Let’s ring in the year with “Festive Satsuma Margaritas.” I love margaritas — it is one of my favorite cocktails. This version uses Louisiana satsumas in addition to limes. The beverage is easy to make at home — no special ingredients required — except for the satsumas. But you could substitute oranges, clementines or fresh mandarin oranges. This drink is very easy on the alcohol as the satsuma juice causes a diluting effect. So if you are looking for a fruity but very “light” alcoholic beverage to celebrate the new year; this one is for you.
Years ago, I visited a friend on Christmas Eve night since I was not returning to my family gathering in Virginia over the holidays. My friend served “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.” How interesting, I mused, to serve a simple soup on this special occasion. Since that dinner, I have eaten gumbo at other Christmas Eve night celebrations. And I have learned that gumbo holds a very reverend traditional place in Cajun and Creole families on Christmas Eve. I am attempting to reproduce my friend’s gumbo — a deep colored, flavorful soup with chicken and sausage. It was, by far, one of the best gumbos that I have ever eaten.
Miniature Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Cakes make an easy and delicious dessert and a great gift for the holidays. Who doesn’t like to receive a home-baked present? This lemony cake with cranberries is tart yet sweet and moist. Fresh cranberries give a holiday flair with a flavor “pop.” I used some of the Meyer lemons from my backyard tree to make these cakes and baked them in mini-loaf pans. Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the post where I share a couple of photos of my elusive backyard cardinal bird pair. Continue reading
Once a good cookie recipe, always a good one, and this is true of the $250 Neimam Marcus Cookie. It is associated with the luxury Neiman-Marcus department store chain which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The cookie is a great one for the holiday season — it is a chewy and loaded chocolate chip cookie with nutty oatmeal and walnuts. My work supervisor made these as a Christmas present one year and shared the recipe which I have saved all these years. I found it again while sorting through recipes files.
This blog post is a tribute to cookbook author, Holly Berkowitz Clegg, who passed away last week. Holly raised her family in Baton Rouge and lived here for many years. Her message began as a healthy approach to southern cooking with easy meals in a series of “Trim & Terrific” cookbooks. Over the years her accomplishments include authoring 17 cookbooks selling over 1.5 million copies, appearing in national media and writing a bi-weekly food column for our local newspaper, the Advocate. I am making a blackberry variation of a recipe from one of her cookbooks, “Strawberry Custard Brûlée.” It is light and tasty. It exemplifies her goal to make things low-fat and easy. I like it — you will too. Continue reading
Back in my hospital food service catering days, we prepared and served a dinner for the Board of Directors each month. I liked to change things up — partially for boredom’s sake and little for spite as it meant I had to work late that night. So one month I served carrot cake — trying to pack a little nutrition into the dessert. Much to my surprise, one Board member came to me after the meeting and said, “that very large piece of cake was the best dessert you’ve ever served — it was delicious.” And Carrot Cake is delicious. It should be moist, with just a little spice and nutty flavor. Topped with a cream cheese icing, it makes a great dessert for the holidays. And so I’m making my carrot cake again this year.
Bread Pudding is the quintessential New Orleans dessert. Every restaurant in the city has some sort of variation. Here’s an twist to this southern dessert. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie spices along with pecans really dress up classical bread pudding. And it appears like a cake when baked in a spring form pan. I served the dessert with bourbon sauce. Delicious. With Louisiana sweet potatoes available in the fall, this is a good time to make this variation.
Why make “Chopped Chicken Liver?” Because it is a traditional food often served at Jewish holidays including Passover. This holiday is celebrated with a special dinner and it will soon be here. Plus, my recipe for “Chopped Chicken Liver” is delicious. Other than the high cholesterol content, chicken livers are very nutritious; rich in iron and many vitamins.
Every year my mother-in-law sends “gelt” (a.k.a. money) for Hanukkah rather than presents. I like to save the gelt for something really special; something I might not otherwise indulge in. This year an old-fashioned Bundt cake pan caught my attention. I love to bake and this seemed like a fitting use for her generosity. The first cake I made was “Pecan Rum Cake.” It is festive for the all the holidays — both Hannukah and Christmas. I liked it so much I also made a variation, “Satsuma Rum Cake.”
I look forward to the holiday season — it is a good excuse to indulge a little by baking cookies and other scrumptious desserts. I especially like to try new recipes — last year I stumbled upon Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss Bars. Here’s my own version of the recipe — using an old-fashioned oatmeal blondie brownie recipe along with dried cranberries, orange zest, white chocolate chips and a cream cheese icing. Yum. This festive dessert is pretty good!