Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

May you have a peaceful few days...

not forgetting the reason for this wonderful holiday.

A very Merry Christmas to you.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes Dessert - Snowball Sundaes

The seven fish dishes are done, and your guests should be lolling about with satisfied smiles and full bellies. (True to form, my girlies would be out in the kitchen, finishing up any leftover Angels on Horseback. They love those little guys.)

Time for a light dessert -- something that's festive, but not heavy. Snowball sundaes fit the bill; when the girls were little, we'd have these the first day it snowed in the season.


vanilla or chocolate chip ice cream
chopped pecans
creme de menthe liqueur
whipped cream (the spray stuff is easiest)
one maraschino cherry for each sundae

Use your prettiest clear bowls or parfait glasses for this bright-colored sundae. Scoop out ice cream, roll the scoops in coconut. (This can be done ahead of time, if you've got room to store the cookie sheet full of ice cream 'snowballs.') sprinkle with chopped pecans and drizzle creme de menthe over, then finish with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Serve with a platter of your nicest Christmas cookies, and an fresh box of chocolates or chocolate-covered nuts. Plus a bowl of fish candy, if you're feeling silly!

Add hot coffee or tea (we'll have espresso), and settle in for an hour of conversation as the candles burn low. It's a lovely way to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #7: Refreshers...And Crab Newburg

By now, you've gone through six different fish and seafood dishes in our Seven Fish Dishes celebration...and your guests are starting to get full! A few refreshers will help clear their palates between courses, and keep them going strong for the finish line. Here's what I'll serve:

Peach Sorbet:   sounds fancier than it is. Take a bag of frozen peaches, thawed slightly (about a pound), add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar or honey, and blenderize to a 'ice cream' consistency. (Strawberries and raspberries work well with this, too. So does melon.) Serve in small've got eight people to cover!
    (Short-cut alternative: serve applesauce or lime sherbet, instead.)

Crudites: fresh celery, sliced peppers, radishes...anything crunchy and not too strongly-flavored.

Green salad: Keep it simple -- sliced romaine with some artichoke hearts, perhaps some sliced mushrooms, and a viniagrette dressing. Nothing heavy.

Fresh fruit: grapes, mandarin oranges (they're on sale, after all), a slice or two of fresh apple, blueberries or raspberries...

Hot rolls or biscuits.
A simple vegetable dish -- asparagus or green beans, perhaps, dressed lightly with butter and lemon juice. (Have you noticed how the flavors of garlic, lemon juice and butter repeat through this menu? Multiple dishes should have some flavor tie-in for the palate to recognize...)

Light drinks, e.g. sparkling fruit juice or wine. Nothing heavy. 

They'll need their strength, because there's one more course to come...and it's the best! It's adapted from; you'll find the original, plus more crab recipes on the same page.



  1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add crab or lobster, stir gently for a few minutes, then add everything else, continuing to stir until mixture thickens. Do not let it come to a boil; keep at a low simmer.      Serve with melba toast or rye krisp...or the remains of the rice from the earlier dishes.                  You're done!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tomorrow: Dessert

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #6: Calamari

Calamari is the next dish up on our Seven Fish Dishes adventure. What exactly are we talking about?

'Calamari' is the fancy name for...squid!

Well, maybe it's not as big as this giant specimen from the Melbourne museum. (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
 Actually, although there are 300 different species, most squid eaten look more like this:

Fishermen will catch these - and bite them on the head to subdue them. Weird.
The good news is that calamari, cooked quickly, are some of the most delicate seafood you'll ever put in your mouth. Cook them a long time, and you might as well gnaw on a rubber band. They're reasonably priced, especially if you buy them from an Oriental foods store.


frozen calamari - 1-2 pounds  - thawed and sliced
   (remember: we're serving 8 people, but this is just one of several courses)

olive oil
2 green onions, sliced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Got everything ready? This won't take long. Coat your pan to sizzling with olive oil, then toss everything but the cilantro in. Stir-fry approx. 3 minutes, until the calamari is tender to the bite, and the vegetables are still bright and somewhat crisp. Sprinkle cilantro on top, spritz on the lemon juice, and serve with rice. Yum.

(For a whole aquarium of calamari recipes, go here to the ifood network -- lots to choose from.)

Tomorrow: the Seven Fish Dishes finale!

Seven Fish Dishes #5: Shrimp Scampi

One of the highlights every year of our Seven Fish Dish dinner is shrimp. Our family loves this lively crustacean to distraction, and will eat it anytime, anywhere.

     A special favorite is scampi, loaded with butter and garlic, with a kiss of wine. Tip: most shrimp dishes are overcooked! Better to saute the shrimp quickly until barely pink, then turn the heat off and let the scampi continue to cook in the hot sauce. It gives the shrimp a delicate texture and great flavor.

This version is from - and the recipe's here
    (serves 8, as part of a multi-course dinner)

2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled
   (cooking with the shells on adds flavor, but makes for a messier dish)
1 1/2 sticks salted butter (3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried garlic
1/2 cup white or rose wine (or substitute chicken broth)

pasta or rice...or a good crunchy piece of garlic toast, to soak up the juices

Melt the butter, add garlic -- then toss in the shrimp. Saute until barely pink; add wine and bring to a brisk simmer. Turn heat off, cover, and let shrimp steam/cook in the sauce until ready. (About 5 min.) Serve over pasta or rice, or piled in a bowl. (Some people like to garnish their scampi with Parmesan cheese, as well.) Don't worry about leftovers -- you won't have any.

Tomorrow: Calamari

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #4: Baked Trout with Herb Stuffing

Hopefully you're enjoying the slow parade of fish dishes for the Seven Fish Dish dinner...and thinking of starting your own celebration, as well! 

Today's rendition focuses on one of the Rocky Mountain's tastiest pescatorial foods: firm, fresh trout. They're found in our streams and reservoirs -- and they're good.

This version stretches out with crunchy herb stuffing, that contributes to the trout's good flavor. Alice Koklas, Gertrude Stein's partner, baked her trout wrapped in crepes, and called it "Trout in Sweaters." Does that make this dish "Stuff It Trout?" Who cares -- it's delicious, by any name.

This photo from - and many more great dishes! Click here for more.


3 trout, approx. 1 pound each, heads on
   (normally, you'd figure a half-pound or full pound trout per person. But since we've had 3 fish dishes already, with 3 more to go after this, eight or nine people will divide this amount nicely)

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh herbs -- rosemary, sage, marjoram OR
    1 tablespoon each of these herbs, dried
1 cup chicken broth (or one chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup hot water)
3 cups bread crumbs (day-old bread, left out a bit so it crumbles easily)
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. (Yes, you can cook this dish at the same time as yesterday's Teriyaki Salmon.) 
   Wash the trout inside and out, and lay in an ovenproof serving dish
    Melt the butter in a frying pan; set aside a tablespoon or so for basting the fish later. Saute the vegetables and herbs a few minutes (but still crunchy) -- stir in broth, breadcrumbs and salt until the crumbs are absorbed, and everything is mixed well. (Add a little more water, if needed - mixture should be moist, but not soggy.)
    Carefully push stuffing inside the fish, then arrange the remaining stuffing around them. Drizzle the reserved butter over the fish, then sprinkle with lemon juice and a little extra chopped herbs.

Bake approx. 30 min., until the fish is white and flakes easily. Don't overbake -- just cover, and set at the back of the stove to keep warm until ready to serve.

Tomorrow:  Shrimp Scampi

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #3: Teriyaki Salmon

The Seven Fish Dishes are heading into main course territory now! (Be sure to take a look at the others in previous posts this week: Angels and Horseback and New England-style Clam Chowder.)

Salmon is our oldest daughter's absolute favorite...and a luxury around here, unless you happen to find it on sale, or marked down. Funny...I grew up in Michigan, where our cousins would bring us pounds and pounds of the stuff, after fishing expeditions on Lake Michigan. We ate so much salmon back then that I thought of it as more common than tunafish.
    Not anymore.

Bear in mind: you've got four more fish dishes to go on this list, so you don't need a huge amount of salmon. A few pounds will do nicely to feed 8-10 people. Serve it with a small mound of rice, to catch the juices.

This version is from Taste of Home -- plus the recipe

2 pounds salmon filets, or sliced salmon
      (or enough for one palm-sized piece per person. Palm-sized -- not the entire hand)

1 squeezed lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine or cooking sherry
1 small piece grated or chopped fresh ginger
1 small can crushed pineapple (keep the juice)
1 teaspoon garlic

Drain the pineapple; set aside most of the fruit for another day. (Or use it as garnish on the platter.) Mix all sauce ingredients together, then pour over salmon; let marinate at least 30 min., or all day, if possible.

Grill the salmon, or cook in a 350 degree oven, along with another Seven Fish Dishes entree. It takes about 10 min. on the grill, and 20-25 min. in the oven. Don't overcook! Fish should be moist, and flake easily.

*Not in the mood to make your own sauce? Soy Vay makes an incredible teriyaki, in two different flavors. Warning: it's so good, you'll want more -- I find myself spooning out a tablespoon or two of Island Teriyaki now and then as a snack. I'm hooked now; you can still save yourself.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #2; Old-Fashioned Clam Chowder

Seven fish dishes on Christmas Italian way to celebrate the season. Yesterday was the appetizer for this holiday meal; you'll want a good, hearty soup to keep your diners occupied while the rest of the dishes cook.

This New England-style clam chowder fits the bill -- it's thick and tasty. A good-sized cup or bowl of this fills up your guests, and lets you serve less of the more expensive seafood dishes.

Try this chowder on a cold winter night, when it's raining or sleeting, accompanied by melted cheese on a hard roll. It's wonderfully filling.

photo from Betty - and another version here
(by the way, this chowder signals its colonial origins by using milk or cream...if it were Manhattan-style, instead of New England-style, it would use tomatoes.) 


1 can minced clams (12-16 oz., depending on your budget)
8 cups milk   (if you're ok about calories, make 2 cups of this cream, instead)
3 chopped potatoes
1 chopped onion
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Dump the clams, along with their juice, in a saucepan, along with half of the milk. (If you made Angels on Horseback, add their broth, as well.) Simmer potatoes and onions in this mixture until tender, about 15 min. Add the rest of the milk, then bring the soup back up to a low simmer. (Overheating can curdle the milk, or form an unappetizing skin on the surface.) Add the butter; salt and pepper to taste; and ladle out when the butter has melted. (Or dish the soup and add a pat of butter to each serving, instead.)

Serves 8 as a first course.  (Some East Coast cooks also add a tablespoon or two of chopped crisp bacon. A handful of oyster crackers is a traditional accompaniment.)

Tomorrow: now we're starting to cook!  Course #3:  Teriyaki Salmon

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seven Fish Dishes #1: Angels on Horseback for Christmas?

One of Italy's customs is to serve seven different fish dishes on Christmas honor the Seven Sacraments. (birth, confirmation, marriage and so on...)

   When our girlies were small, I took each year to explore different countries' holiday foods. The year we focused on Italy, I started the Fish Dishes. Everyone enjoyed them so much that we've continued serving seven fish dishes on each Christmas Eve, inviting friends and family to join us. (And we're not even Catholic!)

This week will feature a new fish recipe every day, including some of the Bricks' favorites. Because Husband and I were usually helping out with music during the Christmas Eve services, many of our dishes were simple to make -- like this one.

photo from Simply Recipes; another version is here.
Technically, Angels on Horseback are oysters wrapped in bacon, then baked in a hot oven, or grilled. They go well with Devils on Horseback...and a cold glass of wine or champagne to start the mood.


1 large jar (8 oz) fresh oysters
1 pound thick-cut sliced bacon
1 lemon

Yes, that's it! Here in Colorado, our fresh oysters are from the Pacific -- and they're large. They need to be cut in several pieces for use. Eastern oysters are much smaller, and can be used individually.
    Rinse the oysters. (Save the juice in the jar for your soup -- see tomorrow's recipe.) Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each oyster (or oyster piece) in a bacon slice, and secure with a toothpick. Place on metal cookie sheet.
    Once all the Angels are done, squeeze fresh lemon juice over. Bake in a hot (400 degree) oven 15 min., serve sizzling on a platter garnished with fresh greens. Serves about 7 people as an appetizer, or 4 people as a single course.

DEVILS ON HORSEBACK: Substitute one pound of chicken livers for the oysters. (Some recipes use scallops, instead.) 

Brace yourself, and on to the next fish dish:
       Clam Chowder (tomorrow)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Cookies: Lollipop Cookies

Crunchy sugar cookies on a stick...imagine them decorating a cake, or wrapped and tucked in your favorite kid's Christmas stocking. (Me -- pick me!)

P.S. Don't use my otherwise-favorite sugar cookie recipe for this, unless you overbake the cookies -- they're too soft to hold up to the pressure.


Makes 16 cookies| Hands-On Time: 25m| Total Time: 1hr 30m


  • 1 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 8  tablespoons  (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • large egg
  • 1  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4  cups  confectioners’ sugar
  • food coloring
  • mini jelly beans, colored sprinkles, or metallic dragees, for decorating
  • special equipment: 14 6- to 8-inch lollipop or ice-pop sticks (found in large craft stores -- wooden skewers may be substituted, but you might need more than one per cookie)


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture just until combined (do not overmix).
  3. Drop mounds of the dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 4 inches apart. Insert one end of a lollipop stick into each and flatten the dough slightly with your fingers. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 to 2 drops food coloring. Drizzle the cookies with the icing and sprinkle with the candies and sprinkles. Let dry for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Storage suggestion: Keep at room temperature, between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, for up to 1 week. (Alternatively, wrap in a nonsealing plastic sandwich bag or cellophane bag and close with a twist tie or a ribbon.)

Real Simple magazine, the passer-on of this recipe, has a raftful of easy Christmas cookies -- look here for the slideshow and recipes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Cookies: Spritz!

   Want a pretty, easy-to-make cookie that really dresses up your platter? Spritz, otherwise known as 'Swedish Butter Cookies,' fit the bill. The Mama made dozens of these to give away, as well as feed her hungry family. They can easily be decorated with frosting and sprinkles, as seen below. But I like them all by themselves, as well.
   Don't let the idea of a cookie press scare you. Think of a giant 'frosting tube' that pushes the dough through a ridged plate, right onto the cookie sheet. Think of how fast you can squeeze these little guys out!

(For more Spritz variations, visit the Wilton page, where this recipe started.)



  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

    (The Mama would often add 2 or 3 tablespoons of red or green jello mix to a batch, making pretty colored cookies. Use the whole package if you like a stronger color.)


7-8 dozen cookies.

Tools needed:


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Step 2

In bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; mix well. Gradually add  flour mixture to butter  mixture; beat until combined. Do not chill. Fill cookie press with dough and with desired disks, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 3

Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling rack. Remove from sheet; cool completely.

Try not to eat them all at once.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Cookies: No-Gluten Peanut Butter Cookies

    There's nothing better on a cold winter day than a peanut butter cookie, straight from the oven, with a hot cup of tea. But wait -- do you have to forego this pleasure if you're on a low-gluten diet?


    These peanut butter cookies don't have one lick of flour included. And they don't need it. Try one or more of these crunchy, wonderful treats for your next party -- the 'who cares about gluten' guests won't even notice the difference.


     2 cups smooth peanut butter
    (for a crunchier version, use chunky peanut butter -- and add a sprinkling of chopped nuts on top of the dough spoonfuls before baking) 
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs  (if you're lucky, they'll be from chickens in your backyard)
Beat the peanut butter, slowly adding sugar as you mix. Add vanilla and eggs, and mix well.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes about two dozen cookies.

Serve these to your favorite Christmas elf -- they'll be thrilled!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cookies: Linzer Tarts

Parade Magazine just posted the 5 winners of their Christmas Cookie contest...and boy, do they look delicious! 

This recipe, from William Blades of New Milford, Conn., is the winner of the Rolled and Cut Category in PARADE's 2012 Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, and fits nicely into this year's cultural theme. He categorizes them as Scandinavian; I know them better from Austria, where they're made (and savoured) in great quantities. Either way, they're delicious.
    Click here to view all of the winning recipes from the Parade contest.

William's story:
"My mom was a true Scandinavian and a great baker; I loved her Linzer tarts. Thirteen years ago, my friend John gave me a batch of these cookies for Christmas. With one taste, I was in heaven. Through the years, we've perfected this recipe together. I was taught that food is love. When you make food for someone, you share your love."

To buy the R&M Winter Fantasy Linzer Cookie Cutter Set Parade used to make this cookie, click here.
   Or go to the Parade cookie page. (Yum)

ingredients: Add all to shopping list
3/4 cup unsalted almonds
1 1/2 cups sifted flour, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 egg
Raspberry jam (apricot jam is also excellent)
Sifted confectioners' sugar, for dusting

At a glance: Servings: Makes 24
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 1 hr 5 min (plus cooling time)

Key Tags:
directions: 1. In a mini-chopper or blender, chop almonds with 1/4 cup flour until fine (should take less than 30 seconds; for a crunchier, nuttier cookie, chop for just 15 to 20 seconds).

2. In a medium bowl, combine nut mixture, remaining flour, butter, confectioners' sugar, zest, and egg. Mix well.

3. Divide dough in half; wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1/2 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Roll out dough halves on a floured surface. Using small round cookie cutters, cut out cookie bottoms and tops. With a patterned cutter (we use a snowflake shape), punch a center hole in tops.

6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light gold. Watch carefully. Cool on a wire rack. Spread a thin layer of jam on each bottom cookie; sandwich with tops, pressing gently. Dust with sifted confectioners' sugar.
KITCHEN COUNTER: Makes 24. Per Serving: 140 calories, 20g carbs, 2g protein, 6g fat, 20mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 1g fiber

Welcome Back for Christmas!

It's good to see you. 

Yes, the Christmas Goodies blog is starting up again -- a bit later than planned, but life got in the way. This season, we're going to explore various countries for celebration ideas -- plus recipes that will appeal to people with dietary needs. (No-gluten, anyone?)

You'll want to check in every day or so to see what's cooking.

Glad you're here.