LEMON ITALIAN RICOTTA COOKIES

We love these cookies at Christmas time, but they are delicious anytime of the year!  This makes enough to share (6 to 6 1/2 doz.), so go ahead, indulge and treat your friends!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) ricotta cheese (whole milk, such as Galbani)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 room temp. Large eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt

For the Icing:

  • 2 cups powder sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Christmas sprinkles for decorating
  • Zest of two lemons for decorating (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended.  Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

At Medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla, lemon juice, and eggs until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.  Beat until dough forms.  It will be sticky!

Use a one inch melon scooper  to scoop dough and then drop the dough onto large cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Drop about 1 1/2  inches apart.

Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden.  Cookies will be soft.  Take out of the oven and cool on cookie sheet about 15 minutes, then move to a cooling rack until cooled.  Repeat process until all cookies are baked.

ICING:

In small bowl, stir powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  With small teaspoon, spread icing on cookies.  Use the back of the spoon to gently spread the icing.  Decorate with Christmas Sprinkles (add a few specs of lemon zest to each cookie at this time also, if you like). (Do not wait too long to add sprinkles, they will not stick, do it in batches).  Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely (about 2 hours).

(Store the cookies in an airtight container.  The cookies do not need to be refrigerated.  For best results frost them the night before serving.)

Makes 6-6 1/2 dozen.

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CHICKEN FRANCAISE

This is a classic dish, but it’s also so delicious!  It goes great with mash potatoes or dressing!  The lemony taste with the flour and egg breading makes each bite a delight.  It’s pretty simple so give it a try, you won’t regret it!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken halves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • One whole lemon thinly sliced

Place chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a large baggy and gently pound chicken with flat side of a meat pounder or with a rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick (salt and pepper both sides).

Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until hot (not smoking).

Work in batches:  (Preparation)- Stir the flour, salt and black pepper in a plate or shallow bowl.  In another shallow bowl, crack 3 eggs and beat (put a little salt & pepper in the eggs too).    Dredge two pieces of chicken, one at a time, in the flour, shake off excess flour, then dredge the chicken in the egg mixture.  Place the piece of chicken in the frying pan.  Do the same with the other piece.  Fry the two pieces until lightly browned, then turn and brown the other side (about 4 minutes total).   Transfer to a plate and keep warm with some foil on top.  Now go back and dredge the other pieces in flour, then egg.  Then fry the other two pieces in the same manner.

After all the chicken is fried and nicely browned, clean the frying pan with paper towels.  Heat the butter over low heat until melted.  Add wine, broth, and lemon juice.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced, about 6 minutes. Stir in the parsley.  Add the chicken back into the pan and spoon the chicken with the sauce.  Top with lemon slices for appearance!  Enjoy! (Serves 4)

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FILET OF BEEF TENDERLOIN–MAKE IT AHEAD with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

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This is such a simple, yet elegant meal and it makes any occasion special.  When ordering a beef tenderloin from a butcher ask for the middle of the center cut of the tenderloin, have them trim and truss the tenderloin so that it is as even as can be.

TIPS FOR MAKE-AHEAD BEEF TENDERLOIN:  Making beef tenderloin ahead of time and reheating it puts you at risk of over cooking.  However, you can make your tenderloin ahead, up to two days before,  and serve cold or let it sit out for 1-2 hours until it’s room temperature.  A great serving suggestion is to slice your tenderloin as thin as you can and place it on a large serving platter.  Accompany it with toasted baguette slices, arugula, Parmesan cheese savings and creamy horseradish sauce for dressing.

BEEF TENDERLOIN:

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb. Prime beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh, coarsely ground pepper

*Take out the tenderloin approx. 45 minutes before roasting.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Have a roasting pan fitted with a rack ready.  Add freshly ground pepper to a small bowl, add the salt and stir to mix.  Set aside until ready to use.

Pat the tenderloin dry with a paper towel.  Spread 2 tablespoons of the butter all over the beef with your hands.  Sprinkle the beef all over with the salt and pepper mixture. Place the tenderloin on the roasting rack and roast for 40 minutes.    

At this point, begin checking the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer.  Insert the thermometer into the center-most part of the tenderloin.  For perfect medium-rare, pull the tenderloin once the thermometer reads 130 degrees.  If your tenderloin has yet to reach the desired temperature, return it to the oven and check it every 6-10 minutes thereafter.

Once the tenderloin has the reached desire internal temperature, transfer to a carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 15-20 minutes.  Remove any string used for trussing.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!  UNLESS YOU MAKE IT AHEAD AND REFRIGERATE IT FOR A DAY OR TWO!   (serves 8 to 12 as entree or up to 20 cut thinly)

 (Option for presentation:  place some thyme twigs or rosemary twigs for garnish around and on top of the tenderloin)

Degree of Doneness:4BE94ECD-73E3-45C0-B3EF-9D24EEF25DA6

Rare: 125 degrees       Medium-Rare: 135 degrees       Medium: 145 degrees                  Medium Well: 150 degrees              Well Done: 160 degrees  

CREAMY HORSERADISH SAUCE: ( Recipe for Horseradish sauce serves 6–you can double if necessary)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp. Lemon zest
  • squeeze of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chives, finely diced

In a small mixing bowl, stir all of the ingredients together.  Serve right away or cover and   place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Can be refrigerate for about 2 weeks.

 

CHAMPAGNE PUNCH AND MEMBERS OF HEALTHY BITES!

CHAMPAGNE PUNCH RECIPE:

  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 2 bottles white wine, chilled
  • 2 bottles Prosecco, chilled
  • 2 liter sparkling water
  • 1 lemon, sliced for garnish
  • 1 container blue berries, for garnish
  • 1 cup fresh mint, garnish
  • 1 cup raspberries or cranberries, for garnish

In large punch bowl, combine the frozen lemonades, white wine, ProSecco, and sparkling water.  Stir, then add the garnishes.   Serve cold!  Enjoy

ADDED BONUS:  MAKE AHEAD DO’S AND DONT’S and 10 MAKE-AHEAD TIPS FOR PARTIES

CLICK ON 10 Make-Ahead Tips for parties

CLICK ON THIS:  THANKSGIVING MAKE AHEAD

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APPLE POUND CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups regular sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (such as Gala or Granny Smith)
  • Optional:  walnuts for decoration and whipped topping for serving.

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Use pam spray for baking on a 9 inch Bundt pan and set aside.  With a mixer on low speed, cream together the sugar and butter.  Once well blended, add the applesauce, vanilla, and eggs (one egg at a time).  Mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on slow with your mixer until well combined.

Fold in the apples by hand and then transfer the mixture to the 9 inch Bundt pan.  (The batter will be thick!).   Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and set on cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from the pan.

Time to Glaze:     Combine the powdered sugar, milk and butter in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended.  Drizzle over the cake while it is still warm.

(Optional:  make a ring of walnuts around the top of the cake for decoration and top with a dollop of whipped cream when serving)

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SALISBURY STEAK SUPREME

Time for some real comfort food!  Here’s a recipe that will fit the bill!  A little splash of wine turns this gravy to something special and can easily be used at a Thanksgiving meal!  Go ahead, get comfortable!
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INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE SALISBURY STEAK:

  • 2 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/3 cup Italian panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. whole milk
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. oil to sauté

FOR THE MUSHROOM GRAVY:

  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 oz. mushrooms sliced (1 package)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup watr
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine (such as a Pino or Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the Salisbury Steak patties (EXCEPT THE OIL).  Mix until well incorporated (I use my clean hands).  Shape into 6 oval or round patties, flattening the center for even thickness throughout.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a non-stick pan, once hot, add patties to the pan and fry approximately 5 minutes on each side until the patties are nice and brown.  Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, saute the onion (under the Mushroom Gravy ingredient list) for a few minutes, then add the garlic and butter and mix.

Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, mixing frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. flour, 1 1/2 Cups broth, 1/2 Cup water, 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire, 1/2 tsp. dijon, 2 tsp. ketchup, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper and 1/4 cup white wine (all the remaining ingredients under the Mushroom Gravy ingredient list).  Pour into the mushrooms.  Cook on medium until the gravy thickens.

Add the patties back into the pan and completely cover with the gravy and mushrooms.  Cook on low medium just until the patties are heated through.

Serve over mash potatoes and a side of peas.  Serves 6.

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