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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Raspberry Port Trifle The choices are endless when it comes to choosing a dessert for Valentine’s Day. But choosing the perfect dessert depends on exactly who your special Valentine is. Like my Valentine, a trifle is never boring, very versatile, and always indulgent. Come February 14th, my Valentine will be served a trifle that is composed of layers of fresh raspberries, vanilla cake, good tawny port, raspberry jam, and homemade crème anglaise. Make one large trifle or several individual ones. Make a haphazardly messy trifle like mine or a structurally engineered one, but any dessert as rich as a trifle deserves to be topped off with fresh whipped cream! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Raspberry Port Trifle
The Grand Central Baking Book

INGREDIENTS
Crème Anglaise
2 cups (16 fluid ounces) whole milk
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Layers
2 pounds leftover plain cake
3/4 cup port
1 cup raspberry jam
2 pints (4 cups) fresh raspberries

Whipped Cream
2 cups (16 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated or confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish
Fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)
Lightly toasted almonds or fresh fruit, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Make the crème anglaise:
1. Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until a skin forms on its surface, just before it comes to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, vanilla, and salt until well blended and slightly thickened.

3. While whisking continuously, slowly pour about 1 cup pf the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Then, still whisking continuously, slowly pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot milk.

4. Cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon; this will take about 10 minutes. (If you run your finger down the spoon, the custard shouldn’t run into the track.)

5. Immediately remove the custard from the heat and pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-qt bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface so the custard doesn’t form a skin. Let the custard cool to room temperature.

Assemble the trifle:
1. Slice the cake into 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick pieces. Arrange one-third of the slices on the bottom of the trifle bowl, pressing the cake to fill the bottom.

2. Pour 1/4 cup of the port evenly over the cake, then spread 1/3 cup of the jam over the cake.

3. Cover with a layer of raspberries, using about 1-1/3 cups, then pour 3/4 cup of custard over the berries.

4. Repeat the entire process two more times.

5. Cover the surface of the trifle with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to two days.

Make the whipped cream, garnish, and serve:
1. Well in advance of serving, put the whipping cream in a bowl in the refrigerator, along with a whisk.

2. When you’re ready to serve, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Pile the whipped cream atop the trifle and garnish with the fresh fruit and toasted nuts.

Serves 10 to 12 generously

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. For the cake, I bought a box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix and baked it the day before assembling the trifle.

2. Also, to make it easier, I purchased Trader Joe’s Sliced Honey Roasted Almonds. These are ready to use, no toasting involved. Plus, they will be great in my Homemade Granola Bars.

3. As seen in the photo, you can make one large trifle or several individual ones. I used brandy snifters for the small trifles.

4. Keep in mind that trifles need to sit for awhile. This trifle can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Enjoy!

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Holiday Recipe Round-Up It’s down to the wire in Santa’s Kitchen and I’m helping him sort through popular holiday recipes featured in this blog. Reminiscing about these dishes, we force ourselves to stop salivating and start prepping food. Santa needs to start eating holiday foods now in order to build up his stamina for the long hours ahead!

Here are Santa’s picks for this year:

The holidays are not always about sweets. Bowls of Reindeer Snack Mix empty magically, so make sure you make plenty of this salty, sweet, and spicy treat. It also makes a great snack for any casual get-together or game-day viewing!

If mornings are not your thing, try sitting in front of a hot stack of Gingerbread Pancakes with Maple Cream. Your senses will be teased and tickled. Smell the ginger and cinnamon. Look at the light fluffy pancakes. Taste the spice and molasses mixed with the sweet maple cream. You’ll be wide awake in no time!

As much as he would like to, Santa cannot survive only on sweets. One of his favorite salads is not only gorgeous to look at, but is packed with healthy ingredients. Crisp slices of Asian pear mingle with juicy slices of pink grapefruit, crunchy slices of Fuyu persimmons, and beautiful red pomegranate arils. Toasted pine nuts and a fat-free dressing top off this wonderful Fall Fruit Salad.

Finally, here’s a recipe for one of Santa’s favorite cookies. With a buttery crust that’s topped with red currant jam and a lemony-nutty meringue, this cookie is a triple threat. Easily made in a 9 by 13-inch pan, these Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies will undoubtedly become one of your family’s holiday favorites!

This will be my last post of the year, because I will be enjoying the holidays with my family. May your holidays be filled with laughter and love and may the New Year bring peace and joy to you and yours. Thanks for following What About This and see you next year!

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December 19, 2014 Edition Holidays bring cherished memories, family traditions, favorite foods, festive decorations, and opportunities to gather together. This is true across the world. Hanging this wreath on my front door is a holiday tradition for my family. The wreath was made by my husband and is the only example of his woodworking skills. With angels gloriously sending out stars of hope and joy to all who see it, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas for my family without this lovely wreath adorning our door.

#1 – Delicious Pancakes!
21 Delicious Pancake Recipes If your holiday morning traditionally includes serving pancakes for breakfast, you might want to check out these 21 Crazy Delicious Pancake Recipes. You’ll be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

#2 – Gift In a Jar
96 Great Homemade Gift in a Jar Recipes If you are in need of last minute gifts, look no further than your kitchen cabinet. Just find an empty jar and make one of the 96 Great Homemade Gift In A Jar projects.

#3 – Knitting With Glass
Artist Carol Milne Knits With Glass Traditionally, knitting involves the use of some sort of fiber. Artist Carol Milne “knits” with glass. She developed a technique that uses glass to create knitted sculptures. Pieces of her artwork are as delicate and intricate as some of the finest fiber-knitted goods.

#4 – Helping the Homeless

Homeless People: Do You Just Walk on By? If you see me walkin’ down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by
Make believe that you don’t see the tears
Just let me grieve in private ’cause each time I see you
I break down and cry, I cry

– Dionne Warwick

Using the lyrics to a song as an introduction to her article “Homeless People: Do You Just ‘Walk on By‘”?, writer Pam Bailey reports on the changing numbers of homeless people, on the dilemma of whether to give them money or not, and on alternative ways to help them.

#5 – Make It Part of Our Daily Lives
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness . . . the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” Dalai Lama

Now go and spread joy!

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Spinach and Apricot-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, a pork tenderloin rests on my cutting board. Anticipation builds as I wonder whether the spinach and apricot stuffing held in place during the rolling process. I start slicing and by the second slice, green spirals appear. Adding a touch of sweet apricot glaze makes the spirals glisten. Visually appealing and made with wholesome ingredients, this pork tenderloin is the perfect entrée for the holidays.

Spinach and Apricot-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Recipe created by Sunny Anderson

INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup chopped Vidalia onion
2 Tbsp. chopped dried apricots
¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 (5-ounce) bag of baby spinach, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped walnuts (1 ounce)
½ cup apricot preserves (5 ounces)
¼ cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1¼ pounds pork tenderloin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, apricots, and pumpkin pie spice and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

5. Stir in walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Scrape filling into a bowl and set aside to cool.

6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine preserves with stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove glaze from heat and stir in parsley.

7. Butterfly pork: Place tenderloin on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, run blade along length of tenderloin parallel to board. As you cut, open meat until you have a flat piece. Using a meat pounder, pound tenderloin to ½” thickness. Season with ⅛ tsp. each salt and pepper and spread filling over meat. Roll tenderloin into original shape. Using kitchen twine, tie pork at 2″ intervals. Season pork with ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.

8. Using the same ovenproof skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil until shimmering. Add rolled pork and cook over medium-high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes.

9. Transfer pan to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 145° in the thickest section, about 15 minutes. Loosely cover pork with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Remove strings and cut pork into 1″-thick slices. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with glaze.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I felt the tenderloin needed more flavor, so the second time I tested the recipe, I used season salt in place of regular salt.

2. Next time for variety, I will omit the walnuts and add mushrooms and roasted red peppers to the spinach.

Enjoy!

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December 12, 2014 Edition With a pretty red bow tied around its neck, a ukelele sits under my Christmas tree waiting for nimble fingers to strum it and voices to sing along with it. My husband rarely asks for anything for Christmas, but this year he wants a ukelele. He wants to be able to sing songs to our new granddaughter. On Christmas morning, wrapping paper and ribbons will be strewn all over and there will be food aplenty. More memorably, though, music, love, and laughter will fill the air.

#1 – Sing Along!
Sing Along “Singing is not about being a star or knowing how to do it well. It’s about enjoying the gift of our voices and sharing them with others,” says Tania De Jong, an Australian singer and global speaker. In her article, 10 Reasons to Make Singing Your Happiness Drug and her TEDx Talk, she presents compelling reasons why singing is good for our brains and for our happiness. She also adds, “And it’s free, because we all have a voice!”

#2 – Christmas Decorating Ideas
Stylish and Easy DIY Holiday Home Decor ideascor Candle holders made from wine glasses and snow made from salt are just two of the clever ideas found in 23 Stylish and Easy DIY Home Decor Ideas. Just more examples of creative people letting their voices be heard.

#3 – Creatively Wired
Chicken Wire Art Chicken wire is not your average art medium, but some creative people around the world use it to make incredible three-dimensional artwork. Click the link to check out amazing examples of chicken wire sculptures.

#4 – Life Lessons From Children’s Books
Life Lessons from Children's Books Don’t underestimate what kids can learn from reading children’s books, or adults for that matter. Some phrases from favorite children’s book characters continue to teach us life lessons. Interesting Life Lessons, Adults Can Learn From Children’s Books contains a nice collection of quotes to revisit.

#5 – Be Part of the Choir
“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists. Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

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December 5, 2014 Edition While Charlotte sleeps peacefully in my arms, her tiny hand holds onto the drawstring of my sweatshirt. With this sweet little gesture, she might as well be holding onto my heartstrings. Heartstrings connect all of us together. Throughout the year and particularly during this holiday season, reach out to others and those less fortunate. Connecting heartstrings multiplies everyone’s joy.

#1 – Pieces of Wisdom
11 Pieces of Wisdom Certain to touch your heart are these 11 Pieces of Wisdom. With the accompanying back stories, this collection of quotes and sayings shows how people were inspired to alter their paths and change their lives.

#2 – It’s a Wrap
Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas
With 24 Cute And Incredibly Useful Gift Wrap DIYs you’re sure to find an idea that touches your creative side. Ideas range from printing your own fabric to making ribbons out of balloons.

#3 – What If The Lights Went Out?
What If the Lights Went Out? As I drove through the dark streets of my neighborhood after a sudden power failure, I wondered what major cities would look like without lights. Serendipitously, I came across this series of photographs of What Cities Would Look Like If We Turned Off The Lights. French photographer Thierry Cohen attempts to remind people “of the starry universe that surrounds them, even if they can’t always see it.” Referring to a typical city resident, he says, “To show him stars is to help him dream again.”

#4 – Tile Game
Tile Game Sometimes when I have a hard time falling asleep, I play computer games. When my eyes are tired, I become sleepy. Here’s a tile game that I just discovered. The deceptively easy goal is to move letters around in a grid until you get a letter K. Duplicate letters in proximity to each other can be combined to advance you to the next letter, but beware of the grid slowly filling up. Piece of cake? Not so. It takes a fair amount of strategy.

#5 – Give and Receive
“What comes from the heart, touches the heart.”
Don Sibet

Now go and spread joy!

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November 28, 2014 Edition The demolished turkey platter sits pitifully on the table. People, who once engaged in lively conversation, sit in food comas with their pants unbuttoned. The Thanksgiving feast is a thing of the past. But wait! One more course has yet to be served. Out from the kitchen comes the pièce de résistance, a sterling silver platter carrying an assortment of wishbones. Go ahead and take one. Surely, after a day of giving thanks, there must be one more wish you’d like to make.

#1 – Wish For A Greener Lifestyle
If you wish for a greener planet, you need to consider the amount of trash you dispose of on a daily basis. Inspiration for changing to a greener lifestyle and ideas on ways to reduce your trash output can be found at Zero Waste Home.

#2 -Storytelling
Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenominal Storytelling Oh, the tales I will spin for my granddaughter Charlotte. Since all children love to be told bedtime stories, I look forward to the time when Charlotte is old enough to snuggle up to me and say, “Grandma, please tell me a story.”  I’ll smile and recite a little story of my own creation, written especially for her. If you would like to do the same for your children or grandchildren, Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling will give your storytelling ability a boost.

#3 – Holiday Garlands
24 Christmas Garland Tutorials Crank up the holiday music and let the decorating begin! Check out these 24 Christmas Garland Tutorials and before you know it, you’ll be singing, crafting, and wishing you had more areas in your home to decorate.

#4 – Baking Substitutions
Do you ever wish your local grocery store were just a little closer? The holiday baking season can be stressful, particularly if you are all set to prepare something and discover you are missing an ingredient. Before you dash out to the market, check out this infographic featured on Fine Dining Lovers or check out this link to Baking and Cooking Ingredient Substitution Chart from What’s Cooking America. A Guide to Cooking and Baking Substitutions

#5 – Wish
“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”
Louisa May Alcott

Now go and spread joy!

 

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