Meringue Nests with Fresh Fruit for Passover and Easter

I cannot remember a Passover meal without my mother-in-law’s meringue nests for dessert. These are truly a family tradition. The little meringue shells are made from egg whites and sugar with a hint of vanilla extract and are filled with fresh fruit. They are tasty and colorful and truly remind me of spring. Fill them with whatever fruit is in season — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Best yet, this dessert is fat-free and healthy. It will surely impress! This is the “perfect” and elegant dessert for spring — serve it for Easter dinner, too!

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Classic New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding

I am making “Classic New Orleans Bread Pudding” as a sentimental tribute to all the Mardi Gras parades and festivities which have been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sad, but true — hard to social distance with these huge crowds and parades — and they have all been cancelled in the greater New Orleans area. Most restaurants in southern Louisiana offer a variation of Bread Pudding on their dessert menus — I view this as the quintessential New Orleans dessert. My favorite bread pudding recipe comes from well-known Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme, and his Louisiana K-Paul’s restaurant. His recipe hits the spices just right — it is something special. I have adapted Prudhomme’s recipe slightly and am making it in honor of Mardi Gras this year. I will miss the fun and revelry!

 

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Persimmon Spice Bread

Here’s an absolutely delicious “spice bread” recipe which is just right for the holiday season. It comes from my across-the-street neighbor, Kathy. The bread blends pungent persimmons with a combination of spices — cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice — to make a moist, dense and perky quick bread. For many years, another favorite Cajun neighbor treated us to a small loaf of pumpkin bread every Christmas. I remember Essie with great fondness during the holiday season for all of her kind deeds. And so I am making Kathy’s “Persimmon Spice Bread” to use as Christmas and Hanukah gifts. As a bonus, this is quite a healthy bread and the recipe includes a “secret ingredient.”

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Maine-ish Fried Apple Hand Pies and a Baked Variation

Autumn is the season for wonderful apple desserts and concoctions. In October, quite by chance, we were treated to one of these desserts: “Maine Fried Apple Hand Pies.” I was not familiar with the dessert and term, “hand pies.” Wow, these small apple pies were delicious. We sampled the hand pies during a whirlwind visit to New England to visit relatives and see the fall foliage. I loved the small “pies” and returned home to Louisiana eager to try my luck making these delicious apple treats. After many attempts to replicate the ones we ate at the Maine café, I now have my very own unique recipe for “Apple Hand Pies.”

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Cream Cheese & Persimmon Brownies for Halloween

These brownies have just a tint of orange color and just a pungent “bite” that make them perfect for a “hint” of Halloween. I love cream cheese brownies; and I’m never sure which I like best — the brownies or the swirled in cream cheese. I decided to add a ripe persimmon to the cream cheese filling of this delicious brownie recipe for a Halloween effect.

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Great-Aunt Jenny’s Persimmon Pudding

A number of years ago, I asked my mother and her first cousins to recount favorite recipes and stories of growing up on Iowa farms during the 1930’s. This generation was quickly aging and I thought that it would be wise to capture their memories for a family reunion book. I love family history. The way of a living on a family farm during the 1920’s to 1930’s — for example, with a wood-burning kitchen stove — is just a memory now. Only one generation ago — my how times have changed! My second cousin, whose grandmother moved to California in about 1910, submitted her grandmother’s recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” for the reunion book.

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Kids Can Cook: Cake Box Brownies and an Upscale Variation

Here is a recipe that kids can make: “Cake Box Brownies.”  Mix the recipe up in 5 minutes and bake them for 15 minutes. Quick and easy. It is a good recipe to try with Mother’s Day coming soon. You need a large bowl and wooden spoon, a measuring cup and an 8″x 12″ baking pan. And of course, the ingredients. Why a box of cake mix? Because that is typically what is in my pantry — not brownie mix. Recently I needed to make a batch of brownies in a hurry with no time go to the grocery store for the proper ingredients. So, I quickly checked the internet and found that other folks were making brownies from cake mix, too. Well, my batch turned out pretty good. I’ve made it several times since then, tweaking and adapting the recipe each time. Included is one of my more upscale versions. Continue reading

Coconut Lemon Bars for Passover

I made this delicious “Coconut Lemon Bar” recipe in December using Meyer Lemons from my backyard citrus fruit tree. The combination of lemons, coconut and walnuts on a buttery crust made a great holiday dessert. These bars can easily be adapted for Passover and so I decided to make this dessert for our “virtual” Seder meal coming up this week.

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Easy Cook: Green Pistachio Swirl Cake for St. Patrick’s Day

If you want good home-style cooking, you will probably find it at covered dish buffet. Everybody brings their best cookin’. This is where I sampled a Pistachio Cake which was absolutely delicious. It was green — yes, a green cake. The pistachio pudding gives a hint of green color and  a nice nutty flavor to the cake along with a bit of almond extract. So I’m making the dessert with St. Patrick’s Day mind and plan to bring it for an supper event where everybody is asked to bring desserts.

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Hamantaschen Pastries for Purim

Hamantaschen are delectable pastries made for the “Purim” Holiday. The cookie dough is rolled out and cut into round circles and then shaped into triangles. They are filled with poppy seed candy and honey or fruit preserves and nut fillings. The cookies are shared with family and friends. And my 96-year-old mother-in-law shared a delightful story from her childhood about these treats. Those special stories make the cookies worthwhile. Continue reading