Posts Tagged ‘holiday’


Baked Brie with Cranberry Salsa

December 31, 2013

We often have a variation of baked Brie and a sweet jam or preserve on our holiday appetizer tray. This year I saw several recipes with cranberry toppings. One with a kick appealed to me as a nice change, but I wasn’t fond of it’s uncooked  texture. So, revamped  and cooked a bit, slathered on cold, atop bubbling brie that has been blanketed in, (of course) light and crisp puff pastry.. You will want to make room for this.

1 C. fresh cranberries
1 medium size  jalapeno pepper
2 clementine tangerines, or 1 orange peeled
1/4 C.  sugar
1/2 C. orange juice, or water
2  scallions
grated zest and juice of 2  limes
1 1/2 t.  grated fresh ginger

In  processor pulse  cranberries, jalapeno and oranges .
Do NOT over process. your cranberries should be grainy, not mush. You can also slice the oranges by hand, and add the small pieces to give more texture.

In a saucepan, add the pulsed fruit mixture, the juice and zest of  limes, sugar, scallions, ginger, and a few turns of Himalayan Sea Salt. Stir and add liquid. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Refrigerate.  Best made the day before so flavors can intensify, and less work for you on  the day of serving!

For the brie you will need:

1 sheet of puff pastry

1 16 0z. wheel of Brie

Roll your sheet of pastry  just enough to removed the crease marks. Place on a cookie sheet lined with  PARCHMENT paper (don’t use foil!) or in an oven proof casserole (make sure it is  large enough to allow for puffing, and then cutting on serving table). As you can see I used foil, and then was unable to transfer the Brie. The parchment will allow it to just slide onto your serving platter. Place your Brie in the center of the rectangle.


Swaddle the Brie by bringing the ends of the pastry towards the edge of the wheel and giving it a little turn. Continue around the circle, leaving the center open.


Bake  approximately 30-35 minutes, until pastry is browned and your Brie is bubbling around the edges … refrain from loading some onto a slice of French bread!

photo3 modified

Generously top with your cold salsa. Serve immediately,with very fresh French bread slices.





Cranapple Sweet Potato Casserole

November 20, 2013

Thanksgivukkah. This  year  Chanukah begins on Thanksgiving. A once in a life time occurrence , this event calls for some  different  festive combinations. Here is one that will be on out table this year. A crispy on the outside, tender on  the inside  sweet potato and apple combination, kicked up  with the  tart and tangy cranberry.

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes

2 Granny smith  apples

3/4 C. fresh cranberries

1/2 lemon , juice and zest

2 T. olive oil

1 T. fresh grated ginger

1 t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

Sunflower seeds,

almonds or candied pecans for garnish (optional, but nice texture contrast)


Peel and grate potatoes and apples. I keep my ginger cut in one inch pieces in the freezer. When I need some I grate (or cut)  them frozen. Toss with lemon juice and zest. Stir in cranberries. Add oil and seasonings, and combine well. This smells amazing before it’s even  cooked, and looks so pretty too.


Lightly oil a 9×9 pan or equivalent and spread mixture evenly in pan. Leave it loose, don’t pat it down in the pan so it gets crispy, almost like a latke.


Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30- 40 minutes, until nicely browned.


Slice into squares and top with sunflower seeds, or almonds …or even candied pecans  if you have no allergies in your family!



Tart Cranberry Sauce

November 19, 2012

Pucker up and enjoy the  real taste of cranberries! In a quest to cut the sugar, I’ve made some substitutions and came up  with a tangy version that will brighten  your table and tackle your tastebuds. If you must add  a bit of raw sugar,but please nothing artificial, and definitely not a cup of refined white sugar. I recommend using an organic orange as well since you are using the zest. Citrus fruit is porous and absorbs chemicals,even more than other fruits.How do you know what you are buying? Click here!

1 bag fresh cranberries

1/2 C natural applesauce (no sugar added)

juice from one orange – about a 1/2 C.

1/2 C.water -or enough to make 1 C of liquid with juice from orange

1 t. zest

1 T.cinnamon


Juice and zest your orange. Add everything into a 3 quart sauce pan and stir. This bubbles up,and the berries pop so if you are doubling the recipe make sure you use an ample sized pot.Bring to a boil for  about 2 minutes,and them turn on low. You will hear the cranberries open as they make a  little pop!  I let this go a little longer than the sugared version to bring out the natural pectins,which will thicken the sauce,approximately 30 minutes.

In the first picture you may have noticed a squash in the backround. We are going to turn this into your serving bowl. Decorative, and one less bowl to clean! While your cranberries are bubbling we are going to carve the squash. If you have ever carved a pumpkin, it’s about the same. I used a Buttercup squash, because it had the most flat bottom for stability. Once you have the top off,scrape out the seeds. Using a spoon, get all the seeds and fibrous part,making  it bowl shaped.This can be done up to 2 days ahead.

Allow your cranberry sauce to cool completely. This is especially important if you are making it ahead.You do not want to “cook” the inside of the squash! Fill your squash,and put the hat back on  at a  jaunty angle.Make sure to roast the squash  with  some cinnamon and olive oil when it’s done it’s job! Cut it in half, drizzle woth  olive oil and shake a bit of cinnamon on top. Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes,until a knife goes in easily. You can eat it straight out of the halved portion!

Ready to serve! Enjoy!


Jolly Jello With Pretzel Crust

July 3, 2011

The combination of the crunchy, salty sweetness of the crust , a cream cheesey filling and a fruity “jiggly” topping is a perfect side or cold dessert for summer cook outs. Today in honor of the 4th this is made with red jello, fresh red stawberries and bright blueberries. I remember the first time I tasted this recipe.Normally anything made with jello (other than a shot!) has me turning up my nose.Maybe it was the lime green, lemon yellow and orange cubes in school that first turned me off. I would never try any jello salads,they just were not my taste, let alone take one as a dish for a party.My friend Nancy insisted I try it,and from then on each time I made this, it was the first thing gone.I’m always asked to bring it,and never leave without giving the recipe. So if you are looking for something impressive,yet quick and simple as well as over the top tasty- here it is. Happy 4th of July from my kitchen to yours!

The Crust

  • 2 c. crushed, thin pretzel sticks
  • 1/2 C. melted butter
  • 3 T. sugar

Crush the pretzels but do NOT pulverize them.You want some 1/4 inch pieces of pretzel to really enjoy the contrast.This is not about pretzel crumbs! Mix the sugar well with the pretzels. Pour the butter over all.Combine making sure every pretzel is coated.

Pour into a 13×9 pan.Press down firmly and evenly in pan.Bake in a pre heated 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Because of the sugar,this will burn quickly so keep an eye on it. (for you notorious burners that walk away from the stove and oven like me!) Allow to cool.I usually put it in the refrigerator until I am ready to assemble the layers.

The Filling

  • 8 oz. cream cheese , room temperature
  • 1 container cold Cool Whip,defrosted in refrigerator
  • 3/4 C. powdered sugar

Since I’m feeling a little tired and lazy, (one of the reasons I am making this super easy dessert) I whipped the cream cheese with a large fork instead of dragging out the blender. Beat it till velvety smooth and then add powdered sugar. Cream them thoroughly together.Fold in half of the container of Cool Whip. Fold in the other half,and put in the fridge for just a few minutes. Meanwhile boil water for jello.

Take filling out and plop a few mounds all over the top.DO NOT LUMP IT ALL IN THE MIDDLE!!!! Doing it like this makes it much easier to spread to the corners,without disturbing any of the crust. If you don’t freak like I do if there are crumbs in the filling- then fine.

Make sure you go right to the edges ,”sealing” the crust.Put back in the refrigerator until you are done making topping.

The Topping

  • 2 small boxes (3oz.) red Jello
  • 2 scant C. boiling water
  • approximetely 16 oz. frozen fruit,partially defrosted (strawberries and fruit medley is what I use)
  • 1/2 C. cliced fresh strawberries -or more if you like a lot of fruit
  • 1/2 C. fresh blueberries

To boiling water add one envelope of Jello at a time,stirring constantly with a whisk.AS always make sure ALL of Jello is dissolved. Pour in frozen fruit and stir untill fruit is completely defrosted.

 Get pan from fridge,letting Jello sit only about 3-4 minutes or it will be too jelled to pour.GENTLY pour over the Cool Whip and spread to sides.

 Decorate with fresh fruit.(You can also  put the fresh fruit in the Jello before pouring,but I like some of the fruit sticking out over the top.

Refrigerate a few hours but do not make the night before as  the crust loses some if it’s pizazz the longer it sits.It’s still good the next day(if there is any left!) but best made the morning of the day you want to serve it!



Gooey Butter Cookies

December 13, 2010

I call these cheats because it uses a  cake mix as a base. This is a Paula Deen recipe,and though I didn’t play with the ingredients I did play with the shaping. The original recipe is called Chocolate  Gooey Butter Cookies.  Thinking they would turn out like her butter cake,they did not.Very good nonetheless and certainly a tasty and easy sweet to add to your holiday gift tray. Also a nice one to involve the kids as they can roll the dough into balls and dip in sugar. (with clean hands!!) .I made them with another mix as well called Funfetti.It’s a white mix with confetti candies mixed in it. Any cake mix will do, and combinations are endless (which I like!).If you are going to add anthing like chips or nuts,add them to the dry mix and then combine with wet ingredients. The dough is too stiff at the end to be adding anything at that time. These were better the next day,stored in a wax paper lined airtight tin.

  • 1 14 oz. moist chocolate cake mix
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • confectioner’s sugar to coat

Beat butter and cream cheese until evenly combined.Don’t over beat.

Add one egg, vanilla, and beat until smooth.

Begin adding cake mix, a half cup at a time. This became too stiff to do with my handmixer so I used a fork to incorporate the rest of the mix evenly.

Cover tightly and refigerate at least two hours.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Form one tablespoon of batter into a smooth ball, continuing until mix is gone- about 48 one inch balls. Roll in confectioner’s sugar to coat.

 Place in mini muffin pans, or on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I dipped a glass in the powdered sugar and flattened the ones on the cookie sheet slightly. (My thoughts being one would be rounded – the other flat- thereby looking like I made two different cookies 😉 )

Bake 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. If you bake any longer, the cookies become more cake like rather than gooey. It  was suggested to dust with more powdered sugar when cooled. I chose not to as they were sweet enough as is. If using a  plain white cake mix, dusting with high quality cocoa powder would be a nice finishing touch.

A simple and versatile cookie to add to your holiday – or anyday reportoire.


Pumpkin Cake w/Caramel Drizzle

November 27, 2010

This cake did not come out as I expected but it was very good anyway. It was even better the next day, so I would recommend making it the day or night before. I was looking for more of a chewy browny texture and this was more cake like. Nonetheless- very tasty and being pumpkin, seasonal! This was in my recipe box from many years ago,the handwriting looks like my aunt’s but I’m not sure.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 C. brown sugar,packed
  • 1 C. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1 C. mini chocolate chips (can substitute raisins or dried cranberries)

Caramel Drizzle

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 C. sifted powdered sugar
  • 3  T. cream or half and half or as needed

Pre-heat oven to 350. Butter  10 x 15 pan for thinner bars, or 9×13 for thicker, layer cake size squares.Line with parchment and butter parchment. (I did this but I think it’s an unecessary step. Butter and flour pan, or use parchment)

Combine your dry ingerdients and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until creamed together well. Blend in the pumpkin puree first,then add your eggs one at a time.

Slowly add the dry ingredients,beating until just blended. Stir in the chips.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes for 9×13, 20-25 for 10×15. Check with toothpick 5 minutes before. If it comes out clean remove the cake!! Let cool completely before drizzling topping on.

For drizzle,melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved looking.It will look separated, but comes together when you add sugar and cream.Whis in vanilla,powdered sugar and cream or half and half. Add a little more cream if too thick or powdered sugar if too thin. I had to add a little less than a tablespoon more of cream.

Using whisk drizzle over top of cake. When I make this again I will poke holes in it with a toothpick to allow caramel into cake.

Serve with some freshly whipped cream.Mmmmm!