Tag Archives: Zest (ingredient)

Strawberry Shortcakes

Want to know how we celebrate the arrival of Spring?

Ta Daaaaa!

This is how we welcomed the beautiful season of rebirth and renewal. The season that’s going to take away the winter blues and lead us on that path toward the long awaited sunshine of gorgeous summer days.

I am so excited to know that spring has finally arrived. Even if the weather outside is barely 40 degrees… I don’t care. It will get better. Soon.

The strawberries I picked up from the Farmers Market had to be used up somehow before they went bad, and the vote was between a strawberry trifle or a strawberry shortcake.

As you can see, the shortcakes won. The trifle can wait.

Besides, the strawberry trifle does not translate well on photos. I tried it once before and it was a disaster.

These shortcakes are pretty to look at and even better to eat. I wanted to keep this recipe simple and traditional thus, for the cakes, I made biscuits with a bit of flour, some neufchatel cheese and orange zest. Beautiful.

The strawberries sat in their juices with some sugar for about an hour, and the whipped cream came out perfect. I chilled it for about 30 minutes before I whipped it with my mixer. That’s the secret – chill it before you whip it.

Strawberry Shortcakes

You will need:

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 ounces (1/2 of a 8 oz. package) neufchatel cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the tops

For the Strawberries:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

For the Biscuits:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and orange zest in a large bowl.
  • Pour in the neufchatel cheese and mash it with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  • Stir in 1/3 cup of milk and form a dough.
  • Flour hands and divide the dough into 8 balls.
  • Place the dough balls 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet or silpat.

  • With a glass flatten the dough balls to 1/2 inch thickness and brush the tops with milk and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Take out the biscuits and allow them to cool down to room temperature.
  • In the meantime prepare the strawberries.

For the Strawberries:

  • Once you have cleaned and sliced them, take 1/3 of the strawberries and mash them with a potato masher.

  • Add in the rest of the strawberries and pour in the sugar.
  • Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

For the Whipped Cream:

  • Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream by combining together the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

For the Shortcakes:

  • Assemble the shortcakes by cutting the biscuits in half.
  • Place a tablespoon of the strawberry mixture on the bottom half of the biscuit and top with whipped cream.
  • Cover with the top half of the biscuit, and top it with whipped cream and a few more strawberries.
  • Serve immediately or put the cakes in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Apple-Coconut Bites

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Why? How?

To begin, apples contain vitamin C, and vitamin C greatly improves our immune system. Secondly, apples are rich in flavonoids which are said to prevent heart disease. And finally (well not really – I can go on and on but for the sake of keeping your attention, I’ll just make this the last reason), apples, believe it or not, can satisfy a craving for chocolate! Thus, if you’re trying to watch those calories, but can’t get your mind off chocolate, have an apple and forget about that Snickers/Twix/Hershey’s bar.

I try to eat one apple a day, every day, whether the phrase holds true or not. But…there’s always a “but”… there is one sort of apples that I can’t eat:

Red Delicious.

Yeah. Red Delicious, in their raw state, will not make it anywhere near me. I just don’t like the bread-y texture. But the emphasis here is on the word,”raw”.

When my dad brings apples to me, he always, and I mean always, brings me batches of Red Delicious apples, knowing that I don’t like them. I am going to make an assumption here and say that the reason why he continues to buy these for me is because he likes what I end up doing with them. He will never admit to this, but I can’t come up with any other reason as to why he persists with these apples.

When I saw the basket in front of my garage door the other day, I knew that dad was most likely craving an Apple Pie or Apple Cake, but since I just made that for us not too long ago, I looked through my recipes for apples and picked out one that I had not made in ages. This recipe was featured in one of the many Macedonian Cookbooks that I have, and it was part of their Lenten Series Recipes.

These Apple-Coconut Bites are very sweet, a bit crunchy, and extremely refreshing and delicious.

Apple-Coconut Bites

You will need:

  • 4 Red Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and grated.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 Orange, zested and juiced, you will need the zest and the juice
  • 1/2 cup of almonds (or any other nut that you prefer), chopped
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • In a 2 quart saucepan bring together the water and the sugar and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for a minute longer and add in the grated apples.
  • Mix in the orange zest, orange juice and the chopped nuts.

  • Continue to cook over medium heat until the syrup has been absorbed by the apple mixture. This might take around 20 minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down a bit before putting it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, mix together the coconut and cinnamon, and put in a shallow dish.
  • Pinch off a bit of the apple mixture and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. This will be a sticky situation, so if you prefer, you can use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves.
  • Put the apple bites into the coconut mixture and roll around until coated.

  • Place all the apple bites into a plastic container, cover, and allow to set in the freezer for 2 hours, or put them in the refrigerator over night.

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Quince Jam

Back in 1984, some time around mid September or beginning of October (my mom didn’t keep track of those “minor” details), the tooth fairy paid me a visit. I remember that she left me 10.00 Dinari – I have no clue what that would be in American Dollars, but it was a good amount for a six year old; I bought gum, eurocream (nutella type spread), and smoki (peanut cheese puffs)! I was a happy kid with my favorite treats! Losing my tooth, on the other hand, was not as exciting.

The beginning of Fall always meant that we were going to go far far away (a 30 minute drive seemed forever back then) to pick berries, peppers, apples and other fruits and vegetables. This meant an opportunity for my sister and I to run around the green fields, smell the flowers, pick the fruits and eat them. Great times… until you sink your teeth into an “apple” and lose a tooth!

It was round, gold in color, with a green leaf – I really thought it was an apple! I went for that bite as if I hadn’t eaten in the last two days. All I wanted to do was to eat and enjoy this beautiful apple that I just ripped off the tree branch. Instead, there was this crazy child running around the green fields screaming that she was going to die – I saw blood, I spit out a tooth, so I thought my body was  falling apart because I ate the “forbidden” apple just like Eve. I later found out that, one, I was not dying, and two, that it wasn’t an apple – it was quince!

Now when I think back about that day I can’t stop laughing, but back then it was not funny. I thought the end had come – God was going to take me because I ate THE apple.

Quince Jam

I now have a quince tree in my backyard. Can you believe that I still have some quince left over from this past fall? This is my third batch of Jam this season and I have enough to make one more.

You will need:

  • 6 cups of quince (about 5 quince), rinsed, grated, leave peel on.
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups of sugar

Directions:

  • Put the water in a 6-8 quarts saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the grated quince, lemon zest and lemon juice.

  • Allow the mixture to simmer until the quince is soft; this might take about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the sugar and bring to a boil again.

  • Lower the heat to medium high and cook the quince for about an hour, stirring occasionally. You are looking for a thicker consistency and a pink quince jam.
  • Spoon the hot mixture into sterilized canning jars and seal.

  • Makes about 10 cups.

This is a wonderful treat that you can spread on your whole wheat toast, your crepes, or even on a piece of manchego cheese – YUM!

How would you like to have a jar of my very own homemade Quince Jam? Would you? Because I’d love to give it to you. Please go here and see how you can have a bite of it by next week! That last batch can be yours!

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Wafer Cookie filled with Almonds and Figs

The first time I thought of making this dessert, a wafer filled with a mixture of figs, was for my daughter’s first birthday. Even though I had ordered a 3 tier cake for only 20 people, I had this need to make more sweets. (It’s the foodie in me). I ended up with 3 different types of desserts plus the cake. Then I was left with leftovers. Sweet ones, that is. No worries, hubby and I finished them off. The wafers were the best ones of the bunch – my taste buds were singing hallelujah!

As a result, and since the holiday is upon us, I have decided to make these again and gift them to a couple of my dear friends for Christmas. They loved them at the party so I am playing it safe. I just hope that they will stick to the “5$ spending limit” Christmas gift deal! I like to play by the rules. Well, not always, but when it involves more people, I’m a good teammate.

You will need:

  • 4 (8×10) wafer sheets
  • 2 cups dried figs, chopped
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted and ground
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 packet (0.32 oz.) vanilla sugar
  • 4 tablespoons instant grits
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions:

  • Pour 3 cups of water in a large saucepan and warm it up over medium heat.
  • Add  in granulated sugar, followed by the vanilla sugar and grits. Dissolve.
  • Stir in the chopped figs and the orange zest.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Mix in the toasted and ground almonds, and let the mixture simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Stir in the cocoa powder and combine.
  • Take the saucepan away from the heat and let it cool – the mixture will thicken as it cools.
  • Set one wafer on a cookie sheet (this is to eliminate the mess on your countertop from the drips of the sauce).
  • When the fig mixture has completely cooled (about an hour), spread it over the entire wafer.

  • Cover that with a wafer sheet.
  • Repeat this two more times; cover with the last wafer.

  • Place a cutting board on top just until it sets so to keep the top wafer from folding up on the sides.
  • Allow the dessert to set in the fridge for about an hour or two before cutting it.
  • You can cut it into the shape of squares or the shape of diamonds.

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‘Tis the season for…

COOKIES!!!

And ’tis the season for a few El-BeeS to be added, followed up by the infamous New Year’s resolution; “committing” ourselves to another year of dieting. It just never stops with us, does it? At least we can be realistic about it and admit that dieting doesn’t fit everyone’s lifestyle, but we can try to cut fat and calories wherever and whenever possible. Yes, even in cookies.

Drunken Stacked Cookies

Don’t you just love a cookie that has a crunch at the beginning of the bite and then all of a sudden it completely dissolves on your tongue? You will love these and so will your guests. That’s if there is any left for them.

My kitchen was a complete mess while I was trying to put together a cookie dough with Whole Wheat Flour, sugar substitute, and a cup of brewski.  But, I did it and they are ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ delicious! And I decided to call them Drunken Cookies because the rest of the beer went to me and I felt good while I was baking. 😉

As I’ve stated before, baking is not my thing, it’s like Rocket Science to me, but this time it all worked out! Thank goodness.

Preheat oven at 375.

You will need:

Dough

Filling

  • ½ cup Sweet Orange Marmalade

Sugar Glaze

  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar
  • ½ cup Splenda, Granulated
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest

Directions:

For the dough:

  • Put all ingredients into a deep mixing bowl and mix it all up with your hands.
  • Put the dough in the fridge for about half hour.
  • Flour your work surface and begin by pinching off a large piece of dough and rolling it out with a rolling pin.
  • Get a round cookie cutter, or do as I did and use your Waterford champagne flutes because your toddler will not let go of the super cute cookie cutters that you couldn’t wait to use.

Champagne flute as a cookie cutter

  • Cut out your shapes and arrange them on a baking sheet.
  • Put them in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. 
  • This recipe yields about 60-70 small, round cookies (before they are stacked) so have another baking sheet ready to go once the first batch is done.  
  • Allow the cookies to completely cool before moving on to the next step.

Drunken Cookies

Sugar Glaze

  • Prepare your glaze by pouring the water in a saucepan followed up by adding in the sugar and Splenda.
  • Stir well over medium-low heat to dissolve the sugar then add in the almond extract and the orange zest.
  • Blend it all together, take it away from the heat, and set it aside in a small bowl that’s deep enough to dunk in the cookies.

Stacking the Cookies

  • Get a cookie and spread about ¼ teaspoon of the sweet orange marmalade on the flat side of the cookie; cover it with another cookie, flat side over the marmalade – like a sandwich.
  • Dunk the entire cookie inside the sugar glaze and let any excess drip off.
  • Continue to do this until you’ve run out of cookies.
  • Sprinkle all the cookies with some orange zest and put them aside for a little while – about an hour – before serving them. You want to allow the cookies to soak up the glaze.

Drunken Cookie

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