minutes. 

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  • Scatter the onions over the dough. Arrange the pear over the onions and sprinkle with the blue cheese. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the focaccia and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve.

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Recipe from FoodandWine.com

OMG Scrambled Eggs…with Pesto, Bacon, Roasted Tomatoes & Peppers

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OMG Scrambled Eggs were an experiment, a gamble that paid off.  ‘OMG’ was the first thought that came into my head when I took the first bite. Adding the coincidentally roasted fresh tomatoes and peppers was a fantastic addition.
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I also made this recipe combing the tomatoes and peppers into the egg cups and loved them as well.
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The recipe could be adapted easily to add more bacon, cheese, pesto or whatever floats your boat. Worth trying!  I may be dreaming of this tonight.

OMG SCRAMBLED EGGS

3 slices bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 bunch swiss chard (or kale) stemmed and chopped
1 dozen eggs, whisked
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pesto
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
roasted tomatoes and peppers (optional)
Salute the bacon in a non-stick skillet until cooked about half way.  Add onions and cook through.  Drain most of the bacon fat off. Add Swiss chard and cook until it wilts.  Add the eggs, salt and pepper, and pesto.  Stir the eggs often to assure they cook through.  Add cheese when eggs are about half way cooked.
Serve with warm roasted tomatoes and peppers.
MUFFIN EGG CUPS: Mix all ingredients together, including the chopped roasted tomatoes and peppers. Grease muffin tins and bake egg cups at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until done in the center and golden brown.

Peppermint Rice Krispie Treats Snowballs

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Rice Krispie Treats are a family favorite and I love peppermint so this sounded like a fun, simple recipe to make. The results are cute, the perfect snack to leave for Santa Clause (and his helpers).  It’s best to eat the treats within a couple of days as they tend to lose their ‘snap, crackle, pop’.

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PEPPERMINT RICE KRISPIE TREATS SNOWBALLS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-14 Oz. bags White Candy Melts
6 cups Rice Krispies® cereal
⅓ cup crushed candy canes
1 10 oz. package marshmallows
¼ cup butter

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
  • Add in the marshmallows and allow them to melt completely.
  • Add in the crushed candy canes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies®.
  • If making balls, pull out heaping tablespoons from the pan and roll into balls. Add a candy can into the center of each ball.
  • If making cut out shapes, press the Rice Krispies® mixture into a pan prepared with cooking spray.
  • Allow to cool for about five to ten minutes and then cut out your favorite shapes.
  • Add a candy cane into the top end of the treat.
  • Place your finished treats into the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool down.
  • Melt the candy melts according to package directions and add in the vegetable oil to thin the mixture.
  • Dip your cooled treats into the chocolate, sprinkle or decorate, and set aside to cool and harden completely.
  • Note: For a quicker version, simply substitute one 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips for the melts and oil. Add the chips in with the marshmallows and heat until completely melted. Proceed with adding the candy canes and Rice Krispies®. You can then roll your balls and add sprinkles to the still warm treat.

Recipe from SheWearsManyHats.com

Roast Beef Perfection…Centerpiece of Holiday Parties

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What says the holidays better than a delicious Prime Rib or Cross Rib Roast with Horseradish sauce. The original recipe for closed door cooking of the Prime Rib came from Colorado Cache Cookbook, still my all-time favorite cookbook.  We have served this recipe many times, always a big hit.

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This time, however, the balsamic vinegar and rub were new and I loved the results.

ROAST BEEF PERFECTION

1 Prime Rib or Cross Rib Roast, any size
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, removed from stems and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, removed from stems and chopped
1 tablespoon coarse sea or kosher salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place Prime Rib in roasting pan and brush with Balsamic vinegar.  Make a paste of the garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Rub paste mixture over the roast.

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  • Place roast in oven and cook for 1 hour.  Turn the oven off and KEEP THE OVEN door closed.
  • 45 minutes before serving, turn the oven to 30 degrees. Remove from oven and rest for 5-10 minutes.  The roast will be juicy medium-rare and perfect every time. If you like your Prime Rib cooked to medium, just add 15-20 minutes to the initial cooking time.

Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons prepared horseradish

  • Stir together and refrigerate until serving time.

Recipe inspired by Colorado Cache Cookbook and What’s Cooking America

Kringla for Christmas…Almond vs. Anise

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A Christmas tradition in our house is to make Kringla, typically flavored with Anise extract. My oldest daughter Megan, likes Kringla, but not the taste of Anise. Lucky for her, I was out of Anise extract and tried Almond Extract instead, and loved the results.  I had to double the amount of extract to make sure the Kringla actually carried the almond flavor.

Kringla…hot chocolate…Kolaches (cherry and chocolate)…family gathered in the living room late Christmas morning…what a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas.

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Our new tradition…Almond Kringla.

KRINGLA…ALMOND STYLE

I usually double the recipe and freeze several to enjoy long after the holidays are gone.

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups flour

  • Beat egg and sugar together. Add anise extract, melted butter, buttermilk and 1/2 of sour cream.
  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with remainder of sour cream and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Mix together flour, baking powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Mix together flour mixture alternately adding egg mixture and sour cream mixture. Dough will be very stiff and you will need to finish mixing with your hands.
  • Chill dough overnight.  Remove 1-2 cups of dough at a time so the dough remains chilled.  Take a small piece of dough (size of a small walnut) and roll into a ball and then into a pencil shape.  Shape the dough into a pretzel shape and place on a greased cookie sheet.
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  • Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven and then on top rack of oven for 2-3 minutes. Bottom of Kringla should be golden brown–tops may not be brown.  (I have found that every oven is different.  Mine tends to run hot so I decrease the amount of time on the bottom shelf to 3 minutes.)
  • Cool and store in airtight container. Great warm with butter and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Snowman Cheese Dip

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During the holidays there are so many parties and potlucks and it’s fun to make something that people remember. Charlene, an AT&T co-worker, shared this recipe several years ago after she brought this to one of our office potlucks.

The first time I made it, I had the snowman standing upright. Big mistake, no one wanted to dip into it and have Mr. Snowman tumble. Give Mr. Snowman a rest on a platter and surround him with crackers.  He’ll be a big hit!

Snowman Cheese

 SNOWMAN CHEESE DIP

1 tub whipped cream cheese
2-8 ounce bars cream cheese
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon dried parsley
bunch of green onions

  • Mix cream cheese bars and chopped dried beef.  Add chopped green onions (white part only). Blend in garlic, horseradish and parsley.
  • Form into 3 balls (small, medium and large) using waxed paper.  Stack into snowman shape using a toothpick to attach. (NOTE:  I lay the snowman down on the platter)
  • Spread whipped cream cheese over snowman using wet knife. Garish and serve with crackers, carrots, pretzels.

Garnishes:

  • rosemary branches or broken pretzel twists for arms
  • black olives cut into pieces for mouth & buttons
  • tiny baby carrot for nose
  • dried cranberries for halo
  • piece of red pepper for heart
  • green onion tops for scarf
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