Tu Bishvat treats

As we celebrate the fruits of Israel, we enjoy them in many varied ways.

Braised chicken with dates and Moroccan spices 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Braised chicken with dates and Moroccan spices 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Here are just a few options to spice up your Tu Bishvat celebrations.
Braised chicken with dates and Moroccan spices
3-1/2 pounds chicken pieces1 tablespoon all purpose flour1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil2 pounds shallots (about 11 large), peeled3 cinnamon sticks1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger1 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspoon turmeric1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper3 cups low-salt chicken broth5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided12 dates, pitted, halved1/4 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and flour. Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken pieces to pot and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to baking sheet or platter; repeat with remaining chicken. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and discard. Reduce heat to medium.
Add shallots to pot; sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add cinnamon sticks, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Increase heat to high; add broth and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until shallots begin to soften, about 18 minutes.
Place chicken pieces atop shallots in pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until juices run clear when thickest part of drumstick is pierced with knife, about 25 minutes.
Transfer chicken and shallots to platter; tent with foil. Boil juices in pot until slightly thickened. Stir in dates and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer gently until dates are heated through, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce and dates over chicken. Sprinkle with almonds and cilantro, and serve.
Dried fruit and nut cookies
2 tablespoons margarine, softened2 tablespoons canola oil1/3 cup light brown sugar1/4 cup applesauce1 egg white1 teaspoon vanilla2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour1/2 cup oatmeal1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 cup chopped pitted dates1/4 cup chopped dried apricots1/4 cup lightly toasted walnuts2 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine margarine, oil and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down bowl, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add applesauce, egg white and vanilla and mix to combine.
Add flour, oatmeal, salt and cinnamon and mix just until just combined. Add dates, apricots, walnuts and chocolate and mix to combine.
Spray 1 baking sheet with cooking spray. Using 1 tablespoon cookie dough at a time, roll into balls and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Press cookies down with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly, as cookies will not spread as much as cookies with more butter. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned but still soft. Remove from oven and cool on racks.
Fig streusel bars
2 pounds dried figs, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons lemon juice½ cup sugar¾ cup margarine, room temperature1 cup brown sugar1-3/4 cups flour½ teaspoon baking soda1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
In a medium saucepan, combine figs, lemon juice and sugar over medium heat. Cook until mixture is thick, stirring frequently, over medium heat – about 10 minutes. Cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream margarine and brown sugar until fluffy.  On low speed, add flour, baking soda and oats. Press half the dough over bottom of prepared pan. Spread fig mixture evenly over dough. 
Crumble remaining dough and sprinkle over top. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.