1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
To Make the Dough:
Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.
Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.
Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
To Make the Filling:
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.
Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.
Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.
Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly-roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.
Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1-inch intervals.
Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.
On Christmas Morning
To make the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or red cherries, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before serving.
Most people know Rick Bayless from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, his Public Television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time and his many cookbooks. He is also the owner of multiple restaurants, including the outstanding Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, where my family ate numerous times when we lived in Chicago. I recently discovered that he developed a line of Mexican cooking sauces that are sold in most supermarkets. While the sauces have been available for a while, I just recently discovered them and find them to be delicious, authentic and so very convenient. I especially like these sauces because they are made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives, are gluten-free, and low in carbohydrates. They also come in convenient, easy to use pouches.
These sauces are so convenient when you are busy and want a good tasting dinner fast. I used one of the taco sauces for my recipe below. There are quite a few made by his company, Frontera Foods, and you can check out the rest with this link.
Serves 4. Since I only wanted two servings, I made half the recipe. I also used half of the sauce and froze the unused portion for another occasion. I also changed the directions from the one listed on the package in making this dish.
Serve this entree with a salad and ranch dressing.
1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp;
1 pouch Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce
8 tortillas (crispy or soft), warmed
Toppings: cheese, jalapenos, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc
Heat the oil in a nonstick 10 or 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and let it sizzle for a minute or two and then add the shrimp. Cook and stir over medium heat until the shrimp turn pink and are just cooked through about 4 minutes.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, very soft
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce
2 pounds skinless halibut fillets
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt, and hot pepper sauce.
Arrange the halibut fillets in the prepared baking dish. Spread with the sauce.
Bake the halibut fillets 15-20 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork.
For a brown topping broil for 2-3 minutes. Place the fillets on individual plates and pour any sauce left in the pan over the fish. Serve immediately.
Simple Roasted Carrots
The carrots and the fish can be baked at the same temperature.
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch diagonal lengths
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
On a baking sheet lined with foil, toss carrots with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 45 minutes. Serve with the fish.
Onions and Swiss Chard
2 large bunches green Swiss chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
Wash the chard in several changes of water. Cut the stems and center ribs from the chard leaves and reserve them for soup. Stack the chard leaves and roll them lengthwise into cylinders. Cut the cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-wide strips.
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy skillet with a cover over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chard leaves in batches, stirring until wilted before adding the next batch, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing
8 cups Italian bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, diced
2 large ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped sage
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
Place the bread cubes into a very large bowl and set aside. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and the sausage.
Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or spatula, cook until light brown, about 5 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the bowl of cubed bread.
In the fat left in the pan, sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until the onions are soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, sage, salt, and peppers, cook 1 minute and, then, add the mixture to the cubed bread.
Add the broth to the bread mixture; stir until well combined.
Place the stuffing in a large baking dish and bake in the oven for the last hour that the turkey cooks.
Pat-in-the-Pan Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients.
Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides.
A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top.
Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add all the pie filling ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake for about 60 minutes.
The crust should be light golden brown and the filling should be set.
Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before loosely covering and transferring to the refrigerator to fully set overnight.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Directions for preparing the squash:
Cut a thin slice off from the top & bottom of one acorn squash (just enough to leave a flat edge, so the squash can stand up on both ends).
Cut the squash in half, horizontally, so you have two bowl shapes. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and discard them.
Place the squash in a greased baking dish cut-side up. Brush the inside with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the squash halves for 30 minutes.
Combine the following:
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons diced celery
1/4 cup diced, peeled pear
1/4 cup diced, peeled apple
2 tablespoons fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
Place the filling mixture in the partially cooked squash halves. Place the filled squash in the oven and bake 30 minutes.
Cipollini means little onion in Italian.
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cipollini onions, trimmed and peeled
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onions, stem side down, and cook until lightly browned 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue browning on the opposite side, about 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
Add vinegar and honey; cook, until slightly syrupy, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, thyme, and garlic; bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until onions are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
Roasted Broccoli Florets
1 large head of broccoli
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Wash the broccoli and cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalk, leaving some of the stalk attached. Pull the florets apart. You don’t want the pieces too small.
Place the broccoli florets in a single layer in an oiled baking pan. Toss the garlic and broccoli together and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Leftover roasted cauliflower may also be used, as I did, using the leftover roasted cauliflower from my Fall Recipes post.
12 oz short pasta (penne)
1/2 cup Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 medium shallots, chopped fine
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (1 1/2-pound) head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
Combine the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring until the mixture is well toasted and golden-brown; remove from the heat and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium baking dish, combine the cauliflower, oil, and salt. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the cauliflower is tender and browned.
Remove the dish from the oven and stir in the shallots, melted butter, garlic, cream, tomatoes, and red pepper. Place the dish bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside while the pasta cooks.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pan. Turn the heat to very low and add the cauliflower sauce. Heat for a minute or two and pour into a pasta serving bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs topping over the top of the pasta and serve.
Roasted Cauliflower With Cheese Sauce
1 large head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Pull all the leaves off of the cauliflower and use a paring knife to remove enough of the core to let the cauliflower sit flat. Don’t take out too much though. You don’t want the head to break into florets but you want it to stay in one piece.
Put 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a deep baking dish and rub it around. Add the head of cauliflower, cut side down. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub it in a bit. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes or until a skewer pokes into it very very easily.
Make cheese sauce according to directions below. Pour cheese sauce over the cauliflower and serve.
Cheese Sauce For Vegetables
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Stir over medium-low heat until all the cheese is melted. Remove pan from the heat immediately.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wash and dry the potatoes. Poke about 3-4 holes on each side with a fork. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake 50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Allow potatoes to rest for 5 minutes before cutting open.
Combine the melted butter, maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon. Drizzle over the cut portions of the sweet potatoes and serve.
Easy Butternut Squash Soup
4-12 oz packages frozen pureed butternut squash
32 oz container vegetable broth
4 oz container unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Herbs for garnish, such as sage
Put all the ingredients in a Dutch Oven except the cream. Bring to a boil, stir well, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and serve garnished with fresh herbs.
Apple Rosemary Tart
One 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds baking apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (do not substitute dried instead use 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl, combine the flour with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar; reserve.
Peel and core the apples. Slice them into ¼ inch-thick slices. (You should have about 3 cups.)
Place the apples in a bowl and toss them with the lemon juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the rosemary or cinnamon.
Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the reserved flour/sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered.
Arrange the apples evenly over the flour mixture. Fold the edges of the dough over the apples. Moisten your fingers lightly with water and gently press the creases so that they hold together.
Dot the apples with the butter.
Bake the tart for about 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, the apples are tender and the juices syrupy.
Cover the tart with foil halfway through the cooking time, if the crust is browning too rapidly.
Let cool for 10 minutes, then slide the tart onto a serving platter. Just before serving, sift the confectioners’ sugar evenly over the crust.