Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cranberry Orange Bread

I'm still on a cranberry roll. These little tart yummy fruits are just too good. They will be gone before we know it so lets enjoy! I saw this recipe on Zupas, made a few minor adjustments and had four mini loaves in no time. I chopped the walnuts and cranberries with my Pampered Chef Chopper, it made chopping quick and easy. I used my food processor to mix the cold butter and dry ingredients, I love that machine! Fresh orange juice, zest,  egg, walnuts and cranberries are quickly pulsed in. Quick bread in no time. Most quick breads require a frosting, glaze or at least a drizzle of something sweet. But I'm happy to say this bread was delicious as is. Slice and enjoy, very easy

Cranberry Orange Bread
makes 1 large loaf or 4 mini-loaves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
zest of 1 or 2  large oranges (about 1 Tablespoon, packed)
1 egg
1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (my Pampered Chef Food Chopper is a great tool for chopping both nuts and cranberries)
Preheat oven to 350°.  Put dry ingredients in food processor, pulse a few times Add cold butter pieces and pulse until the mixtures resembles coarse meal. Over a plate or parchment paper, zest the oranges using a microplane zester.  Set aside.  Cut the oranges in half and juice.  In another small bowl, combine the fresh orange juice, zest, and egg with a whisk.  Add the orange juice mixture to the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped cranberries and nuts.  Spoon the mixture into one greased loaf pan or into four greased mini-loaf pans (I use Pampered Chef stoneware mini pans).  If you make one large loaf, cook the bread for 1 hour.  If you are making the mini-loaves, check after 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack  for ten minutes then remove from pans.
I was planning on giving the loaves a drizzle of Orange Cream Cheese frosting, I drizzle or frost everything—but this bread stood on its own. A 5 star recipe for sure!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cranberry Christmas Salad

What do you get when you mix cranberries, pomegranates, apples, and heavy whipping cream?  The most delicious salad ever.  It is loaded with fruit so I am sure it is good for you. This seasonal treat is good for breakfast or dessert.  Make it while you can. Thank you Candise, this is my new favorite salad.

Cranberry Christmas Salad

1 package cranberries
1 pint whipping cream
1 bag miniature marshmallows
½ cup sugar
1 pomegranate
1 apple, grated

Chop the cranberries in a food processor, add sugar and let sit 2 hours.  In another bowl mix the marshmallows and the whipping cream (no, you don’t whip the cream). Let that sit 2 hours.  In the meantime, seed the pomegranate, wrap a few presents, and listen to the Celine Dion Christmas CD.  After two hours mix the cranberry/sugar mixture with the marshmallow/cream mixture.  Add the pomegranate seeds and grate in one apple.  Mix well and chill overnight.  Wake up first thing and have a bowl for breakfast.  Repeat at lunch, take to a Christmas party, and hope that there are leftovers for breakfast tomorrow!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Broccoli Salad

This yummy broccoli salad is always a crowd pleaser, I think it is the only way to eat broccoli! Broccoli buds, dried 'berries and cheeries', crisp bacon, flavorful red onion and fresh mushrooms combine with a creamy, slightly sweet dressing to make a beautiful and delicious holiday salad.
Don't let the cooked dressing scare you. It comes together quickly just allow time for the dressing to cool. Busy cooks will love this recipe, all components can be prepared a day or two before needed, just mix prepared ingredients before serving.

Broccoli Salad

5 cups broccoli buds and trimmed stems
1 cup dried ‘cherries and berries’, chopped
6-8 slices of crisp chopped bacon
½ cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup toasted pine nuts
Combine ingredients and stir gently. Add dressing 15 minutes before serving.

1 egg
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup mayonnaise
In a small bowl whisk together egg, sugar, dry mustard and cornstarch. Set aside. In a saucepan bring to boil vinegar, water and salt. Whisk egg mixture in slowly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat and add butter and mayo. Cover and chill.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pecan Pie Bars

Certain memories tend to stand out in ones mind, vividly. It seems like yesterday I was eating Thanksgiving Dinner with Greg's family. I was a bride of just a week when we were invited to Aunt Melbas to share in their Thanksgiving traditions.
I was young and came from a big family so I was no stranger to large gatherings. I felt welcome immediatly at Aunt Melbas. Aunt Melba was the kind of person  you want to be like when you grow up. She would ask questions and then wait for an answer, she really was concerned! She remembered our childrens names and did thoughtful things like send the news clipping that a baby girl  was born to G and C on Sept.19. A little yellow piece of paper, that said, 'I am thinking of you and I did something about it." Oh how I want to be like that!

Back to Thanksgiving in 1975, Pecan Pie was served!! My Mom made awesome pumpkin and coconut cream pie but I had never tasted pecan pie. It was love at first bite! Aunt Melba made the best Pecan Pie, I selfishly anticipated Thanksgiving each year just for her pie!
I wish this was a post all about how I have mastered the art of pie making--especially Pecan Pie. But I have not--Greg often asks me when I will be old enough to make pie. My answer is always, 'In ten years'. I think I may be running out of years. This will be the year that I master the art of making pies, especially pecan.
In the meantime I found a great recipe for Pecan Pie Bars. This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen so you know it is the best! I have made it 3 times in the last week. I always bring home an empty plate.

Pecan Pie Bars

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Place all ingredients except butter in bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, about five 1-second pulses. Add cold chunks of unsalted butter, pulse untill mixture resembles sand, about 8 times.
Pat crust ingredients in a 9 inch square pan that has been sprayed and lined with foil, spray again. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
While the crust is baking whisk together the melted butter, sugar, corn syrup, flavorings and salt in a medium bowl until just combined. Add the egg and mix until incorporated.
Pour the filling on top of the hot crust and sprinkle pecans evenly over the top. Continue to bake at 350 for 23 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Remove the bars from the pan and cut. Be prepared to share the recipe!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not your Grandma's Gingersnap!

I was asked to bring dessert for a church function, I couldn't decide on which yummy treat to make so I made 4 different cookies. Recipes were requested so for the next few days I will share the goods.
When I was young--like half a century ago we would  visit Grandma on Sunday evenings. Grandma was always happy to see us, she was kind and I'm sure I was her favorite grandchild!
Grandma always had a big bag of gingersnaps, like 3 pounds big, I'm sure they were purchased at Reams on her weekly shopping trip. My brothers liked the gingersnaps but I could not buy into them. One Sunday she offer me a gingersnap I bravely answered, "No thanks Grandma but I will have a square of real butter", (we were eating 'Gold-n-Soft' at home). She chuckled a moment and opened her fridge and handed me a square of 'real butter'. I went home a happy child! So my love with butter began.
Many ginger spice cookies have shortening in them, I made some last Christmas and they were good but I knew they contained the dreaded white stuff.  Dorie Greenspans recipe for Molasses Spice cookies contains butter and they are delicious! Winner. Dip them in white chocolate and you have a beautiful, tasty cookie that will be the hit of any cookie exchange.
White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Snaps

2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
pinch black pepper
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 large egg
About ½ cup sanding sugar for rolling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for another minute. Reduce to low and add flour mixture, mix just till combined being careful not to over mix dough. You will have a smooth very soft dough.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least an hour or up to 4 days.
If you want big bakery cookies divide each half in 16- 20 pieces, roll into ball then in sanding sugar. Place each ball on parchment lined sheet. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar to about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes until tops feel set to touch.
When cookies are completely cool dip half in melted white chocolate. Or just drizzle with white chocolate. Either way they are delicious and beautiful. I like to use Guittard Vanilla Flavored A’Peels. This product melts easily in the microwave and tastes delicious. I buy them in 5 lb bags at Gygi’s. The contrast of the spicy ginger and the cool white chocolate is so fun.
Printable Recipe
 This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook, ‘Baking, from my home to yours’, by Dorie Greenspan. And most any cookie is better with white chocolate!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Quick Tomato-Basil Soup

It is cold in my neighborhood, just the day for a hot dish of soup. I tasted this soup at a church function last year and had to track down the recipe. It was kindly shared with a disclaimer--it makes a big batch said Cori. Big batch was not the word for it, I did not have a pan big enough to cook it in, and I have big pans. So I went to work and cut the recipe down to a manageable size for two people. After a few revisions I think I have a yummy fresh tasting tomato soup. It is a pantry meal and you really can have it on the table in 30 minutes. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches and an apple slice. I think this is the perfect meal.
Quick Tomato-Basil
Sauté ¾ cup diced onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil till soft.
Add three (14 oz) cans of Italian Mix stewed tomatoes (put in food processor or blender till smooth),
16 oz. tomato puree
1 quart chicken stock
1½ teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Bring to a boil and simmer at least 10 minutes, add 1 cup cream and heat.
Check the freshness of your spices--how long have they really been in your pantry? I bought a new small jar of basil--it smelled so much fresher than what I had in the pantry! This soup made a yummy meal with a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. Or throw in some of the kids fishy cheese crackers!

Small batch
½ cup onion
2 (14 oz) cans Italian Mix Stewed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 small can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ to ¾ cup cream