Very Berry Lemony Cheesecake Trifle

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For a special celebration nothing compares to a luscious high rise dessert.  Trifles  are impressive and make a dramatic entrance yet they are surprisingly doable as each of their elements can be made ahead and assembled the day of the festivities.  This trifle is chock full of berries nestled between layers of lemony pound cake and fluffy creamy cheesecake whipped cream. That is right, cheesecake whipped cream and man, was it good!  The trifle is not too sweet allowing the natural goodness of the berries to shine.   On the top layer I created a pretty design with the berries.   The trifle was a huge hit!

To celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the Fiesta Friday bloggers from around the world, I am sharing the recipe for this festive and delectable dessert.  Check out our host and founder, Angie@The Novice Gardener and the co hosts, Nancy@Feasting with Friends and Selma@Selma’s Table, all such talented cooks inspiring great cooking.  Let the party begin!

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Game Day! Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Dip

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If you’re looking forward to still zipping your jeans up after the Superbowl party, try this Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower with a skinny Greek yogurt blue cheese dip.  You will hardly miss the chicken wings!  The recipe is adapted from the fun and outrageous Clinton Kelly.  In a rush?  You can use ready-made blue cheese dip. Continue reading

Roasted Eggplant stuffed with Figs, Pecans and Stilton

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This recipe caught my eye in the holiday issue of the superb Ontario Food And Drink magazine my brother sends to me from Canada.  I modified it with dried figs but if you can find fresh figs, use those.  It also called for port but I substituted balsamic vinegar.  Baking the eggplant then splitting it open to stuff it with seasonal flavors makes it a great dish for an appetizer or a hearty vegetarian main. Most eggplant recipes I have enjoyed were cooked in some kind of tomato sauce or in a babaganoush dip.  This is a unique and fun way to eat this very healthy vegetable, an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and B-6 and cancer fighting anthocyanins. It only looks impressive. The dish comes together easily once the eggplant is roasted.

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Warm Lentils with Roasted Eggplant Salad

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In winter many of my favorite salads don’t include lettuce.  They are heartier, ressembling more of a comfort food while delivering a nutritional punch and tons of flavor.  A salad need not be served cold.  Keeping this in mind, the pantry holds so many delicious possibilities. Magic happens when a vinegary dressing is introduced into warm grains or legumes.  They come alive with big bold flavor.   Toss in roasted vegetables and fresh herbs for brightness and you’ve got a hearty flavorful meal in a bowl.  One of the most memorable lunches I ever had was also one of the simplest.  It was a warm salad of lentils enjoyed at  the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Philadelphia.  I have tired to recreate those lentils many times.  This recipe comes pretty close to the sublime dish that warmed a cold day and mended a bruised friendship.

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Olive Oil Cake with Candied Blood Oranges

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When I first saw this cake in the Holiday issue of Ontario’s LCBO magazine, I knew I had to make it! This delectable and really beautiful cake replaces the butter in the batter with olive oil and Greek yogurt.  The flavor of the oil really shines through so use a good quality olive  oil.  With blood oranges in season, the topping is both a seasonal winner and very pretty.  The cake tastes like a a light white cake with marmalade on top. If you can’t find blood oranges, navels will work fine as a substitute. Use a serated knife to cut through the fruit.  I did find even with small sliices the peel, although delicious, was hard to bite into.  You either ended up with no peel or a big chunk of peel.  I would make it again and maybe julienne cut the oranges down.  If you have had a similar experience with home candied fruit, please let me know if you found a solution.  The candied fruit can be made in advance up to a week.

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Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs With Brussel Sprouts, Leeks, Mushroom and Bacon

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The best recipes are often accidental.  So it was with this one-dish supper.  I placed boneless chicken thighs, a staple in our house, on a baking sheet.  I prefer chicken thighs to breasts for roasting as they are more flavorful and won’t dry out.  Seasoned simply with salt, pepper and French thyme then smothered  with sliced leeks, halved brussel sprouts and sliced white mushrooms this is a great winter one-dish meal.   Next the dish is sprinkled with chopped bacon for flavor and to provide fat for roasting. If you omit the bacon, splash some olive oil on top.  Roasted on the lower rack at high heat, the veggies crisp up nicely and the flavors are dynamite together.  Be sure to run a wooden spoon throughout a few times  during cooking for uniform roasting.  Toss a few glugs of balsamic vinegar on top right before serving to add a note of brightness.  Dinner in about a half hour.  My kind of weeknight!

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Beet~Blood Orange Salad with Blue Cheese, Mint and Pistachios

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“What did the carrot say to the wheat?  Lettuce rest, I’m feeling beet.”  Shel Silverstein

Gorgeous and good-for-you blood oranges are in season and I am finding all kinds of places to use them, both savory and sweet.  Adding them to roasted beets with a shallot vinaigrette on a bed of spinach makes  a really delicious salad.  Blue cheese adds pungent bold flavor while pomegranate seeds bring crunch and a note of brightness.  Salty toasted pistachios are the final layer of flavor in a salad that will wake up your winter tastebuds.  Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that adds tanginess. If you can’t find it, add an extra squeeze of lemon juice to the finished salad. If you can find gold beets, they will contrast nicely with the reds of the blood oranges.  Nutritious, bold and satisfying, this is one gorgeous salad!

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1 lb of cooked beets, diced in 1 inch chunks

1 lb of blood oranges(5 small or 3 regular sized), peeled, segmented and cut in thirds

3 T mint, chopped

3 T parsley, chopped

3 c baby spinach

3 T pomegranate seeds

3 T crumbled blue cheese or roquefort

2 T roasted and salted pistachios

ground sumac to sprinkle

Vinaigrette:  3 T pomegranate balsamic vinegar; 1 shallot, minced; 1 T honey; 1/4 t ground sumac; 3 T fresh lemon juice; 1/2 c olive oil; salt and pepper.   In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except the oil.  Gradually wisk in the oil to emulsify.

Assembly:  On a platter, place the spinach.  In the center, layer the beets, then the oranges. Top with the mint and parsley.  Sprinkle with the cheese then the pomegranate seeds and finish with the pistachios.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with a pinch of sumac.  You will have vinaigrette left over for another use.

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Look at all the different colors in those gorgeous blood oranges!

Look at all the different colors in those gorgeous blood oranges!

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I roasted the beets for this salad.  You could boil them or buy already cooked, vaccum-packed  beets if pressed for time.