A Christmas Favorite – Sugarplums

December 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM | Posted in dessert | Leave a comment
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A sugar plum is a piece of dragée candy that is made of dried fruits and shaped in a small round or oval shape.
“Plum” in the name of this confection does not mean plum in the sense of the fruit of the same name. At one time, “plum” was used to denote any dried fruit. “Sugar plums” may be made from any combination of dried plums (aka prunes), dried figs, dried apricots, dried dates, and dried cherries, but traditional sugar plums may contain none of these. In one recipe, the dried fruit is chopped fine and combined with chopped almonds, honey, and aromatic spices, such as anise seed, fennel seed, caraway seeds, and cardamom. This mixture would then be rolled into balls, often then coated in sugar or shredded coconut.

 

 

 

The word came in general usage in 1600s, when adding layers of sweet which give sugar plums and comfits their hard shell was done through a slow and labour intensive process called panning. Until the mechanization of the process, it often took several days, thus the sugar plum was largely a luxury product. In fact in the 18th century the word plum became a British slang for a big pile of money or a bribe. However, by 1860s manufactures were using steam heat and mechanized rotating pans and it was now available for mass consumption.
Today, some candy manufacturers have taken “sugar plum” literally, creating plum-flavored, plum-shaped candies and marketing them as “sugar plum candy”.

 

 

 

Sugar plums are widely associated with Christmas, through cultural phenomena such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker (Composed by Tchaikovsky, 1892), as well as the line “Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads,” from Clement C. Moore‘s poem A Visit from St. Nicholas (1823), better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
In the children’s board game Candy Land the character Plumpy, a gingerbread troll, wore a sugar plum around his neck. Receiving the Plumpy card meant the player had to undo most of their progress, which could lead to great frustration and often prolonged the game. The Plumpy character was replaced in 2002 by Mama Gingertree.
Sugar plums have also gained widespread recognition through the poem “The Sugar Plum Tree” by Eugene Field. The poem begins “Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree? ‘Tis a marvel of great renown!” Sugar Plum is also a 1971 jazz song by American jazz pianist Bill Evans, while Sugar Plum Fairies is a Norwegian folk and pop band formed in 2000.

 

 

 

 

 

Sugarplums

Sugarplums

Sugarplums

Tightly covered, these keep for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.
Ingredients:

1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 ounces dried figs
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
Grated zest from 1 orange (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Preparation:

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds to bring out their flavor. Remove from heat; cool. Combine the figs, cocoa, cinnamon, and almonds in a food processor, pulsing until peppercorn-size balls form. Add the honey, orange zest, and almond extract. Pulse 3 or 4 times more until well mixed. Spread the sugar in a shallow dish. Form the sugarplums into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar.

 

Nutritional Information:
Amount per serving
Calcium: 15mg
Calories: 59
Calories from fat: 0%
Carbohydrate: 12g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Fat: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Iron: 0mg
Protein: 1mg
Saturated fat: 0g
Sodium: 1mg

 
Sugarplums
Photo: Evan Sklar

 

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sugarplums-10000000524084/

A Christmas Favorite – Spritzgebäck

December 18, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Posted in dessert | Leave a comment
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Traditional holiday cookie plate with green tree-shaped spritz

Traditional holiday cookie plate with green tree-shaped spritz

Spritzgebäck is a type of German Christmas biscuit made of flour, butter, sugar and eggs. When made correctly, the cookies are crisp, fragile, somewhat dry, and buttery. The German verb spritzen means to squirt in English. As the name implies, these cookies are made by extruding, or “squirting” the dough with a press fitted with patterned holes (a cookie press) or with a cake decorator to which a variety of nozzles may be fitted. In the United States, the name is often shortened to spritz.
Spritzgebäck is a common pastry in Germany and served often during Christmas season, when parents commonly spend afternoons baking with their children for one or two weeks. Traditionally, parents bake Spritzgebäck using their own special recipes, which they pass down to their children.

 

 

 

 

How to Make Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are created using a cookie press. Sure, nothing beats the classical chocolate chip cookies, but if you just want a break from chocolate chip, then these cookies will be great. The variety of designs adds to their appeal and makes them ideal as both holiday season treats on the table and as holiday gifts.

This recipe will prove to you that spritz cookies are quick, easy, and fun to make, and they’re ideal to make with your family or friends.

Makes 7 to 8 dozen cookies
Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

 

Directions:
1 – Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Assemble all the ingredients and items needed to prepare the recipe.
2 – In a small bowl, combine the baking powder and flour.
3 – In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
4 – To the beaten butter mixture, add egg, milk, almond and vanilla extracts. Mix well.
5 – Slowly add the flour and baking powder mixture to the beaten mixture. Beat until well combined.
6 – Fill the cookie press with dough. Select the disk patterns you wish to use and put into place.
7 – Press the cookies onto the ungreased cookie sheet.
8 – Place in the oven when you have a tray full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or when golden brown.
9 – Cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet sitting on the cooling rack. Then remove the cookies from the sheet and leave to cool completely.
10 – Enjoy! Eat these plain or decorate them. Here are some decorating tips:
*Sprinkles: Use chocolate, rainbow or sugar sprinkles. Add sprinkles before baking the cookies. If you haven’t done so already, ice and then add them.
*Sandwich: Take two cookies and spread some chocolate or jelly between them.
*Icing: Take some cookie icing and spread it all over the cookie.
*Toppings: Add on other desired toppings such as nuts, colored sugar or chocolate chips.
11 – If giving them as a gift, place them in a pretty box. Line the box with wax or parchment paper first and add in carefully. You might like to compartmentalize if adding different spritz shapes. Finish with a pretty bow and perhaps attach the ingredients list so that the recipient can be reassured of the contents.

 

 
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Spritz-Cookies

Almond Cheesecake Bars

March 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Posted in baking, dessert, diabetes, diabetes friendly, low calorie, low carb | Leave a comment
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Came across this on several sites and they looked and sounded too good and they are Diabetes Friendly! Only 120 calories and 8 carbs. I left the link to one of the web sites where it’s listed.

Almond Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1 1/4 cups graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs
1/3 cup light butter, melted
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds, finely ground

Filling:
12 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
2 large eggs
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Mix crust ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Press into prepared pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until firm.
Mix cream cheese and SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl, and mixing well after each addition. Add sour cream and extracts; mix well. Pour over prepared crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 47 minutes, or until firm.

Top with toasted almonds.

Makes 20 bars.
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 14 Minutes

Nutrition Info Per Serving (1 bar): Calories 120 | Calories from Fat 70 | Fat 8g (sat 3.5g) | Cholesterol 35mg | Sodium 105mg | Carbohydrates 8g | Fiber 0g | Sugars 4g | Protein 4g

http://www.cooksrecipes.com/diabetic/almond_cheesecake_bars_recipe.html

Nut of the Week – Almonds

January 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Posted in baking, diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, fruits, nuts | Leave a comment
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The almond (Prunus dulcis, syn. Prunus amygdalus Batsch., Amygdalus communis L., Amygdalusdulcis Mill.), is a species of tree

Almond tree with ripening fruit.

native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, distinguished from the other subgenera by the corrugated shell (endocarp) surrounding the seed.

The fruit of the almond is not a true nut, but a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed (“nut”) inside. Shelling almonds refers to removing the shell to reveal the seed. Almonds are commonly sold shelled (i.e., after the shells are removed), or unshelled (i.e., with the shells still attached). Blanched almonds are shelled almonds that have been treated with hot water to soften the seedcoat, which is then removed to reveal the white embryo.

The almond is a small deciduous tree, growing 13–33 ft in height, with a trunk of up to 12 in in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 3–5 inches long, with a serrated margin and 1 in)petiole. The flowers are white or pale pink, 1–2 in diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs before the leaves in early spring.

Almonds begin bearing an economic crop in the third year after planting. Trees reach full bearing after five to six years after planting. The fruit is mature in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.

In botanical terms, the almond fruit is not a nut, but a drupe 1–2 in long. The outer covering or exocarp, fleshy in other members of Prunus such as the plum and cherry, is instead a thick leathery grey-green coat (with a downy exterior), called the hull. Inside the hull is a reticulated hard woody shell (like the outside of a peach pit) called the endocarp. Inside the shell is the edible seed, commonly called a nut. Generally, one seed is present, but occasionally there are two.

The almond is a native to the Mediterranean climate region of the Middle East, eastward as far as the Indus. It was spread by humans in ancient times along the shores of the Mediterranean into northern Africa and southern Europe and more recently transported to other parts of the world, notably California, United States.

The wild form of domesticated almond grows in parts of the Levant; almonds must first have been taken into cultivation in this region. The fruit of the wild forms contains the glycoside amygdalin, “which becomes transformed into deadly prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) after crushing, chewing, or any other injury to the seed.”

However, domesticated almonds are not toxic; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps, and later intentionally in their orchards”. Zohary and Hopf believe that almonds were one of the earliest domesticated fruit trees due to “the ability of the grower to raise attractive almonds from seed. Thus, in spite of the fact that this plant does not lend itself to propagation from suckers or from cuttings, it could have been domesticated even before the introduction of grafting”. Domesticated almonds appear in the Early Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC) of the Near East, or possibly a little earlier. A well-known archaeological example of the almond is the fruit found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC), probably imported from the Levant. Of the European countries that the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh reported as cultivating almonds, Germany is the northernmost, though the domesticated form can be found as far north as Iceland.

While the almond is often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is also a component of various dishes. Almonds are available in many

Smoked and salted 'Marcona' almonds

forms, such as whole, sliced (flaked, slivered), and as almond butter, almond milk and almond oil. These variations can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Along with other nuts, sweet almonds can be sprinkled over desserts, particularly ice cream based dishes. Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, many pastries (including jesuites), cookies (including French macarons, macaroons), and cakes (including financiers), noghl and other sweets and desserts. They are also used to make almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers and for its less salty taste. The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can be eaten whole (“green almonds”) when they are still green and fleshy on the outside and the inner shell has not yet hardened. The fruit is somewhat sour, but is a popular snack in parts of the Middle East, eaten dipped in salt to balance the sour taste. Available only from mid April to mid June (northern hemisphere), pickling or brining extends the fruit’s shelf life.

In China, almonds are used in a popular dessert where they are mixed with milk and then served hot.

In Greece, ground blanched almonds are used as the base material in a great variety of desserts, usually called amygdalota. Because of their white colour, most are traditionally considered “wedding sweets” and are served at wedding banquets. In addition, a soft drink known as soumada is made from almonds in various regions.

In Iran, green almonds are dipped in sea salt and eaten as snacks on street markets; they are called Chaqalu bâdom.

In Italy, the bitter almonds from apricots are the base for amaretti (almond macaroons), a common dessert. Traditionally, a low percentage of bitter almonds (10-20%) is added to the ingredients, which gives the cookies their bitter taste (commercially, apricot kernels are used as a substitute for bitter almonds). Almonds are also a common choice as the nuts to include in torrone. In Puglia and Sicily, “pasta di mandorle” (almond paste) is used to make small soft cakes, often decorated with jam, pistacchio or chocolate.

In Morocco, almonds in the form of sweet almond paste are the main ingredient in pastry fillings, and several other desserts. Fried blanched whole almonds are also used to decorate sweet tajines such as lamb with prunes. A drink made from almonds mixed with milk is served in important ceremonies such as weddings and can also be ordered in some cafes. Southwestern Berber regions of Essaouira and Souss are also known for “Amlou” a spread made of almond paste, argan oil, and honey. Almond paste is also mixed with toasted flour and among others, honey, olive oil or butter, anise, fennel, sesame seeds, and cinnamon to make “Sellou” (also called “Zamita” in Meknes or “Slilou” in Marrakech), a sweet snack known for its long shelf life and high nutritive value.

In India, almonds are the base ingredients of pasanda-style curries. Badam halva is a sweet made from almonds with added coloring. Almond flakes are added to many sweets (such as sohan barfi), and are usually visible sticking to the outer surface.

In Pakistan, almonds are the base ingredients of many food items. Meat dishes containing almonds include pasanda-style or Mughalai curries. Badam halva is a sweet made from almonds with added coloring. Almond flakes are added to many sweets (such as sohan barfi), and are usually visible sticking to the outer surface. Almonds form the base of various drinks which are supposed to have cooling properties. Almond sherbet or ‘Sherbet-e-Badaam’ in Urdu, is a popular summer drink. Almonds are also sold as a snack with added salt.

Almonds can be processed into a milk substitute called almond milk; the nut’s soft texture, mild flavor, and light coloring (when skinned) make for an efficient analog to dairy, and a soy-free choice for lactose intolerant people and vegans. Raw, blanched, and lightly toasted almonds work well for different production techniques, some of which are similar to that of soymilk and some of which use no heat, resulting in “raw milk”.

The ‘Marcona’ almond cultivar is recognizably different from other almonds, and is marketed by name. The kernel is short, round, relatively sweet and delicate in texture. It has been grown in Spain for a long time and its origin is unknown; the tree is very productive, the shell of the nut very hard. ‘Marcona’ almonds are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil, and are used by Spanish chefs to prepare a dessert called turrón.

The sweet almond contains about 26% carbohydrates (12% dietary fiber, 6.3% sugars, 0.7% starch and the rest miscellaneous carbohydrates), and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and cookies (biscuits) for low-carbohydrate diets. A standard serving of almond flour, 1 cup, contains 20 grams of carbohydrates, of which 10 g is dietary fiber, for a net of 10 g of carbohydrate per cup. This makes almond flour very desirable for use in cake and bread recipes by people on carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, containing 26 mg per 100 g.  They are also rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals and monounsaturated fat (see nutrient table), one of the two “good” fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol. Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with cholesterol-lowering properties.

Potential health benefits, which have not been scientifically validated, include improved complexion and possibly a lower risk of cancer. Preliminary research associates consumption of almonds with elevating blood levels of high density lipoproteins and lowering low density lipoproteins. A preliminary trial showed that, in spite of the high fat content of almonds, using them in the daily diet might

Unshelled (left) and shelled (right) almonds

lower several factors associated with heart disease, including cholesterol and blood lipids.

Almonds contain polyphenols in their skins analogous to those of certain fruits and vegetables.

Almonds may cause allergy or intolerance. Cross-reactivity is common with peach allergens (lipid transfer proteins) and tree nut allergens. Symptoms range from local symptoms (e.g., oral allergy syndrome, contact urticaria) to systemic symptoms including anaphylaxis (e.g., urticaria, angioedema, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms).

Roasted Almonds

January 2, 2012 at 11:17 AM | Posted in baking, diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, low calorie, low carb, nuts | Leave a comment
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Roasted Almonds

Ingredients
2 cup Nuts, almonds, blanched, whole

Blanched almonds

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 Pour oil in a 9 x 13 inch pan; add almonds to pan and toss with oil.
3 Roast almonds 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned; shake pan one time after 6 ot 7 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.

Nutrition Facts
Makes 8 servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories     226.4
Total Carbs     7.2 g
Dietary Fiber     3.8 g
Sugars     1.8 g
Total Fat     20.1 g
Saturated Fat     1.7 g
Unsaturated Fat     18.4 g
Potassium     62.3 mg
Protein     8 g
Sodium     70.2 mg

Salmon w/ Creamy Parmesan Risotto, Asparagus Bits, and…

August 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM | Posted in dessert, diabetes, diabetes friendly, fish, Food, Healthy Life Whole Grain Breads, low calorie, low carb, risotto, salmon | 1 Comment
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Today’s Menu: Copper River Salmon w/ Creamy Parmesan Risotto, Asparagus Bits, and Whole Grain Bread

Salmon and Risotto, what a fantastic and delicious pairing! You could pair anything with the great tasting Copper River Salmon but the Risotto is a perfect match. I seasoned the Salmon with McCormick Grinder Sea Salt and McCormick Grinder Black Peppercorn and then sprinkled a light coating of Italian Style Bread Crumbs. Fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 6 1/2 minutes. As sides I had Lundberg  Creamy Parmesan Risotto, great tasting and takes about 25 minutes to make. Topped it with about half a handful of shredded Parmesan. I also had a small can of Del Monte Asparagus Bits and Healthy Life Whole Grain Bread. A light dessert later tonight of Yoplait Delight Chocolate Eclair Parfait.

Baked Pork Chop w/ Asparagus, Sliced Carrots, and…

August 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM | Posted in carrots, dessert, diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, Healthy Life Whole Grain Breads, low calorie, low carb, pork chops | 1 Comment
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Today’s Menu: Baked Pork Chop w/ Asparagus, Sliced Carrots, and Whole Grain Bread


I had another one of the Monster Chops for dinner tonight. Bone In Pork Loin Chop big enough for dinner with enough left over for lunch tomorrow!  I marinated it in J B’s Fat Boy’s Haugwash Barbcue Sauce and refrigerated it for 3 hours. I removed the chops from the fridge and shook off any excess of the sauce and then seasoned it with McCormick Grinder Sea Salt and Grinder Black Peppercorn. I then pan fried the Chop browning both sides then baked the Chop at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then flipping the Chops over and baking another 25 minutes  until temperature read 165 degrees.  As sides I had fresh Asparagus seasoned with Garlic Salt and Black Pepper and lightly fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter along with sliced Almonds. Also I had boiled Sliced Carrots and Healthy Life Whole Grain Bread. A light dessert later of Yoplait Delight Chocolate Eclair Parfait.

Baked Haddock Fillets w/ Asparagus and Boiled Sliced New Potatoes

July 30, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, fish, Food, Healthy Life Whole Grain Breads, low calorie, low carb, potatoes | 1 Comment
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Today’s Menu: Baked Haddock Fillets w/ Fresh Asparagus and Boiled Sliced New Potatoes

I baked the Haddock fillets and seasoned them with McCormick Grinder Sea Salt, McCormick Grinder, Black Peppercorn, a touch of Lemon, and sprinkled the top of the fillets with Italian Style Bread Crumbs. Baked at 400 degrees for 13 minutes. As sides had Boiled Sliced New Potatoes along with fresh Asparagus. I seasoned the Potatoes with McCormick Grinder Sea Salt, McCormick Grinder Black Peppercorn, and Parsley then boiled until tender. The Asparagus was sliced into three pieces and seasoned with Garlic Salt and Grinder Black Peppercorn. Fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter along with sliced Almonds. For a dessert/snack later tonight a bag of 100 Calorie Jolly Time Popcorn.

Baked Salmon with Corn Flakes and Almond Topping w/ Asparagus and…

July 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM | Posted in baking, diabetes, diabetes friendly, fish, Food, Healthy Life Whole Grain Breads, low calorie, low carb, rice, Sea Salt, turkey bacon, vegetables | Leave a comment
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Today’s Menu: baked Salmon with Corn Flakes and Almond Topping w/ Fresh Asparagus, Brown Rice, and Whole Grain Bread


Seen this recipe for Salmon on an upcoming show on the Cooking Channel and had to try it! I have the recipe and instructions listed at the bottom of the post. It has crushed Corn Flakes, Almonds, and Butter among other ingredients. I salted the Salmon with Sea Salt and spread the topping on the top of the Salmon and baked at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Came out moist and delicious. Had sides of fresh Asparagus that I lightly fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and seasoned with Sea Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Salt. Added sliced Almonds and crumbled Turkey Bacon to the Asaparagus also. Had Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice and Healthy Life Whole Grain Bread as sides also.

Salmon with Flakes and Almond Topping

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (R) cereal (1/3 cup coarsely crushed)
* 1/4 cup chopped almonds
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
* 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 4 salmon fillets, skinned (about 6 oz. each)
* Steamed spinach (optional)

Directions

Coarsely crush KELLOGG’S CORN FLAKES cereal. In a small bowl, combine almonds, butter, basil, Parmesan, lemon peel, garlic, and pepper; stir in cereal. Rinse fish; pat dry. Measure thickness of fish. Place fish on the greased rack of a broiler pan. Spoon cereal mixture on top of fillets; pat gently to spread.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness or until fish flakes easily with a fork. For food safety, the internal temperature of the fish should be a minimum of 145 degrees F. Serve each piece of fish over steamed spinach, if desired, recipe follows.

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