Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I'll see you again after January 1st :-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies

Using my recipe for Lemon-Macadamia Nut Cookies as a start, I worked up a way to make our Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies a bit softer and chewier.  I love what the cream cheese does to the base of these cookies.  Both recipes are good, but personally I like this one a bit more than our old standby.

I used dark chocolate chips for this batch, but you could use white or milk if you'd prefer.  White chocolate with cranberries is a really good mix.

Cranberry-Chocolate Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)

2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt 
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter, soft
4 oz cream cheese, soft
1 egg
1 1/2 t almond extract
1 c chocolate chips, white, dark, or milk

1/2 c dried cranberries

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 300.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour through the salt.  In a large bowl, mix together the sugars, and then beat in the butter and cream cheese until thoroughly combined.  Add the egg and extract, and beat until all ingredients are smoothly combined.  Add the flour mixture, chips, and cranberries.  Blend together with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Using a 1-1/2 inch scoop, dip out portions that are not completely rounded.  Drop onto cookie sheets, about 12 per sheet.  Flatten the balls and bake for about 20 minutes, turning the sheets half way through.  Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Butternut-cider squash soup

I love adding butternut squash to many different stews and soups that I routinely make during the late fall and winter, and several of our favorite recipes feature it very prominently, so why would we need yet another?  Because this one is like no other!  The recipe for Cider-Infused Butternut Squash Soup comes from Hannaford's Fresh magazine, and the only change I made was to use some of my own vegetable stock rather than water plus boullion.

Our other two favorite squash /soup stew recipes are these:
Simple Butternut Squash Soup
Beef and Squash Stew

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pumpkin blondies

These autumn-inspired blondies were a bit too gooey for me, even though I baked them longer than the recipe called for.  Everyone else loved them, though, so what do I know?  I guess I'm just one of those people who prefers blondies and brownies that are a little cakier  :-)  See Pumpkin Brownies with Pecans at Baking Bites.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cauliflower soup

Back when I very first started cooking for myself, I was a vegetarian and was totally in love with creamy vegetable soups.  Most of the time all I did was steam the vegetables soft and then process them with some water or veggie broth and add milk.  It was bland, but I didn't know any different.

Then I learned about browning things in just a bit of fat.  What a revelation!  Even though most of my other vegetable soups got markedly better, I could never quite get the hang of making a really good Cauliflower Soup.  I didn't like browning the veggies...the soup would end up nut brown and too sulfurous.  So I finally just set my dream aside.

Until the September issue of Cook's Illustrated.  It seems that the trick with cauliflower is to cook it in two batches, one for 30 minutes and the other for 15.  The 15 minute batch has the cabbagey sulfurous taste, and the 30 minute batch is mellow, nutty, and sweet.  Too much longer and all taste is lost.  Who knew?  And don't bother to brown it either...just add it to (also unbrowned) leeks and onions along with the water.  Give it a whirl with an immersion blender at the end and skip the milk.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roasted green beans with pine nuts

For Thanksgiving this year, I fixed a variation of our favorite Roasted Green Beans with Herbs, using a thinly sliced onion and smoked paprika instead of the garlic and herbs.  I toasted some pine nuts and set them aside to add to the beans during the last 10 minutes or so of roasting.  Very tasty!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rose hips

Ok, the thing about rose hips is that you can buy a huge bag of them, already prepared and cleaned, for around $10 to $12.  So why go to all the trouble to harvest your own?  Because it's fun!  Plus, I didn't really know if I even wanted a huge bag of them since I'd couldn't remember what they tasted like.

Well, harvesting them is kind of fun.  Turns out that I'm not so crazy about them that I'd plant more roses just for the crop, but I just might buy that huge bag...

Clean the rose hips and slice off the tufts

Let them dry naturally, or help them along in a warm oven

Break them open with a mortar and pestle and let the seeds and silver hairs filter out

Friday, December 6, 2013

Eat bacon

Says the woman who actually eats mostly plants!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cornbread dressing with dried fruit

We do not stuff our turkey, so instead of calling it stuffing, I usually end up calling it dressing.  But then it's harder to find in an index, because it gets lumped in with salad dressings.  Oh well.  Here it is anyway.  You can start with homemade cornbread, but this is an extra step that I usually just don't have time for.  I love to make (and eat) cornbread, and it just seems like a crime to crumble it all up!

Cornbread Dressing with Dried Fruit

Onion, chopped
Stalk of celery, chopped
Olive oil
A package of cornbread stuffing
Dried apricots, apples, and cranberries, chopped
Fresh sage leaves, chopped
Turkey stock, enough to moisten

Saute the onions and celery in oil.  Mix all ingredients together and moisten with hot stock just before serving.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cranberry and pomegranate sauce

I came across a recipe for Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce in the November issue of Hannaford's Fresh magazine, and decided to swap out our usual this year.  Well, one of the usuals, since we alternate between a very good traditional Cranberry sauce, a slightly sweeter Cranberry apple sauce, and a piquant Cranberry chutney.  Well, now we've got another to throw into the mix!  I did vary the recipe somewhat, and if you'd like to check out the original, it can be found at the top link.

Cranberry and  Pomegranate Sauce

12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 c 100% pure pomegranate juice
1/3 c orange juice
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 c pomegranate seeds

In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries through the zest and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer low until most of the cranberries have popped, stirring from time to time.  Remove from heat and mash some of the berries if desired.  Let cool completely, and then stir in the pomegranate seeds.