When the holidays roll around, little things can evoke the memories of family and friends no longer with us.
The aroma and sight of special dishes can conjure up loving thoughts of grandma's pecan pie or Aunt Judy's eggnog or even dad's oyster dressing.
Holly Clegg, who was a part of our newspaper family for many years, died two years ago from stomach cancer.
But oh how Holly loved the holidays.
Lee Jackson, a registered dietitian for Holly's blog, TheHealthyCookingBlog.com, and manager of her best-selling "trim & TERRIFIC" cookbook series, was kind enough to share some of Holly's recipes.
The Candied Pecan Brie is a great appetizer, while the Spinach and Artichoke Casserole is a tasty side dish that can double as a dip. The Yam Chocolate Spice Bars will please your sweet tooth, and the Cranberry Nut Oatmeal Bread can be served for breakfast or a snack and also makes a delightful hostess gift.
In her too-short life, Holly sold more than 1.5 million cookbooks.
"It was Holly’s wish that her brand continue to be a resource for the busy home cook, with her quick, healthy and delicious recipes," Jackson told us.
Not long before her death, Holly established the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund with her family. For more information, recipes or to donate to cancer research, visit TheHealthyCookingBlog.com.
Candied Pecan Brie
Makes 8 (1-ounce) servings. Recipe is from Holly Clegg's "KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence" cookbook.
1 (8-ounce) round brie cheese
¼ cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Remove top rind of brie. Place brie in shallow baking dish.
3. In small skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook pecans, stirring about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla, stirring until brown sugar is melted and combined. Watch carefully, as cooks quickly. Top brie with pecan mixture.
4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until brie is soft. Let sit 5 minutes before serving (may heat in microwave).
Nutritional information per serving: calories 139, calories from fat 66%, fat 10g, saturated fat 5g, cholesterol 28mg, sodium 180mg, carbohydrates 6g, dietary fiber 0g, total sugars 5g, protein 6g. Dietary exchanges: ½ other carbohydrate, 1 lean meat, 1½ fat
Spinach and Artichoke Casserole
Makes 4 servings (1 cup each). Recipe is from Holly Clegg's "KITCHEN 101: Secrets to Cooking Confidence" cookbook.
Terrific Tip: Try sauteing mushrooms in white wine or sherry to kick up the flavor. May also be served as Spinach Artichoke Dip with chips.
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach
½ pound sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
¾ cup nonfat sour cream
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Cook spinach according to package directions; drain well.
3. In small nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté mushrooms until tender.
4. In large bowl, combine spinach, mushrooms, mayonnaise, sour cream, artichokes, Parmesan cheese and season to taste. If desired, sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Nutritional information per serving: calories 172, calories from fat 24%, fat 5g, saturated fat 2g, cholesterol 16mg, sodium 471mg, carbohydrates 21g, dietary fiber 5g, total sugars 6g, protein 14g. Dietary exchanges: ½ starch, 2 vegetable, 1 lean meat
Yam Chocolate Spice Bars
Makes 48 squares. Recipe is from Holly Clegg's "Eating Well to Fight Arthritis" cookbook.
1 (18.25-ounce) box spice cake mix
½ cup butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners’ sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, butter and egg until well mixed. Spread batter into prepared pan.
3. In mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, sweet potatoes, confectioners’ sugar, egg whites and vanilla until creamy. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour mixture over batter in pan.
4. Bake 40-50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool to room temperature and cut into squares.
Nutritional information per serving: calories 134, calories from fat 31%, fat 5g, saturated fat 3g, cholesterol 12mg, sodium 116mg, carbohydrates 22g, dietary fiber 0g, total sugars 16g, protein 2g. Dietary exchanges: 1½ other carbohydrate, 1 fat
Cranberry Nut Oatmeal Bread
Makes 16 slices. Recipe is from Holly Clegg's "KITCHEN 101: Secret’s to Cooking Confidence" cookbook.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
½ cup honey
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup canola oil
½ cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, chopped
⅔ cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven 350 F. Coat 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and oatmeal.
3. In large bowl, mix together honey, brown sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until moistened. Stir in cranberries and pecans.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Nutritional information per serving: calories 244, calories from fat 33%, fat 9g, saturated fat 1g, cholesterol 23mg, sodium 119mg, carbohydrates 37g, dietary fiber 2g, total sugars 17g, protein 5g. Dietary exchanges: 1½ starch, 1 other carbohydrate, 1½ fat