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Cranberry-Apricot Relish

Cranberry-Apricot RelishWhen there’s a lot to juggle in the kitchen, this sherry-laced relish is a welcome addition to holiday meals. It’s familiar, yet unique, and very easy. Make relish several days ahead. When ready to serve, warm it up just a bit in the microwave.  While you’re prepping for Thanksgiving, perhaps try my Pumpkin Pie with orange bitters — dee-lish.

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Warm Cranberry-Apricot Relish

Makes 1-1/2 cups

1-1/2   cups dried cranberries (about 7 oz.)
1/2      cup apricot preserves
1/2      cup Holland House sherry cooking wine*
           Zest of 1 orange

Combine ingredients in a 1-1/2 to 2 quart saucepan; stir well. Cook over medium heat until mixture just starts to boil, 2-3 minutes; stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes.

Stir in 2-4 tablespoons water if relish becomes too thick as it cools. Do the same for relish made several days ahead. Serve warm with roast beef, chicken, turkey or ham.

* Kitchen Note:  If using your own favorite sherry, add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.

Nutrition information per 2 Tbsp: 290 calories, 0g protein, 22g carb, 0g fat, (0g sat. fat), 0mg chol,, 35mg sodium, 1g fiber

Recipe developed by Rita for Holland House      Photo by Suzanne Carreiro

Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | 2 Responses

Turkey Stuffing – inside or out?

artichoke stuffing

I’ve never thought twice about stuffing a turkey (or chicken); the juices from the roasted bird add so much flavor. Yet, as Thanksgiving gatherings have come and gone over the years, I’ve become tired of the rather messy work involved — especially considering all the other foods and table settings. So in the interest of cooking simply, I started to experiment with “dressings” — those baked separately outside the turkey.  The result?  Wow. I will never stuff another bird again. With the right combination of flavors, textures and moistness, turkey dressing can be easy and quite delicious.

For this recipe, I combined aromatic vegetables cooked in wine with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Along with crunchy toasted pecans, the result is a fantastic flavor combination. And yes, if you prefer, the dressing will stuff a small turkey or two 3 lb. chickens.          Print This Recipe

Artichoke Mushroom Dressing

Makes 12 cups

1          lb. (approx.) sliced French bread
1          can (13-14 oz.) artichoke hearts (not marinated artichokes)
4         Tbsp. butter
1          yellow onion, chopped
1          stalk celery, chopped
8         oz. pre-sliced mushrooms, chopped
1          tsp. poultry seasoning
1          tsp. dried rubbed sage
1          cup Holland House white cooking wine*
1/2      cup toasted pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped
1/2      cup+ chicken broth

Spread bread slices out on sheet trays for several hours to dry out a bit. Or place in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Tear bread into bite-size pieces. Measure 12 cups and place in a very large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 3-quart casserole dish or large shallow baking dish. Drain artichokes and cut into smaller pieces.

In a large skillet, combine butter, onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook over high heat 6-7 minutes. Stir in artichokes, poultry seasoning and sage; add cooking wine. Cook 5 minutes more; remove from heat.

Gradually spoon mixture and liquid over bread, tossing gently after each addition. Sprinkle in nuts. Drizzle with chicken broth and toss, using more broth of you prefer moist stuffing.

Spoon stuffing into buttered casserole dish. Cover and bake 45-50 minutes for a casserole dish, or 25-30 minutes for a shallow baking dish (13 x 9).

* In place of cooking wine, use a light, balanced white wine such as Chablis or Riesling.  Holland House is my go-to cooking wine — real wine with a splash of salt (in this case a Chablis). What I like about Holland House, is that the flavor remains stable much longer than an open bottle of  wine. And importantly, there’s no guess work about the type of wine to use — dry or a bit sweet or …  Holland House hits the mark every time. Just remember to reduce the amount of salt you add separately.

Nutrition information per cup (using cooking wine and 1/2 cup chicken broth): 200 calories, 6g protein, 26g carb, 8g fat, (3g sat. fat), 10mg chol,, 570mg sodium, 2g fiber

 Recipe by Rita Held        Header photo by Suzanne Carreiro
artichoke stuffing up close


Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | 7 Responses

Edamame Green Monster Dip

Green Monster Dip

Scare up this hummus with edamame beans and walnuts for your munchkins to dig into before their Halloween treats. A healthy bunch of parsley makes the scary-good green color, boosts Vitamins K and C,  adds flavinoids too, which function as antioxidants. And of course loads of good omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber from the walnuts and the edamame. But most important, Green Monster Dip simply tastes good. So don’t save it just for Halloween. Serve it any time as a sandwich spread…cracker, chip or veggie dip…in wraps…on toast with tomatoes and fried egg… Let me know how you serve it!

And check out more great Halloween walnut recipes here.  I love the spiders — BOO!
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Green Monster Dip

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

1       cup shelled edamame (soybeans), fresh or frozen and thawed
3/4   cup California walnuts
1/2   cup parsley, lightly packed
1/4  cup yogurt, plain
1      clove garlic, small, pressed
1/4  teaspoon salt

Place edamame, walnuts, parsley, yogurt, garlic and salt in food processor. Whirl until smooth.

Recipe developed by Rosemary Mark for California Walnuts.  Photo by California Walnuts.
Food Styling by www.ifoodstylist.com

Posted in Appetizers, Rosie's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian | 5 Responses

Get Pickled!

Refrigerator Pickles

We keep it simple here at GetCookingSimply.  So when I was asked to teach a canning class for Sustainable Contra Costa County, I knew that refrigerator pickles were the answer to simple. My 93 year old dad makes them this way all the time! Traditional water bath canning is not so simple, but the difference is the jars are thoroughly vacuum sealed and can be kept on a pantry shelf. Refrigerator pickles must be kept refrigerated, and for as long as you like, though eventually will loose their crispness  — so just eat them up soon and make some more!

You’ll need pickling cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, which you should find now at farmers markets, or year-round usually at Trader Joe’s. Pickling cucumbers and Persian cucumbers have a thin skin that the brine will penetrate easily, plus they make cute crisp little pickles. The important thing is that the skin not be waxed. For color and interest, add other veggies like green beans, carrots, pearl onions, red onion, garlic, and fresh herbs. My favorite pickling herb is tarragon, especially with green beans.  At the Sustainable Contra Costa class, their garden had beautiful green and red okra. The gardener said pickled okra doesn’t have that typical slickery texture. Well, my results don’t concur, but the okra was crisp and tasty anyway. Give it a try if you like okra!
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Refrigerator Pickles

Makes about six 1-pint jars.
Canning jars with two-part lids look nifty and traditional, but any food jar with a tight screw-top lid will work.

2-1/2 cups white vinegar
2-1/2 cups water*
3 tablespoons purchased pickling spice*
2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste for sweeter pickles
1 tablespoon salt – not iodized
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
2 lbs. pickling cucumbers, whole, cut lengthwise, or in chips
8-12 oz. green beans, trimmed
2-3 carrots, cut in thin strips
Pearl onions or garlic cloves, optional

  1. Place jars  in a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and use jars while still hot. If using two-piece canning lids, bring to a simmer in a separate pot for a few minutes; its best not boil the flat, rubber lined canning lids.
  2. Bring vinegar, water, pickling spices, salt and sugar to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low so brine stays hot.
  3. Remove jars from water and drain. Pack vegetables into jars, alternating a variety of ingredients for a pleasing appearance. Each jar can be a different combination — like green beans, garlic and tarragon; cucumber chips and red onion; or just plain pickled carrots. Have fun with it!
  4. Ladle hot brine with the spices into jars, filling to 1/4-inch from top. Wipe rims with a clean damp cloth then screw tops on. Turn jars upside down for 5 minutes. Turn right side up and let stand undisturbed until cool. Lids probably will seal but should be refrigerated for safest storage. Refrigerate for 2 weeks for flavors to blend and fully pickle the vegetables. Store refrigerated for several months.
Pickling Veggies

Pickling veggies and fresh tarragon. Note the red okra on the right.



Upside down for 5 minutes to start the seal.


IMG_6514 (3)

Cool then refrigerate. Nice and pickled in about a week.

*Kitchen Notes:

Some recipes use distilled water to prevent the brine from turning cloudy. I used tap water and the brine is crystal clear, but it might depend upon your water supply.

Pickling spice is sold in jars in the supermarket spice section or with canning supplies. Or make your own with a variety of whole spices such as mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, coriander seeds, dill seeds, allspice.  The amounts do not need to be specific, but I used roughly equal parts of each.

If you taste the pickles after a few days and they are too vinegary, add a few teaspoons water or sugar to taste. The vegetables will absorb the new brine.


Posted in Rosie's Kitchen, Vegetarian | 4 Responses

Sofrito Rice & Black Bean Salad

Sofrito Rice SaladDinner was quick and easy the other night with Rita’s Sofrito Rice turned into a salad.  Sofrito rice is flavorful so you just need to add vegetables and a vinaigrette. If using leftover refrigerated rice, briefly microwave to soften because the starch hardens a bit when it’s chilled.  Add the following in amounts to your taste (or what you have on hand!):

  • canned black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • frozen corn kernels, thawed (or fresh corn, raw or lightly grilled)
  • diced red bell pepper
  • quartered cherry tomatoes
  • chopped cilantro, mint or basil — or all three herbs

Drizzle with olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Ready to serve!

Sofrito Rice Salad

Settle down on the patio with a glass of chilled Rioja and cool off! Refrigerate leftovers but this salad is best served fresh.

Posted in Rosie's Kitchen, Salads and Dressings | 2 Responses

Sofrito Rice – Caribbean Trio #3

Sofrito RiceThroughout the Caribbean there are as many versions of sofrito as there are cooks, but it is always a combination of onion, garlic, chiles, thyme, cilantro, and often tomatoes. Sofrito forms the base for many dishes throughout the islands, most notably Arroz con Pollo in Puerto Rico. This Sofrito Rice recipe was tweeked and then authenticated by my neighbor, Antonio, a native of the island. Similar to my jerk seasoning (#2 of my trio), this sofrito rice is the real thing. Try making all three recipes–including the Mango-Papaya Salad–and savor a taste of the Caribbean without leaving your kitchen!    Print This Recipe

Sofrito Rice 

1            tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4       cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2        cup finely chopped green bell pepper or chiles*  
2            cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2        teaspoon salt
1/4        cup natural rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1            cup long grain white rice
1            cup diced fresh tomatoes
2           tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1            teaspoon dried thyme
1           can (14 oz) chicken broth (or 1-3/4 cups)

* Chile is referred to as aji in Puerto Rico.  Poblano or mild green chiles both work well.

Heat oil in a 10 to 12-inch skillet with a lid. Add onion, green pepper (or mild chiles), garlic and salt. Sauté over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar. Cook 2-3 minutes more or until vinegar is absorbed. Stir in rice, tomatoes, cilantro and thyme. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir and serve. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Nutrition per serving: 230 calories, 5g protein, 44g carb, 4g fat, (0.5g sat. fat), 5mg chol, 710mg sodium, 2g fiber

Recipe by Rita Held     Photo by Suzanne Carreiro

Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | 2 Responses

Jerk Seasoning – Caribbean Trio #2

Caribbean Jerk MarinadeThe second recipe in my Caribbean trio is a jerk marinade — purely and deliciously Jamaican. The herb and spice combination is close to what an island local would put together, minus the hot chiles. If you have ever been curious about making jerk at home, this simple recipe is worth a try. It’s versatile and as easy as twisting off a few caps, so don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients. Cook on the outside grill or kitchen stovetop.  Jerk flavors are delicious with chicken (thighs, breasts, legs); pork (chops, tenderloin, ribs); or fish (tilapia, halibut, salmon). Double the recipe if using more meat or fish than is called for in the recipe. Numero tres in my trio?  Puerto Rican sofrito rice.
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Caribbean Jerk Marinade

Makes 3/4 cup marinade (enough for 1-1/2 lbs pork, chicken or fish)

1/4     cup seasoned rice vinegar
2         Tbsp. vegetable oil
2         Tbsp. soy sauce
1         Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2         tsp. ground allspice
1         tsp. dried thyme
1         tsp. ground ginger
1/2     tsp. garlic powder
1/2     tsp. cayenne pepper (less if you prefer)
1/4     tsp. black pepper
1/4     tsp. salt
1/4     tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or 1-cup measuring cup; stir well to dissolve brown sugar and smooth out lumps. Pour over fish, chicken or pork. Marinate in the refrigerator: Fish 4-8 hours depending on thickness. Pork and Chicken 24 to 48 hours depending on thickness. Turn at least once while marinating. To cook, drain marinade and discard. Grill, broil or pan fry.

Recipe by Rita Held    Photos by Suzanne Carreiro
Caribbean Jerk Marinade

Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen | 2 Responses

Mango-Papaya Salad – Caribbean Trio #1

Mango-Papaya Salad 1This first recipe in my tropical island trio is a simple and delicious fruit salad combo. It’s a refreshing accompaniment to spicy Caribbean jerk (yes, #2  in my trio will be a jerk recipe). What makes this salad unique, other than the fruit, is allspice and ginger in the dressing. Both spices are common throughout the Caribbean, as are many other spices that we typically think of for baked goods — nutmeg, cinnamon etc. Also, you can see in my photos that mangos and papayas vary in color from yellow to orange depending on their country of origin, variety, and ripeness.
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Mango-Papaya Salad

Makes 6 servings
2       Tbsp. Nakano seasoned rice vinegar – 0riginal
1        Tbsp. packed brown sugar
Dash  each ground allspice &  ginger
1-2    mangos
1        papaya
1/2    cup sliced celery (1-2 stalks)
1       Tbsp. finely diced red onion
6       leaves Boston or bibb lettuce

Combine seasoned rice vinegar, brown sugar, and generous dashes of allspice and ginger; stir to dissolve sugar. Cut mango and papaya into cubes. Use about 4 cups fruit for this salad.  Combine fruit, celery and onion in a medium bowl. Pour dressing over fruit and stir. Serve in individual lettuce cups.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 0g protein, 15g carb, 0g fat, (0g sat. fat), 0mg chol, 90mg sodium, 2g fiber

Recipe by Rita Held for Nakano. Top photo by Rita; photo below by Suzanne Carreiro Mango Papaya Salad 2

Posted in Rita's Kitchen, Salads and Dressings | 4 Responses

Summer Smoothie Fest

Coastal Living B&B smoothieSmoothies are my go-to summer refreshers-–delicious, nutritious, and easy. For me, frozen bananas are the starting point. Over-ripe bananas beg to be frozen. They add flavor and body to smoothies. I always have a stash in my freezer, ready to go. Just peel the banana, break into 4 chunks, wrap in plastic wrap, and then into a baggie. Often, my bananas are in the freezer 6 months or more, and turn brownish. But I’ve never detected an off flavor, and they do their job as deliciously as if frozen 2 weeks.
Below are three simple smoothies. Each uses frozen bananas and other fruits that are accessible in summer, and winter. The first recipe here appeared in Coastal Living Magazine with a collection of banana recipes I developed for the magazine’s feature article Tropical Punch in a Bunch.
And… since this is a smoothie fest, see Rosie’s Awesome Banana Walnut Shake that she developed for the Walnut Board. Do you have a favorite? Share it with us: click on “responses” at the bottom of this post!

Print This Recipe
Berry Banana Smoothie
1          frozen banana, broken in chunks
1          cup frozen blueberries
1          cup orange juice
1          cup plain yogurt or milk*
1          tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
Combine ingredients in blender container. Cover and blend on low speed at first, then high speed until smooth. *If using milk, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Makes two 12 oz. smoothies (3 cups total).

Pineapple Banana Smoothie
1          frozen banana, broken in chunks
1          cup frozen blueberries
1          can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple or pineapple slices
1/2      cup (or more) orange juice
Combine ingredients in blender. Cover and blend on low speed at first, then high speed until smooth.  Makes about 2-1/2 cups.

Banana Carrot Cooler
2          medium-size frozen bananas, broken in chunks
1          cup carrot juice
1          cup orange juice
Combine ingredients in blender. Cover and blend on low speed at first, then high speed until smooth.  Makes two 12 oz. smoothies (3 cups total)

Berry Banana Smoothie

Posted in Beverages, Rita's Kitchen | 4 Responses

Florentine Toast ‘n Egg Cups

Toast 'n Egg Cups

For a simple Mother’s Day brunch or a lazy weekend breakfast, these toast ‘n egg cups are super easy and look so cute!  And you can make a lot of them at once. Just spread butter or olive oil on whole wheat sandwich bread, tuck into muffin cups, add baby spinach leaves, shredded Parmesan cheese and an egg. Top with a little more Parmesan and bake. Serve with marinara if desired, or change it up  with different cheeses, then serve with salsa or a favorite hot sauce. Print This Recipe

Florentine Toast ‘n Egg Cups

Prep time: 10 minutes  Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes:  6  Increase proportionately to desired servings, up to 12 per 12-cup muffin pan.

6            slices square-shaped whole wheat bread
6            teaspoons butter or olive oil
36          leaves baby spinach, stems removed
6            tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
6            medium or large size eggs*
Fresh cracked black pepper
Marinara sauce or salsa for serving

1.    Preheat oven to 375°F. Use a non-stick coated 6 or 12-cup muffin pan.

2.    Spread bread with butter, or brush with olive oil. With buttered side against the inside of the muffin cup, press and tuck each slice firmly into cups. Crust edges will extend above cup.

3.    Overlap 6 baby spinach leaves around the bread cup. Add 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan. Crack an egg over the cheese. Sprinkle with another 1/2 tablespoon Parmesan and a generous grind of black pepper.

4.    Bake 20-25 minutes until eggs are just set or desired doneness. Scoop each egg cup from pan with a silicon spatula. Serve warm or room temperature with marinara sauce or salsa if desired.

*If eggs are very large the white may spill over the bread and stick to pan. If using larger eggs, lightly grease the top of the muffin pan between the cups.

Before baking.

Baked in muffin tin.






Original recipe developed and photographed for PotsandPans.com 



Posted in Entrees, Rosie's Kitchen | 11 Responses
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