Sometimes, you just need something really nice for dessert but the rest of the dinner preparations take all the time leaving you with minutes to come up with something. This is an easy one, can be done the day before and I’m sure you won’t get any complaints . . . especially if you serve extra whipped cream on the side.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Pie
One ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk*
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
1 14-20-ounce can of cherry pie filling
Melt chocolate with sweetened condensed milk in a heavy pot over low heat, stirring to thoroughly combine as the chocolate melts.
Remove pot from the stove, add the almond extract, and let mixture cool.
While the chocolate mixture is cooling, whip together the heavy cream and sour cream until it forms soft peaks. Refrigerate until the chocolate mixture is room temperature. Then, carefully fold in the whipped cream until well combined. Pour into prepared pie crust and smooth out top. Keep refrigerated until serving time.
Cut into serving pieces and top each with a generous spoonful of cherry filling and serve to a happy family.
*If you want an extra-chocolaty pie, you can use chocolate-flavored sweetened condensed milk
Mexican Chocolate Drink
3 cups whole milk
3 cups water
1 bar Mexican chocolate*
1 tablespoon cocoa
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream and twists of orange zest
Pour milk and water into a large pot. Over low heat, add remaining ingredients, stirring often to prevent sticking. Bring to a low boil. Transfer half into a blender and whip till foamy, about 10 seconds. Serve with whipped cream and fresh orange twists
For richer flavor, increase milk and decrease water to equal six cups.
*Mexican chocolate is found in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store. Ibarra & Abuelita are two brands commonly found.
Chocolate Mint Pots de Creme
1 cup semi-sweet, mint flavored chocolate chips
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons peppermint liquor
3/4 cup Half and Half cream, scalded
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place the chocolate, sugar, egg, liquor, and salt in a blender and mix to combine. Add the hot Half and Half cream and blend until very smooth. Pour into very small dessert cups (this is very rich!) and chill overnight. Before serving, garnish with whipped cream and a pretty mint leaf.
Have time to add to the decadence? Make your own whipped cream!
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sour cream
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip until the cream stiffens and holds it’s shape. Don’t over mix or you end up with butter! You can either pipe it on your Pots de Creme or spoon it on decoratively. After the first spoonful, no one will be paying attention to how it looks anyway!
Country Captain Chicken
2 chickens, cut into serving pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil or favorite vegetable oil
1 large, onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder (mild or hotter, your choice)
16 ounces of diced tomatoes
½ cup golden raisins
Combine flour, cornstarch, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper in a plastic bag, A few pieces at a time, shake the chicken in the mixture to coat. Place the olive oil in a large frying pan (you will need one with a lid) and heat. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken to a dish. Without wiping out the frying pan, add onion, green pepper, garlic, and curry powder to the frying pan. Cook on medium until the onion is softened and only just starting to brown. Add tomatoes, raisins, and browned chicken. Cover and simmer approximately one hour or until the chicken is fork tender.
Serve chicken over a bed of hot, buttered rice. Remember to spoon plenty of sauce over the chicken and rice before serving!
The first time that I made this dish, I ‘forgot’ to mention the raisins in the recipe so my family gobbled it all up without complaint. The raisins add a certain layer of flavor that works very well with the tomatoes and chicken. It is an easy meal to put together and very comforting and warm on a cold, rainy night . . . or so I heard as California has almost forgotten was ‘cold and rainy’ can be!
There are many versions of Country Captain Chicken and this one has evolved over the years in my kitchen. It is very adaptable to minor changes and always comes out tasty.
When the weather is warm, you don’t want to add more warmth to the kitchen when it is time to prepare a meal. I try to think ahead so when I boil a chicken for soup or another dish, I put in two chickens and save the second one for making either chicken salad sandwiches or, even easier, Chicken Wraps. I think that the rise in popularity in the various flour tortillas on the market has been a lifesaver to harried mothers trying to find a last-minute lunch or dinner for their family. And, if you remember to bone that second chicken you had the foresight to cook, you should have several bags of shredded chicken in the freezer ready for your inspiration.
Easy Chicken Wraps
2-3 cups of cooked, shredded chicken (add more or less depending on how many servings.
1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce (Easily found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
Chopped green onions to taste
Shredded cabbage, lettuce or spinach
Place the chicken, Hoisin Sauce, Soy sauce and seasonings in a bowl and toss to mix. Microwave for about a minute and a half just to heat through.
Place a spoonful of the chicken mixture on your flour tortilla of choice, keeping it just off center from the middle. Add the shredded vegetable of choice or have all three available. Sprinkle with the chopped green onions, roll up the tortilla to enclose the filling, and serve.
As always, simple cookies get the cookie jar filled in short order and makes one a much-loved mother. And, if you sneak in some raisins and nuts, you can almost feel healthy.
Raisin-Crasin Nut Cookies
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups shortening
1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 tablespoon of freshly grated orange zest
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup milk
Run the raisins, cranberries, and walnuts through the food processor briefly to coarsely chop them up a bit.
Place the shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until well-combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, extracts, and zest. Beat well.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Add to the shortening/sugar combination along with the milk. Mix well. Chill the dough until easy to roll out and handle.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.
Divide the dough up into thirds or fourths for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. With a large, round cookie cutter (or your choice of shape!) cut out the cookies and place them about one-inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Place on wire racks to cool.
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Enough fresh orange juice to form a glaze
When the cookies are cooled, you can either brush on a coating of glaze or drizzle it over them.
When I was growing up, an exciting part of the Christmas Season was unearthing the cookie cutters and getting ready to make and decorate cookies. It was always a much-anticipated event when the icing dripped everywhere, sparkly candies adorned places other than cookie tops, and we probably ate more than got to the finished cookie plate. It was an annual event that we cherished and provided many memories.
It wasn’t until I grew up and had a family of my own that it came to me that decorating cookies wasn’t just for Christmas. The business world seemed to agree as there are many seasonal cookie cutters available. Valentine’s Day doesn’t just have to be store-bought chocolates, anymore. And, with the advent of Easter, we can contribute festively decorated sugar cookies to the Easter Sunday table.
This is my go-to recipe for making cut-out cookies. It is a simple but tasty cookie that can be made up quickly and holds the icing and decorations nicely. They keep well in a covered container on the counter for several days and freeze well. In fact, you can make and bake the cookies in your spare time, now, and freeze them for decorating later.
Easy Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
4½ cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, mixing well. The dough will be stiff so you may have to blend the last bit by hand. Do not chill dough. Roll out a portion of dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and bake on ungreased or parchment pager-covered sheets for 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool before decorating.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix sugar and milk thoroughly. Add corn syrup and incorporate well. Icing may be divided up and tinted according to your creativity. Colored sugar, sprinkles, bits of crushed candy cane, candied fruit or nuts can brighten up your cookies.