Archive | December, 2014

Pear Cranberry Trifle


This dessert is the perfect dessert for a holiday party.  It is lovely to look at and to eat, but best of all, it can be prepared ahead of time.  The longer the dessert sits, the better it tastes – How perfect is that?



1                              baked angel food cake, cut into 1” cubes


1#                            fresh or frozen cranberries

2 ea                         bosche or D’anjou pears, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

1 C                           granulated sugar

2 ea                         oranges

½ C                          water

Pinch                       salt


2ea                          whole eggs

4 T                           corn starch

Pinch                       table salt

½ C                          granulated sugar

1 C                           whole milk

1 C                           skim milk

3 T                           rum or brandy (optional) or 2 t pure vanilla extract

½ C                          heavy cream

2 T                           granulated sugar




Cut the angel food cake in to 1” cubes and set aside.

Prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan combine the cranberries, pears, orange juice,  zest of 1 orange, sugar,  water and salt.

Stir gently to combine and heat over medium high heat most of the cranberries have burst and mixture has slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and refrigerate.

Prepare the pastry cream.  Heat the whole and skim milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles appear around edge of the milk.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, eggs, cornstarch and salt in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly to ensure no lumps of cornstarch remain.

Slowly whisk scalded milk into the egg mixture.

Pour mixture back into saucepan and bring to boil, whisking constantly, until pastry cream has thickened.

Remove from heat and whisk in liquor or vanilla.

Cover surface of pastry cream with plastic film and refrigerate.

Assemble trifle.  Whip cream and granulated sugar until soft peaks form.

Fold whipped cream into cooled pastry cream.  Set aside.

Using a clear glass serving bowl, layer 1/3 of cake cubes, 1/3 of cranberry-pear sauce & 1/3 pastry cream in bottom of bowl.

Repeat layers with remaining ingredients, ending with pastry cream.

Cover with plastic film and refrigerate until ready to serve.

***Garnish with sugared cranberries and pine boughs if desired before serving.

Serves 12-16






tots9 (2)

Frozen tater tots were a staple in my house growing up.  As an adult I stopped eating many processed foods like tater tots that are essentially a little potato with a lot of preservatives, fats and salt.  In this recipe I use healthier sweet potatoes with grated onion for flavor and panko bread crumbs for crunch.  I amped up the flavor by adding cumin and parmesan.  Serve them with my spicy basil ketchup and you’ve got a healthy answer for that not-so-good-for-you snack craving!


2 large                                sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

1 large                                Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

4 ea                                      scallion, minced

3 t                                         salt

1 t                                         ground cumin

¼ C                                        shredded parmesan

3 C                                         panko bread crumbs

½  C                                      grated parmesan cheese

2 t                                         sea salt

1 t                                          black pepper

                                                Pure olive oil pan spray


Combine cut potatoes and scallion in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Add 3 t salt and 1 cup water.  Pulse mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped.  Take care not to over process potatoes – you want a rough texture rather than a puree.  Drain mixture in a strainer pressing on the potatoes to remove as much water as possible.  Transfer potatoes to a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high power, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Add cumin and shredded parmesan to potato mixture and fold gently.  Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Combine panko, grated parmesan, sea salt and black pepper on a rimmed baking sheet.

Spray a separate parchment lined baking pan with olive oil pan spray and set aside.  Scoop 1T of potato mixture into your hand and form into a flat end cylinder TOT shape.  (Alternately, you can form them into balls similar to a meatball in shape) Drop formed tot onto panko mixture and toss gently.  Press lightly so crumbs will stick.  Transfer tot to parchment lined baking sheet sprayed with pan spray.  Continue shaping and breading tots until all potato mixture is used.  Lightly spray tops of formed sweet potato tots with pan spray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned and crisp.   Serve with basil ketchup. (recipe below)




½ C                                       Fresh basil

1 clove                               garlic, peeled

½ t                                        Crushed red pepper flakes

1 t                                         balsamic vinegar

1 C                                         ketchup, store bought or home-made

Salt and white pepper


Prepare ketchup.  In the work bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, basil and crushed red pepper.  Process until chopped well.  Add balsamic vinegar and ketchup and process well.