Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftover Cooking: Cranberry-Orange Muffins

This recipe is from my great-grandmother. Great-grandmother recipes need no introduction because they are always good. My favorite thing about these muffins, aside from the taste, is that the batter is such a pretty pink!

  • 2 cups flour (gluten free flour should work too!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 - 3 cups leftover cranberry sauce (puréed) or raw relish. If you have no cranberry sauce or relish, finely chop 4-6 oz cranberries and add 1/2 a cup sugar.
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • one large egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar (optional, muffins will be nice and tart without it)
  • orange juice as needed to moisten batter

1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Purée cranberry sauce (if not using a relish)

3) Mix together ingredients, no particular order necessary.
4) Spoon into a greased muffin tin.
5) Bake for 18-20 minutes

Delicious with pumpkin cream cheese!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing

I have never been a huge fan of stuffing, but I really like this version. It's a great, comfortable combination of flavors that was popular with all ages last year.

·       6 T butter
·       1 large loaf of bread (gluten free if necessary), staled or cut into small pieces and baked until crisp
·       1 large onion
·       5 celery stalks
·       salt & pepper
·       ½ cup dry white wine
·       2 large, tart apples
·       1 cup dried cranberries
·       1 cup toasted pecan pieces
·       1 T thyme leaves

1)    Stale your bread if you haven’t already by baking small pieces in the oven on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 10 minutes. While you’re at it, toast your pecan pieces (it’s easiest to Cuisinart chop them).
2)    Cuisinart-chop your onion and sauté in the butter, salt and pepper until soft, about 10-12 minutes.
3)    Cuisinart-chop the celery and hand-cut the apples and add to the pan.
4)    Add wine and cook until the celery and apples are tender. Do not cook until dry – be sure there is still some liquid in the pan.
5)    Turn off heat and cover.
6)    Combine bread, cranberries, pecans and thyme. 
7) Mix onion mixture with bread mixture. 
8) If inserting into turkey, do so now and bake as directed by turkey recipe.
9) If baking separately, place in a covered dish and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Then remove cover and bake until browned, probably 20 - 30 minutes more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easiest Cranberry Sauce Ever (Not From a Can)

My mom has been making this cranberry relish ever since... forever. Before that, my great grandmother made it. It's incredibly delicious. The sweet zing of the orange compliments the cranberries fantastically. And thanks to the wonderful invention of the Cuisinart/blender, it is now the easiest cranberry sauce/relish ever (if you don't include buying it in a can).


One bag/pound of cranberries
One orange
1.25 cups of sugar

1) Wash and pick through the cranberries and remove the gooey ones.
2) Place the good cranberries in the Cuisinart/blender. Chop until it's about the consistency of hot dog relish.
3) Remove and place in a bowl.
4) Slice an orange and remove the seeds (and sticker if it has one). Add the entire orange, including the peel, to the Cuisinart/blender. Chop just like the cranberries.
5) Stir the cranberries and orange together. Add sugar. You're done!

Cranberry sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time. It's so acidic, it doesn't go bad very quickly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It's that time of year!

 Carve your pumpkin and save the seeds.

Separate the seeds from the pulp. This can be done easily with a strainer, or by soaking the seeds for about 10 minutes in warm water.

Spread out on cookie sheet and let dry overnight.

Sprinkle with garlic salt and bake for an hour at 350. Easy! Tasty and a great source of fiber. My preschool students love these!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

I have half a can of pumpkin in the fridge. What to do?

Recipe courtesy of Tidy Mom.

2 eggs
1-1/4 cups buttermilk or buttermilk substitute
4 TBSP melted butter
5 TBSP canned pumpkin
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
dash of nutmeg

The original recipe calls for food coloring, but I really don't think it needs it! It's pleasantly orange without chemicals.

1) Make your buttermilk substitute:

I used a cup of almond milk mixed with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. It came out perfectly! I imagine soy and rice milk would do equally well.
You can also use regular milk and vinegar.
Or yogurt and vinegar.
If you have no vinegar, use lemon juice instead.
The idea is that vinegar supplies the tangyness that is so distinguishable in buttermilk recipes.

2) Turn on your griddle and spray non-stick on it.
3) Combine all the ingredients in the order listed, stirring after each addition.
4) Cook away!

Maple syrup is even tastier than usual on these pancakes. Something about the cinnamon just makes it even yummier.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin with Apple Cider Sauce

Okay, this recipe is seriously amazing. Can I say that again? AMAZING. Even though it looks really fancy, a beginning cook could make it and pass for an advanced cook. You know why? Because the recipe is, again, AMAZING. It's also good for any time of year. Fruity enough for summer, savory enough for winter. Amazing.

Thanks to my friend (and employer) Julie for passing this on to me.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.


  • 1 boneless pork loin, 2 1/2 lb. 
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apple
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots. If you have none, dried apple works too.
  • 1/4 cup raisins, cranberries or both
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme -- go light with this!
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch 
  • A few feet of kitchen string (cotton yarn would work, but don't use polyester!)


1) Make your apple juice into apple cider by adding a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. You can use whole cloves too, if you strain them out after sitting for a while. Stir and let sit while you prepare the stuffing.
2) Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut 4 pieces of kitchen string, each about 14 inches long. 

3) Warm the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-low heat. Add the apple and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the dried apricots, raisins and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the apple cider and boil, stirring occasionally, until the cider is absorbed by the stuffing, about 5 minutes.

4) Cut the pork loin like a hot dog bun, just deep enough so that the loin opens up to lie flat like a book. Some pork loins come already sliced completely in half, and it's workable. Just pretend it's still attached by a hinge and try to keep the stuffing from going everywhere.
5) Place the strings evenly underneath the pork loin. (Two loins shown below.)
6) Spoon the stuffing evenly onto the meat. Close up the loin tightly using the strings. Push in stuffing where you can. Sprinkle the surface LIGHTLY with the thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Place the loin in a baking pan and add 1/2 cup of the cider to the pan.
7) Roast the loin for 30 minutes. Baste with the pan juices and add a cup of cider to the pan. 
8) Roast for another 15 minutes before basting again. Check temperature of meat. Continue roasting, basting every 15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches150°F. That will take between 20 and 45 minutes AFTER the initial basting (when you added the extra cider.)

9) Transfer the loin to a cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. 
10) To make gravy: Scrape the pan bottom to dislodge any remaining bits, then pour the pan juices into a measuring pitcher and add additional cider as needed to measure 1 1/2 cups total. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the pan juices and the cornstarch, and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Then add the remaining pan juices. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Cut the loin into slices and serve the gravy on the side.
Serves 6 - 8.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Heavenly Almond Biscotti

Seriously... so good!

Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food:

1 1/2 cups whole almonds
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 t aniseed (worth a trip to the store!)
1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)

1) Heat oven to 375.
2) Toast almonds for 5 minutes.
3) While they are toasting, combine eggs, sugar and lemon zest in a mixer. Beat until smooth.
4) Add flour and baking powder to mixer.
5) When almonds are toasted, Cuisnart them with the aniseed. If you don't have a Cuisinart, chop the almonds and don't worry about chopping the aniseed.
6) Stir almonds, aniseed and cranberries in by hand.
7) Form two loaves on a sheet of parchment paper, like this:

8) Bake for 25-ish minutes.
9) Remove loaves from oven. Turn oven down to 300. Let sit for 10 minutes.
10) Cut loaves into inch-wide strips. Mine were probably too wide.
11) Bake on each side for 10ish minutes.
12) Make another batch because you'll need more than one!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How-To: Belt Loops

I bought an amazing dress for $10 in the late 90s (maybe 2000?). Back then I was young enough to be OK with rhinestones on my formal wear. I am amazed this dress still fits, because my body has definitely changed since I was thirteen. The rhinestones were not overwhelming, just little clusters around the waistband. Recently I had the idea that scraping them off with a credit card would be the answer. I was wrong. Rhinestone glue leaves residue:

 And no, Goo-Gone doesn't work on rhinestone glue.

The only possible solution was to cover the waistband entirely. Or glue on more rhinestones. Kidding.

1) Cut a strip of fabric about an inch and a half wide that matches whatever garment you are attaching belt loops to. Err on the side of making it too long. If you are making two loops, cut the strip long enough to make three. I used black silk, which is super easy to work with.

2) Fold the strip in half and sew as shown:
 3) Attached a safety pin to the end of the fabric tube.
 4) Tuck the safety pin into the fabric tube and guide along the inside, turning the tube inside out as shown:

 5) Press the belt loop you just created. You can use a regular iron, but I find a flatiron (like for your hair) is way less trouble for something this small.

6) Place the belt loop pointing the opposite direction it will be sewn, as shown below. Sew in place with a small zig-zag stitch, encasing the frayed end of the loop.

 7) Fold belt loop back toward correct direction and sew a crease into the loop, making the belt loop large than the waistband area. Tacking the ends of the loop down with prevent them from puffing out at your sides.

8) Measure how much more loop you will need and cut off excess. Repeat zig-zag stitching on other side of waist band:
 9) Repeat above steps as needed for addition loops.

10) Happy accessorizing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

How-To: Ballerina Sweater

Finished product!
In continuing with the updating of my wardrobe for $0, I decided to make a quick alteration before heading out today. This sweater is a beautiful color and I love the pattern, but the length was super awkward. It was kind of regular length, but not as long as any of my shirts, making my somewhat long torso look stocky. Not cool, sweater.

1) Put on the sweater. Look in the mirror and note how much you want to crop.
2) Cut half an inch LESS than you want to trim off (allows for a seam). Err on the side of cutting too little off. You can always make it shorter if the sweater is still an awkward length.

3) Sew a very thin seam along the bottom edge using a ZIG ZAG stitch. This is important so the bottom hem doesn't get stretched out.

4) Try on the sweater. Chances are it's going to look a little funny... too loose around the bottom part. If it does, take in the sides and sew two darts in the back. Make sure to space them evenly:
 5) Trim threads, try on, and adjust anything that looks funny.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quick Wardrobe Fixes

Not my closet. I wish!!!
I've had the urge to update my wardrobe this week. But my bank account does not have that same urge. So last night I did a multi-closet purge. Every closet, cabinet, wardrobe, shelf and drawer. I decided to pitch everything I don't feel GREAT in. Why would I keep clothing that makes me feel too old, too young, or unattractive? Why do I own it in the first place?

Eliminating clothing doesn't really update anything, does it? So here's what I did...

Exhibit A:
Sweater/shirt that screams "preschool teacher!"
  Snip, snip, whirrr. Off come the sleeves and hems go into the arm holes. Result:

Now I just need a nice button-down to wear under it.

Exhibit B: Flowy dress that is awkwardly stuck between here and the 70s.

Snip, snip, whirrr. Cut four inches off the oversized ruffle and hem. Welcome to 2011, sundress.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sparkling Lemon Cocktail

My parents have an overachieving lemon tree. Despite it hovering around freezing most nights the past few weeks, this little lemon-tree-that-could has borne over 200 lemons. I kid you not. What the heck am I going to do with 200 lemons? After unloading as many as I could onto friends and coworkers, I had to acknowledge the lemon problem. Get ready, friends. Lemon recipes all over this blog.

It so happens that Cooking Light chose to do a spotlight on meyer lemons this month. Coincidence? I think not.

Taken from their March issue:
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1/3  cup  sugar
  • 1  rosemary sprig
  • 1  cup  fresh Meyer lemon juice, chilled
  • 1/3  cup  chilled vodka
  • 2  cups  chilled Prosecco or other sparkling wine, chilled
The rosemary sprig really is key! Such a wonderful addition to an already awesome cocktail. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Maple Muffins

Sometimes my students get tired of our usual snack rotation. This spontaneous culinary adventure was a big hit with the little ones and the staff members who ate every leftover crumb.

Below I have cut down the sugar from the original recipe, which was so sweet it bordered on cupcakes. Delicious, but I'm hesitant to pump little ones full of sweets.
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (or substitute)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Make your buttermilk substitute: one cup yogurt or milk (or almond milk) and one tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. 

2) Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.

3) Combine flour, oats, spices, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

4) Whisk buttermilk, applesauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended. 
5) Add to dry ingredients and stir just to incorporate (do not overmix).

6) Divide batter equally among muffin cups. 

7) Bake until muffins are a beautiful golden brown and tester inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 28 minutes.