Cookies and Bars · Holidays · New Favorite · New Traditions

Cranberry Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars in the Spring and Cranberry Lemon Bars for the holidays! With a bag of lemons and a large bag of cranberries on hand, I decided to make these delicious bars. I forgot to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but I was too anxious to taste them. They are tart with a burst of flavor from the cranberries. The bars were a real hit!

Cranberry Lemon Bars

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE CRANBERRY LAYER:

  • 1 (12-ounce/340-gram) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¾ cup/150 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 large lemons

FOR THE CRUST:

  •  Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup/65 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup/170 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled

FOR THE LEMON LAYER:

  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup/30 grams all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  •  Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Start preparing the cranberry layer: Combine the cranberries, sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Zest 2 of the lemons directly into the saucepan; reserve the lemons. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture is jammy, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  2. Make the crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with one large sheet of heavy aluminum foil, making sure there are no gaps or holes, then generously coat with cooking spray.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the vanilla into the butter, then pour over the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together in a mass. Press into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges and dry and golden on top, 17 to 20 minutes.
  4. While the crust bakes, begin preparing the lemon layer: Squeeze the juice from the 2 reserved zested lemons. You should have 1/2 cup. Squeeze the juice from another lemon, if needed.
  5. Whisk the sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs and whisk gently just until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and stir gently with the whisk just until smooth.
  6. Let the crust cool for 5 minutes, then spread the cranberry mixture evenly over the crust. Carefully and slowly pour the lemon mixture on top to create two distinct layers.
  7. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is set, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Using the foil, slide the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares, wiping your knife between cuts for clean slices. If desired, sift confectioners’ sugar over the tops just before serving.

Recipe from Cooking/NY Times

Appetizers · Garden · New Favorite · Sandwiches · Sauces · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cherry Tomato Jam

Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat.  They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam. 

Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more.  Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it.  It’s so easy and delicious.  I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date.  Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese.  I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam.  YUMMO!

CHERRY TOMATO JAM

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 large spring thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes.  If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
  • Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.

 

 

Appetizers · Garden · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Sweet Yellow Squash Pickles

Zucchini is normally the vegetable that you are drowning in by the end of summer.  This year it was yellow squash.  After making two batches of Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread and roasting pans of mixed garden vegetables, I moved on to a new recipe for Sweet Yellow Squash Pickles.  My Mother always made Bread & Butter Pickles and I loved them.  These are very similar and quite delicious.  A new favorite for my yellow squash harvest!

4 small yellow squash – cut in thin (1/4-inch slices or less); about 3 cups
1/2 cup thinly slices red onion
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard

  • In a large non-metal bowl, combine the squash and onion. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then, drain the liquid from the vegetables.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and dry mustard. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the squash and onion mixture and then return to boiling.
  • Remove from heat. Ladle the hot vegetables and liquid into sterilized canning jars.
  • At this point, the jars can be processed for long-term canning or covered and stored as-is in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  • Chill at least 24 hours before serving.

Recipe from Inspiredbycharm.com 

Gluten Free · New Favorite · Salads · Vegan · Vegetarian

Strawberry, Blueberry and Spinach Salad

It’s salad time, again.  I love salad 365 days a year but with fresh produce and fruit in spring and summer, it’s the best! This salad is so simple and so delicious and you can have it anytime. Experiment with different greens, fruit and nuts and enjoy!

What a yummy patriotic salad to share this Memorial Day weekend.

STRAWBERRY AND SPINACH SALAD

Baby Spinach salad mix
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained and sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

 Sweet Balsamic Dressing

1.5 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper, to taste

  • Blend salad dressing ingredients together and chill.
  • When ready to serve, toss salad with dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe from Faithfulprovisions.com

Candy · Family Favorites · Holidays

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

There is something decadent about chocolate with something salty. Chocolate dipped pretzels are a favorite of mine and last Christmas I made Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Rods in white chocolate and with dark chocolate to give as gifts. Ahem…except for those that didn’t make it past my mouth!

CHOCOLATE DIPPED PRETZEL RODS

White Chocolate Chips
Dark Chocolate Chips
Pretzel Rods
Sugars and Sprinkles

  • Spread waxed paper on cookie sheets.
  • Melt chocolate  per instructions in microwave and pour melted chocolate into cup for dipping (makes about the right depth on the pretzel rods).
  • Over a separate plate or bowl, sprinkle the pretzel rods with sugar or sprinkles and place on waxed paper to harden.
  • Place pretzel rods in pretty tin or cello bag to give as gifts.

 

Desserts · Holidays · New Favorite · Pastas

Kugel…Sweet, Noodle Pudding

Kugel is something I have wanted to make (and taste) for years. Our book club was meeting to discuss ‘This is Where I Leave You’ by Jonathan Tropper. We always have a potluck prior to the discussion, typically with a theme from the book. This story takes place during the time this Jewish family is ‘sitting Shiva’, therefore the theme was favorite Jewish foods.

Our potluck including many wonderful dishes including Matzo Ball Soup, Latkes with Applesauce, Bagels and Lox, NY Cheesecake with Strawberries, Mandelbrot, Kugel and  fresh vegetables and fruit (to make us feel less guilty about the carb/fat overload).

Kugel was my immediate choice and friend and Grandmother-in-Law, Chris, shared a favorite recipe with me. It is a wonderful recipe, absolutely decadent and worth the splurge every now and again.  Sweet, sweet noodle pudding…I love you!

KUGEL

1 lb. egg noodles (broad or medium), cooked and drained
1/2 pound butter, softened
6 eggs, beaten
1 quart milk (1/2 cup less if using creamed cottage cheese)
3/4 cup sugar
2 caps vanilla
1 cup white raisins
1 pound cottage cheese

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups crushed Corn Flakes

  • Butter 10.5″ x 14.75 ” pan.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour boiling water over raisins, just to cover, to plump the raisins.  Let sit 10-15 minutes.  Drain.
  • Prepare noodles according to package directions.  Drain.  Place noodles in butter and mix well.
  • Combine eggs, sugar, milk, cottage cheese, and vanilla.
  • Add raisins and noodles.  Mix well.
  • Pour into casserole.  Top with cinnamon sugar and crushed corn flakes.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Family · Family Favorites · Gluten Free · New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Salt and Vinegar Popcorn…better than I ever expected

My youngest daughter LOVES vinegar potato chips and I spotted this recipe some time ago on a blog that I follow, Lucy’s Friendly Foods. I am a popcorn hound and had to try it. If my daughter, Sarah, liked it, it was a winner.

I’m happy to report we both liked it! The reduction of the balsamic vinegar had a delightfully sweet, and salty, taste. A nice, lighter, change from the traditional (and always yummy) buttered popcorn.

SALT AND VINEGAR POPCORN

12 cups popped corn
4 tablespoons dairy-free spread
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Pop the popcorn.
  • Melt the dairy-free spread in a saucepan.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
  • Simmer for 3-4 minutes to slightly reduce the vinegar.
  • Pour over the hot spread/balsamic mix.
  • Stir well and serve immediately.

Adapted slightly from:  lucysfriendlyfoods.com

Family Favorites · New Traditions

Cinnamon Bread Pudding … sweet comfort!

It’s spring and I seem to be in a cake mode…wonder what’s up with that?  After finally cleaning my freezer, I decided to make something with the cherished Cinnamon Bread from the Butterhorn Bakery in Frisco.  What to make….hmmmm….bread pudding?

Serving of Bread Pudding

I don’t recall making bread pudding, but I’ve indulged in several fabulous samples through the years.  This is one recipe where I don’t have a family favorite.  Next best choice…my handy, dandy Farm Journal Country Cookbook.

This cherished cookbook was a gift from one of our client’s at Farm Journal in Kansas City in 1976.  It’s my ‘go-to’ book for a traditional midwest recipe.  No surprise, I found a bread pudding recipe and decided to go for it!

Cinnamon Bread Pudding fresh from the oven

Not to brag, but…it was a slice of heaven.  I instantly knew that if I kept it in the house, I would devour the whole pan.  Neighbors Maribeth and Gary were the recipients of half a pan.  After sampling a piece (or two…), the rest will go to family tomorrow.  The bread pudding was wonderful by itself, but a light vanilla or butterscotch sauce would be great on top.

CINNAMON BREAD PUDDING

2  and 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups (1″ square) day-old cinnamon bread cubes
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Scald milk; add butter and cool.

Scald milk, add butter and cool

  • Add 3 egg yolks and 1 egg white to 1/2 cup sugar; beat to mix well.  Add cooled milk, teaspoon vanilla and salt.

  • Place bread cubes in buttered 1.5 quart casserole.  Pour egg-milk mixture over bread.  Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

Pouring milk mixture over cinnamon bread

  • Set casserole in another, larger casserole containing at least 2″ of warm water.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven.
  • Serve warm or cool, both are delicious!

Adapted from Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, 1972.

New Favorite · Nicaragua

Nicaraguan Perrerreque (Corn Cake)

During my trip to Nicaragua, I had the opportunity to stay with a host family in San Ramon. My roommate, Sally, and I had the great pleasure of staying with Neyda and her family. We enjoyed many wonderful meals at Neyda’s home. One evening our ecotour group were treated to an evening of native Nicaraguan food and music. It was wonderful and highlighted by a light shower and a gorgeous rainbow.

Rainbow over San Ramon Nicaragua

The food served that evening included an unusual, sweet yet savory corn cake, baked in an outdoor wood-fired oven. The cake was baking when we arrived and like hungry baby birds, we all flocked to see what was in the oven. Our hostesses were kind enough to share the cake while it was still warm.  Heavenly! The three photos below were taken the night of our dinner in San Ramon.

Once returning home, the hunt was on for corn cake.  My sister-in-law, Betty, discovered a similar recipe and shared it with our ecotour group.  I baked the corn cake to share with my gal pals.  By chance, I also brought a bowl of fresh pineapple and found it to be a wonderful side dish to serve with the bread.  This recipe is slightly sweeter than the cake in Nicaragua, but delicious.  A winner!  However, I will continue my search to match the exact experience of our memorable Nicaraguan dinner.

NOTE: During our special evening in San Ramon we were also served the traditional Nicaraguan Nacatamal, a steamed corn cake filled with meat and vegetables, steamed in banana leaves. They, too, were fabulous and will be covered in a separate post at a later date.  Stay tuned!

Cathy’s Nicaraguan Corn Cake

PERERREQUE (CORN CAKE)

1 pound fine white corn meal  (I used regular white corn meal and ground again with the food processor)
1 pound crumbly cheese, grated finely (try Monterey Jack or Wensleydale)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups milk

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the corn meal with the cheese and sugar. Cut/crumble in the margarine.   Mix the baking soda into a little of the milk and pour into the dry ingredients.   Add the remaining milk until the mixture is well blended.

Corn Cake: Adding milk to cheese and dry ingredients

  • Place the cake mixture into a greased baking pan. The mixture should be about 1 inch thick.

Corn Cake batter ready for the oven

  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown. After this time, remove it from the oven, allow to cool and then cut into small pieces or squares before serving. I found the bread to be at it’s best when served warm, about an hour after baking.

Baked Corn Cake

Adapted from The New Internationalist Food Book