Christmas and  most of the Holiday have now past for the year, reserving one massive New Year’s Eve throwdown tomorrow night. One thing that I am always sad to see leave my stores for another year is cranberries…and I know I can’t be alone.

I did a twist on one of my favorite summertime loaf cakes (Lemon Blueberry) to come up with this divine winter version. A tender moist cake flecked with fresh orange zest and studded with ripe red cranberries. Once it’s baked, another punch of orange flavor is added in the form of a simple orange glaze that’s poured on while the loaf is still hot…allowing it to soak up all that goodness, and add to the moisture factor.

The sweet cake paired with the occasional tart bite from a cranberry is sheer perfection for breakfast with a cup of tea. This recipe is for one loaf cake, but I regularly double it – and freeze one for later!

And make sure to check back tomorrow – *somebody* may have a cranberry cocktail to share with y’all for the New Year’s Eve shenanigans goin’ down tomorrow night…stay tuned!

 

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse

If there’s one thing that I really love – it’s a super simple no-bake dessert. When I saved this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, it stuck with me in the back of my mind. It must have struck a chord with you guys too, as it got quite a few re-pins!

Just a few minutes to whip it together, some chilling time in the fridge, and we had a delectably fluffy and rich dessert – with a hefty dose of lemony flavor. I used lemon Jell-O as well as some fresh lemon juice and zest to really brighten up the one-note flavor that box gelatin often has. Worked like a charm.

Also, instead of the ubiquitous frozen tub of whipped topping that often is included in no-bake desserts, I opted for fresh homemade whipped cream – always a welcome change in a recipe as far as I’m concerned.

Topped off with some fresh berries and a sprig of bright green mint, it’s the ideal dessert to enjoy on the back porch as the weather warms up.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce that I’m now a Rodelle Brand Ambassador! I’ve long been a fan of their vanilla products, and look forward to working with them in my kitchen to create more sweet treats to share with you guys. Stay tuned!

Fresh Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Sundae Topping

While we’re still trying to fight off winter, spring has already sprung in some of our sunshine states like Florida and California. When I you start to see fragrant strawberries from these states popping up in your stores, you know that warmer days are right around the corner. At least, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself…

There are few things better in life than a perfectly red, ripe strawberry. When I buy them, I can always be counted upon to eat at least half of the clamshell package on the way home. So I’ve learned my lesson and usually buy two, just to be on the safe side. As much as I love to eat them “as-is”, it’s so much fun to cook and bake with them in the kitchen!

Cake. Cupcakes. Ice Cream. Vodka. Margaritas. Salad. Salsa. Syrup. You name it – I’ve made it! But one thing that was conspicuously missing was a good homemade strawberry sauce. Which, oddly is probably the easiest of all of those things to make. Fresh strawberries cooked down with a bit of sugar and a vanilla bean. Heaven over a bowl of yogurt and granola in the morning, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the evening…

Look for berries that are a deep red in color, but most importantly – smell them! Good strawberries are extremely fragrant. That’s usually my rule of thumb for most fruits, actually – the better it smells the better it’ll taste. So, keep your sniffer in mind the next time you’re in the produce aisle!

Raspberry Shortbread Bars

These bars. These bars! Now, I know that I say that every recipe that I share is wonderful…which, they are. I don’t share anything that we didn’t like with you guys. That being said, these bars are seriously one of the best things I’ve baked in my kitchen. Don’t wait to make them!

A thick, soft bed of shortbread topped with raspberry jam and a crumble topping made with of a bit of reserved shortbread, granola, and a generous dose of nuts. Takes all of 10 minutes to put together, how easy is that? Like you can expect anything less from Queen Ina.

There’s a backstory to these bars, though. Sea Star Cafe, my favorite local spot for lunch or a quick bite here on Chincoteague recently closed for the season. They make a bar that is very similar to this, in both a raspberry and apricot variety. And they’re addictingly delicious! I became a regular visitor…like, verging on the edge of daily, just to get these bars when they had them available.  Since they close for a few months in the off-season, I had to find another source…

I’m an accomplished baker, I should be able to make a decent crumble bar, right? I’d tried a couple in the past, but they were lackluster attempts. This one is it!

I know I’ll be baking these once a week for a while, just to try different varieties of jam. They slice beautifully and keep for a few days too, making them great candidates for cookie trays or gifting!

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten, inspired by Sea Star Cafe.