Cherry Date Dainties

I love making old family recipes, especially around the holidays.  This cookie/candy treat comes from my wife’s side of the family and has quickly become one of my favorites this time of year.  Dainties have everything you want in a Christmas treat – sweet, chewy crunchy and festive-looking!  The combination of cherries, dates and nuts isn’t unique, but the crunch given by the addition of crispy rice cereal is.  And who can resist the snowy indulgence of coconut??

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CHERRY DATE DAINTIES

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Dates
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Crispy Rice Cereal
  • 3/4 Cup Maraschino Cherries, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • Dash Salt
  • 1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan, combine dates, sugar and eggs.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Cook/boil for 10 minutes until dates break down and mixture becomes almost smooth.  Continue to stir constantly or the mixture will stick and burn.
  • Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.
  • Add cereal, cherries and walnuts.  Stir until mixture is evenly coated.
  • Turn mixture out onto a plate or pan and allow to cool until you can handle.
  • Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and then roll into coconut to lightly coat.
  • Cookies will keep up to 2 weeks.

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This is an easy recipe, but a little tough to execute.  The mixture is VERY sticky and makes it hard to handle.  I like to take a small spoonful of the dough and place it on the coconut and then use the coconut as a barrier to press and roll the cookies.  It doesn’t have to be exactly round as the cherries and flaked coating make them look wintry and festive.  Give them a try and keep this one in your go-to cookie recipes for the holidays.  Dig in!

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Oven-Fried Chicken

Who doesn’t love the homey goodness of crispy fried chicken??  Besides the grease and mess, it’s healthier to try my oven-fried version as you look to add recipes to your winter lineup.  The combination of herbs and spices along with a little parmesan cheese give this recipe great flavor and texture while cutting down on the oil from a traditional fried chicken recipe.  Give this a try on your next chicken night and you’ll be fixing this family favorite regularly.

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OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Ingredients

  • 4 Lbs. Chicken Pieces or Boneless, Skinless Breasts
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (skim, 2% or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 Cup Self-Rising Cornmeal
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tsp. Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp. Ground Thyme
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Butter, Melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, cornmeal, parmesan and spices.  Mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
  • Pour milk into another shallow dish.
  • Dip chicken pieces into milk and then dredge in coating mixture.  Press gently to coat each chicken piece well.
  • Place chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet with enough space so pieces are not touching.
  • Continue process until all chicken is dipped and coated.
  • Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove baking sheet and drizzle chicken with melted butter.  Return to oven and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.
  • Serve immediately.

You may need to adjust cooking time depending on the size of your chicken pieces and whether they’re boneless or not.  You may want to adjust the seasoning depending on how spicy you want it – a little more black pepper and two teaspoons of paprika would go a long way!  Have some holiday parties coming up?  Try making this recipe with wings or chicken legs for a great finger food.  Let me know what variations you come up with – I’m sure they’ll be great.  Dig in!