Grapefruit Brûlée (Broiled Grapefruit)

Chill grapefruit. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Cut and segment grapefruit. Slice a small piece off of bottom rind so that each half sits flat on baking sheet.

Sprinkle a tablespoon raw sugar or light brown sugar onto cut and segmented grapefruit.

Broil on high for 5 min, and top with whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon. 

Enjoy! 

Whole Wheat Chinese Almond Cookies

Today is Chinese New Year‘s Eve. With no Chinese family members nearby, I’ve not alway been diligent to include traditional Chinese celebrations within our family culture. All Chinese holidays are strongly based on extended family and family tradition…and for me, out here in the Southwest with no local immediate or extended Chinese family, sometimes it’s not been worth the effort, or the trip to the local Asian market on the other end of town. Nevertheless, I did, this year. I took my five oldest boys and we came home with all this. Any guesses as to what we are having for dinner? 

The older my kids get, the more I am valuing the preservation and the passing on of our family’s version of my Chinese heritage. It’s a privilege to speak Mandarin, to have grown up within two cultures, and to know a thing or two about making a mean stirfry. 

Unlike traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, my house has not been cleaned from stem to stern–in fact, I am recovering from two of the most chaotic and messy weeks we’ve had recently around here. I’m not cooking the traditional “lucky” foods, but am opting for the fun experience of hot pot. There will be red envelopes, hot tea, some paper lanterns, and homemade almond cookies. 

Here’s my disclaimer: I’m fully Chinese, but I did not grow up making almond cookies…which is to say, I only ate almond cookies at Chinese restaurants, and most of the time, they were underwhelming at best. However, I love the idea of an almond cookie and I’m strongly motivated to involve my kids in any cooking process. 

And so, I put together the simplest Chinese almond cookie recipe I could muster that doesn’t include almond flour or almond meal and doesn’t require lard.

Why?  Well, mostly because I don’t usually have those ingredients on hand, andkeeping it simple is where I’m at these days. Oh, and I’ve also chosen to make these cookies with whole wheat flour…again, because that’s what I use at home and because I’d like to have at least one redeeming quality to a buttery cookie.

These are not crunchy or yellow. They are slightly chewy and golden brown. I don’t blanch my almonds or sliver them. I keep it simple, folks. And, lastly…this might be one of my favorite cookies to make with the littlest littles.

Because, after all, they are the reason I’m making the effort to celebrate the Year of the Horse.

Whole Wheat Chinese Almond Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup, or about 36 raw almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in egg and almond extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, and add dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients.
  3. Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a measuring cup. Gently press one almond into the center of each cookie.
  4. Beat the other egg in a small bowl, and brush over entire tops of cookies. Bake at 325° for 15-20 minutes or until edges and bottoms are golden brown. Makes about 3 dozen.

Strawberry-Lemonade Meringue Cake

I do love Spring, and the flavors that accompany the arrival of crocus, daffodils, and tulips. While I rarely need an excuse for the luscious combination of lemon and meringue, this is the perfect cake for any occasion…or perhaps your family’s Easter celebration in just a few weeks?

Oh…and, there will be another special celebration going on around here in a few weeks–in case you just need to have a reason to make one of my favorite things. 🙂

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Strawberry-Lemonade Meringue CakeAdapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Cake

  • Baker’s Joy, or other oil + flour spray for pans
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced Whipped Meringue Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2  8 inch cake pans, with Baker’s Joy. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.

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While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes.

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Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.

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Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely. Prepare frosting, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for vanilla extract.

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Frost cooled cakes, filling the middle layer with sliced strawberries, and top with candied lemon slices and fresh strawberries.

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Whipped Meringue Frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine 3 large egg whites, 3/4 cup sugar, a pinch salt and 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved (or mixture registers 150 on an instant-read thermometer), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until glossy, stiff peaks form (do not overbeat), about 3 minutes; reduce speed to low, add 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and beat just until combined. Use immediately.

****For more lemony-goodness, my sis-in-law posted yummy lemon bars today! Go check her recipe out!****

Mango Pudding

The mango is so versatile, especially when beckoning Spring to pull up a chair and stay awhile. This sweet and fleshy fruit makes quite a splash alongside a midsummer’s

tilapia

, while taking on an altogether different characteristic in a traditional Indian

lassi

. In recent years, the mango has found its way into the Chinese

dim sum

menu in the form of custards and puddings. If you ever find yourself in a Chinatown, you must try some…or if you are local,

this restaurant

offers a suprisingly refreshing version. And, for those of you who may have a few ripe mangoes lying around, today is your day–

enjoy!

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  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 cups pureed fresh mangoes
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 8 ice cubes
  • fresh mango slices for garnish, optional
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Add gelatin and sugar to hot water and mix until dissolved and smooth. In large bowl, mix mango puree, evaporated milk and ice cubes. Pour gelatin mixture into mango mixture and stir until ice cubes are melted. Pour mixture into ramekins or custard cups and chill until set, at least 3 hours. To serve, dip mold briefly in hot water then turn pudding out onto platter. Garnish with mango slices if desired and serve. Serves 8.

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Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes

I keep trying to come up with an adequate description for this recipe I came upon a few weeks back. Words fail me…it’s that good. These little molten lava cakes are so exquisite in texture and flavor, you might feel sheepish when you discover how incredibly simple and quick they are to make. You may find you have all the ingredients in your pantry already..in which case, you’ll need no occasion at all to make these little babies. Well, I guess I always manage to find something to say…but, it’s still that good.

Molten Spiced Chocolate Cabernet Cakes (makes 4 servings)

  • 4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp. Cabernet Sauvignon, or red wine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Butter 4 (6 oz.) ramekins (custard or souffle cups). Place on baking sheet. Preheat oven to 425F.

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Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in wine, vanilla, and sugar until blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in remaining ingredients.

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Spoon evenly into prepared dishes.

Bake in preheated 425F oven for 15 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Loosen edges with knife.  Invert onto serving plates.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

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Banana Comfort

We often spend Fridays, our day off, with my husband’s parents.  Their home is a respite and retreat for us and the kids.  We stopped at the Farmers’ Market today on our way up to their house, hoping to purchase some green chile to roast on the grill.  Instead, I succumbed to an entreaty from a bunch of bananas and a box of vanilla wafers, promising to deliver the most comforting bowl of homemade banana pudding Mom would surely make for me with some coaxing.  Alas, no coaxing was necessary for my loving, gracious Mom-in-law to meet the fancy of my cravings.  Warm and soothing, with just the right amount of meringue to top it off, this is the best banana pudding on the planet…and I’m never given to superlatives!  Try not to drool on your keyboard…and just go and make some for yourself.  It’s that good.

Mom’s Banana Pudding

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • dash salt
  • 1-2 bananas
  • 1-2 cups vanilla wafers (enough to line bottom and sides of round baking dish)
  • 3 egg whites a bit of vanilla
  • dash cream of tartar
  • 2 tbs. sugar

Mix cornstarch in with one cup of the milk. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix milk, cornstarch and milk mixture with beater egg yolks. Add sugar, and dash of salt. Continually whisk until mixture thickens. Mix in vanilla. Remove from heat. Add and mix in sliced bananas. Arrange vanilla wafers to cover bottom and sides of baking dish. Pour pudding and banans over wafers. Make meringue: With electric beater, beat egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar until glossy, stiff peaks form. Plop meringue onto pudding, sealing the edges of the baking dish with meringue. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm.

Steel Cut Berry Crisp

If you are the type of person who chooses to make a crisp over a pie for dessert, chances are you resonate with one or more of the following statements:

1. I need a warm dessert that takes less than 10 minutes to make. 2. Crunchy and gooey is a favorable texture combination for me. 3. I’m trying to cut fat and calories by avoiding pie crust. 4. I would rather spend the fat and calories on ice cream for a la mode.

Here’s my recipe for an easy and healthy crisp. The steel cut oats add crunch and extra fiber. Feel free to substitute frozen peaches or tart cherries for the berries. You may also want to add chopped walnuts or pecans to your version…I don’t because the man of the house loathes them.

  • 4 cups or so frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups uncooked oats
  • 1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons oat bran (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crushed store-bought cereal (corn flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, Trader Joe’s “Clusters” all work well)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick melted butter (I use less…see #4 above.)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, toss frozen berries with extract, flour, and sugar until evenly coated. Dump all in a 8×8 baking dish. Set aside. In another bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar. Add oats, bran, flax, and cereal, and mix until crumbly. Dump onto berries. Spread out evenly. Bake until berry juices are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if you are a #4 kind of gal as well, and curl up with a steaming cup of tea and good thoughts to chew on.