Monday, November 29, 2021

Winter Fruit Macaroons

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent so that means it's time to start Christmas baking! We haven't yet decorated at our house, or purchased a Christmas tree (we still get a live one every year!), but you can bet I have already made the list of what I'll be baking this year. 

I loved making (and let's be real -- eating!) these cookies. They are easy, but so so delicious. And they are really different from anything I've made before or what I typically see on a Christmas cookie tray. I adapted the recipe using some different winter fruits and nuts, based on personal preference. I include all the options in the recipe below, so you can pick what you like! (I used figs and pecans instead of dates and walnuts.)

Plus, as noted in the title, these cookies have FRUIT!  So even if you eat too many, you can console yourself with that. 

These cookies are also gluten free, which is helpful if you have friends or family members that can't/don't eat flour. I always like to include a cookie or two that can be enjoyed by everyone. 

Finally, these cookies freeze really well, which means you can bake them this week and then save them for Christmas week. I love it when I can make some varieties ahead and they stay fresh and nice in the freezer.

So, whip up some of these beauties, and let's get the baking season started!

Winter Fruit Macaroons

1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 1/4 cups coarsely chopped dates OR dried figs
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts OR pecans
3/4 cups dried cherries 
3/4 cups dried cranberries
3/4 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, dates or figs, nuts, cherries, cranberries and vanilla.
Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Store in an airtight container. 

Cookies can be frozen. Layer in a container with parchment or wax paper in between each layer of cookies. Thaw completely before serving. 

Makes about 6 dozen. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Blue Cheese

Do you need a last minute Thanksgiving side dish? Look no further. 

This one is SO delicious and so easy, and can be finished while someone else is carving the turkey. Or even after the potatoes are mashed. It's a super last minute green vegetable creation. And it only has three ingredients! THREE!

It's the perfect mixture of salty and tangy, and cabbage-y. And it's quite beautiful, too with those specks of blue cheese. 

This is no green bean casserole. (There's a place for that, too - I'm just saying some people might enjoy a fresh take on a green vegetable, ahem.)

And if your Thanksgiving menu is already full, just try this another time! It's great with pork tenderloin (my fave!), steak, baked chicken, or just by itself. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Blue Cheese
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 slices bacon, center cut preferred
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Fit a food processor with the slicing blade, and run all the brussels through it to create super thin slices. If you don't have a food processor, slice the brussels as thinly as you can. You can do this step ahead of time, and refrigerate until you're ready to cook.

Cut the bacon into thin strips with a kitchen shears, then saute in a large skillet over medium heat until nearly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate.

Drain off all the bacon fat, except about 1 Tbsp. Heat the bacon grease until it's hot, then add the sliced brussels, and saute, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly wilted. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon. 

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the blue cheese.  
Serves 6.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Lentil, Chicken Sausage and Spinach Soup {Crock Pot or Instant Pot}


Am I the only one who thinks Sunday lunch can be tricky? Everyone is STARVING by the time you get home from church (me especially!), so lengthy preparations will not be tolerated (again, especially by me, ha!) 

Cue this lentil soup. You can throw this in the crock pot before you leave, and when you get home, a delicious lunch awaits.  And if the crock pot timing doesn't work out for you, you can do this in the Instant Pot instead, and have dinner ready in 30 minutes or so. 

Lentils make this soup especially hearty - great for these days that are starting to turn colder. Lentils are rich in fiber, folate and potassium making them a great choice for the heart and for managing blood pressure and cholesterol.  And they're delicious. 

Combined with Italian chicken sausage, and spinach, this soup will make your body, mind and heart happy! And your tastebuds. And your growly stomach.

Lentil, Chicken Sausage and Spinach Soup

1 pound dried lentils, picked over

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups chicken broth

5 cups water

2 - 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, pureed

1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste

4 links Italian chicken sausage, sliced thinly

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. oregano

5 cups fresh spinach

Crock pot instructions:

Place all ingredients in the crock pot, except spinach. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach until it wilts. Serve immediately. 

Instant Pot instructions:

Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot, except spinach. Set to manual, pressure cook for 20 minutes. Release steam. Stir in spinach until it wilts. Serve immediately. 

Serves 6-8.

Powered by Blogger.