Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberry sauce so much I could almost just sit and eat it all by itself.  The only time I make it though is Thanksgiving.  Maybe that's what makes it so special.  I like to prepare the sauce two days ahead of the big feast because 1) one less thing to do on Thanksgiving morning and 2) I'm convinced something magical happens with the flavors overnight.

If you're one of those people who buys the cranberry sauce in a can, stop that right now!  Once you've made the sauce with fresh cranberries, you'll never want to go back.  This is how I've made our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce for the last several years.

12oz. fresh cranberries
1c white sugar
3/4c orange juice
1/4c orange-based liqueur (I like Grand Marnier)

Note:  If you prefer to skip the liqueur, increase orange juice to 1c.

1.  In a medium size saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar, orange juice, and liqueur    Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2.  Add the cranberries.  Cook and stir until the cranberries begin to pop open.  (Mine took about 10 min.)  

3.  Remove from heat and allow to cool down a bit.

4.  Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and refrigerate at least overnight. (I like to make it 2 days in advance.)  Sauce will thicken as it cools.




Monday, November 24, 2014

As Thanksgiving Week Begins...

It's here!  Thanksgiving Week - the official buildup to the Super Bowl of all foodie holidays is upon us!  Are you excited or panicked?  Honestly, I'm a little bit of both at the moment.  Just yesterday, after wrestling the toddler down for nap, I finally got about 30 minutes of down time during which I was able to sketch out a rough plan for the big feast.

Have you seen all the recent posts about people doing "practice" Thanksgiving dinners?  Is this really a thing now?  Please tell me it's not because if it is, well, it's still not happening at my house.  Seriously, who has time for that?!

And all the planning guides that tell you to begin two weeks in advance?  Also not happening here.  Nope; everything will officially begin today (or tomorrow) with the big grocery shopping trip and we'll go from there.

But here's what I really want to know... Are you trying any new dishes this Thanksgiving?  I'll be keeping some things the same, like the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, but everything else from the sweet potatoes to the green beans, even the appetizers will be all new this year.

What can I say?  I'm feeling adventurous.  I'll let you know how it goes.  :)



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Red Beans and Quinoa

Southern-style comfort food that just happens to also be high in protein, gluten-free and vegan!  Served alongside Beer Braised Collard Greens, here, and a slice of cornbread, you've got a hearty, delicious meal:

1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP yellow onion, chopped
1/3c green pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2c vegetable broth
1c quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over Medium heat.

2.  Add the onion, green pepper, and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables have softened a bit.  Add the garlic and continue cooking another 1-2 minutes.

3.  Add the thyme, kidney beans, and vegetable broth.  Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to Low, cover, and allow to simmer 10 minutes.

4.  Stir in the quinoa and season to taste.





Monday, November 10, 2014

Apple and Blue Cheese Crostini


I've been kicking around the idea of serving these for Thanksgiving and decided to do a test run last night.  What I love is the simplicity of the flavors and also the way you could put everything together in advance or just spread out the ingredients and let everyone build their own. Saves you a step and, really, people like build-your-own food - it's fun!

I've always loved apple and Blue cheese together but what was new to me was the addition of honey. This is what totally puts this appetizer over the top.  It's just that little kiss of sweetness against the the tanginess of the cheese.  So, what I'm saying is, if you skip the honey, it's still good but not as good as what the rest of us are eating.

If you want to get fancy, your can make your own bread (recipe here) or you can do like I did this time and grab a fresh baguette from the bakery.

1 - sweet red apple (I used a honey crisp), sliced thin
4 oz. medium-soft Blue cheese, room temperature
1 TBSP fresh rosemary
honey

1.  Preheat oven to 350°

2.  Slice baguette into 1" slices and arrange on a baking sheet.  Toast in the oven 1-2 minutes.

3.  Layer each baguette slice with a "schmear" of cheese, a sprinkle of rosemary, and a light drizzle of honey.

Serve with a crisp white wine - perfect!


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