Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust and Gluten-Free Teff Variation

Here we are again with one of my favorite winter holiday culinary ingredients — cranberries. Homemade cranberry relish is just right to tame the edges of a rich, holiday meal. But, we can do so many more things with cranberries than make a relish. So, I’m baking a bright, festive “Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust” this Christmas. If you are looking for an easy, yet elegant dessert to finish a holiday meal or want a change from pumpkin pie, this is it. The tart is simple to make; using only a few household ingredients. It is hard to mess up this tart. The rich, shortbread-style cookie crust balances tart cranberries which have a taste of satsuma zest (satsuma is a type of orange) added in. Plus, I made a variaton of the crust using Teff flour — an ancient Ethopina grain, so that tart is gluten-free. I will enjoy several versions of this tart from now until Christmas!

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Zydeco Green Beans

Louisiana Zydeco musician, Clifton Chenier, sang, ‘”Eh, maman, Eh, maman, Les haricots sont pas salés,” Translated, the Creole French phrase means, “Hey mom, Hey mom, The snap beans don’t have salt.” Today I’m cooking green beans — les haricots verts — but, yes, I am adding a little salt. I love green beans — especially fresh green beans which are picked from a garden in early summer. I have tried various ways to dress up the green beans for the holidays. My favorite recipe idea combines sesame and garlic mixed into the green beans. Plus, I added a few red pepper flakes! Can’t help it. This is Louisiana. It is a very tasty and simple recipe.

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Brined and Roasted Boneless Turkey Breast with a “Touch” of Cajun Spice

Is my family the only one who doesn’t like traditional turkey and fixings for Christmas? After getting up at the crack of dawn to begin roasting the turkey and spending what seems like “hours” in the kitchen to fix the perfect Christmas dinner, I finally got the message. My family really doesn’t care for turkey and dressing or all the ceremony that goes along with carving the turkey. For several years I quit serving a turkey dinner at all. But, I like turkey. This year I plan to cook a small boneless turkey breast instead of a large bone-in turkey for Christmas. For a Louisiana twist, this turkey recipe is full of spices and great flavors. It is very tender and well-seasoned. This surprisingly simple recipe is a “keeper.” I have made it several times to fine-tune the recipe for our Christmas gathering. Each time, the turkey quickly disappeared.

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DIY Christmas Gift Project: Cookie, Muffin and Bar in a Jar Mixes

What unique gift can you give the family who likes to cook? This year, I am making each family member an individualized “Cookie Mix, Muffin or Bar in a Jar Mix.” The basic premise is to include the dry ingredients for the dessert in the jar. The “chef” provides the eggs, butter, vanilla extract etc; which are added to the mix and baked. Of course, you must include the instructions on how to prepare the baked desserts. Sort of like a boxed cake or brownie mix but much more creative (and homemade). The sky is the limit on what recipes can be adapted for this DIY Project and what ingredients can be added. Hey, you can’t find a store -purchased box mix for Matcha Muffins. Here is a batch of my “Macha Muffins with Cranberries” made from my “Jar Mix.” Not only is this a creative gift, but the muffins are extremely tasty, too.

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Louisiana-Style Hummus with Roasted Red Pepper

Here’s a Louisiana-style rendition of a favorite Middle Eastern dip, “Hummus.” It tastes just as good as any purchased hummus and this recipe has a nice kick. The “surprise” ingredient in the recipe is white beans. Red bell peppers and yogurt may also surprise. Put them together — along with tahini, garlic and lemon juice — and you have a festive dip.

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Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for Christmas Eve

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.

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Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Cakes – Miniature Cakes

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