They are most often enjoyed in March during Purim, a Jewish holiday of deliverance as told in the Book of Esther. But at this time of the year, Hamantaschen, with their triangle shape and sweet fillings, also show up on holiday cookie platters. The dough is sweet, delicate and cookie-like. Some of the most popular fillings are made of raspberry or apricot preserves, prune or poppy seed paste and chocolate. I was introduced to Hamantaschen this year for the first time and I promise I’m going to get better at shaping them, which is a bit tricky at first. I made this batch with raspberry preserves and am looking forward to trying new fillings, perfecting the technique and giving them as gifts from my kitchen all year long!
It was at a Christmastime potluck where I tasted a little bite of holiday heaven! This party-sized casserole came out of the oven and the entire room was engulfed with the incredible aroma of the season—a rich, tasting soufflé-like casserole of sweet and fresh yams, covered and smothered with a glazy brown sugar and pecan topping. Instantly, we all dove in and devoured. You know me. It took all of one bite and ten seconds for me to track down the owner of the casserole and beg for the recipe. This fantastic party-worthy dish is exactly the reason I think it’s unfortunate that we relegate a yam or sweet potato casserole only to holiday dinners. This dish should be made and enjoyed all winter long! It can be made with either yams or sweet potatoes—choose whichever are the sweetest in season. I’m certain that you’ll enjoy this casserole…. who knows? It may be one of your most requested dishes at your holiday feasts!
Oh, the flavors! This salad is a party in a bowl, perfect for a main meal or a holiday gathering. There are so many layers of deliciousness in this recipe starting with an orange juice, cider vinegar, shallot and sundried tomato marinade for the chicken thighs. Then there are the healthy greens like baby spinach and a hefty helping of feta and mozzarella cheeses. The dressing is actually the drippings from the pan-grilled chicken, so it’s loaded with flavor through and through. This dish didn’t start out as a salad. It was actually originally a hot Tuscan skillet where the chicken breasts are stuffed with the cheeses, spinach and tomatoes. But I decided to switch it up and turn it into a refreshing salad with warm flavorful chicken tossed in.
Want to really elevate your lasagne? Adding an additional layer of Béchamel Sauce will make this dinner favorite much creamier, richer and so very satisfying. It’s simply a melt in your mouth meal! If you make it with my Momma’s meat sauce, you are guaranteed to serve the best-tasting lasagne ever. Might I suggest you make two? One for now and one to freeze for later. You’ll thank me!
Wow, what a salad! Bright, fresh, and so very flavorful, this Shrimp and Orzo Salad has the perfect combination of protein, blanched vegetables in a savory lemon tarragon dressing. If you’re looking for the perfect main meal salad, this one will not disappoint. It’s also great as a side dish that would pair well with many different entrée’s. The secret to this dish is to not overcook the vegetables or the shrimp. Only a couple of minutes in hot water to blanch the veggies, a few minutes for the shrimp, and then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process and retain the bright colors! The addition of the snap peas, asparagus (try to find the small, thin spears), the peas (frozen, not canned) and the spinach cut in ultra thin strips (chiffonade) makes this salad so tasty with a surprise in every bite! It’s perfect salad for a holiday buffet and a favorite in January when salads will help us get back on a healthy track. Enjoy!
He’s 80 years old this year and the iconic face of America’s best-selling brand of rice from 1950 through the 1990’s. Ever since I was a little girl, Uncle Ben was a regular at our dinner table. It was the brand of rice my Mom trusted. Therefore, it’s a brand I still trust today. Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice was actually revolutionary when it was introduced in the 1930’s. It was the first rice to be parboiled which offered several benefits. Parboiling retained more or the nutrients in the rice, it cut down on cook time and it was resistant to weevils, a common problem when storing rice. So I was thrilled to have stumbled upon the Uncle Ben’s 50th Anniversary Cookbook in a thrift store this week, and what a bargain! It was half off fifty cents! The cookbook celebrates Uncle Ben’s recipes from 1943 until 1993 and features dishes like Sweet Pepper Risotto and Pacific Paella. But the recipe that caught my eye was the Spinach, Bacon and Mozzarella Salad with Warm Rice Vinaigrette Dressing. I love the idea of soaking the cooked rice in a sweet and sour combination of vinegar, oil and brown sugar eliminating the need for additional dressing for the salad. It can be made with either the Uncle Ben’s Original or Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice. (I prefer the original.) The rice mixture is delicious served warm over the spinach or cooled down. I added a pint of grape tomatoes to the recipe since they go so well with the mozzarella. This is a great salad for the start of a new year, and if you’ve never had rice in a green salad, it’s the one to try! By the way, here’s a bit of trivia about Uncle Ben. From 1971 to 1983, his face was removed from all packages. But in 2007, Uncle Ben’s image was back on the box and he was promoted to the Chairman of the Board by a new advertising campaign. Way to go, Uncle Ben!