Posted in Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cranberry, Dessert, Fall, Family Friendly, Family Recipe, Holiday, Make Ahead, Potluck, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

Thanksgiving?!  How did that get here so fast?!

I wouldn’t normally post another recipe this close to the last one but I wanted to make sure you all had it before Turkey Day!

I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to write this post when I started.  As some of you know, we lost my Grandma back in August and it’s been an emotional road since then. This Thanksgiving seems especially hard because this time last year is when she got sick and she never bounced back.  It’s a really bittersweet week for me and I’m getting ready to celebrate my favorite holiday.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a time when I’ve been as nostalgic about recipes as I have been the last few months.  Everything seems to be reminding me of my Grandma this fall just like all the fresh veggies and gardens remind me of my Pappa in the summer.  A few weeks ago I found myself crying over melted marshmallows while I was making Rice Krispie treats.  My Grandma used to start making sheet pans of treats a month before Halloween and freeze them in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

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Today I started my prep for Thanksgiving dinner and I told myself I was going to be strong.  I got out my recipe card for Cranberry Salad that my Grandma had lovingly typed up for me soon after I got married (she typed everything!) and gathered all my things to start cooking.  Surely I’ll be able to get through one recipe without tears, right?!  Wrong.  As I started prepping the cranberries I had to fight back the water works.  Cranberries make me cry, okay?!

I did stop myself and think about the first time I remember making this with my Grandma though.  Now my Grandma wasn’t a huge fan of cranberries (I’ll save that story for later) but every Thanksgiving and Christmas this recipe made it to the table.  When I was little I remember her getting out the cast iron meat grinder to grind everything up and then she’d let me help put everything together.  One time, when I was really little, I remember asking her what cranberries tasted like.  I loved her cranberry salad but had never tried a cranberry on its own.  Wow was I in for a surprise!  I still remember her laughing at me as I puckered up and made a funny face!

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Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

2 boxes strawberry Jello
1 pound cranberries
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 apple, cored, peeled and seeded
2-2 ½ cups sugar (I only do 2 because I like it more tart)
Nuts (optional, I usually leave them out but pecans or walnuts would be preferable here)
Cool Whip, for serving

Grind cranberries, orange, and apple in a food processor. Add sugar and let sit until juice starts to release from fruit. Drain the liquid into another bowl. Use the liquid as a part of the cold water when making the jello. Continue making jello according to package instructions. Add ground ingredients. Put mixture in a 9×13 pan. Top with nuts if using. Refrigerate until set. Serve topped with Cool Whip.

Source: My Grandma’s recipe book

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This Cranberry Salad is one of our family’s staples during the holidays and I didn’t think it would be right to leave it off the table this year.

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My mom recently gave me my Grandma’s recipe book which will forever be one of my most cherished treasures (and seeing her handwriting brings on the tears again!).  I can’t wait to share some of these family recipes!
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Me and my Grandma in the kitchen
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Thanksgiving feast with cranberry salad right in the middle!
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My Grandma had a sassy side!
Posted in Autumn, Baked, Baking, Classic, Comfort Food, Dessert, Fall, Holiday, Nuts, Pie, Portable/Picnic, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Pie in the Sky

I grew up in a small town, Fletcher, Ohio. Well, it’s considered a village actually. Go ahead, look it up on a map. It’s there. Straight up I-75 between Dayton and Toledo. It’s one of those towns you’ll miss if you happen to blink. Unless of course you get stopped at one of the two traffic lights where you’ll enjoy a view of the post office and funeral home. If you take a left you’ll pass the Methodist Church on your way out to the grain elevator. Every time I have a chance to visit I know I’m home when I see that grain elevator.

I have many fond memories of growing up in this little piece of the Midwest. When I graduated from high school and moved to the big city for college I pretty much ran and never wanted to look back. The older I’ve gotten the more I realize how important that town and it’s people were to shaping me in to the woman I’ve become today.

Many of my fondest memories revolve around church and community gatherings.  I would always look forward to serving Thanksgiving dinner with the youth group at church or gathering with the neighbors at the firehouse for the monthly fish fry.  I miss those small town traditions.

One of my most favorite parts of those gatherings were the pies that all the town ladies would make. Sugar cream, Dutch apple, peach, lemon meringue, pecan. Nothing says comfort and tradition to me like a big slice of pie!

As we near the holidays I’ve found myself getting really nostalgic.  In light of all the scary things happening in the world all I want to do is cling tight to tradition. Let’s not forget all the things we are thankful for this season.

Today I am most thankful for my supportive husband. AND it happens to be his birthday so I made his favorite pie!

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Mom’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 frozen or refrigerated pie crust (or homemade if you have time)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk all ingredients but pecans together. Stir in pecans. Fill prepared pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes until center is almost set (cover with aluminum foil if crust and pecans start to get too dark). Remove from oven and cool completely, 2-4 hours, before serving.

Source: Mom’s recipe book (I think she got it from a Betty Crocker cookbook she’s had for as long as I can remember)

Posted in Autumn, brown bag lunch, Chicken, Comfort Food, Fall, Healthy, Mexican, One Pot Meals, Quick cooking, Soup

FALL = Soup Weather

When October rolls around and there is a nip in the air and the leaves start to change I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch under a blanket with a book (Frankenstein, Dracula or Poe of course) and a cup of tea.  I want to visit apple orchards and pumpkin patches and drive through the mountains to see the colors.  I want to sit by a bonfire and toast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.  I want to dress up as a vampire and hand out candy to kids in adorable costumes.  I want to wear sweaters and boots and jackets.  I want to eat all the pumpkin things and all the carmel-y apple things and drink drinks made with warm, spicy bourbon-y things.  I want to watch The Great Pumpkin and Hocus Pocus and dream of being a kid again.

I want October to never end.

On chilly, fall nights, I like to warm up with a big bowl of soup.  This soup came about when I was searching for something quick and easy to make on a Sunday afternoon.  I found lots of recipes for posole but decided to create my own and add a few of my favorite must-have pantry spices: coriander and cumin. It made a great dinner and an even better lunch all week!

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Pollo Posole Verde

Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 poblano, diced
2 gloves garlic
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 can diced green chiles
Salt & pepper
2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 jar green salsa
6 cups chicken stock
Rotisserie chicken, shredded
To garnish: cilantro, lime, cotija (or feta) cheese, avocado, sliced radishes (optional)

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and poblano and saute for about 5 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges.  Add garlic, coriander and cumin and toast for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add green chiles. Add stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove toasty bits. Add salsa, hominy and shredded chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. To serve, garnish with cilantro, lime, avocado and cotija cheese.

Serves 6.

Source: Ruth’s Table

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Posted in Appetizers, Autumn, Comfort Food, Date Night, Fall, Healthy, Holiday, Nuts, One Pot Meals, Party Worthy, Potatoes, Soup, Supper Club, Vegetarian, Winter

Soup’s On!

How many times do you catch yourself saying “we should really get together more often” or “let’s do this again real soon” when you’re hanging out with friends?  How many times do you actually follow through?  We all have good intentions but “life” gets in the way and we go months before making plans.  When we finally do we have such a great time and then make the same promises all over again.

IMG_0895Well, I’m VERY thankful for friends who take the initiative, make a date, invite us all and stick to it.  We should all be more like that!!

Our friend Nick is exactly this kind of person.  We have been talking for month’s about getting together and cooking for each other and hanging out and we’ve just kept putting it off.  Finally, a couple weeks ago Nick just picked a date, invited us over and told us to bring soup.  The monthly Foodie Pow Wow was born.

My contribution to this culinary endeavor was one of my favorite go-to soups.  You really can’t go wrong with rich, silky butternut squash in the winter time.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Granola

    • 1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
    • 2 teaspoons fresh sage
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half lengthwise, spoon out seeds.  Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Remove peel and mash the pulp.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes or until starting to brown around the edges.  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the squash, vegetable stock and the next six ingredients (through bay leaves) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaves.

Place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in honey.  Top individual servings with spiced granola.

Spiced Granola

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix oats, walnuts, garam masala, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant, stirring once.  Remove from oven and add honey, cranberries and sage.  Let cool.

Source: Soup adapted from Cooking Light http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-butternut-soup-with-goat-cheese-toasts-10000001932617/, Granola by Ruth’s Table

Our other delicious creations…

Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans & Rice
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
My favorite jams!http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
My favorite jams!  Goes great with cheese!
http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake (recipe for another day!)
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake
(recipe for another day!)

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?” – Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Stay tuned for scenes from our next Foodie Pow Wow…

Posted in Apple, Autumn, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Fall, Pumpkin, Shrimp

Adventures in Gourds Part #1 – Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her,
 Put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her, very well.

What?!  This is one of the many nursery rhymes that sort of disturbs me…I’m sure there’s some deep philosophical meaning but I just don’t get it…

Anyway…

I. Love. Pumpkin. ♥  I’m sure you’re all expecting me to break out pumpkin cheesecake (I do make a fantastic one!) or a pumpkin roll or bread or some sweet treat when you hear me say pumpkin.  Well, this time you would be wrong!  Why do we put pumpkin in a box?  Do you think this gourd longs to become a pumpkin pie?  I would say the answer is definitely no.  Not when there are so many delicious things it can become!  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a big piece of pumpkin pie with a tower of whipped cream but the possibilities are really endless.

I encourage you again to step out of your comfort zone.  Try something new: new flavors, new techniques, whatever, just try it.

I’m making it my mission over the next few weeks to expand the horizons of Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater.  I wonder what he would think of my first creation…Pumpkin Risotto with Blackened Shrimp and Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa.  Eat that Peter!

Pumpkin Risotto with Blacked Shrimp and Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa

Risotto (serves 2 with leftovers for risotto cakes, recipe follows, or 4 large portions):

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large finely chopped shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filling, I’ve made that mistake before!)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly. Add garlic; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly until rice is slightly toasted.  Add wine; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 33 minutes total).  I always taste along the way to check the rice.  Stir in pumpkin during with the last of the stock. Stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.

Shrimp (serves 2, can be doubled):

  • 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • Blackening seasoning (I made my own with cumin, chipotle powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper)
  • Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Coat shrimp with blackening seasoning.  Add shrimp to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp it could be a little longer) or until translucent.

Apple Ginger Tarragon Salsa (serves 2, can be doubled):

  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, minced
  • Ginger, grated (amount depends on how much you like ginger)
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Honey
  • Olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and serve on top of shrimp and risotto.

Don’t be afraid of the flavor combination or the thought of standing over the pan stirring for half an hour.  It’s worth it, trust me.

Doesn’t that look delicious?!  I bet if Peter’s wife had this recipe he wouldn’t have put her in the pumpkin shell.  Just sayin’…

Bonus recipe time!  Sorry there is no picture…they were so good I scarfed them down before I even thought about it!

Pumpkin Risotto Cakes

  • Leftover pumpkin risotto, chilled
  • Olive oil
  • Leftover shrimp & apple salsa OR mixed greens tossed with olive oil & lemon

Divide risotto into equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn patties; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and patties.

Garnish with leftover shrimp & apple salsa or top with a mixed green salad for a light lunch/dinner.