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Irish Raisin Soda Bread with Orange Zest

I’m lucky St. Patrick’s Day inspired a loaf of Raisin Irish Soda Bread in my kitchen. All week I’ve enjoyed it sliced and spread with Irish butter. Want a bite? You can have a loaf ready in an hour, so get started! Visit RaisinYourNutrition for step-by-step to making this super easy wholesome bread. I think you’ll feel happy and lucky!

Posted in Breads, Rosie's Kitchen | 16 Responses

Hollandaise — simply delicious

We think of Hollandaise sauce as a high-end indulgence. Yet it’s simple to make, and… can be made several days ahead. With all the breakfast recipes being posted this time of year, I thought I’d add one of my own.

My “surprise” addition to this classic sauce? Angostura bitters! Perhaps you already guessed that. Bitters give Hollandaise a deeper flavor. And the sauce has broader usage as a luscious topping for salmon and other seafood, for vegetable sides like asparagus or green beans, and of course for simple poached eggs or traditional Eggs Benedict. Remember, you only need a tablespoon or two on those eggs or salmon.

To make Hollandaise ahead: cool, cover and refrigerate. When ready to use, warm up on low heat (in the microwave or on the stovetop), stirring regularly.

Print This Recipe

Makes about 1 cup. Recipe may be doubled.

8      Tbsp. salted butter (1 stick)
3      fresh egg yolks, room temperature
1       Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2   tsp. Angostura aromatic bitters
Cayenne pepper, generous dash

Melt butter in a 1-cup measuring cup in microwave oven. Place egg yolks, lemon juice, Angostura bitters and cayenne pepper in blender container; blend on low speed 15 seconds.

Continue running blender on low, and slowly pour in butter. Continue to blend 30-45 seconds more.

For a thinner Hollandaise, add hot water a tablespoon at a time while running blender on low. Spoon warm sauce over eggs, or serve in a small pitcher.

Nutrition information for 2 tablespoons: 130 calories, 1g protein, 1g carb, 13g fat, (8g sat. fat), 110mg chol, 90mg sodium, 0g fiber

Recipe & photo by Rita Held for Angostura USA


Posted in Entrees, Rita's Kitchen, Sides and Sauces | 13 Responses

Sweet Heart Cocoa Coconut Torte

Have your cake and no sugar too!

No added sugar and no gluten, but plenty of flavor! Cocoa Coconut Torte is sweetened with raisin and date puree like my Raisin-Date Apple Muffins. The cake is rich and sweet, similar to a flourless chocolate torte. Ground almonds replace flour for a little extra fiber and protein. So you really can have your cake and eat it too!

Jump on over to the Sun-Maid blog for the recipe and step by step instructions. It’s super easy to make, just blend then stir. Bake in a round cake pan, cup cakes or mini cupcakes. But what fun I had using my valentine pan 🙂


About coconut oil:
Coconut oil is available at supermarkets usually with the vegetable and olive oils. It is firm at room temp so a bit of a misnomer to be called oil because it looks like a solid fat. Some recipes call for melting but I found that unnecessary. Just a small amount adds a lot of coconut flavor.  It is especially good with chocolate in baked goods.

About almond flour:
I’ve tested almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand that uses blanched almonds) and almond meal (Trader Joe’s which is unblanched and slightly coarser than Bob’s).  Very little difference in the baked product. If you don’t have a scale to weigh 140 grams, slightly pack the cup using a level measuring cup.

About coconut chips vs shredded coconut:
In this recipe, because it is no added sugar, I used unsweetened shredded coconut (not sweetened flaked) in the cake, and untoasted chips on top.  If you don’t have chips, just leave it plain! The chips are mostly for decoration.


Posted in Desserts, Rosie's Kitchen | 2 Responses

No-Added-Sugar Raisin Date Apple Muffins

Muffins are ‘sweet’ for breakfast or snack. These fruit-sweetened muffins have no added sugar, thanks to raisins and dates blended into a puree, plus no added fat!  The dried fruit puree plus diced apples add enough moisture to replace butter or oil, yet retain a light cake-y crumb perfect for a muffin.

I created these muffins for a Sun-Maid school foodservice recipe program. I’m glad I did! Now I keep them on-hand in the freezer for a quick-grab breakfast or snack.

To get the recipe, I’m sending you over to the Sun-Maid RaisinYourNutrition blog where you’ll see how to make the raisin-date puree and the muffins.  The recipe is super simple, just a blender and a bowl, and a few minutes to stir together. Take a look, give it a try, and we’d love to have your comments 🙂

Posted in Breads, Rosie's Kitchen | 5 Responses

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread

Cranberry-Orange Pecan BreadCrunchy toasted pecans and Angostura Orange Bitters complement tangy cranberries in this easy, yummy holiday quick bread.  My Orange-Laced Frosting here makes a fancier quick bread.  For holiday gifts, I’m going to try this recipe using two smaller, 3 x 5-3/4″ loaf pans (perhaps three smaller pans – tbd).  Of course, the bake time will be shorter; I’m thinking 35 minutes. Will keep you posted.

Print This Recipe
Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread

Makes one 9 x 5-inch quick bread    Prep time 15 minutes    Cook time 50-60 minutes

1          rounded cup fresh or frozen cranberries (about 4-1/2 oz.)
2          cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1          cup sugar
1          tsp. baking powder
1/2       tsp. salt
1/4       tsp. baking soda
3/4       cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1           large egg
2/3      cup low-fat buttermilk
6          Tbsp. butter, melted
2          Tbsp. orange zest
1/3       cup orange juice
2          tsp. Angostura® Orange Bitters
1/2       tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

If using frozen cranberries, spread berries out on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes or so. Then cut large cranberries in half. To measure flour, spoon into dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour with remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl, blending thoroughly with a whisk. Stir in cranberries.

Whisk remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir gently until fully moistened; do not over mix. Spoon batter into pan and smooth out top. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let rest in pan 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before slicing – at least 1 hour.

Nutrition per serving (14) without frosting: 225 calories, 3.4g protein, 31.2g carb, 9.8g fat (3.7 g sat fat), 28.4mg chol, 202.5mg sodium, 1.5g fiber

Orange-Laced Frosting
1-1/2     cups powdered sugar
4           Tbsp. butter, softened
2           tsp. orange zest (optional)
1            Tbsp. orange juice
1            tsp. Angostura Orange Bitters

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, stir together all ingredients until smooth. If needed, warm up in microwave to soften (medium power for 10+ seconds). If frosting is too thick, stir in more orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Drizzle frosting over nut bread. Frosting will firm up a bit on the bread.

Recipes and photo by Rita Held for Angostura USA

Posted in Desserts, Rita's Kitchen | 2 Responses

Stuffing, Cranberries, and Pie

Artichoke Mushroom StuffingIt’s time to revisit some of our Thanksgiving favs. For me, there are so many different dishes at Thanksgiving that I tend not to re-invent the food wheel. Rather, I use tried-and-true seasonal recipes that get four-star raves from around the table. So first here, is my Artichoke Mushroom “dressing” that I bake outside the bird.

Then there’s my easy Cranberry Apricot Relish that can be made several days ahead. Apricot preserves along with orange zest and sherry make this special.

Last, (but not least at all!) is my best-ever Pumpkin Pie. It’s the Libby’s canned pumpkin recipe, tweeked a bit, and invigorated with Angostura orange bitters. This is now Rosie’s tried-and-true pumpkin pie too. YUMM… with all caps!  Enjoy :o)
Click on recipe titles to see the actual recipe.

Cranberry Apricot Relish
Cranberry-Apricot Relish
Best Ever Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie w Orange Bitters

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Sides and Sauces | 5 Responses

Apple Crisp with a Twist

Apple Crisp w/ a TwistIt’s apple season! That, and the cooler autumn air lure me into the kitchen, nudging my creativity. So what’s the twist with my apple delight? A crispy oatmeal topping laced with Angostura bitters adds richness and depth to this traditional autumn dessert. Rosie asks “Bitters in apple crisp?” Well… my experience with the popularity of bitters in foods throughout the Caribbean+ has broadened my kitchen usage. So yes, I use Angostura bitters fairly often. It adds such an enticing flavor dimension, taking many recipes from “everyday” to extra special. It’s my kitchen umami, sort of like soy sauce.
Stay tuned. Rosie will make this crisp and report back…..

And the results are….WONDERFUL!  I describe the bitters as deepening the caramel-like brown sugar notes, and most remarkably, tempering any over-sweetness. As Rita says, bitters adds a subtle complexity. I agree!  I tested with Cripps Pink apples which are the same as Pink Lady, a slightly tart apple that’s a cross of Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples. Next time I’d use Granny Smith or a juicier apple. As you can see there is no syrupy liquid, and the apples were a bit crispier than I prefer which some of my tasters like. So choose apples for your taste and add Angostura bitters to the crumble!

Rosie's Apple Crisp


Print This Recipe
Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Bitters Topping

Makes one 9-inch round or square apple crisp (8 servings)
Active Prep time: 25 minutes     Oven Time: 35-40 minutes

Oatmeal Topping
6      Tbsp. butter, melted
1       Tbsp. Angostura® aromatic bitters
3/4   cup flour
3/4   cup rolled oats
1/2   cup packed dark brown sugar

5     baking apples, unpeeled *
—   Ground cinnamon, to taste
1     Tbsp. brown sugar

For topping, stir together butter and Angostura. In a medium bowl stir flour, oats and brown sugar. Drizzle butter over flour mixture as evenly as possible and stir well. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes. When ready to assemble crisp, remove topping from refrigerator and crumble with your fingers. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Core apples; quarter and slice about 1/4” thick. You should have 5 cups apples, about 1-1/3 lb. total. In a 9-inch deep dish pie plate or square baking dish, toss together apples and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and toss again. Scatter topping over apples. Bake 35 minutes. Let cool 1 hour, then spoon onto plates or bowls. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

* I used granny smith apples for this recipe. Other baking apples I like are pink lady and honey crisp.

Nutrition per serving (8) without ice cream: 281.7 calories, 10.1 g fat (5.9 g sat fat), 22.9 mg cholesterol, 4.1 g protein, 45.1 g carbohydrate, 81.7 mg sodium, 3.7 g fiber                                        Recipe & Photo by Rita Held

Posted in Desserts, Rita's Kitchen | 4 Responses

The ‘Perfect’ Snack Bar

Perfect Snack BarsThey had us at ‘perfect’! A perfect or best-ever anything is intriguing especially when it’s a recipe, and it’s sampled at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC), where food writers are eager to compare and analyze food.  Since I recently shared my favorite Travel Snack Bars, I was doubly interested in this Perfect Snack Bar by California Almonds. Packed with almonds and almond butter, pumpkin seeds, coconut, currants, honey, and drizzled with chocolate– it was pretty perfect and looked pretty too. Crunchy, nutty, not-too-sweet. Betcha can’t eat just one!

Samples a IFBC

Perfect Snack Bars at IFBC

But give me a recipe and I almost can’t stop myself from tweaking or substituting.  How many times is there one ingredient missing from my pantry, no matter how carefully I check? This time it was almond flour. So in keeping with the gluten-free theme of the recipe, I substituted coconut flour which was in my freezer and seemed right with the coconut chips in the recipe.

I’ll always remember an interview I heard with a Bon Appetit Magazine editor who said something like, “Our recipes are a guide for your creativity and flavor preference. We just want you to enjoy cooking and eating”. That’s how Rita and I feel too!

In that spirit, here are a couple more revisions: I substituted maple syrup for some of the honey, because I like maple; I baked the bars – the original is unbaked – to make them crunchy vs soft-chewy. I think the bar is quite perfect baked or unbaked.

And how does this one compare to my snack bars?  Both are darned excellent. Make the one you have the ingredients for!

Note: I was not compensated by IFBC or California Almonds, but was provided a discount to attend the conference reviewed here. For more information about IFBC check these Facebook posts and info about IFBC 2017. Come join us! 

Print This Recipe

Perfect Snack Bar

Adapted from Almond Board of California
Makes about 30  3 x 1.5-inch bars

1-1/2 cups (7 oz)    whole California Almonds
1 cup (4.25 oz.)       raw pumpkin seeds*
3/4 cup (3 oz.)       sliced California Almonds
2/3 cup (2.25 oz)   old-fashioned oats
1-1/4 cups (2 oz.)   unsweetened coconut chips*
1/2 cup (2.25 oz.)   currants (can sub raisins or diced apricots)
1/4 cup (1 oz.)         almond flour or coconut flour
scant 2/3 cup (7 oz.)   honey, or combination honey and maple syrup
1/3 cup (3 oz.)         almond butter, smooth or chunky, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup (3 oz.)        dark chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F.
Spread whole almonds on a baking sheet. Spread pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds and oats on another baking sheet. Bake each for 10-15 minutes, or until toasted, stirring once or twice.  Cool. Transfer to a large bowl; add currants and flour.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring honey (and maple syrup if using) to a simmer. Heat to 240°F. This should take about 5 minutes, maybe less, and should be at a full simmer. OR, microwave in a 2-cup pyrex  3-4 minutes  (it will bubble up), stirring every minute. If you don’t have a thermometer, check by drizzling a tiny bit in a small bowl of ice water. It should form a soft ball between your fingers. **see note.

Stir almond butter into the honey then immediately pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Stir quickly and thoroughly until mixture is evenly coated. Press onto a parchment or foil lined baking sheet to a thin layer. It should nearly cover a 13×18-inch pan. I place a second sheet of parchment over and press/roll with a rolling pin to flatten.

For soft-chewy bars, cool completely then cut. Drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.
For crisper bars, bake at 325°F for 15 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven. Cut into bars with a sharp knife. The center bars will be less crisp. Cool completely on pan.
For very crispy bars let stand 15 minutes after cutting, then with a spatula divide bars between two baking sheets so there is space between them. Bake at 325°F additional 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Flatten to thickness of the almonds.

Flatten to thickness of the almonds.



Perfect without chocolate too!


Look for unsweetened coconut chips in the bulk foods section at stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts.

I buy raw pumpkin seeds at Trader Joe’s.

**Be very careful heating the honey or maple syrup, it burns quickly. Use a candy thermometer but be sure it’s a working thermometer. I used an antique thermometer gifted to me by a dear friend, but sadly the mercury stopped rising (nothing to do with the planet Mercury in retrograde which is now!). Within seconds as I watched the simmer, the honey and maple scorched BLACK– quite a stench and sad waste. I’ll need to say goodbye to that relic and properly dispose it.

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rosie's Kitchen | 8 Responses

Toasted Walnut Hummus

Toasted Walnut HummusHummus is having a heyday as a healthy spread and dip, and there are endless variations on the traditional version with chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon and garlic. This recipe from California Walnut Board substitutes walnuts and walnut oil for tahini, and orange for lemon juice, but I couldn’t quite imagine the flavors until I made it.

I noticed the recipe in my bundle of ‘swag’ from the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento last week. Now I’m hooked on the taste– a little nutty-bitterness of walnuts and orange zest, with a hint of fruity-orange and garlic. I eat it with the sweetest carrots and green beans ever, from my weekly Riverdog Farm CSA box. Riverdog is a gem of the Capay Valley, one of the most beautiful farming regions in California. I highly recommend a drive through this quaint farmsy area 16 miles west Woodland, off the 505 freeway on the way to Sacramento from San Francisco.

Conference attendees were wowed with tours throughout Sacramento, Yolo, and Capay Valleys tasting olive oil, olives, cheeses, pears, peaches, and that is just a sampling of the agriculture-rich central valley’s northern region. I want to LIVE in Sacramento to be near the excellent restaurants, food entrepreneurs, and such astounding agriculture — well, maybe not live in Sacramento, the weather is much hotter than Walnut Creek — but hey, I’m the person to test a California Walnut Board recipe in Walnut Creek, right?

Walnuts starred at the conference as a California industry along with Californiaalmondspistachios, cling Figsfigs 2peaches, fresh and dried figs, andCalifornia Endive. It’s amazing how endive is grown  (recommend you look) in controlled atmosphere from the roots of chicory. I’ve received several Valentine ‘bouquets’ right on the chicory roots from California Endive.endive Nearly 100% of domestic endive (pronounced ON-deev, please) is grown in Rio Vista by California Endive.

The Sacramento Visitors Bureau generously participated in the conference with their Farm to Fork initiative, showcasing unmatched agriculture and culinary expertise, that as Californians we often take for granted. Check FarmToForkfor a list of events the entire month of September, including tours, a very famous Tower Bridge dinner, and a free festival with live music, chef demonstrations, beer and wine tastings – the Festival website tells it best, just get yourself there!

Now to the recipe for Toasted Walnut Hummus. Or get the recipe in this nifty on-line booklet Simple Ways to Use Walnuts.  Some of my recipes are on their website too like Green Monster Dip (another hummus-like dip) and Double Walnut Goat Cheese Pizza.

Toasted Walnut Hummus

Prep time: 5 minutes. Makes about 1-1/s cups

1/2 cup California Walnuts
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 garlic clove, quartered
1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice*
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Toast walnuts in 350F oven for 8 minutes or until golden brown. (You can use a toaster oven, but watch carefully so as not to burn). Cool nuts.
Combine toasted walnuts with oil and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Add chickpeas, orange zest, orange juice, salt and pepper; continue to blend to an even, smooth consistency. *May need a little more orange juice for smoother consistency.
Serve with any freshest veggies, pita bread or crackers.

Note: Most supermarkets and Trader Joe’s carry walnut oil. I usually buy La Tourangelle brand. Be sure to refrigerate to prevent rancidity. It keeps well, and can be used for salad dressings, pastas, in baking, and as a finishing oil. Very delicious!

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rosie's Kitchen | Leave a comment

Travel Snack Bars (Gluten-free)

Energy Bars

With summer holidays in high gear, it’s always good to have healthful travel snacks to bring along. These crispy cereal bars are packed with almonds, dried apricots and dates or figs, plus cacao nibs for a surprise chocolate hit (as in My Favorite Chocolate Shortbread cookie).

You might say why bake when you could buy energy bars, but it’s nice to customize to your taste, plus have a pan-full to share. I usually make a batch before a trip and am so glad to have these for munchies. I individually wrap the bars in plastic or wax paper, then pack in zip-top bags. If you’re not traveling with a cooler, skip the almond butter frosting which won’t like any heat.

These bars recently traveled with me to Ghana when I visited (Ariel) and she didn’t mind having a taste of home when I arrived! Where will you be traveling this summer? Print This Recipe

Travel Snack Bars

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour cooling
Makes 12 bars or 24 squares

3/4        cup raw whole almonds
3/4        cup puffed rice cereal*
1/2        cup quinoa flakes* or quick oats
1/2        cup chopped dried dates or dried figs
1/2        cup chopped dried apricots, golden raisins, or cherries
1/4        cup cacao nibs (optional)
1/4        cup honey
1            tablespoon sugar

Almond Butter ‘Frosting’ (optional)
1/4        cup salted or unsalted almond butter
2            teaspoons coconut oil, melted
Mini chocolate chips
Sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325F°. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil with overhang on two ends; coat generously with cooking spray.

  1. Spread almonds and cereals on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant.
  2. Mix dates, apricots and cacao nibs in a large bowl. Put honey and sugar in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. About a minute before the cereal is done toasting, heat honey and sugar in microwave for 30 seconds until bubbly, stir and heat again just until sugar melts, about 15 seconds. Watch carefully that honey doesn’t boil over.
  3. Pour hot toasted almonds and cereal over the dried fruit. Immediately drizzle the hot honey mixture over and mix with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until ingredients are evenly coated. Mixture will look dry. Turn into prepared pan and pat down very firmly and evenly.
  4. Bake 20 minutes until top is light golden brown. Remove from oven and press top with a silicon spatula or spoon to flatten and firm before cooling.  Flattening and cooling is important so the bars hold together when cut. Lift cooled bars out of pan with foil.
    To frost, stir together  almond butter and coconut oil. Spread over top before cutting. Top with mini chocolate chips and sliced almonds  if desired. Refrigerate until frosting is firm, 1-2 hours. Cut into bars with a sharp knife.

Note: Frosted bars must be stored in the refrigerator for frosting to stay firm. Unfrosted bars can be stored airtight at room temperature.

Kitchen Notes:

Puffed Rice Cereal can be Rice Krispies, or Rice Puffs such as Nature’s Path brand. Just be sure they are unsweetened.
Quinoa Flakes are a little lighter in texture than quick oats which also work fine. I get Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes at Whole Foods.
Cacao Nibs can be found at Whole Foods. I usually buy the Divine Organics brand.

Energy Bars

Posted in Appetizers & Snacks, Rosie's Kitchen | 6 Responses
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