Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cranberry

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Make Vegetables Taste Good

1. Use seasoning

  • Salt and pepper vegetables as they cook. Add herbs.

2. Use olive oil

  • Fat carries flavor and provides fat soluble vitamins which tend to be lacking in vegetables.

3. Don’t boil your vegetables

  • One of the easiest ways to make vegetables taste bad is to boil them. Boiling is also problematic because your vitamins end up down the drain.

4. Roast, saute or stir fry

  • Unlike boiling,  dry heat methods of cooking help add caramelized flavors to your vegetables and remove excess moisture.

5. Use good quality vegetables

  • Buy what is in season and, if possible, locally grown.

6. Use tasty condiments and garnishes

  • Add condiments to make vegetables more palatable, such as chili powder or hot sauce, honey or agave, soy sauce, lemon or orange juice, Parmesan cheese, toasted breadcrumbs, bacon, pesto, tahini sauce, yogurt sauce, spices, fruit, mustard sauce, toasted nuts or salsa.

Try some of the recipes below that are easily managed on a weeknight and offer lots of flavor.

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Carrot and Sweet Potato Bake

8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the carrots and sweet potatoes to the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.

Stir together cranberries, walnuts, orange juice, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.

Drizzle over the partially cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Gently stir until evenly coated.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices halfway through cooking.

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Roasted Cauliflower Florets

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 2-1/2 pounds), cut into florets about 1-1/2″ wide*
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Place cauliflower florets into a Ziploc gallon bag, add olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to coat well and pour out onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove foil and continue roasting another 10 minutes until florets are golden on one side. Carefully turn the florets over, sprinkle with cheese and roast an additional 10 minutes or until golden all over.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.

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Broccoli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring 1″ of water to a boil over high heat in a 4-quart saucepan. Place a small rack or steaming basket in the bottom of the pot.

Place broccoli on the rack in the saucepan; cover and steam over medium-high heat until bright green, about 3 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer broccoli to a serving bowl. Add pine nuts, vinegar, oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

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Braised Cabbage 

Serves 6 -8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups shredded savoy cabbage (about 1 normal-sized head)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat; add onion, cabbage, garlic and brown sugar to the pan.

Sauté until the cabbage is limp, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan.

Cook, stirring a few times, for approximately 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Sautéed Kale with Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1 large bunch kale (about 1 pound), stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar

Directions

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper; stir until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute.

Add kale by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more, tossing with tongs to coat with the oil.

Add broth, cover and simmer until the greens are tender. Add beans; simmer uncovered until the beans are heated through and liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Stir in sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


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Homemade Christmas gifts are a great way to add a very personal touch to your gift giving during the holiday season. There are countless ways to spread Christmas cheer and, for hundreds of years, one of the world’s enduring time-honored traditions is that of giving food gifts. The cookie recipes below make excellent gifts but they are also good to take to a Christmas party or a cookie exchange. Packaging them in decorative bags, jars or boxes or arranging them on Christmas plates, makes these gifts very festive.

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Lemon Pecan Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
  • Lemon Icing, recipe below

Directions

Beat the butter and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the lemon peel.

Divide dough in half. Shape each dough portion into an 8-inch-long log. Sprinkle half of the nuts on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll one log in the nuts to coat. Repeat with remaining nuts and log.

Wrap logs in plastic wrap. Chill about 2 hours or until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

If necessary, reshape logs to make them round. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until edges are firm and tops are set. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely.

Lightly cover cookies with Lemon Icing. Let stand until the icing sets.

Lemon Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar, lemon peel, and enough milk to make a spreading consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Dark Chocolate Cookie Kisses

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
  • 36-40 dark chocolate candy kisses and/or dark chocolate stars

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add the baking powder and salt; beat until very light and fluffy.

Beat in egg white. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the orange peel.

Cover the bowl and chill dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or just until the edges are set and the bottoms are very lightly browned.

Immediately press a chocolate kiss or star into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Sugar Cookie Stars

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Icing

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to just under 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1- to 2-1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutters, cut into stars. Reroll scraps as necessary. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are firm and centers are set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Drizzle cookies with Vanilla and Chocolate Icing.

Chocolate Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 – 6 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

Vanilla Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

Makes 16

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate (with cocoa butter), semisweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pistachios
  • 16 pretzel sticks
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried tart cherries

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Spread pistachios on a sheet of waxed paper.

Dip each pretzel into the  melted chocolate, covering about two-thirds of the pretzel. Let excess chocolate drip off.

Roll dipped pretzels in pistachios to coat. Press a few cherry pieces into the chocolate on each pretzel. Place pretzels on a clean sheet of waxed paper; let rest until the chocolate is set.

To store:

Layer pretzels between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • One 8 – ounce carton light dairy sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in drained cranberries and chocolate. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, combine egg white, sour cream and milk. Add egg white mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until combined.

Drop dough by well-rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown..

Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


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Need  some new ideas for using your Thanksgiving leftovers? Think breakfast.

I had apple cider leftover from basting the turkey on Thanksgiving, so one way to use up some leftover cider, is to make pancakes or muffins. I also had plenty of sweet potatoes, vegetables, Italian sausage stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce leftover, despite giving my guests take home containers. I don’t mind repeating Thanksgiving dinner one night, but not two. So the remaining leftovers need to become something else. Here are a few suggestions.

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Apple Cider Pancakes

Yield: 6 to 8 pancakes. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Self-Rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or peeled and chopped apple

Directions

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and pecans.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, cider and oil until foamy. Add to the flour mixture and mix until blended

Let the batter rest while the griddle or frying pan heats up. Brush the griddle lightly with vegetable oil.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the hot surface. Turn the pancakes over once bubbles have risen to the surface and cook the second side until golden brown.

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Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Muffins

Cooked butternut squash would also work well in this recipe.

Makes 12-15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin cups.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with 12-15 baking cups or spray the muffin pan well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the chopped hazelnuts with the granulated sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well incorporated, then fold in apple. Spoon batter into baking cups and sprinkle with hazelnuts and granulated sugar.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Cranberry Sauce Scones

I use orange zest in my cranberry sauce. If your recipe does not, then add a teaspoon of grated orange zest with the cranberry sauce.

12 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on the scones
  • ½ cup unsalted, cold butter, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, plus more for glazing
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup leftover homemade cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup half-and-half and the eggs, beating well. Add the cranberry sauce and almond extract. Stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just to combine. Use your hands to press the dough into a rough ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter top. Press and knead the dough just until it comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the scones won’t be tender.

Divide the dough in half. Round each half into a 6″ circle. The circles should be about 3/4″ thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Transfer the scones with a metal spatula to the baking pans.

Pour a small amount of  half-and-half into a dish or measuring cup. Use a pastry brush to gently brush some half-and-half on the top of each scone and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.

Bake for 12 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

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Thanksgiving Stuffing Hash and Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

Directions

In a medium skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the butter. Add the stuffing, flatten with a spatula and cook until light golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Gently turn the stuffing over and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

With a large spoon make four round holes in the stuffing mixture. Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl and gently pour into each hole in the stuffing.

Cover the pan and cook the eggs to your likeness or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Serve immediately.

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Turkey Breakfast Sandwich

1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 bagel thin, lightly toasted
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 thin slices leftover turkey
  • 1 slice white American Cheese or your favorite cheese

Directions

Beat eggs with a dash of water, add chives, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Heat oil in a small skillet and pour in egg mixture. Cook until set and turn the egg over with a wide spatula to finish cooking.

Fold the egg in half and in half again. Place the turkey slices on top to heat for a minute or two. Place the cheese slice on top and let it warm.

Transfer to the toasted bagel.

'Oh, she's not a witch or anything -- she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.'

‘Oh, she’s not a witch or anything — she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.’

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

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“Quick bread” refers to any bread that uses leaveners, like baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast, and requires no kneading or rising time. Quick breads are always popular; blueberry muffins and zucchini bread in summer, pumpkin muffins in the fall or coffee cakes and banana bread, any time of the year! More versatile than most other baked goods, quick breads give you greater freedom to add ingredients (like nuts and dried fruit) and make healthy substitutions. To lower the fat, for example, you can substitute some of the oil with an equal amount of almost any fruit puree (applesauce, plum, pumpkin, bananas).

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If you’re adding dried fruit, try soaking it first. This will moisten the fruit, make it tender and juicy and also preserve the bread’s moisture. To soak dried fruit, place it in a heatproof bowl and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Let it soak about 15 minutes, then drain and add to the finished batter. For added flavor, soak fruit in hot apple or orange juice–or soak it overnight in rum or brandy. Don’t sprinkle dried fruit on top of quick breads before baking, as it will burn before the loaf is done.

The secret to moist, tender quick bread is in the mixing: use a gentle touch. Combine in a bowl the dry ingredients–flour, leavening, salt, and spices; sift them together or mix them thoroughly with a wire whisk. In another bowl, beat together the fat, sugar and eggs in the order the recipe advises. Stir any other ingredients (fruit puree, flavorings or extracts) into the wet ingredients. Only when each bowl of ingredients is mixed thoroughly should they be combined. When you are ready, pour the dry ingredients into the wet ones and fold them together gently. Do this part by hand rather than with a mixer. Add nuts and fruits; stir just until incorporated. Over-mixing will cause “tunnels”–holes where the air bubbles escaped–and will make the bread tough.

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Unless you’re using high-quality non stick metal or silicone baking pans, you should always grease the pans before you pour in the batter. The best thing to use for greasing the pan is shortening, because its melting point is higher than any other kind of fat, which helps maintain a “shield” between the pan and the batter while the bread is baking. A high-quality cooking spray–one that won’t bake on to your pans and discolor them–is also a fast, easy fix. Let the bread cool for at least twenty minutes before inverting the pan and removing the bread.

The crack on top of the bread happens when the loaf “sets” in the heat of the oven before the bread is finished rising. Don’t worry–it’s normal for quick breads. Drizzle the loaf with icing or dust with confectioners’ sugar to cover the crack.

The bread looks done on the outside but it’s still raw in the middle. This is one of the most common quick bread problems and it can be caused by a few different factors:

  • The oven temperature could be too high. (Use an oven thermometer to check.)
  • Try lowering the oven temperature and/or putting a loose tent of foil over the top of the bread so it won’t burn before the middle has time to catch up.
  • Another cause of a “raw center” could be using a different pan size than the recipe calls for. One of the advantages of baking quick breads is that you can use the same batter to make muffins, mini loaves or large loaves. Each size, however, requires different baking times–and some require different baking temperatures. The larger and thicker the loaf, the longer it’s going to take to bake. If you’re using a different size pan than your recipe calls for, adjust the baking time accordingly and check the bread often.

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Pear and White Cheddar Bread

Makes 16 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal or toasted wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded pears
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or two 7 x 3 1/2×2-inch loaf pans; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pears, sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, honey and vanilla. Add pear mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cheese. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for the smaller pans) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan.

Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Variations: 

Cinnamon, Chocolate, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except stir 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the flour mixture and substitute 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces for the cheese.

Fig, Ginger, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except stir 1-1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel and 1 teaspoon ground ginger into the flour mixture and substitute 1/2 cup finely snipped dried figs for the cheese.

Blue Cheese, Pecan, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except substitute 1/4 cup finely crumbled blue cheese and 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans for the white cheddar cheese.

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Healthy Banana Bread

One 9 x 5-inch loaf (about 15 slices)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs or 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 very ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle.

Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with pan spray, and line the bottom with parchment. Spray the parchment.

Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick; five to eight minutes. Beat in the oil, the yogurt or buttermilk, bananas and vanilla.

At low-speed, beat in the flour in three separate additions. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the bread is firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

This bread will keep for several days, but put it in the refrigerator after three days and the bread freezes well if wrapped air-tight.

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Apricot Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Soak apricots for 20 minutes in hot water to cover. Drain and chop apricots into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.

Beat sugar, oil and egg together in a mixing bowl. Stir in water and orange juice. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined. Stir in walnuts and apricots.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.

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Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, plus extra for the top of the bread.
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only a 9-inch loaf pan.

In large bowl, mix brown sugar, milk, oil, vanilla and eggs with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except blueberries; mix thoroughly. Fold in blueberries. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with additional oats if desired.

Bake 45  minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan with a thin spatula; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

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Whole Wheat Fruit-Nut Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 6 ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 1-1/2-quart ovenproof casserole; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, yogurt, brown sugar and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.) Fold in nuts and dried fruit. Spoon batter into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle with wheat germ.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Cool in the casserole dish on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from the casserole. Cool completely on wire rack. If desired, wrap and store overnight before slicing (bread will be slightly moister the second day). Makes 12 servings


candy

Treat family and friends to homemade candy this holiday season with these recipes adapted from King Arthur Christmas Candy recipes.

Cranberry Nut Chocolate Bark

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup toasted diced pecans
  • 2 2/3 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 2/3 cups chopped white chocolate

Directions

Mix the cranberries and pecans together. Set them aside.

Melt the dark chocolate and spread it into an 8″ x 12″ oval on parchment paper placed on a baking sheet.

Allow the chocolate to set, but not harden completely.

Melt the white chocolate and mix it with 3/4 cup of the cranberries and pecans.

Spread this over the dark chocolate.

Sprinkle the rest of the nuts and fruit on top, pressing them in gently.

Allow the candy to cool until hardened; then break it into chunks.

Dark Chocolate Buttercrunch

candy2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter*
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) diced pecans or slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chocolate chips, (you’ll need about 2 2/3 cups)

*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture.

Directions

In a large, deep saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, water and corn syrup and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil gently, over medium heat, until the mixture reaches the hard-crack stage (300°F on an instant-read or candy thermometer).

The syrup will bubble without seeming to change much for a while, but be patient; all of a sudden it will darken and at that point you need to take the temperature and see if it’s ready. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test a dollop in ice water; it should immediately harden to a brittleness sufficient that you’ll be able to snap it in two, without any bending or softness). This whole process should take about 10 to 12 minutes.

Do not leave the mixture unattended – too long on the heat and the syrup will burn.

While the sugar mixture is gently bubbling, spread half of the nuts in a closely packed, even single layer, on a lightly greased baking sheet (a half sheet pan works well here). Top with half the chocolate.

When the syrup is ready, pour it quickly and evenly over the nuts and chocolate. Immediately top with the remaining chocolate, then the remaining nuts. Wait several minutes, then using the back of a spatula, gently press down on the chocolate-nut layer to spread the chocolate around evenly.

While the candy is still slightly warm, use a spatula to loosen it from the baking sheet and move to a piece of parchment paper on the counter top. When cool, break it into uneven chunks. Yield: about 24 big bite-sized pieces.

Salt Caramels

candy3

Ingredients

  • 8 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (1 pound) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (1 quart) half & half
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Coarse flake sea salt for topping, optional

Directions

Butter two 8″ x 8″ or 10 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ pans.

Measure the vanilla into a small container and set it aside for later.

Cut the butter into 1″ chunks, to help it melt faster.

Combine the cut-up butter, half & half, corn syrup, sugars and salt in a heavy-bottomed, 5- to 6-quart saucepan.
Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until everything has melted, stirring constantly. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248°F, or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a firm ball.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the vanilla; the mixture will bubble and boil.

Quickly pour the caramel into the prepared pans. Don’t scrape any of the residue from the bottom of the pot onto the pans.

Wait 30 minutes, then sprinkle with coarse-flake sea salt, if desired. Cover the candy securely, and refrigerate.

Allow the candy to warm up a bit or it’ll shatter when you bang the pan. Remove the candy from the pan by loosening its edges with a knife or offset spatula and banging the pan on a cutting board until the slab releases from the pan.

Cut the caramel into squares and wrap in waxed paper. Store in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life. Wrapped caramels can also be frozen. Yield: about 10 dozen 1″ caramels.

Panforte

candy4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups skinned hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups whole blanched almonds
  • 3 cups candied mixed peel (or a mixture of candied orange peel and candied lemon peel)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8″ round cake pan with parchment (or foil) and grease the parchment. Set the pan aside.

Toast the hazelnuts and almonds for 20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown on separate baking pans. It’s best to do this in separate pans as the nuts toast at slightly different rates and you may want to take one pan out of the oven before the other. Remove the nuts from the oven and set them aside to cool. When you can handle them, chop them coarsely.

Put the nuts, candied peel, spices, salt and flour in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

Combine the sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and place an instant-read or candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, until it reaches a temperature of about 245°F. This happens very quickly, so don’t walk away; it should take about 2 minutes (or less) from the time the syrup starts to boil.

Immediately pour the boiling syrup over the fruit and nuts in the bowl. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. You need to work fast, as the mixture will start to stiffen up. Place the cake pan on a baking sheet.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes; it won’t seem firm, but will set as it cools. Remove the pan from the oven and after 45 minutes loosen the edges with a table knife or heat-proof spatula. Turn the warm panforte out of the pan onto a piece of parchment or foil. The bottom is now the top.

Sprinkle the top of the panforte heavily with confectioners’ sugar, gently rubbing it in, if desired. Let it cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Store the panforte, at room temperature, for up to 2 months. To serve this rich cake, cut it in thin wedges.
Yield: about 20 servings.

To make chocolate panforte:

Add 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa to the nuts/peel/flour mixture. Melt 1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips; stir them into the nuts/peel/flour mixture along with the honey syrup. Bake as directed in the  recipe above.

Cappuccino Blocks

candy5

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped white chocolate

Coating:

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Wooden sticks or stir sticks

Directions

Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick baking spray.

Place 1/2 cup cream in a medium saucepan. Add the espresso powder, corn syrup, salt and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the espresso powder and sugar are dissolved and the mixture begins to boil.

Cover the pan and let boil for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan and check the temperature; it should be 235°F to 240°F (soft ball stage). If it is, remove from the heat; otherwise let it boil for a minute or two more.

Once the mixture reaches 235°F to 240°F, add the vanilla. Be careful; it will splash and splutter when it hits the hot liquid. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup cream into another saucepan. Heat until it’s just beginning to steam.
Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate. Let sit for about 5 minutes to melt. Then whisk vigorously until the mixture is shiny and smooth.

Add the sugar mixture to the chocolate mixture; stir to combine.

Combine the cocoa and ½ teaspoon espresso; sprinkle the chocolate with half the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, to set.

Turn the chocolate out of the pan and flip it over; sprinkle with the remaining cocoa/espresso powder blend.

Cut into 1 inch cubes. Stack two or three on a wooden stick and wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap to store.
Yield about 64 blocks, 21 servings.


100_0861

Sponsored Post: THE ART OF CHEESE WITH CASTELLO AGED HAVARTI

Castello Aged Havarti is a creamy, finely textured cheese made from traditional methods dating back over 130 years, when Hanne Nielsen first made Havarti cheese. Castello Aged Havarti is allowed to mature for at least 12 months to encourage a unique and rich flavor. Castello Aged Havarti is the perfect cheese for your cheese board. The taste and flavor standout. As a snack, it is delicious with nuts, fruit and wine.

We are in the midst of the holiday season and I love this time of year with all the fun things there are to do. You only need a few really good ingredients to create festive and delicious holiday food. Go for a mix of shapes and colors and your guests will love how beautiful everything looks.

While overindulgence is often the hallmark of holiday celebrations, your guests will appreciate party food that is nourishing and healthful as well as appealing. I like to arrange an appetizer tray with a mix of foods that can meet different dietary choices: vegetarian, gluten-free, low-calorie, etc.

Whether you want to host a few friends or have a big, open-to-all affair, the best way to make sure your guests enjoy themselves is to enjoy the party yourself—a relaxed, unruffled host makes guests feel welcome and at ease. With this in mind, do a little preparation ahead of time.

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At a recent get-together at my home, I arranged appetizer trays filled with Castello Aged Havarti Cheese cubes at room temperature, homemade crackers, Prosciutto di Parma wrapped pears, mixed green olives, Mission figs/roasted red peppers/Castello cheese kabobs and homemade cranberry sauce for topping Castello cheese squares. What remained after the party were just a few crackers – everything else – gone. I had many compliments on the food and my friends loved the Castello cheese and asked where they could buy it.

Here are my recipes for you to recreate for your next party. I guarantee they will be a big hit.

unnamed

Visit the Castello® website by clicking the photo above.

Sweet Potato Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup of sweet potato puree (from 1 cooked sweet potato)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions

Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree F oven for about 45-50 minutes; then let it cool, remove the skin and purée using a hand blender until smooth. You will need 1 cup of sweet potato purée for this recipe; use any leftover potato for another use. Set the purée aside.

Place the flour, baking powder, rosemary, paprika and salt in the bowl of a processor. Pulse a few times to mix.  Add the butter and pulse until is the size of small peas. Add the sweet potato puree and honey. Pulse until a dough forms.

Roll the dough into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces. For easier rolling, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for a 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.

Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares, using a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.

Lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly. If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to the baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. You will need to bake a second batch after the first finishes baking.

Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges are starting to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and slide the parchment onto the kitchen counter. Repeat baking with the second batch of crackers.

Store cooled crackers in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic.

100_0864

Sweet Potato Crackers, Castello Aged Havarti Kabobs and Prosciutto Wrapped Pears

Castello Aged Havarti Cheese/Mission Figs/Roasted Red Pepper Kabobs

Ingredients

  • 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Mission figs, cut in half
  • Roasted Red Peppers, jarred, drained and cut into one inch cubes
  • Toothpicks

Directions

Drain the peppers on paper towels. On each toothpick skewer one piece of cheese, one fig half and one piece of red pepper. Repeat until all the cheese cubes are used.

Arrange the kabobs on an attractive serving platter.

Prosciutto di Parma Wrapped Pears

Ingredients

  • 2 pears, each cut into 8 wedges and cored
  • 8 thin slices (4 oz.) prosciutto di parma, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Wrap each pear wedge with a half slice of prosciutto and set on a serving plate. Combine the oil, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the pears.

100_0865

Mixed Green Olives, Gluten-Free Almond Crackers and Castello Aged Havarti Cheese

Gluten-Free Almond Poppy Seed Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups Almond Meal Flour (Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur are brands I use)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • Cracked pepper
  • Dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.

Mix together the almond meal flour, olive oil and beaten egg whites. This will make a crumbly mix that shapes quickly into a ball.

Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each into a rough square.

Roll out one piece of dough at a time, keeping the piece you’re not working with covered to prevent drying.

Roll out on the parchment cut for the pan.

Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares with a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.

If you’ve rolled out the dough on parchment, simply lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly.

If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to a baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges begin to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.

Remove them from the oven, cool right on the pan and then move to an airtight container to keep crisp and fresh.

100_0870

Port Wine Cranberry Sauced Havarti

This appetizer is great with the Almond Crackers.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups port wine
  • 2 packages fresh cranberries
  • 4 long strips orange zest
  • 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, room temperature

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and port wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the wine has reduced slightly, about 4 minutes.

Add the cranberries and the orange zest. Simmer until the cranberries soften and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the zest.

Set aside to cool for a few several minutes. Place the cheese in an attractive serving dish and spoon the warm sauce over the cheese.

Find more pairing ideas and uses for Castello Aged Havarti by following the #CastelloArt hashtag and @CastelloUSA on twitter!


winterproduce
Just because the farmers’ markets are closed for winter doesn’t mean you have to do without fresh veggies at the dinner table. Unfortunately, in the winter months, we often retreat from fresh produce, thinking it’s not as available or as tasty. From hearty root vegetables to bright, sweet citrus, winter produce delivers a surprising range of flavorful fruits and vegetables for you to cook. You may be surprised by how many locally grown root vegetables and cabbages are available from cold storage and how many greens are coming out of local cold frames and greenhouses at this time of year. Here are some recipes from appetizers through dessert that use winter fruits and vegetables.

winterproduce5

Winter Vegetable Soup

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, leeks and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the barley. Add the vegetable broth, water, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

Add the celery root and parsnips and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderately low heat until the barley and root vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve in deep bowls.

winterproduce3

Seafood with Grapefruit-Onion Salad

8 First Course Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 small ruby red grapefruits (about 2 pounds total)
  • 3 tablespoons pickled cocktail onions
  • 2 tablespoons packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 24 sea scallops or medium shrimp (about 2 pounds) or a combination of both
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Directions

Using a very sharp paring knife to peel the grapefruits, carefully removing all of the bitter white pith. Over a mixing bowl, carefully cut in between the membranes of the  grapefruit sections and let them drop into the bowl. Stir in the pickled cocktail onions and parsley leaves and season with pepper.

Pat the sea scallops or shrimp dry and season them all over with salt. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil until it is shimmering. Cook the scallops over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Spoon the pickled onion and grapefruit salad onto small serving plates and arrange the scallops around the salad. Drizzle with additional olive oil and serve at once.

winterproduce2

Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  • 10 ounces day-old rustic bread—crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 6 cups)
  • 7 ounces vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock or chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the cut sides of the squash with olive oil and season the cavities with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on two baking sheets covered with parchment paper and roast for about 25 minutes, until just tender.

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the celery, leeks and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the apples and thyme and cook over moderately high heat until the apples just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Add the bread, chestnuts, parsley, cream and stock and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the squash cut side up. Spoon the stuffing into the cavities and bake until the squash are tender and the stuffing is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve.

winterproduce1

Braised Beef over Butternut Squash Polenta

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck shoulder pot roast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium parsnips (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons browning and seasoning sauce, such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup butternut squash, fresh cooked or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Fresh parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Trim fat from beef. Cut meat into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In an ovenproof 4-quart Dutch oven heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook meat, half at a time, until browned, stirring frequently. Remove meat from the Dutch oven.

In the same Dutch oven cook celery, carrots, parsnips and onion in the remaining oil for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown. Stir in wine and rosemary.

Add the 1 1/2 cups water, beef broth and Kitchen Bouquet; cook and stir over medium heat until boiling, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Place pan, covered, in the oven and bake about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

For the polenta:

In a medium saucepan combine milk and 1/4 cup water; bring to boiling. In a medium bowl stir together the 1 cup cold water and polenta or cornmeal. Slowly add the polenta mixture to the boiling milk mixture. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in squash, salt and pepper.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick, stirring frequently, and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a slow boil.

To finish the stew:

Stir together the 1/4 cup cold water and flour. Add to the meat mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more.

Spoon soft polenta into shallow serving bowls. Top with braised meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley leaves.

winterproduce6

Upside-Down Cranberry-Ginger Cake

Ingredients

Topping:

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F.

For the topping:

Heat a 9-inch round cake pan over medium heat and coat the pan with cooking spray. Add brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons butter to pan, stirring until melted. Stir in ginger; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; arrange cranberries on top of the brown sugar mixture.

For the cake:

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine 1/4 cup butter and granulated sugar in an electric mixer bowl; beat at high speed until fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture; mix well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with a mixer at medium speed until stiff peaks form in another bowl. Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter over cranberries in the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes; run a knife around outside edge. Place a plate upside down on top of the cake pan; invert cake onto plate.



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