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Lyn Nichols column: Cooking up some holiday recipes

Continuing to work on emptying the What's Cookin' mailbag, I selected the following requests for new ideas for holiday dinners. Keep those e-mails and letters coming; I love to hear from you. Happy Holidays to you and your family! For thi...

Continuing to work on emptying the What's Cookin' mailbag, I selected the following requests for new ideas for holiday dinners.

Keep those e-mails and letters coming; I love to hear from you.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

For this week, that's What's Cookin'.

Janet Wilson is hosting Christmas dinner for her family and she requested a pecan bar recipe that "tastes just like a pecan pie."

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Pecan Pie Bars

Crust:

2 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

Filling:

2 cups chopped pecans

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1 cup sugar

1 cup light Karo

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-by-13-inch pan.

2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in a bowl and mix until it crumbles. Press mixture in the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until very light golden brown.

3. Combine pecans, sugar, Karo, butter, vanilla and eggs in a bowl and mix well. Pour filling over partially baked crust.

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4. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. (Store bars in refrigerator.) Yield: 24 bars

Danielle D. of West Fargo wants to surprise her family with a new sweet potato dish. "I have served the same baked sweet potato casserole for 15 years. I need a new idea," she wrote.

A friend sent this recipe to me and I'm serving it this year. I like the idea of sweet potatoes in orange cups.

Sweet Potatoes in Cups

3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 cup sugar

Salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup butter, divided

½ cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 or 4 large oranges

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare orange cups by cutting oranges in half and removing all pulp.

2. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, eggs, ¼ cup butter, milk and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the orange halves.

3. Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in a small bowl and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over orange cups.

4. Bake for 35 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

We have received several requests for new "and colorful holiday presentations."

Here is a colorful and attractive way to serve the traditional cranberry relish.

Cranberry Orange Relish in Orange Cups

1 pound fresh cranberries

2½ cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 cup orange marmalade

Small oranges

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine cranberries and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Place in a glass-baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for an hour. Remove foil and stir in lemon juice. Allow cranberries to cool completely and then stir in pecans and marmalade. Refrigerate.

3. To make orange cups, cut small oranges in half and remove all pulp. Spoon relish into cups and serve chilled.

Variation: Add ½ cup very thinly sliced or finely chopped green onions and add just before spooning relish into the orange cups. If you want a little heat, add 1 very small jalapeno, finely diced.

In the past month we have received several requests for Cherries Jubilee. It is a beautiful dessert anytime, but especially during the holidays. For adults only!

Cherries Jubilee

1 (16-ounce) can Bing cherries, pitted

½ cup superfine sugar

Zest of 1 large orange

1 tablespoon arrowroot, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup kirsch (cherry liqueur)

Vanilla ice cream

Chocolate curls for garnish

1. Drain the cherries and reserve juice. Place juice in a two-cup measuring cup and add enough water to equal 1 ½ cups.

2. Pour liquid into a small saucepan. Add sugar and orange zest. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Gradually stir dissolved arrowroot mixture into cherry liquid in the saucepan. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, about 10 minutes. Add drained cherries.

3. Pour kirsch into a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer for about a minute.

4. Scoop ice cream into decorative serving dishes.

5. To serve at the table, carefully pour warm kirsch into cherry sauce and ignite. Then, carefully pour flaming sauce over ice cream and garnish with strips of orange zest and chocolate curls. Makes 4 servings.

Note: This dessert is for adults only. To make a delightful version for children, substitute strawberry soda or grenadine for the kirsch and bypass the flaming sauce.

Lyn Nichols hosts "What's Cookin'?" weekdays on WDAY-TV. She can be reached at PO Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108, or e-mail, lyn@i29.net

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