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Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Blackened Cod 2

Looking for something to serve with your Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw? This blackened cod is perfect. And quick and easy on a warm summer night when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

If you are making the coleslaw as well, there will probably be enough extra dressing from that recipe to use for drizzling onto the cooked fish. Recipe for Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

I like to serve this meal with Cotija cheese. Cotija is a firm mild cheese with a texture similar to feta, but without the saltiness. It crumbles easily with your fingers.

Blackened Cod 1

This recipe also makes great Fish Tacos.

RECIPE:

Blackened Cod 2

Blackened Cod with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

4 cod fish fillets (you could also use halibut or snapper)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Ancho chili powder
1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 Tbs oil

Creamy Cilantro Dressing (recipe below)
Cotija cheese, crumbled
1 can black beans, drained and mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice
Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Prepare Creamy Cilantro Dressing and refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Remove fish from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Mix dry spices in a small bowl. Pat fish fillets dry and rub spices onto both sides of fish fillets.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place fish fillets in the hot skillet and sear until cooked through (do not crowd pan; cook in 2 batches if necessary). Depending on the thickness and variety of fish, it should take about 3 minutes per side. Check for doneness with a fork: fish should flake easily, but not fall apart. Remove from pan and let fish rest for 2-3 minutes.

Drizzle fish with some of the Creamy Cilantro Dressing and top with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve fish with coleslaw, black beans, and additional cilantro dressing.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for one hour before serving

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Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

A light and creamy summer salad perfect for serving with grilled or barbecued meats. Flavored with lime juice and fresh jalapenos, the dressing on this coleslaw is tangy and slightly spicy, not sweet like a traditional coleslaw.

And if you have some dressing left over, it is great as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

RECIPE:

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw 1

Creamy Cilantro Coleslaw

3-4 cups shredded cabbage
4 green onions, sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing:
½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbs diced mild green chilies (about ½ of a 4 oz can)
2 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
½ – 1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
½ tsp kosher salt

Prepare dressing: Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Place cabbage, green onions, and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing a little at a time, stirring until cabbage is coated, but not drowning in dressing.** Refrigerate coleslaw for about one hour before serving.

**Any extra dressing can be served as a sauce for grilled meat, or refrigerated and used later as a salad dressing.

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White Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake

White-Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake[10]

A delicious white chocolate cheesecake swirled with a sweetened raspberry puree is made even more decadent with a stabilized whipped cream and some toasted almonds. The crust is an Almond Coconut Crust that is easy to make gluten free.

Perfect for a summer dessert, or for raising money at a Boy Scout fundraising auction.

Cheesecakes should always be baked in a water bath. This helps them cook evenly, without becoming grainy. For a more in-depth look at cooking a cheesecake in a water bath, click HERE.

When the cheesecake has chilled for several hours (or overnight), remove it from the springform pan and prepare to transform the slightly boring cheesecake into something beautiful and mouth-watering.

White-Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake[12]

Spread the outside edge of the cheesecake with chilled raspberry puree and place toasted almonds around the outside edge. The puree will “glue” the almonds to the cheesecake. Try to use unbroken almonds that are similar in size.

White-Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake[14]

The whipped cream topping used to garnish the cake is a stabilized whipped cream. The addition of cream cheese to the whipped cream keeps the whipped cream from breaking down. It will keep for at least 4-5 days in the refrigerator without separating and breaking down.

Use a pastry bag and piping tips to decorate the top edge of the cheesecake. I piped large and small stars around the outside top edge and garnished the top with fresh raspberries. I piped small stars around the bottom edge of the cheesecake.

White-Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake

RECIPE:

White-Chocolate-Raspberry-Cheesecake[5]

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake

Almond Coconut Crust (recipe below)

½ cup heavy cream
6 oz (about 1 cup) white chocolate chips
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
¼ tsp salt
3 eggs

1 cup Raspberry Puree (recipe below)
about 1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Whipped Cream Topping (recipe below)
Fresh raspberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare and bake Almond Coconut Crust in a 9” springform pan. Cool completely. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys) or a crock-pot liner. Place wrapped springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

Place ½ cup heavy cream in a Pyrex measuring cup and heat for 1 minute in the microwave. Stir in white chocolate chips until smooth. Cool slightly while preparing rest of cheesecake batter.

In a large mixing bowl, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Add eggs to mixing bowl and beat until just combined.

Pour half of the cheesecake batter over the crust  in the prepared pan. Measure out ½ cup of the Raspberry Puree and use this to place dollops around the top of the cheesecake batter. Use a knife to gently swirl. Top with remaining cheesecake batter and swirl with an additional ½ cup of the raspberry puree.

Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot water to about 2-inches deep. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for about 60-75 minutes at 350°F, or until just the very center of the cheesecake is still jiggly. Remove springform pan from the water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove the ring of the pan.

Let cheesecake cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve:

Remove plastic wrap and remove the outer edge of the spring form pan. Slide a knife or spatula between the parchment paper lining and the crust, and slide the cheesecake off of the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter. Discard parchment paper round.

Spread about ½ cup of the Raspberry Puree around the outside edge of the chilled cheesecake. Press toasted almond slices around the edge, covering the edge completely.

Prepare Whipped Cream Topping and use a pastry bag to pipe large and small stars or flowers around the top edge of the cheesecake, garnishing with fresh raspberries. Pipe small stars/flowers around bottom edge of cheesecake.

Almond Coconut Crust
¾ cup whole roasted almonds
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs flour (omit flour for gluten-free)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place almonds, sugar, flour, and coconut in a food processor and pulse until it forms coarse crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until just moistened.

Line a 9″ springform pan with a parchment round. Spray lightly with baking spray. Spread the crust crumbs evenly onto just the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before adding filling.

Raspberry Puree
12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups of not crushed fresh berries)
½ cup water
3 Tbs sugar
½ Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs ClearJel or cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, ½ cup water, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing berries slightly with the back of a spoon. Strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing the pulp through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Return seedless puree to the saucepan (rinse saucepan first if there are seeds clinging to the sides). Mix the cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water in a small bowl; stir into puree in the saucepan. Return mixture to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thickened and no longer cloudy. Cool before using. Store leftover puree in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs cream cheese, very soft
2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt

Combine  heavy cream and softened cream cheese (must be very soft, or your topping will be chunky!) in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt; beat until stiff peaks form.  (The cream cheese in this topping will stabilize your whipped cream and help it keep its shape even over several days.)

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Sugar Free Baked Custards and a Magic Fridge

Baked Custards 6

In our laundry room is an old refrigerator. It isn’t fancy, doesn’t dispense water or ice, or sync to your phone to create grocery lists. But it is magic.

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As my husband and children like to observe, whenever someone takes the last custard from this fridge, more magically appear again the very next day. They love this Magic Fridge.

It must be that same Magic that turns full laundry baskets into piles of folded clothes, raw ingredients into hot meals, and grimy bathrooms into sparkling retreats (okay, that might be wishful thinking; I’m still waiting for that kind of magic to appear).

But if you’re looking for a simple egg custard that is easy to make sugar-free, this is definitely the kind of magic I can help you with.

Baked Custards 1

Stevia is my favorite non-sugar sweetener, but it can sometimes be bitter if it is used alone to sweeten desserts. For this recipe, I combine stevia with erythritol. You could also use Splenda (or go for an all-sugar version).

Baked Custards 5

RECIPE:

Baked Custards 6

Sugar Free Baked Custards

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
¼ tsp liquid stevia
1 ½ tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups (1 quart) half & half
½ cup erythritol (or Splenda)
Optional: fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Prepare a pan for a water bath: place eight 8-oz ramekins in a larger baking pan. Heat enough water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. (Don’t add hot water to baking pan until after pouring custard into ramekins)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, stevia, vanilla, and salt.

Heat half & half until very hot, but not quite boiling. (You can do this either in the microwave or on the stovetop). Remove from heat and stir in erythritol.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the mixing bowl with the eggs. Do this very, very slowly at first, or you will curdle the eggs.

Strain the custard through a mesh sieve to remove any lumps.

Pour custard into small ramekins. Fill bottom of the larger baking pans with hot water to halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until set at the edges, and only slightly jiggly in the center. Cool for 15 minutes in the water bath. Remove ramekins from water bath and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving. Serve with fresh fruit, if desired

Yield: 8 8-oz custards

**To prepare using sugar: use 2/3 cup sugar in place of stevia and erythritol

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Homemade Crescent Rolls

Crescent Rolls 2

Looking for the perfect rolls to serve with your Easter ham? Or more importantly, to use the next day to make ham sandwiches?

Look no further: these rolls are amazing. They are soft and tender, but also hold up to slicing and using as a sandwich bun.

Leftovers are always the best part of a big holiday dinner. I love cooking once and then repurposing dinner for the next few days. And rolls are the perfect food to make ahead of time, freeze, and then reheat in the oven just before serving.

To help elongate the crescent rolls and keep them from being too thick in the center, I cut a slit in the wide edge, separate the slit slightly, and then roll the dough into a crescent shape.

Crescent Rolls 5  Crescent Rolls 6

This gives longer ends that are easier to curve into a rounded crescent.

Crescent Rolls 4

Happy Easter!

Crescent Rolls 1

RECIPE:

Crescent Rolls 3

Homemade Crescent Rolls
————(adapted from Our Best Bites)

2 cups whole milk
½ cup + 1 Tbs sugar, divided
1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tbs) butter
2 tsp kosher salt
2 pkg active dry yeast (or 4 ½ tsp)
2/3 cup warm water
8-9 cups all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs
Melted butter (about 4 Tbs)

Combine milk, ½ cup sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbs sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes. Add beaten eggs.

Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour.

Grease large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half.

Roll each dough half into a circle and cut into 12 wedges. Cut a ½” slit in the wide end of the wedge, separate slightly and roll  into crescent shapes and place on prepared pans.

Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375°F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. When done, remove from oven. Brush lightly with melted butter.

Yield: 24 rolls

**To prebake for serving another day: Bake rolls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown. Remove from oven. Cool. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. Brush tops with butter.

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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Bread

Homemade bread is a lot easier than you might think and is well worth the effort. This is a simple recipe for a Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Eggs, milk, and sugar in the dough make this a wonderfully rich bread that is perfect for toasting.

For a real treat, slice it and use for making French Toast.

If you like raisins, add them to the cinnamon filling for a delicious Cinnamon Raisin Bread.

For a fancier presentation, you can also make 3 longer, narrower dough rolls and braid the rolls and then drizzle the baked braided loaf with a powdered sugar/milk glaze.

This recipe makes three regular loaves or two braided loaves.

RECIPE:

Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 Tbs yeast
¼ cup warm (but not hot) water
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk, scalded**
7 – 7½ cups flour
2 eggs
3 Tbs butter, softened
3 Tbs cinnamon
6 Tbs sugar
3 tsp water

Mix yeast with ¼ cup water. Set aside. Place ½ cup sugar, ½ cup butter and salt in a large mixing bowl; pour scalded milk over the mixture. Stir until butter is melted. Use a dough hook to mix in 3 cups of flour. Add eggs and continue mixing. Add the softened yeast and mix until smooth. Add enough remaining flour until you have a soft, kneadable dough. Knead dough into a smooth ball.

Place dough in an oiled bowl; turn dough over to coat both sides. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled.

Mix 3 Tbs cinnamon and 6 Tbs sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 3 rectangles. Spread 1 Tbs butter on each rectangle and sprinkle each with 3 Tbs cinnamon/sugar mixture. Sprinkle 1 tsp of water over the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Roll into loaves; seal ends and place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise one hour.

Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes. If the tops start to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Remove from pans, brush tops with butter, and cool on rack.

Makes 3 medium loaves

**TO SCALD MILK: Heat milk in pan over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge of pan and milk just begins to boil. Or microwave until milk just begins to boil.

OPTIONAL: Sprinkle dough with ¼ cup raisins before rolling.

BRAIDED CINNAMON BREAD: After dough rises first time, divide into 2 pieces. From each piece make 3 long, narrow rectangles. Spread with butter, cinnamon, sugar; sprinkle with water. Roll each rectangle and seal ends and edge. Braid the three loaves (keep seam sides down), pinching both ends to seal. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil if it is browning too quickly. Glaze with a powdered sugar/milk icing. Makes 2 braided loaves.

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Beef Enchiladas

Beef Enchiladas 2

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce. These are a definite kid pleaser, and so much better than the frozen variety.

These are also perfect for make-ahead dinners. Prepare the individual enchiladas and freeze on a baking sheet. Put the frozen enchiladas into a Ziploc bag and return to the freezer. Then pull out as many as you want to cook on a busy night and bake them frozen (no thawing needed).

Beef Enchiladas 1

RECIPE:

Beef Enchiladas 2

Beef Enchiladas

1 ½ lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 ½ Tbs homemade taco seasoning (recipe below)
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt (omit if taco seasoning is very salty)
8 flour or 12 corn tortillas (heat or fry corn tortillas to soften)
3 cups shredded cheddar or cheddar Jack cheese (save 1 cup for top)
Enchilada Sauce (recipe below)
Toppings: Diced avocado, sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare Enchilada Sauce.

Brown ground beef and onion in a large skillet until cooked through. Stir in taco seasoning, garlic powder, salt and ½ cup of the prepared Enchilada Sauce. Cook for 5-6 minutes over low heat.

Spread about ½ cup of Enchilada Sauce on bottom of baking dish. Place about 1/3 cup (for corn tortillas) – ½ cup (for flour tortillas) down the center of each tortilla. Top with shredded cheese. Wrap the tortilla around the filling and place seam-side down in the baking pan. Pour remaining Enchilada Sauce over filled enchiladas.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Top with additional 1 cup cheese and bake 5 minutes more, or until cheese is melted.

**TO FREEZE: Prepare filled enchiladas, but do not top with sauce. Place enchiladas, not touching, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then place in Ziploc bags. Freeze sauce separately in a Ziploc bag. Enchiladas do not need to be thawed before cooking.

Enchilada Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs chili powder
1-1 ½ Tbs Homemade Taco Seasoning (recipe below), or use substitution below
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
½ Tbs brown sugar
½ tsp salt

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir constantly until flour just begins to brown. Whisk in chili powder and taco seasoning. Whisk for 1 minute and then stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Substitution: 1 Tbs chili powder, ¼ tsp each: ground cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
1 ½ cups chili powder
4 Tbs paprika (Spanish smoked or regular)
2 Tbs coarse kosher salt
2 Tbs black pepper
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs Ancho chili pepper
1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
½ Tbs ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of seasoning per pound of meat. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Note: Adjust amount of crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to make milder or spicier

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Apricot Glazed Chicken

Apricot Chicken 1

You know those days when you run from one activity to another, and before you know it everyone is starving and you haven’t thought about dinner yet? Apricot Glazed Chicken is made for those days. This recipe is one of my favorite go-to last minute dinners. And it helps that it is always a hit with the kids.

The glaze is a simple mix of apricot jam, soy sauce and a few spices. Brown some chicken breasts or tenderloins in a skillet, pour on the glaze and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little rice and dinner is served!

A perfect meal for the dinner procrastinator!

I have also made this chicken with this homemade Peach Vanilla Jam.

Apricot Chicken 2

RECIPE:

Apricot Chicken 1

Apricot Glazed Chicken

2 Tbs olive oil
4 chicken breasts, or 1 lb chicken tenderloins
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Hot cooked rice

Glaze:
½ cup apricot jam
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or ¼ tsp ground ginger)
½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp crushed red peppers
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken to skillet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until well browned.

Combine glaze ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and glaze thickens slightly.

Serve over hot steamed rice.

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Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Greek Chicken 1

Looking for a lighter dinner that isn’t bland and boring?

This roasted Greek chicken with onions and peppers and homemade tzatziki is sure to please everyone in the family. You can eat it over a bed of lettuce or stuffed inside of pita bread.

I like to roast the chicken, peppers and onions in the oven to get nice crispy charred edges, but you could also cook them in a skillet.

Greek Chicken 3

Homemade pita bread and hummus is great served with this salad. Instructions can be found HERE.

Tzatziki is a garlic yogurt dip with grated cucumber and dill. It is a great topper for this salad.

Greek Chicken 2

RECIPE:

Greek Chicken 1

Roasted Greek Chicken Salad

Marinade:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Greek seasoning (or 2 tsp oregano + 1 tsp thyme)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 boneless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
Feta cheese, crumbled
Tzatziki
Hummus
Pita bread, cut into wedges

Mix marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Add diced chicken to marinade in bag. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Drain chicken in a colander; discard marinade.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chicken and sliced onion and red pepper on the baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables just begin to char. Broil for 1-2 minutes at the end of cooking time, if needed.

To cook in a skillet: Sauté in large skillet for 5 minutes; drain any excess liquid. Continue to cook until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Heat 1 Tbs oil in skillet. Add peppers and onions to skillet; cook until tender. Return chicken to skillet and heat through.

Serve over lettuce with feta cheese, tzatziki, hummus and pita bread wedges. Chicken can also be eaten inside of pitas with hummus, tzatziki and feta cheese.

Tzatziki
½ large seedless cucumber (or 2 mini cucumbers)
2 cups whole-fat plain Greek yogurt (Fage Total 4% brand is great)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dill
Dash white pepper
Salt

Grate cucumber (unpeeled), sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander until most of the liquid leeches out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Combine yogurt and cucumber with remaining ingredients. Add additional salt (about ¼-½ tsp) to taste. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.

Pita Bread
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Additional flour for kneading, if necessary

If you have a baking stone, place it (ungreased) in the oven while preheating (if you are using a regular baking sheet, place in oven only 1 min before adding bread). Preheat oven to 475°F for at least 15-20 minutes.

Combine all  ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour if needed until dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 small balls. Leave in covered bowl. Roll 1 or 2 dough balls into circles about 6-inches across and ¼-inch thick. Place on hot baking stone, one or two at a time. Cook 2 minutes, or until dough puffs up. Turn over and cook about 1 minute longer. Remove from baking stone with a spatula. Place on a plate and flatten pita slightly with spatula (don’t completely flatten, or insides will stick together). Cover with a towel while other pitas are cooking.

Cut in half and fill to eat. Or cut  into wedges and serve with hummus and/or tzatziki for dipping.

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Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 2

Traditional gingerbread –the cake, not the cookie, although those are good too — is one of my favorite desserts, but one I hardly ever get to eat. Gingerbread just feels like it should only be a Christmas dessert, and there are always so many treats around Christmas time, that this fabulously simple dessert sometimes gets bumped from the menu.

I think gingerbread should get a whole season of love, not just a single holiday at the busiest time of year. Pumpkin gets a full four months of love; gingerbread should get the same respect.

Gingerbread is a simple to make cake that is great alone, but also pairs wonderfully with a tart lemon sauce and cinnamon flavored whipped cream.

 

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 4

RECIPE:

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream 2

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Gingerbread:
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup molasses (NOT blackstrap: or use ½ cup blackstrap + ½ cup corn syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
1 cup very hot water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla and mix again.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl and use a whisk to mix well. Add to mixing bowl and mix well. Add the hot water and beat until smooth. Batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake or the gingerbread will be dry.

Serve the gingerbread warm or at room temperature with lemon sauce and/or cinnamon whipped cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup powdered sugar


In a medium bowl, begin beating the whipped cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add the cinnamon and powdered sugar and beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Lemon Sauce:
1 ½ cups sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups cold water
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 egg yolks
2-3 tsp grated lemon zest
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, use a whisk to mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks until well mixed and then mix into saucepan. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in lemon zest, butter and vanilla. Cook until butter melts and then remove from heat. Serve warm.

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