Twice Baked Four Leaf Potatoes for St. Paddy’s

Four kinds of greens jazz up these cheesy classics for St. Patrick’s Day. 

twice baked potatoesTwice Baked Potatoes are always crowd pleasers, and adding some emerald greens makes them even more fitting as St. Patrick’s Day fare. Kale, chard, spinach, and parsley add up to four “leaves”.  Get it? I know you do. This recipe was a hit with adults and veggie-reluctant kids alike. I used the twice baked method recommended by the good people at America’s Test Kitchen. They might even be lucky!

Included is a tested and approved dairy-free version in the notes after the main recipe, made using Daiya products, which are soy-free and by far the best non-dairy cheeses I’ve ever tried. …

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Savory Valentine’s Day Roundup

A roundup of  savory Valentine treats!

 

Sweetheart Shrimp over Couscous

We love sweet treats for Valentine’s Day as much as the next food fanatics, but sometimes you just need to have a good, solid, savory romantic meal before you dive into a pile of fudge or mousse or creme brulee. This year we thought we’d share just a few of our own savory Valentine’s Day creations, and then, of course, share recipes and ideas we love from other bloggers, too.

Happy Happy-Couple’s-Day, everyone!

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Hoppin’ John Salad for a Lucky New Year

A salad spin on the traditional New Year’s Day dish

Hoppin’ John Salad to start your New Year off right!

Even if cornbread, collards and blackeyed peas with bacon or ham weren’t reputed to bring one wealth, luck and overall prosperity in the the year to come when eaten on New Year’s Day, I’d still enjoy eating them all. Hoppin’ John is the component of the  New Year’s meal from the American South that brings prosperity, and if you save some for leftovers the following day, it becomes “Skippin’ Jenny”, which demonstrates your commendable frugality and further increases your chances of manifesting that prosperity.

We though we’d try a salad variation of Hoppin’ John, and since it’s a bean salad, it definitely keeps well and even improves for a next-day reprise. There’s one collard leaf in there, less for flavor and more for tradition, though I love any extra green in a salad like this. You could also omit the ham for a still-totally-flavorful vegetarian version. …

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Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake

Cranberries and cream cheese are a match made in heaven.

You can find some gems while flipping through magazines waiting at the beauty salon. Like this cheesecake from Woman’s Day magazine, for instance.

This cheesecake looks so pretty and festive on a plate (you can skip sprinkling on the extra chocolate crumbs if you want a more pristine look), but the reason to make this cheesecake is the light, fluffy texture and the tart swirl on the top made from cranberries and raspberries cooked down and strained.

I don’t even normally like cheesecake, by the by, but this one has won my taste buds over.

It is a cinch to throw together, but will look like you’ve slaved for hours. A win-win in my book!

Happy Holly Days, food friends!

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DIY Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix for a Gift from Your Kitchen

Jeweled Rice Pilaf Mix

Give a Savory Food Gift this Holiday Season

Persian Jeweled rice is a dish that is made for special occasions, I am guessing because it looks so festive, and the taste is exotic and unexpected. It’s not just plain old rice pilaf.

I love to give gifts from my kitchen for holiday gifts, but I wanted to make something that isn’t just the usual cookie or brownie mix in a jar. I wanted something savory that will require minimum fuss to go from jar to table.

This jeweled rice pilaf mix fits the bill perfectly. It only takes a few  minutes of prep time, and then your friends and family will think you have been slaving for hours.

I did substitute a few things to keep the cost down. Traditionally, saffron would be used, but I added a little curry powder for taste and color. And, the traditional nut is pistachios, but I like pecans. You can use whatever spice and whatever nut you like.

The flavors and textures are such an unexpected treat – sweet and salty, soft and crunchy – a party in your mouth!

Just put this mix in layers in a pretty jar and attach the directions and there you have it – the perfect food gift!

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Cranberry Orange Nut Cookies Cookie Exchange and Cookies for Santa’s Milk Drive

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

All the Christmas flavors in one little cookie.

Let the Christmas cookie season begin!

This cookie packs so many holiday flavors into one little cookie: cranberries, orange and walnuts. They truly are packed with flavor, and so many wonderful textures.

These cookies are dairy free as well, so you can serve them up to even the vegans on your cookie list!

Christmas is the one time of year that I do actual baking, so I need recipes that are easy and no-fail, like these cookies. I promise you will not be disappointed – they are like a burst of sunshine in your mouth!

We are thrilled to be joining the Cookie Exchange put together by Liz Latham at Hoosier Homemade – please visit these food blogs for their fabulous recipes!

Christmas-Cookie-Exchange-2014-Round2

And, cookies are just so much more delicious with milk, as any kid can tell you. Did you know that milk is one of the items which food banks never get enough of during the holidays? Please consider donating to Santa’s Milk Drive this holiday season by visiting santasmilkdrive.com and donating a gallon of milk.

Santa just might put you on the “nice list” if you do!

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Happy Cookie Days, All!

– posted by Donna

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2014 Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

We all need some 11th hour inspiration from time to time. If you’re still working out the kinks in your menu, here are some  favorite fun ideas.

What sweet little Thanksgiving Turkeys.

 

For starters, if you have a lot of kids in attendance, here are a few fun ideas to keep them occupied AND make some great contributions to the feasting table. As per the picture above, try making some adorable candy turkeys. Check out the video below: …

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Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

A beverage that’s both refreshing and still very much flavored by fall.

Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

Cinnamon Apple Cider Slush

Fresh apple cider is always an autumn treat to look forward to, but I thought I’d try jazzing it up in a very simple way. This may be the perfect beverage for a Thanksgiving table – still full of classic fall flavor, but a cool, refreshing counterbalance to the hot, hearty and often rich holiday fare.

Getting to test drive a Nutri-Ninja Duo blender thanks to the team who hooked us up at IFBC this year was a total bonus. And yes, I will totally vouch for its design, ease of use and efficiency. This recipe uses 14 ice cubes, and it was rendered into delicious slush in seconds flat, thanks to the blade that spirals up the center of the pitcher.  And for extremely easy cleaning, that blade lifts right out – no having to scrape tediously around it at the bottom. But no matter what blender you have, this might be your next autumnal addiction. …

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Salted Caramel Fudge with Coconut Palm Sugar

A decadent homemade candy for any time of year (Halloween is just the current excuse).

Salted Caramel Fudge

Salted Caramel Fudge, made with coconut palm sugar in the mix

Caramel is my kryptonite. I feel about caramel the way others describe their feelings about chocolate. I like chocolate well enough, don’t get me wrong, especially in brownie, Nutella, fudge, or chocolate chip cookie form, but I don’t love it, don’t crave it, am not overcome with a wistful thousand-year-stare at the thought of it. But caramel, oh caramel, that’s a different story. And in continuing our October family reunion anniversary theme, this particular taste appears to have been inherited from my biological dad, who wrote me in an early getting-to-know-you email, “I have a weakness for caramel.” The proverbial caramel apple didn’t fall far from that tree, did it?

Now, no one has been happier about the advent of salted caramel as a trend, and I’ll remain devoted to the form long after various food culture lists declare it Over (which may have happened already, for all I know). The best thing about salted caramel is that it tends to be offered all on its own, rather than in combination with chocolate, which, to me, completely ruins both components. Alas, many “caramel fudge” recipes I’ve encountered really mean regular chocolate fudge WITH caramel, not a fudgy version of caramel all on its pure, glorious, buttery own.

So I set about to make a caramel confection that would stand all on its own, and if I could reduce the refined sugar in the recipe a bit with the help of Wholesome Sweetener’s coconut palm sugar, all the better. (I also used their organic brown sugar and natural cane sugar.)

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Pumpkin-Shaped Pumpkin Mini-Quiches

More pumpkin goods! An easy, dairy-free autumn breakfast or savory snack.

Pumpkin Mini-Bundt Quiches

Pumpkin Mini-Bundt Quiches

Pumpkin in both shape and content. You could just as easily bake these mini-quiches in regular muffin tins if you don’t have one of these snazzy numbers, and they’d be just as tasty a savory fall breakfast or snack. But if you want to add a little extra seasonal flair, I loved how the quasi-pumpkin shapes turned out. Totally dairy-free, and if you omit the pretzel stick garnishes for stems, paleo as well.  …

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