The winter months offer a plethora of citrus fruits for us to choose from: oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, limes, lemons, and/or kumquats, and all their hybrid forms. Not only are they juicy and tasty, they are full of Vitamin C, fiber and are great detoxifiers, especially limes. They can be juiced, cooked, broiled, grilled, diced, sliced and / or jelled, but most often are eaten fresh.

Citrus fruits may be used in recipes the entire year from spring to winter. The citrus taste adds a nice flavor and zing to almost any dish. The fruits offer the best health benefits when eaten raw or in juice form. These hardy fruits may be used in jams, juices, chutneys, cakes, pies, ice creams and sherbets, along with meats, fish and vegetables, and also tossed together with other fruits. Fresh kumquats are great in salads and fruit cups. Cut up fresh kumquats into pieces or slices and add to salads and fruit cups for a nice change of taste.

When lemon juice is added to tea, especially green tea, it reduces the bitterness of the tea and helps the body absorb the healthy antioxidants. Lady Grey Tea, made especially for Queen Elizabeth II of England, is a black tea flavored with orange and lemon peels and some bergamot and is very tasty when served with a slice of lemon. It can also be served iced with an addition of a little vodka.

To add a nice flavor to your next batch of brownies, stir in 1-tablespoon finely grated orange peel and 1-cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped. The flavor is a really a nice treat in the chocolate.

Enjoy!

Lettuce, Red Grapefruit and Orange Salad

Recently on vacation in Acapulco, Mexico we dined at a lovely restaurant where they served a “Clint Eastwood Salad.” When I returned home I tried to find the recipe but to no avail, so here is my rendition of the light and tasty dish.

1 small head of green lettuce

1 red grapefruit, peeled and separated into sections

2 navel oranges, peeled and separated into sections

2 cooked beets, peeled and sliced into thin circles (canned is fine)

Ranch dressing

Kiwi, thin circular slices (Optional)

Peel and remove pith of grapefruit and oranges. Pull apart into sections. On individual salad plates, in the center, place small pieces or coarsely shredded rinsed and dried fresh lettuce leaves in a small pile. Top with thinly sliced circles of cooked beets. Around the outside of the salad circle alternately arrange orange and grapefruit pieces in a clockwise fashion. Decorate the outside of the plates with thin kiwi slices. Drizzle Ranch dressing over the top if desired. I enjoyed it without the dressing.

Shrimp, Grapefruit, Orange and Avocado Salad

1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 lemon

1 fresh red grapefruit, peeled and separated into individual sections

2 navel oranges, peeled and separated into individual sections

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into thin slices

Salad dressing, preferably Caesar or Ranch, or a yogurt dressing made with a little honey and lemon juice

In a large pot of boiling water flash cook the deveined and shelled shrimp until pink, do not over cook. Drain and quickly rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Place in a bowl and squeeze half a lemon over the shrimp and toss gently to cover all shrimp. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Peel and separate into individual sections the grapefruit and oranges, place in a pretty salad bowl, mixing the fruit evenly for a colorful presentation. You might want to cut the pieces of fruit crosswise in half for easier and juicier eating.

Arrange chilled shrimp over the top of the fruit in a circular layer. Around the outside edges of shrimp, in a clockwise circular design, place the avocado slices. Have salad dressing on the side.

Helpful hint: Yellow grapefruit will give a more tart taste if you like.

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

1 pound cooked boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces, chill

1 can chilled mandarin orange segments, drained

1 cup fresh Chinese snow pea pods, strings removed, cut in half crosswise

1 small head of Romaine lettuce, leaves cut into 2-inch pieces

Honey mustard salad dressing

Or whisk together

½ (one half) cup sour cream

½ (one half) cup mayonnaise

½ (one half) teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice

Place 2-inch pieces of Romaine lettuce in a pretty, clear glass salad bowl. Mix in mandarin orange slices and snow pea pods, toss together. Gently stir in cooked chicken pieces. Just before serving stir in salad dressing to make moist and well blended.

Helpful Hint: Consider adding a tablespoon or 2 of shredded coconut just before serving.

Helpful Hint: You may substitute chilled tangerine or Clementine slices for the mandarin oranges. Cut the slices in half crosswise first.

Linguine Alfredo with Lemon and Peas

8 ounces dried linguine

½ cup half -and -half or light cream, at room temperature

3 tablespoons butter, softened

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel, zest

Lemon wedges

Optional:

1 ½ cups 2-inch pieces of cooked chicken may be added if desired. Double the amount of sauce to accommodate the chicken addition.

Prepare linguine according to package instructions, about 8-10 minutes. About 3 minutes before end of cooking time, place frozen peas in a hand strainer and put into boiling water along with the linguine and continue to a boil. After 2-3 minutes remove strainer with peas in it and place aside. Drain linguine.

Return linguine to warm saucepan, add half and half, butter, grated lemon peel and Parmesan cheese. Toss gently until linguine is well coated. Gently fold in cooked peas and stir to coat. Transfer to warm serving dish, arrange lemon wedges around outside edge of bowl. Serve immediately. If desired a lemon wedge may be squeezed over individual servings of linguine.

Helpful Hint: 10 - 12 ounces of cooked cheese tortellini may be substituted for the linguine.

Fresh Tangerine-Cranberry Relish

This can be made several days in advance.

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries

3 tangerines, pulp and rind, membrane removed

2 cups granulated sugar

Place tangerine pulp, rind and cranberries through a food grinder using a medium blade. Add 2 cups granulated sugar. Refrigerate for 5-6 hours or overnight before serving. Makes about 2 pints.

Another way to prepare: I also cook the cranberries in the sugar with a little orange juice (2-4 tablespoons) for about 10 minutes, chill, then add the ground up tangerines and rind, and refrigerate.

Lime Sherbet

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

1 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ cups boiling water

½ cup lime juice

4-6 drops green food coloring

1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel

2 ½ cups milk

Thin circular lime slices, for garnish

Whipped cream, for garnish

In a large bowl combine and whisk together gelatin and sugar. Add boiling water and whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add lime juice, finely grated lime peel, and food coloring.

Cool thoroughly, about 2 hours, then add in milk and whisk thoroughly. Freeze for 2-3 hours until mixture hardens around the edges. With a fork break frozen sherbet into chunks and transfer to a chilled bowl. With an electric beater mix for 2-3 minutes until smooth, but not melted. Pour into an 8-inch glass baking dish, cover and freeze until firm. Serve frozen in sherbet glasses with whipped cream and thin lime slices.

Delicious and Quick Orange Cream Filling

Use as a filling for 2 rounds of layer cake or one tube pan cake.

1 small package of vanilla pudding and pie-filling

1 ½ cups orange juice instead of milk

½ cup heavy cream, whipped

1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind

½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Prepare pudding mix according to package directions substituting 1 ½ cups orange juice for milk. Lay piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over top of pudding and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Remove plastic wrap and fold in ½ cup whipped heavy cream. Add vanilla or almond extract and stir gently.

Fills 2 – 8-inch cake layers or one round tube cake.

Helpful Hint: Add Grand Marnier Liquor to orange juice, take 2 tablespoons off the 1 ½ cups milk first.

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened

3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, more if needed

About 1/8 cup lemon juice, add more by drops if needed

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

With an electric mixer on medium speed thoroughly beat butter and 1- cup confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Add rest of sugar along with lemon juice gradually, beating until very smooth and has a spreading consistency, fold in grated lemon rind.

Lemonade Poppy Seed Cake

1 package yellow cake mix or lemon cake mix

1 ½ cups prepared lemonade

3 eggs

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind or zest

2-3 tablespoons poppy seeds

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use vegetable cooking spray to coat a round tube pan or 12-cup Bundt pan, set aside.

In a large bowl combine vanilla cake mix, eggs, lemonade, and grated lemon rind. Beat on low speed until well mixed about 1- minute, add poppy seeds, then mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes then invert onto a wire rack, cool. Serve with powdered sugar or vanilla ice cream.

Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.