Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries, sugar, & water - that's it!
Did you make homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving?  This is how my mom always made it and it couldn't be easier!  Cranberry sauce is a wonderful condiment to serve with poultry, pork, and meatballs - I love the sweet & tart taste.

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberies

Rinse the cranberries under cold water.  Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the cranberries and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to a low boil/simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before refrigerating.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu: Preparations

My Mom's Roast Turkey
I am starting the preparation for our Thanksgiving feast.  Right now I am just thinking about the flowers for the table and what "new" item I will add to the menu.  I am also making the turkey stock for the make-ahead gravy.  We will have our usual crowd - so about 30 people.   There is always room for one more at our house!  My family loves to host this special dinner.  My husband created our annual "Rock-Paper-Scissor" tournament - always played at Thanksgiving and fun for everyone from grandparents to toddler.  While my husband and kids focus on the games I am preoccupied with the food.  My menu always includes the recipes below - - it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without these dishes.

Claire's Thanksgiving Menu
Roasted Brussel Sprouts (to be posted soon)
Pumpkin Pie Tartlets (to be posted soon)

Herb & Shallot Stuffing (my favorite item on the Thanksgiving menu)

Turkey Stock for the Make-Ahead Gravy

French Apple Tart

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

My pumpkin always has eye lashes!
 My husband and kids take great pride in their pumpkin carving.  It is a wonderful tradition that he started with the kids when they were very little.  When they were toddlers they had  lots of fun just scooping out the insides of the pumpkins with their hands!  As they got a little older they would also draw pictures of the face they wanted my husband to carve on their pumpkin.  These days they all scoop out and carve their own pumpkins. My husband always does mine and always adds the little eye lashes  - -don't you love it?
The other tradition is roasting the pumpkin seeds that come out of the pumpkins.  My mom always did this with me and my siblings and I am happy to carry on the tradition with my kids.  My youngest really loves getting the seeds ready and can't wait for them to come out of the oven.  Delicious!

Everyone gets a pumpkin at our house.
My son's scary pumpkin face is between my older daughter's happy face and my younger daughter's doggie face!

Mine and my husband's pumpkins make a nice pair.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Separate pumpkin seeds from pumpkin pulp and rinse in a colander under running water. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you want your seeds to be saltier.  Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.  Dry lightly on paper towels.

Dump the seeds onto a large sheet pan and toss in a little olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) to coat. Spread seeds in sheet pan in a single layer. Bake until the seeds begin to brown, 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds.  When lightly browned, remove from the oven and let cool.  Taste a few –be careful as they are very hot.  Season with a little more salt,(if needed), while the seeds are still warm.

Let the pumpkin seeds cool down before eating.

My youngest added a little more salt and now they are perfect!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

We have been making homemade chocolate syrup every week this summer.  I can say with some certainty that it will be a staple in our refrigerator from now on.  We put it into a squeeze bottle for perfect dispensing every time.  It makes the best tasting chocolate milk. :)  This is one the easiest recipes ever and what a reward!  Pure chocolate flavor, all natural, only 5 ingredients!  Cocoa Powder, sugar, vanilla, water, and a pinch of salt.  I have been making homemade mocha ice coffee (picture above) as a mid-morning treat.  Just use a little of the coffee from breakfast, chocolate syrup, milk, and ice.  Delicious!!!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
slightly adapted from Alice Medrich, Bittersweet, page 295

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I prefer natural, Scharffen Berger Brand)
1 cup sugar (or use less if you prefer)
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan.  Stir in the boiling water to form a smooth paste.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly.  Let the syrup simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool.  Pour into a squeeze bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. 




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sarah's Spectacular Dip!

Oh, how I love this recipe!!!  People just go crazy when they taste this for the first time.  They can't stop themselves from eating it and can't stop saying "this is so delicious"!  My kids always ask to make this when the weather gets warm.  While you can make this any time of the year, we always serve this at summer parties. I am sure that is why my kids start thinking about it when summer rolls around.  Add as much or as little of any of the ingredients...any combination will work.  A simple, easy, and delicious recipe!
This recipe is from one of my most cherished friends, Sarah.  I remember the first time I ate this at Sarah's house...I just couldn't get enough.  I love the taste, texture, and looks - pretty colors. :)  In the picture above I have the avocado pits in the dip ...a great tip that came from Sarah.  Keeping the pits in helps to keep the avocado from turning brown.  I love learning wonderful tips like that.  I hope you make this for your family.  I know it will become a favorite, just like at our house.  Enjoy. xo

Avocado, Feta, Tomato, & Cilantro Summer Dip

2-4 avocados, diced
2-4 plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
red onion - just a small slice, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, finely minced
6-8 ounces feta cheese, cubed
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
the juice of 1-2 limes and 1 lemon
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together using a fork to mash some of the avocado but also keeping some chunks. Taste for seasoning...you might want more lime, more cilantro, salt & pepper...to your liking. :)