Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

July 12: National Pecan Pie Day 

Our neighbors across the street, Glenn and Ana Maria B., happen to be an intercultural couple like us. He is a Native American and she is Mexican-Japanese. We try to go on double dates to pow-wows, cultural festivals or restaurants around South Texas whenever we can.

Ana Maria gave a recipe for Caramel Pecan Delight Pie to Islander, knowing that she likes to make desserts. This recipe yields two pies—so we can keep one and share the other with our friendly neighbors. Islander used low-fat or fat-free ingredients for a guilt-free indulgence!

For a twist on the traditional pecan pie, make Caramel Pecan Delight Pie. This dessert is doubly delightful and delicious on National Pecan Pie Day.

Recipe

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (we used fat-free)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (we used fat-free)
  • 1 container (16 ounces) Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts (we used reduced fat)
  • 1 jar caramel ice cream topping or dulce de leche sauce

Directions

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Chop the pecans and add them to the skillet, along with the coconut, and brown them in the butter. Set aside to cool completely.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

In a large bowl, cream the cheese with the condensed milk. Fold in the Cool Whip until well blended. Divide between the two pie crusts and spread the tops until smooth.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Top both pies with the cooled pecan-coconut mixture. Drizzle the tops with caramel sauce. Cover and freeze until firm (about 3-4 hours). Slice the frozen pies and plate them. Top with extra Cool Whip, if desired, and serve immediately.

Caramel Pecan Delight Pie

Notes

  • While this pie seems really sweet, the pecans balance out the caramel.
  • Try the traditional pecan pie recipe from our previous post.
  • Search our blog for more pie and pecan recipes.

Patriotic Broken Glass Jell-O

Patriotic Broken Glass Jell-O

July 4: American Independence Day/July 12: Eat Your Jell-O Day

Happy birthday, U.S.A.! At the backyard barbecues and summer socials we attend on this American holiday, people share potluck side dishes and desserts at the host’s home. We usually contribute a flag cake but sometimes it is too filling and heavy. So we bring “Broken Glass Jell-O” in patriotic colors (red, white and blue) instead because it is lite and cool. The recipe is easy and versatile—change the colors of the Jell-O to reflect the holiday (orange and lemon yellow for fall; strawberry or cherry red and lime for Christmas; etc.). Nosh on this nostalgic dessert on July 4 (American Independence Day) and also on July 12 (Eat Your Jell-O Day)!!!

Recipe

(From Phyllis S.)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces (1 large box or 2 small boxes) blue Jell-O (blueberry)
  • 6 ounces (1 large box or 2 small boxes) red Jell-O (strawberry, cherry or raspberry)
  • water
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Directions

In a bowl, dissolve the blue Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Stir well. In another bowl, dissolve the red Jell-O in 1 cup of boiling water. Stir well. Pour each into two 8-inch square pans. Cool to set in the refrigerator.

Patriotic Broken Glass Jell-O

In a bowl, dissolve the unflavored gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Stir well. Cool slightly then mix in the condensed milk. Then cool completely at room temperature (do not refrigerate yet).

Patriotic Broken Glass Jell-O

Cut the blue and red Jell-O into small squares. Place in a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan. Pour the cooled milk mixture over the Jell-O squares. Refrigerate until firm. Slice into 24 blocks. Arrange on a platter and serve chilled.

Patriotic Broken Glass Jell-O

Notes

  • Thanks to Phyllis S. for sharing the recipe with us and gifting us with a Jell-O cookbook, “The Magic of Jell-O,” which has additional recipes for Jell-O desserts.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic and Jell-O recipes.

Chranachan

Chranachan

July: National Berry Month

July is National Berry Month—an appropriate time to have raspberries in a recipe from Highlander’s heritage—chranachan. Similar to an English trifle because of the layered look, chranachan is a summery Scottish dessert that uses raspberries. Other ingredients include heather honey, Scotch whisky, oats and whipped cream. Serve up something simple and sweet to beat the summer heat—cool off with a cup of chranachan!

Recipe

(Adapted from BBC Food Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup oats (preferably steel cut/pinhead)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons Scotch whisky
  • 3 tablespoons honey (heather or organic)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries

Directions

In a small pan, toast the oats by mixing over medium-high heat, being careful not to burn them. Set aside and cool. In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks.

Chranachan

Fold in the whisky, honey, toasted oats and raspberries. Scoop into dessert glasses. Garnish with extra toasted oats and a few raspberries (optional). Serve chilled.

Chranachan

Notes

  • Chranachan is derived from Scottish Gaelic: Crannachan.
  • Traditionally, chranachan ingredients (whipped cream mixed with whisky and honey, toasted oats and fresh raspberries) are placed in individual dishes and laid out on the table buffet style so diners can layer their own dessert into their dishes according to their tastes.
  • Any good quality “runny honey” (not crystalized) may be used for this recipe.
  • Toasted oats add texture while raspberries add tartness to this dish.
  • Variations of this recipe include soaking the toasted oats in whisky overnight then mixing it into the whipped cream and pureeing or mashing the raspberries instead of adding the whole fruit.
  • Islander especially loves iced chranachan made with lactose-free vanilla ice cream as a substitute for the whipped cream.

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

July 1: Canada Day

Highlander was happy when a fellow Canadian, Joseph N., from Manitoba, came to live on the college campus of Islander’s brother where he ministers and teaches in South Texas. Joseph got homesick at times, so we would make him the “dainty dessert” known as Nanaimo bars to cheer him up.

Nanaimo is a city in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Although we have visited Highlander’s aunt on B.C.’s west end in Port Hardy and missed a stop in Nanaimo when we were on the island, we actually got to taste our first bar back in Nova Scotia on another trip to Highlander’s country of birth!

The origins of the recipe are unknown, but the beloved bar is so popular in Canada that, in 1985, Nanaimo Mayor Graeme Roberts held a contest to find the definitive recipe. Various versions were submitted, but Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe won!

Nosh on a Nanaimo bar now! Happy Canada Day to our relatives and neighbors from the north.

Recipe

(By Joyce Hardcastle)

For the base

  • ½ cup butter, European-style cultured, unsalted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup coconut, flaked

Directions

In a double boiler over the stovetop, melt the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the beaten egg and cook to thicken. Remove from the stovetop.

Nanaimo Bars

Mix in the graham cracker crumbs, almonds and coconut flakes. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased 8×8-inch pan.

Nanaimo Bars

For the filling

  • ½ cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (see Notes for substitution)

Directions

In a bowl, beat the butter with the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla custard powder until light. Spread over the bottom layer.

Nanaimo Bars

For the topping

  • 4 ounces/squares semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon butter, unsalted

Directions

In a bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter. Let the mixture cool but remain slightly liquid. Pour over the filling and spread to cover. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Nanaimo Bars

Notes

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

June 21: Summer Solstice/Midsummer

We blogged before about Mexican wedding cookies (also known as Danish wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes and Hawaiian snow balls). A similar sweet is the Swedish heirloom cookie, which includes walnuts instead of pecans. These beloved wedding cookies are rife with symbolism—white for bridal purity, sugar for a sweet married life and nuts for fertility.

Although these cookies are popular during the holiday season (Christmas and the winter solstice), we make Swedish heirloom cookies for the midsummer season (midsommar in Swedish) and the summer solstice. We also serve them to our June brides and the engaged couples we sponsor through our church’s marriage preparation program.

Coincidentally, the famous “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn was composed for William Shakespeare’s play titled “Midsummer Night’s Dream”! Summer seems to be an ideal time for weddings. So make these simple and sweet Swedish heirloom cookies for summer weddings and summer solstice celebrations.

Recipe

(Adapted from Saveur)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

In a small skillet, toast the walnuts. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Add the flour and salt and blend well. Mix in the walnuts. Form into a cookie dough. Roll into balls between ¾-1 inch.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about two inches apart to allow the cookies to expand. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Cool completely and place in mini cupcake papers.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Notes

Swedish Visiting Cake

Swedish Visiting Cake

June 21: Midsommar/Summer Solstice

We used to attend the Swedish Day Midsommar Festival when we lived in Illinois. Hailed as the Midwest’s oldest and largest “midsommar” (midsummer) festival, the city of Geneva, where it took place, was less than a half-hour drive from our home. We enjoyed the Swedish cultural costumes and performances, the colorful maypole-raising ritual and, of course, the smörgåsbord of Swedish foods!

To celebrate the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—we baked a simple “Swedish Visiting Cake”. Reminiscent of other European almond cakes, like the German Magdalenenstriezeln (for St. Mary Magdalene), Greek Vasilopita (for St. Basil) and Spanish Tarta de Santiago (for St. James), this “Swedish Visiting Cake” could be made for St. John, whose feast day on June 24 is also associated with midsummer.

This is a quick and easy cake to make, especially when visitors are arriving at short notice (hence, the name of “visiting cake”). Serve this Swedish sweet with coffee and tea to show hospitality to guests—or to welcome the summer season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used vanilla paste)
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (we used slivered almonds)

Directions

Grate a lemon. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the freshly grated lemon zest. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt. Mix well. Meanwhile, melt the butter and cool slightly.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture and blend until the batter is smooth.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Pour into a greased pie pan or 9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle with almonds and a little granulated sugar on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden brown (the edges will be lightly crisp but the middle should be soft and moist). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly before loosening the sides with a knife or spatula. Slice into wedges. Serve warm or cool.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Notes

  • “Swedish Visiting Cake” is traditionally baked in a cast iron pan.

Chicken Oreganata

Chicken Oreganata

June 10: Herbs and Spices Day

Breaded chicken breasts are sometimes boring. So we like to spice (and herb) them up with oregano, mint, salt and pepper and turn them into a simple yet savory, tender and aromatic dish. The addition of tomatoes makes this meal moist and more flavorful. Cbicken Oreganata is our choice for observing Herbs and Spices Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Healthy Home Cooking by the Editors of Prevention Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, flattened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

Directions

Line a baking dish with foil and mist with cooking spray. Set aside. In a lipped pan, combine the lemon juice with minced garlic. Toss the chicken in this mixture and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Chicken Oreganata

In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, mint, salt and pepper.

Chicken Oreganata

Combine half of this herb and spice mixture with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs and place in the prepared baking dish. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and scatter them around the chicken.

Chicken Oreganata

Sprinkle the remaining herb and spice mixture over the chicken and tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over them. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and arrange the tomatoes around it. Pour any pan juices over the chicken. Serve hot with rice.

Chicken Oreganata

Notes

  • Thanks to Highlander’s Mum for gifting us with the cookbook from which we used the recipe for Chicken Oreganata.
  • Search our blog for other chicken recipes.
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