Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Five Easy Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!  I returned to Vermont from visiting my family in Texas a few pounds heavier, although I'm fairly certain the hefty dose of laughter we all shared burned some major calories.  (My family is some of the most fun people I know!)

Honestly, I'd meant to post this recipe a few days ago, but I got home, became wrapped up in getting unpacked, decorating the Christmas tree, catching up on work, et cetera.  I'm sure you can relate; this time of year is always so busy.  Luckily, that's where leftovers come to the rescue to spare you a few extra minutes in the kitchen or add a welcome dash of flavor in an unexpected way.

My family has made Bon Appetit's Cranberry Sauce with Port and Cinnamon the past couple of Thanksgivings when we've been together; and it has earned a permanent spot on our menu.  It's absolutely delicious, and having some leftover port to sip after dinner doesn't hurt either.  Inevitably we end up with leftovers, so I thought I'd post five easy ideas to use up cranberry sauce leftovers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rosemary-Clementine Roasted Chicken

I am deeply, hopelessly enamored with the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is absolutely my favorite holiday of the year.  Growing up in Texas, my family would always prepare a ham in addition to a huge turkey, lots of cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, my great-grandmother's rolls, and all the other fixins'... and that's not even touching dessert!  Typically we'd have apple pie, chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, and of course pecan pie... and usually a cake and/or cookies to boot.  Needless to say, it always stood to be an occasion of momentous, gut-busting proportions.

Now that I'm living nearly 2,000 miles from home (1,849 according to Google), Thanksgiving is not nearly as large, but it has given me the chance to pay homage to traditions while trying out a few of my own ideas.  When it comes to the bird, I had to test the waters on a turkey, for fear that I'd ruin 15 pounds of bird for nothing!  Enter the chicken.  A plump 5 pounder is a great test-dummy, not to mention a great substitute when a Thanksgiving table is only going to be serving a few people.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hot Cocoa Mix (Holiday Gift Idea!)

I have to admit, I'm posting this recipe a few weeks earlier than I had planned.  My 18 year old brother sent me a Facebook message letting me know he was running low on the hot cocoa mix I'd made him several months ago (he puts a spoonful into his morning coffee).  I knew I needed to get to work making him a fresh batch asap.  According to my mom he tried to use store-bought mix in its place; but eventually he proclaimed that it just wasn't the same, and drank his coffee plain.

This recipe also comes in handy when I just want one mug of cocoa and don't want to go through the trouble of making a big pot on the stove.  Quite frankly, sometimes I get lazy in the winter... I call it my hibernation time.  Unlike a lot of commercial mixes, this mix is made of things that you'll find in a lot of home kitchens.  That means no hydrogenated coconut oil or ingredients you can't pronounce, just good old-fashioned deliciousness.

Paired with a couple of mugs and a big batch of iced sugar cookies, this hot cocoa mix makes a great holiday gift.  Last Christmas, I found a couple of mugs made from Vermont business Bennington Potters, and put the cookies and hot cocoa mix into glass canisters.  It was a great, budget-friendly gift that my whole family got to enjoy.

It's a pretty simple recipe, so there's not much more to say.  My brother taught me that this mix is good for more than just regular hot cocoa, so I'd love to hear if you have other suggestions for using it!

Hot Cocoa Mix
Makes: A big ol' canister full

2 3/4 c. powdered nonfat milk (Note: This should be in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/4 c. cocoa powder (Note: I prefer dutch-process cocoa powder, but regular cocoa powder works really well too. Dutch-process cocoa will produce more of a dark chocolate flavor, while regular cocoa powder gives the mix a more traditional milk chocolate flavor.)
2 t. cornstarch
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.  To make hot cocoa:  Fill mug 1/3 full with hot cocoa mix; top with hot water and stir well.  Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or cinnamon if desired.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cheddar Ale Soup

I've been formulating this recipe for weeks... I had perfected it.  A rich, creamy cheddar ale soup made with Rogue Brewery's Chipotle Ale for a well-rounded touch of heat.  It would be the crowning glory of my blog; I would never need to write another recipe again.  Foodies world-wide would stand in awe of this recipe, proclaiming it the most delicious cheddar soup in all of history.  This recipe was perfect.

It was perfect, that is, until I was standing in front of the craft-brewery refrigerator at a local store, staring vacantly at the neat rows of bottles.  Something was missing.  Where was my beloved Chipotle Ale?  Had I angered the gods?  Why wasn't it there?  What would I do?  How could I go on?  Still in a state of shock and dismay, I analyzed my choices and picked Rogue's Dead Guy Ale.  With the rest of my concept still firmly in place, maybe I'd end up with the second-cousin to the greatest recipe in the world.