Saturday, December 26, 2015

Pomegranate

When I saw a pomegranate in the grocery store, I thought it would make a great addition to our Christmas salad. Because it's been years since I've had one (I have fond memories of picking out the arils as a special childhood treat), I searched for the best way to get the seeds out. There seem to be two main options. One is to break the pomegranate into sections, submerse them in a bowl of water and pick out the arils. The other way is to cut the fruit in half and then whack out the seeds.The kids helped, and we decided that whacking is the preferable method.


To do this, score the skin of the fruit around the center. If you just slice it in half, you'll have to deal with splattered juice, but you can do that if you want. Scoring and then breaking it in half worked for us. Place one half dome side up in your palm over an empty bowl in the sink (it is a messy project) and whack the top with a heavy wood spoon (or something similar). The arils will just fall out, although it does take some effort. Repeat with the other half.

The pomegranate seeds were the perfect addition to our salad, which also included toasted pecans, craisins, red onion and feta cheese with a lemon vinaigrette.

Citrus Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Combine all ingredients.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Danish Dessert

Serving Danish Dessert is one of my aunt's traditions for Christmas, one that I rediscovered this year. In honor of that, we're going to have it on Christmas Eve. Just in case I can't find the signature ingredient in the store, here are a couple of DIY options to try. One uses dry Koolaid, the other dry Jello, to get the signature bright red coloring.

It turns out I couldn't find a box of Danish Dessert in our local supermarkets. I went with the second substitute - the one using koolaid - and added several cups of sliced fresh strawberries for the top layer. The middle layer was our regular cream cheese mixed with sweetened whipped cream pie filling. The bottom layer was a walnut/flour crust.

Strawberry Danish Dessert
1 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 Tbsp. dry jello mix (strawberry or raspberry flavor)
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. sliced strawberries (or fresh whole raspberries)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, jello and water.  Stir and heat over medium heat until ingredients come to a boil.  Stir and boil for a few minutes (3-4 min.)  Take off heat.  Stir in lemon juice and berries.  Serve warm (over waffles) or cooled.

Homemade Danish Dessert from The Red Apron Girl

1 package Kool Aid (any flavor)
4 tablespoons corn starch
pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar

Stir ingredients together and store in a tight container until ready to use.

When ready to use, in a small pot add the mix to 2 cups water. (Use 1 1/2 cups water if for pie filling.) Stir well and cook over medium heat until clear. Let cool 5 minutes and add fresh or frozen fruit. Place in fridge to allow to set up. Make about 3 hours before you want to serve.

Aunt Diane's Danish Dessert

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup margarine (not butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese
2 packages Dream Whip, prepared with whole milk
1 package Danish Dessert, prepared with
sliced frozen strawberries

Combine flour, margarine, powdered sugar, and walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Stir and press into a baking pan, reserving 3/4 cup. Blend together cream cheese and Dream Whip and spread over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs and top with Danish Dessert. Chill at least two hours before serving.

I added 1/4 cup wheat flour to the crumb mixture, and even then it took all of it to spread over our 9 x 13" baking pan, so we didn't have any on top of the cream mixture. I also used 16 ounces of cream cheese, mixed with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 cup heavy cream, whipped first. Then, as mentioned above, I used the "kool-aid" substitute. Final verdict was that this is a delicious dessert!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recent Bake Sale Cookbook Recipes

Peppermint Cupcakes - This probably isn't something we'll try again, although it wasn't bad. Basically add some red food coloring to a white cake mix along with a touch of peppermint extract. Then sprinkle crushed candy canes (or other peppermint candy) on top of the frosting.
Choco-Cola Cake - Because I don't plan on doing this one again, either, I'm not going to type up the recipe. Here's one that's close, but Wayne creamed both the cake and frosting mixtures instead of boiling them. We served it for company and they all enjoyed it, but I thought it was a bit too sweet. If you really want to test it for yourself, let me know and I'll send you the recipe!
One of our wedding gifts bit the dust while trying this next recipe. RIP dear yellow tablespoon!
Mini Chip Snowball Cookies - Just add mini chocolate chips to our traditional Mexican Wedding Cakes and you have another delicious variation.
Chippy Chewy Bars - Filled with lots of chocolate chips, coconut and sweetened condensed milk with a graham cracker base and a chocolate drizzle, these are quite rich and super easy to make.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Gourmet Eggs

It's been a while since we've tried Mom's Fancy Eggs, but because Wayne's cardiologist told him to lower the amount of carbs in his diet, we've been having eggs for breakfast more often. It was time for a change from the normal scrambled eggs. Mom's Fancy Eggs could be considered low-carb, but this variation, because it's not served over toast, is even better. And it's super delicious as well!
Heat up some spaghetti squash and spinach separately (aren't microwaves wonderful?!) and place on a plate. Top with an easy-over egg that has been seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and drizzled with a touch of cream and chopped tomatoes (sliced mushrooms would be a great addition). Sprinkle some grated cheese over the hot egg and serve.
Mom's Fancy Eggs
Yummy, with or without toast!



Friday, December 11, 2015

Spaghetti Squash

We trying to lower the amount of carbs we eat, so I'm giving spaghetti squash a try. Here are some recipes worth trying. We'll do the first one today, because I already added mushrooms and spinach to our eggs for breakfast. We need some variety! Besides, it has you cooking the squash for 30 minutes before slicing and removing the seeds. I want to see if that's easier than wrestling with the uncooked squash.

Creamy Baked Spaghetti Squash and Chicken

This was really good! Basically saute some onions and garlic in butter or olive oil. (Mushrooms and or red pepper would be great also.) Add some chicken broth and season with basil and parsley, salt and pepper. Thicken the sauce with flour, then stir in some cream and Parmesan cheese. Serve over the cooked spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach

Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Shrimp Dip

This recipe was a family tradition for New Year's Even when I was growing up; we moved it to Christmas Day (or both!) when our children were young. This year we're rebelling and eating it much earlier in the month of December - but it's the perfect treat to take to the appetizer/dessert party!

Easy Shrimp Dip

Spread a block of cream cheese in a pie plate. Top with cooked baby shrimp and cocktail sauce. (Sometimes mixed together first, sometimes not.) Serve with crackers, usually Wheat Thins.

I've looked at several different variations of this in on the internet. Some people mix some sour cream in with the cream cheese to make it a bit more "spreadable" or use whipped cream cheese. Other additions to make it look prettier include chopped green onions, sliced black olives, grated Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.