Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, egg yolk (reserving white), and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy and well incorporated. Mix in flour and salt until dough just holds together. Dip fingers in egg white and shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on an ungreased baking sheet. Press thumb down in the center of each, leaving an indentation for jelly or jam.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Using a small spoon, fill thumbprint craters with jam (apricot jam shown). If you prefer your cookies to be extra neat and tidy, heat jam in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to loosen it a little — it will cleanly fill the thumbprint. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 15 cookies.
Per serving: 275 calories, 15 grams fat (6.5 grams saturated fat), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 102 milligrams sodium, 35 grams total carbohydrates, 0.5 gram fiber, 3 grams protein.
Caramelized Onion Jam
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook, stirring often until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add herb sprigs. Cook another 3 minutes, stirring often.
Evenly sprinkle sugar over the onions and cook without stirring until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes (if sugar is disturbed by stirring or shaking, it will seize into clumps and require more time to melt). Increase heat to medium-high and cook untouched until it becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 6 minutes — watch closely and reduce heat if caramel begins to burn.
Stir in the vinegar and cook another 5 minutes or so. It’s fully thickened when a spoon across the bottom of the pan separates the jam for several seconds. Discard herb sprigs and season with salt to taste. Cool, then transfer to a sealed container. Store in fridge for a week or freezer for 3 months. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: Onion jam pairs well with pork, chicken, and lamb, or add to a charcuterie board, pizza, crostini, or grilled cheese.
Per serving: 130 calories, 4 grams fat (0.5 gram saturated fat), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 28 milligrams sodium, 23 grams total carbohydrates, 2.5 grams fiber, 1 gram protein.
Red Pepper Jelly-Glazed Chicken
Say you’ve been gifted some pepper jelly, or you see it on a store shelf and wonder, “What would I ever use this for?” Here’s your answer! There are many varieties of pepper jellies out there: Hot Pepper Jelly, Jalapeño Jelly, Hot Pepper Bacon Jam, and different combinations of peppers and fruit, like Pineapple Pepper Jelly. The red pepper jelly in this recipe is relatively mild, sweet, and flavorful, just like a red bell pepper. As a bonus, the glaze can be transformed into a delicious salad dressing by adding ¼ cup of olive oil and a dash of salt.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients listed except chicken. Lay chicken breasts flat in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon and spread glaze evenly over each breast, then flip and coat the other side. Spoon any remaining glaze into the bottom of the dish. Bake uncovered on the middle rack for 18 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with your choice of side dishes (asparagus and wild rice shown). Have some pepper jelly left over? Spread on a buttermilk biscuit or crackers.
Per serving: 288 calories, 9 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 101 milligrams cholesterol, 192 milligrams sodium, 19 grams total carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 33 grams protein.
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Combine butter and crumbs, then press into a buttered springform pan. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-low for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times. Beat in sour cream, then eggs one at a time, then vanilla, beating well after each addition. Pour half the batter over the graham cracker crust. In a small bowl, combine jam with lemon juice. Evenly space 5 small spoonfuls of jam mixture onto the batter. Using a skewer, ice pick, or thin knife, start in the middle of each dollop of jam and pull out toward the cheesecake batter, continuing to return to the middle and pull outward to create a curved star-like pattern. If there are still large patches of white cheesecake, add small dots of jam and create the same pattern by starting in the middle and pulling outward toward the cheesecake batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter over the jam, lightly smooth out the top, then follow the same instructions, placing spoonfuls of jam mixture and creating the same star-like pattern.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place a roasting pan with hot water on the bottom rack. Bake cheesecake for 60 minutes on middle rack before opening the oven door, then check doneness — it’s ready when the edges stay firm and slightly puffed and the center is a little wobbly when jostling the pan. Continue baking in 5- to 10-minute increments until done.
Set pan on a wire rack to cool completely (about an hour), then wrap the whole pan in plastic wrap and chill for 5+ hours. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before serving. Pull off pan sides and bottom and place cheesecake on serving platter. Cut slices with a thin, non-serrated knife, or try thick fishing line pulled taut. Wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the fridge when ready to eat.
Per serving: 502 calories, 32 grams fat (19 grams saturated fat), 132 milligrams cholesterol, 313 milligrams sodium, 47 grams total carbohydrates, 0.5 gram fiber, 8 grams protein.