Cheese Danish Braid

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I always want to have a wonderful breakfast on Christmas morning. Something special that we don’t usually have that warms and fills our bellies until dinner time. The problem with this is we start opening stockings and presents and then don’t realize we are hungry until we are really hungry. I can’t start beforehand because then I miss those precious moments when Caroline, and soon George, come down the stairs and see everything for the first time. So, besides telling everyone to eat a few cookies and keeping chugging the eggnog, I’ve got to prep breakfast in advance. Since I’ve start doing this our Christmas mornings have been a lot less stressful and we can enjoy the morning and ourselves before the dinner prep begins and our extended family arrives.

This danish is great because you can assemble it the day before, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning simply remove, pre-heat oven, and bake. You’ll have something special to offer your family and the braid just gives you bonus presentation points!

Cheese Danish Braid

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 6 Tbsp very warm 1% low-fat milk (120-130 F)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 pkg quick-rise yeast
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough:

  • 7.9 oz unbleached all-purpose flour, divided (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2.25 oz whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray

For the filling:

  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt

For brushing:

  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

To prepare sponge, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand 15 minutes.

To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour and pastry flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, sour cream, butter, salt, vanilla, 1 egg, and sponge in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until well combined. Add flours; beat at low speed 3 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes), adding remaining 1.15 ounces all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indention remains, dough has risen enough.)

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese and the next 4 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle on lightly floured parchment paper. Spread cream cheese mixture down center of dough, leaving about a 5-inch border on each side and a 1-inch border at top and bottom of rectangle. Make 5-inch cuts about 1 inch apart on both sides of dough to meet filling using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Remove 4 outer corner strips of dough from rectangle; discard. Fold top and bottom 1-inch portions of dough over filling. Fold strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling. Press ends to seal. Transfer braid and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 1 teaspoon water and 1 egg; stir with a whisk. Brush braid with egg mixture. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.

Combine powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons milk in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over braid; sprinkle with nuts.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information

Per serving: 224 Calories, 7.9g Fat, 6.3g Protein, 32.2g Carbohydrate, 1.5g Fiber, 50mg Cholesterol, 1.5mg Iron, 218mg Sodium, 63mg Calcium.

Source: Cooking Light November 2013

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Does the holiday frenzy have you wondering what’s for dinner? It’s not all about cakes and cookies and I’m writing for Minute® Rice to give you one of my favorite quick dinner recipes so you can get back out there and tackle your “to-do” list.

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This holiday season I vowed to do things a little differently, especially after such a busy November. I would enjoy this month, I would pick away at my lists and never feel overwhelmed. The minute I did, I would stop and hang out with my family.In the end, anything that I put aside for a few hours or days wasn’t really that important anyways. What I didn’t want was my family going in different directions every night shopping for present, goodies, decor items, etc. and eating out here and there. Besides the cost factor during an already costly holidays season, I wanted my family seated around the table eating a healthy meal.

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Seafood is my go-to when it comes to making dinner fast. It’s so easy to prepare and takes just minutes. Minute Rice is another great pantry staple, regular Minute® White Rice is ready in just 5 minutes and now they have their Minute® Multi-Grain Medley that includes Thai red rice, wild rice, long grain brown rice, and quinoa that is ready in just 10 minutes! I’m always trying to provide a healthy, yet filling side dish to my family but usually it takes a while to prepare. Not anymore! While I’ve got the rice simmering, I prepare my fish, and toss in a vegetable and we’re good to go!

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So, save on time and calories this holiday season with one of my favorite recipes and then you wont feel so guilty about a few extra holiday cookies! Looking for more ways to use Minute® Rice? Then check out www.minuterice.com for over 400 recipe ideas and more information about the Minute Rice family of products.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice.

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Lemon & Thyme Pan-Seared Cod with Multi-Grain Rice

Ingredients

  • Minute® Rice Multi-Grain Medley
  • 1 lb Cod (about 3 small fillets)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Pat Cod fillets dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick saute pan. Cook fillets for about 3 minutes on each side, or until it has started to flake and they have turned a golden brown. Place fillets on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

In the same saute pan, warm butter, thyme, garlic, and lemon juice until melted. Drizzle over Cod fillets and serve with rice.

Serves 4

Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 311; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 65mg; Sodium: 270mg; Total Carbohydrate: 21g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 23g

The Way to His Heart

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

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While I’ve never been one to turn the other way when it comes to decadent desserts, the holidays and decadent desserts go hand in hand. It’s one delectable dessert after another. Which, of course, is why most promise to eat healthier and exercise more when the New Year comes. No matter how much moderation I practice, I’ll be in that crew too, but here’s a delicious dessert that wont be the cause!

While it’s definitely not good for you, this decadent and luscious chocolate cheese cake filled with three different chocolates, is a lighter option while definitely not light on taste. Frankly, no one can tell so for those that wont eat healthier options, just keep quiet and for those that seek them out, go ahead and tell them this is good for them. Granted, I really don’t think you’ll need to convince anyone to try a slice. Who is going to say no to this when placed in front of them?

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*As with any cheesecake, keep your eye on it. Your eye is the best judge versus the clock. Also, I chose to make this using an adaptation of the water bath method because that’s how I do all of my cheesecakes. Simply prepare as shown before, but while the oven is pre-heating place a baking dish with water in it to create some humidity. Then, leave in while you bake your cheesecake.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 8 chocolate graham cracker sheets
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white
  • Baking spray with flour
For the filling:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 10 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce milk chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups frozen light whipped topping, thawed and divided
  • 1 cup blackberries

Preheat oven to 350°

To prepare crust, spread oats on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring after 5 minutes. Cool. Combine oats, crackers, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add butter and egg white; process until moist. Press mixture into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

To prepare the filling, sift together granulated sugar, cocoa, flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Place cheeses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and chocolate, beating at low speed just until combined. Sprinkle sugar mixture over top of cheese mixture; beat at low speed until combined. Fold 1 cup whipped topping into mixture. Pour mixture into prepared pan, smoothing top. Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Slice cheesecake into 14 slices; top each serving with about 1 tablespoon whipped topping. Divide berries among servings.

Serves 14

Source: Cooking Light, November 2014

OXO Good Grips Food Scale Giveaway

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If you watch any cooking shows or read any articles about cooking, chances are you’ve heard how important using a food scale is. I’ve gone on and on about it in some of my posts, tweets, etc. I’ve been a food scale convert for a few years now and there’s no looking back. When mine was out of commission earlier this year, I was lost in the kitchen and only did the bare minimum of baking until I got mine back. It was a long 5 days, let me tell you. Thankfully, OXO came to my rescue and sent another one and I may have hugged it a little when it arrived. I’m a weirdo, I still have the old one in my basement because it was so good to me, I can’t just…dispose of it!

I’ve had a lot of you ask me why a food scale is important and how it will benefit you. I’ve answered so many questions regarding it that I decided I would contact OXO and see if they would be so kind as to give one lucky reader a 11lb Good Grips Food Scale so they can see what it’s all about.

I am SO excited about this giveaway! Besides my knives and my standmixer, my food scale is a work horse in my kitchen. When I was thinking of what I’d like to give one of my readers, this was one of the first things that came to mind. Not everyone thinks they need one, but you’ll see, I promise!

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What’s so cracked up about a food scale? Well, lets start off easy, you only need to dirty one bowl and a spoon when you are adding your ingredients. Just keep topping off your ingredients into the same bowl, measure, then hit the “Zero” button and start with the next ingredient. Right there it’s worth its weight in goal for this busy mommy. Secondly, it takes the guess work out of dividing ingredients, whether it be dividing cake batter by thirds or trying to measure out 12 rolls from your dough. Everyone knows that baking is pretty precise, well how much more precise can you get than with a scale? Lots of people use it as a dietary aid, measuring out their foods. That’s not me at all, but it is good for that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This prize is provided by OXO. This giveaway is for residents of the contingent United States and will end on December 19th, 12:00 pm EST. Physical address required for shipping; no PO boxes. You must be 18 years or older to enter.