November 29, 2012

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

It's finally here.....the Christmas season is finally upon us!  Shopping, cooking, travel planning, and holiday cookie baking time!  Aren't you all excited???  I personally gave up doing the whole holiday cookie platter give-aways a while ago, however that doesn't mean I don't have a recipe or two that fits into that holiday cookie group!  Cookies are my favorite dessert after-all!

This one is my all-time favorite Christmas holiday cookie.  I came across it about 13 years ago, and fell in love right away.  I don't even particularly like gingerbread, especially if it's got a strong molasses flavor.  That's why I was surprised I even liked these babies!  Who would have thought gingerbread and butterscotch would even go well together???  However, I assure you that they are a match made in joke.  It's an unusual cookie that you don't see very often, and it's down right delicious.  You gotta try these.....even if you don't like gingerbread cookies!  

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies (adapted from Nestle)

3 cups all purpose flour 
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup mild molasses
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar, egg and molasses.  Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add it to the creamed mixture until well blended.  Fold in the butterscotch chips.  Drop the rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets (I always spray my cookie sheets with Pam).  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  Allow the cookies to cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to cool on wire rack completely.

November 27, 2012

Chocolate Delight

This past weekend we had my step-son and his wife and their 3 kids, and my step-daughter and her fiance over for dinner.  This can sometimes be challenging because I always want to make something that everyone will like, and since we have a few picky eaters in the group, this is just not always easy to accomplish!  

This time my focus was on dessert.  Cookies are always a safe bet, but I really wanted to present something different , so I went with this chocolate delight dessert.  I'm sure you've come across it somewhere at some point in your life.  It goes by many names (Sex In a Pan, Mississippi Mud Pie, Better Thank Sex Cake, etc) and there are several variations of it as well.  This is my version of it.  I figured most people like pudding and chocolate, so I was pretty sure everyone would like it.  It was a hit, especially with the kids!  I thought it was good and you don't need to be an avid baker to put this together.  It is perfect for kids or when you want to make sure to please everyone's tastes if you are having company.  Definitely perfect for a potluck!  It's easy, it's just can't go wrong!  I see this being made many more times in the years to come.    

Chocolate Delight

1, 3.4oz package Chocolate Pudding, make according to package instructions & refrigerate
1, 3.4oz package Vanilla Pudding, make according to package instructions & refrigerate 
2 cups homemade whipped cream for top layer (can substitute Cool Whip)
2 cups + Toffee bits

1 cup pecans, chopped into small pieces
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup homemade whipped cream (can substitute with Cool Whip)

The first thing you want to do is make the pudding and set it aside in the refrigerator until you're ready for it.  Next, preheat your oven to 350 and generously spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  For the crust, process all of the crust ingredients in a food processor to combine.  Pour into baking dish and press it evenly on the bottom of the dish.  Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool completely before putting the dessert together.

Once crust is cooled, you can prepare the cream cheese layer.  Add the cream cheese & sugar to bowl of electric mixer and mix until fully combined.  Add the 1 cup of whipped cream and mix until light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over the crust, then sprinkle about 1 cup of toffee bits evenly over cream cheese layer (I am guessing on the amount, I just added enough to cover it lightly).  Next spread the chocolate pudding evenly, then the vanilla pudding on top of that.  Top with the last 2 cups of whipped cream, and sprinkle 1+ cups of toffee bits on top of the whipped cream.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

November 25, 2012

Turkey Cranberry Panini

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed your time with family and/or friends.  If you are like me, you probably have a lot of leftovers from Thanksgiving.  This is never a bad thing.  I mean, we wait all year for this fantastic meal, so I have no problem eating leftovers for a few days.  Sometimes however, others in my house want something different than just heating up a plate of everything that's left.  

These sandwiches fit the bill.  The blue cheese with the cranberry gives this sandwich a different taste.  Something out of the ordinary.  But, if you don't like blue cheese or if you don't like cranberry sauce, this sandwich probably isn't going to be for you.  I happen to love both, and I loved this sandwich.  So rich, so delicious, so perfect - it hits the spot.  You can use any kind of bread you want to.  I love trying different bread combinations...the weirder the better usually!  So dig out that panini maker, and grab the leftovers.  Oh, and be prepared for sandwich bliss!

Turkey Cranberry Panini 

Good Artisan Bread (click here for recipe), sliced medium thickness
Turkey, roasted is preferred
Blue Cheese crumbles 
Cranberry Chutney (click here for recipe), or regular cranberry sauce
Arugula or green leaf lettuce, optional

Turn on your panini maker to get hot while you are putting the sandwiches together.  Spread one piece of bread with the cranberry chutney, and the other piece with the mayonnaise.  Place your turkey on top of the chutney, then sprinkle on a layer of blue cheese. Add the lettuce (if using), then place the 2nd piece of bread on top.  Place on the panini maker and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and the bread is a nice golden brown.  

November 22, 2012

Brussels Sprouts w/ Balsamic Glaze

If you are looking for a last minute side dish to go with your Thanksgiving meal, this is it.  The balsamic glaze gives the Brussels Sprouts a nice sweetness that goes beautifully with the slight tartness of the sprouts.  It's impressive and delicious.  Your guests will love it.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze 

1 1/2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375, and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  After cleaning the Brussels sprouts, remove the stems and cut them in half.  Place on baking sheet and toss with the olive oil until evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper generously.  Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.

Add the sugar and balsamic to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until it has a syrup-like texture and is slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.  Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the roasted Brussels sprouts and serve hot.  Makes about 8 servings.

November 21, 2012

Artisan Bread

I have never been one to let the thought of baking my own bread scare me.  After years of doing it, I have grown to love it and in most cases, prefer it to store bought.  The best piece of advice I could give to someone who is new to cooking and/or baking is "Don't let the kitchen scare you!"  Get in there, get your hands dirty, and learn from your mistakes.  I always mark my recipes with notes on what I changed, how it came out, or what to do different next time.  This is how you learn, and this is how you perfect a recipe.   

If ever there was a bread recipe to start with, this would be the one.  This is sooooo easy, it takes almost no time to put together (seriously, it takes maybe 5 minutes if you include the time it takes to gather your ingredients) and it comes out like a professional artisan bread!  Trust me.  I promise.  You will love this bread.  Everyone will be amazed you made it.  My husband couldn't believe how good it was....he must have told me a hundred times!  It has an amazing crunchy crust (which comes from cooking it in the pot with the lid) and a perfectly soft and chewy middle.  The hardest part is letting the dough set for 14-18 hours, so just plan ahead.  I like to let it set out overnight and bake it in the morning - this works out perfect for me.  What's the worst that could happen?  If it doesn't come out the way you want, or if you have a bread baking disaster, just make croutons with it (click here for crouton recipe) - it's a win win situation!  So don't let bread baking scare you - get in the kitchen and try this recipe! 

Artisan Bread

1 cup bread flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1, 1/4oz packet of instant yeast (Rapid Rise)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water

Add both flours, salt and yeast to a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the water and mix until it comes together to form a soft dough.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 14-18 hours.  

Preheat oven to 450 and once it has come to temp, place a large cast iron pot (or enameled cast iron pot) with lid into the oven and let it set in there for 30 minutes.  While the pot is heating, pour the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it to remove bubbles (about 10-15 times), then shape dough into a ball.  Cover the dough and let it sit while the your pot is heating up.

After 30 minutes, remove the pot from the oven and place your dough ball into the center of the pot.  With a sharp knife, cut a few slits on the tip, then put the cover on the pot and place into the oven.  Let it cook covered for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and place bread onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

November 18, 2012

Crab Rangoon

As you know, I strive to make as much from scratch as I possibly can.  There's nothing close by where we live - the grocery store and fast food restaurants are at least a half an hour away.  I've gotten used to it.  It just requires some planning ahead.  But when you are in a crunch, or you just don't feel like cooking, it can be a little annoying.  Sometimes you just want take-out Chinese, or you forget a key ingredient at the grocery store! 

My favorite thing to eat when we buy Chinese food is the crab rangoon.  I could eat just that and nothing else, and be completely satisfied.....although I'm not sure my stomach would appreciate that!  So I decided it was time to perfect the recipe so I can enjoy it at home whenever I want ...which could be dangerous.  I have finally gotten the recipe down so it tastes just like the crab rangoon we all know and love.  

The first time I made crab rangoon I decided I would use REAL crab.  I figured if I used the real thing it would be even more fabulous!  WRONG!  It was disgusting.  It tasted waaayyyy too fishy and none of us liked it, so that batch went in the trash.  Such a shame because real crab is not cheap and I hate wasting food.  Who knew the imitation crab would be so essential in this recipe?!?!?  It is though, and this recipe is soooooo gooooooodddd you'll forget all about the fact that it's imitation crab meat.  We almost never have any left by the next morning.  This is super easy and quick to make, so don't be afraid to try it.  You'll thank me later! ☺

Crab Rangoon

8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature

22-24 wan ton wrappers
1/3-1/2 cup imitation crab meat, chopped  

1 1/2 green onions, minced
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4  teaspoon soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
vegetable oil, for frying

Add the cream cheese, soy sauce, green onions and garlic powder to a medium size bowl and cream it all together until nice and smooth.  Stir in crab.  In a large cast iron skillet heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan on medium heat.

In a separate small bowl beat the egg. Lay out a wanton wrapper so it forms a diamond shape and place 1 teaspoon of filling just below the center of each wrapper.  Brush the opposite corners of the wanton wrapper with the egg mixture. Fold over the edges of the wrapper to form a triangle and seal tightly.  Repeat until all the filling is gone - it should make about 22-24 rangoons.

Fry the rangoons in batches in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side.  

November 16, 2012

Banana Nutella Rolls

For some reason, I've been on a bit of a Asian food kick.  Probably because when we get close to a holiday I tend to want anything and everything but holiday type dishes.  That way, I'll be even more excited for that special holiday dinner when the day comes.

I had egg roll wraps left over, and I was trying to figure out something different to make with them.  Then while my son and I were at the store the other day he actually requested bananas.  I nearly fell over....if you have a 14 year old boy in your house, you understand why.  When we got home and I was putting things away I spotted a bottle of Nutella and the idea for banana Nutella egg rolls was born.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but I figured all the elements for something yummy were there so how bad could it be?

They turned out to be super good!  My son loved them, I loved them, my husband loved them....need I say more?  Such a great snack for kids to take to school too.  Really they are good at any point in the day, even for breakfast.  This also gave me other fun ideas to try in the future....stay tuned!

Banana Nutella Egg Rolls  makes 6 rolls

Egg Roll Wraps
3 large bananas
Vegetable oil

Place enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet and heat on medium-high heat.  Lay the egg roll wrap on a flat surface and spread a thin layer of Nutella on it, leaving about a 1/2" edge all the way around with no Nutella.  Cut the banana in half and place in the center of the wrap.  Fold the two ends up, then fold one side of the wrap up and over, then do the same on the other side. (You all know what an egg roll is supposed to look like right?  It's kinda hard to explain!)  Dip your finger in some water then press the edge closed until it's sealed.  Repeat process until your bananas are gone - 3 large bananas makes 6 rolls.

Place rolls into the hot oil, and fry on all sides until golden brown, 1-2 minutes on each side.  Best served warm, but really they are good cold too! 

November 14, 2012

Thai Chicken Marinade

I bring my lunch to work everyday, and the majority of the time it's a salad.  There is always some kind of protein in it, whether it's meat, fish, cheese or beans.  I'm sure it's not surprising that once in a while I need to try something new so the whole salad thing doesn't get too mundane.  So, the new recipe I tried for this week was this cilantro Thai chicken marinade.

I first need to state that if you don't like cilantro, you probably aren't going to like this marinade.  I happen to love cilantro, so that's why this recipe was so appealing to me.  This marinade gave the chicken a wonderful refreshing flavor, and it made the chicken incredibly moist.  Both of which are essential for a good marinade.  This girl gives this recipe two thumbs up!   (PS - please excuse my horrible photos for the next 5 months......winter in VT = terrible lighting for photos.)

Thai Chicken Marinade (from

4 skinless & boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
1 tbsp sesame oil

Place all ingredients, except the chicken, in a small bowl and whisk until well combined.  Place the chicken breasts into a large seal-able plastic bag, and pour the marinade over top.  Seal the bag and move the chicken all around to make sure it's completely coated.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before cooking.

November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Donut Holes

My husband and son are hunting this weekend.  So far no luck, but I have faith at least one of them will get lucky eventually.  Since they are out freezing their butts off all day, I try to make hearty dinners and yummy treats for them.  It's also nice for them to be able to have something that they can easily take with them to snack on.  These donut holes fit the bill.

These tasty little donuts give them just the energy boost they need while they are out there hunting.  Being that they are pumpkin flavored also makes them a perfect treat for this time of year.  However, the thing I love about them the most is that they are baked.  Since frying foods is my least favorite cooking method, I will avoid it at all costs.  So for me these baked donuts were a wonderful alternative.  My son LOVES these things and filled up a small bag to take out into the woods with him this morning.  Definitely a favorite in this house! 

Pumpkin Donut Holes

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 350, and spray 2 mini muffin trays with cooking spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla and egg until smooth.  In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Using a small scooper, divide the dough evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove for oven and cool for a couple of minutes in the pan.

Coating:  Melt 1/2 a stick of unsalted butter, and in a small bowl combine 1/2 a cup of sugar with 2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  Remove the donuts from the pan and dip each in the butter, then roll each of them in the sugar mixture making sure to coat the donuts completely. 

November 11, 2012

Sweet & Sour Sauce


You probably have friends on Facebook who are posting something that they are thankful for everyday leading up to Thanksgiving.  While I am not one of those people, today I'd like to mention how thankful I am to have heat in my home.  We didn't have heat for 3 days last week, but we finally got it fixed and it's nice and toasty in here now.  Vermont in November is not the place to be with no heat, even though the temps outside haven't been too terrible.  So as I sit here all warm and snugly I can't help but think about all those people who are still without power, or whose homes were brutally damaged by hurricane Sandy.  While I may not have had heat for a few days, at least I have it back now and I have a roof over my head, so for that I couldn't be more thankful!

Back in September I did a post on making the perfect Chinese chicken, and I promised there would be future posts on a variety of yummy homemade sauces to top it with.  So this is the first - sweet and sour sauce.  This is your classic sweet and sour sauce, and better than take-out (mostly because it's cheaper).  We like ours with a little kick to it, but you can leave out the red pepper flakes if you're not into that.  Stay tuned for more homemade Chinese sauces.....

Sweet & Sour Sauce

1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp red pepper jelly
2 tsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan on medium-high heat until hot and thickened.  Pour over cooked Chinese chicken (CLICK HERE for recipe).  Enjoy!

November 9, 2012

Loaded Twice-Baked Cauliflower

I am always on a quest to come up with different vegetable side dishes.  Especially lately, since the scale keeps showing me a number that I am not happy with!  Low carb meals (not Atkins diet, just low carb) have always worked best for me when trying to loose weight and/or just maintaining weight loss.  Since I've fallen off the low-carb wagon the last few months, it recently occurred to me that I need to get back to it before things get too out of control!

Here is a side dish that is so delicious you won't even miss those carbs you would normally get from eating a loaded twice-baked potato.  I swear this tastes just as good, although it's not necessarily low-calorie.  However, it will totally satisfy those carb cravings.  And hey, you need to indulge once in a while, even if you are trying to loose weight.  Give this one a try - I guarantee you and your family will love it!

Loaded Twice-Baked Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions (including white parts), chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp then chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a baking dish with cooking spray (about an 8x8 size pan, but really it depends on how big the head of cauliflower).  Cut the stem off the head of cauliflower, separate sections, and cut into medium size pieces.  Place in a steamer type pan, and cook until tender.  Transfer to a large bowl and mash up the cauliflower with a potato masher.

Add the butter, salt, pepper, sour cream, green onions, 3/4 of the chopped bacon and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Place into baking dish, top with cheddar cheese then remaining chopped bacon.  Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbling. 

November 7, 2012

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

All I can say about this cookie is OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I may have invented my new favorite cookie.  Although, I say that loosely.....someone out there probably already thought of this combination, but in my mind, I invented it.  

For some reason as I've gotten older oatmeal cookies have become one of my favorite cookies, which is weird because as a kid it was my least favorite.  I guess that just goes to show how your tastes change as you age.  I have slaved over numerous batches of oatmeal cookies in the past to find THE BEST one, and normally I add the usual - raisins.  However, I was at the store the other day and a bag of Heath Toffee Bits caught my eye and immediately the thought to make oatmeal cookies with toffee bits came to mind.  That was it....just like that, and now I just may have a new favorite cookie.  

I was so excited I had to make my son (who was the only one home at the time) try them immediately.  As he chewed I practically yelled "Aren't these the best cookies you've ever had?????"  He calmly replied "Well, I don't know about that, but they're good."  I tried not to get discouraged because, like me as a kid, oatmeal cookies are his least favorite.  So when my husband walked in the door, I practically shoved one into his mouth and asked him the same question.  He wasn't as excited as me, but he did say they were really good.  I thought maybe it was just me, and my recent oatmeal cookie obsession, who thought these were amazing.  But then when my son came home from school today he said "Oh by the way, those cookies really ARE good.  I gave a piece to my friend today and she thought they were awesome and wanted to know where I got the recipe!"  YAY - so it isn't just me!!!  Now that I have gotten some validation, I urge you to make these (and if you can, let me know what you think of them).  All I know is - I LOVE THESE COOKIES ♥

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (you don't have to pack it down, a loose cup is enough)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup toffee bits
2 cups quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350 and spray two cookie sheets with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda then set aside.  In separate large bowl, combine the Crisco, butter, and both sugars until well combined and smooth.  Stir in the vanilla and eggs.  Add the flour mixture in three batches, and stir to combined after each batch.  Add the toffee bits and oats until just mixed together.

Using a small scooper (the opening on mine measures about 1 1/2" across) place 12 scoops of dough on each try evenly spaced apart (4 rows of 3 on each pan).  Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cookies set around the edges but still a little soft in the middle.  Allow to cool on wire rack.

November 5, 2012

Asian Pulled Pork

This weekend was youth hunting weekend in VT.  Every year I let my son pick one meal that he'd like to have, and this year he chose chicken and biscuits, so I decided to make that on Sunday.  It's nice for them to come home after a long day sitting in the cold out in the woods to a nice hot meal.  So for Saturday I decided to go with pulled pork.  It's a favorite for all of us, but this time I wanted to try a recipe for Asian pulled pork that I saw on the Gourmet website.  

So glad I gave this one a try.  It was delicious!  We all enjoyed it very much.  I paired it with coleslaw (click here for recipe) and macaroni salad (click here for recipe).  It was a satisfying and hearty meal, which they appreciated.  This also gave me an idea for another variation of pulled pork that I am looking forward to trying sometime in the next few months....stay tuned!  Unfortunately, my son didn't get a deer this weekend.....but there's still time.

Asian Pulled Pork (adapted from Gourmet)

For Rub:
8-10 lb, bone-in pork butt, skin removed
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice
2 tsp coriander
3 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

For Sauce:
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Add all rub ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine.  Rub spices all over pork, and let stand at room temp for 30 minutes.  In another medium sized bowl, whisk all the sauce ingredients together and place into the bowl of a large crock pot.

Add the pork to the crock pot and turn it on high.  After 2 hours, turn pork.  Cook for 5 hrs turning pork every hour, then turn crock pot to low and cook another hour.  Pork should be falling apart after 6 hours, but if not continue to cook until it falls apart when poked with a fork.  Remove pork from crock pot and shred it up.  

Remove juice from crock pot and skim off fat.  Place juice into medium pan and turn to medium high heat.  remove 1 cup of the juice and place in a medium bowl and whisk in 1-2 tbsp cornstarch until smooth, then add it back to the pan of juice and whisk to combine.  When juice thickens to a sauce-like consistency, remove from heat.  Add desired amount to pulled pork and serve on bulky rolls, topped with more sauce (optional).

November 4, 2012

Cranberry Chutney

November is upon us, and I'm sure lots of you out there are thinking about Thanksgiving.  Making plans, scheduling trips, planning menus, etc.  If you are like me, you may even be searching for new recipe ideas to spice things up a little.  I get bored easily with the same old holiday staples, but unfortunately my husband greatly restricts me when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner.  He is very insistent on having the traditional dishes, cooked in the traditional manner.  BORING.....I'm yawning as I write this.  

There are few dishes he will allow me to stray from the norm on at Thanksgiving, but cranberry sauce is one of them.   Probably because it's not the most popular dish at the Thanksgiving table.  In fact, I think I may be the only one who loves it and would be miserable if it somehow got excluded from the menu.  I've always made my own, but this year I'm am going to change it up and use this cranberry chutney instead.  This is an excellent recipe, if I do say so myself.  It is a combination of chutney and cranberry sauce, so even those that don't like chutney should still enjoy eating this with their Thanksgiving dinner.  My husband informed me he doesn't like chutney, so I just told him it was cranberry sauce with a twist, and sure enough he liked it! 

As you can see in the picture above, it can be used for other things as well.  It's downright delicious with cheese and crackers, and even better on sandwiches. So even if you prefer the more traditional cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, maybe you could make this recipe and use it for something else.  Either way, why not try something different?

Cranberry Chutney

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cups or a 12oz bag of cranberries
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1, 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, orange juice and both sugars and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure sugar dissolves.  Add the ginger and reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Add the cranberries, apricots, cider vinegar, cinnamon and cloves and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

November 1, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Bread Sticks

Everyone loves bread right?  Even if you are like me, and you try to stay away from it, you still love it I'm sure.  Sometimes I get tired of my old stand-by roll recipes (even though they are delicious, click here for recipes), so bread sticks are a nice change from the usual.  I make a batch, then freeze some to have another time.  

These bread sticks are super easy to make, which makes them perfect for when you have company for dinner.  Don't be afraid of making these.  I really don't think you could mess them up!  Now, if I could just figure out how to cook them so they aren't flat on one side.....that would make me happy, but that's just the perfectionist in me.

Garlic Parmesan Bread Sticks

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp melted butter 
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes, or until mixture is frothy looking.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar and 2 tsp of salt.  Add the yeast mixture and melted butter to the flour, and mix on medium low speed just until dough is smooth.

Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Pull off pieces of the dough, roll into strips and place on cookie sheet - this recipe will make 8 big bread sticks, or 16 smaller ones.  Cover with a tea towel and set cookie sheet in a warm area for about 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400, and once the bread sticks are done rising place them in the oven.

In a small saucepan, melt the stick of butter.  Add the Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and 1/2 tsp salt.  Once the bread sticks have cooked for 6 minutes, pull them out and brush half of the butter garlic mixture evenly over all the bread sticks.  Place them back in the oven and continue to back for another 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush the rest of the butter garlic mixture evenly over the sticks.  YUM!