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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

According to some conversations I’ve heard, you are either a fan of homemade cranberry sauce or canned.  And this is true as there have been many members of my family that will only eat one or the other.  For me, it has to be homemade.  My Mammaw taught me how to make her recipe and for years that’s exactly how I made it.  Until about the last 7 years.  I started to cook the berries on the stove and each time I made it I would vary the ingredients.

But this is by far my favorite!

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1 bag of Cranberries

1 cup Apple Cider (or water)

1-1/4 cup Sugar

Pinch each of Nutmeg and Ground Cloves

1/8 tsp Cinnamon

1 T Brown Sugar

1/4 tsp Vanilla

Zest from an orange, and the juice

Wash, drain and pick through the cranberries.  Place the berries in saucepan and add the cider (or water) and cook over a medium heat until the berries have popped, this should be a low simmer.  Stir often and don’t let them boil!!

Reduce the heat to low and add the sugars, the spices, the orange zest and juice and stir until the sugar is melted.  If you have some berries that have not popped you can mush them while you are stirring the mixture together.

When the sugars have melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  Once cooled cover and refrigerate.

You can really change this up with some different flavors; I’ve added honey, orange marmalade, mango nectar, different liquors, and apples.

This is great served with your holiday meals or as a condiment on your sandwiches.  Enjoy!

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This is going to be short and sweet.  You MUST try this hot chocolate!!!  I have never liked those packets of hot cocoa that you just add water!  YUK! For me, my choice was always just simply Hershey’s Coco powder, sugar and milk.  I have stepped it up a bit!

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It’s thick, rich, creamy, just completely sinful!

For two servings you will need:

2 squares of bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet if that’s what you have

1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk

1 T cocoa powder

1 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp vanilla

2 cups of milk

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In a small bowl, add the 2 squares of chocolate, the cocoa powder and the sweetened condensed milk.  Place in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Stir to make sure the chocolate has melted and blended together, if you need to put it back in the microwave, only do so for about 5-8 seconds.  You don’t want to over heat this mixture.

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium low heat.  Do not let the milk over heat or boil.  When the milk is warm, add the chocolate mixture and the sugar , stir for about a minute to blend together, I used a small whisk~that works wonderfully!  Immediately turn off the heat and move the pan from the hot burner.  Add the vanilla, give it a quick stir and serve immediately.

You can top with whipped cream or marshmallows and a drizzle of chocolate sauce!

You will want to cuddle up with whomever you share this with, its just that romantically good!!

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I bought some root beer and a pork roast to make pulled pork sandwiches along with a root beer barbeque sauce (recipe posted soon) and I immediately thought of making a root beer float….as I was sipping a cup of hot cider.  So I just went and made an apple cider float instead.  And boy oh boy was that yummy!

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It’s not all that difficult to make, the amount of ice cream and cider you use depends mostly on the size of mug you use, you really don’t need a recipe but here is what I did.

Of course I pulled out the BIGGEST mug I had and filled it with vanilla ice cream.  I’m sort of ashamed and yet a little proud that I used about 1-1/2 cups of ice cream…well, it was actually frozen yogurt but anyway… I heated 3/4 cup of apple cider with a dash of pumpkin pie spice, it’s not just for pumpkin pie…its combination of all the spices I love so why not!!  Heating the cider is not necessary but I love that it melted the ice cream and made it so much more creamier and the heat also helps to blend the spice into the cider instead of it just floating on top.

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Then I poured the hot spiced cider over the ice cream, put on a big dollop of whipped cream and drizzled it with caramel sauce, instant heaven!  I curled myself up with a blankie on the sofa and watched a Christmas movie while enjoying my new treat!

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I have a new addiction.  Fireball Apple Cider Cocktail.

Remember those hot cinnamon fireball candies we ate as kids?  Well, there is a vodka called Atomic Hot, and it is fabulous!!

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The first thing you want to do is rim your glass with a cinnamon sugar mixture.  Fill with ice and add a good shot of this deliciousness!  Top off with apple cider and enjoy!

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This would make a great holiday drink to serve your guests.

And, if you like hot apple cider, just pour the vodka and cider in a mug and pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.  Perfect for a cold chilly night!

Cheers my friends!

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Today was a good day to stay home and make soup.  It wasn’t all that cold here but the wind just seemed to go right to the bones and chill me to the point I could actually wear a turtleneck and gloves!  So I made soup!

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I made my usual chicken noodle soup but decided with the chill of my bones, I wanted to make it a little more heartier, so I made it creamy…without the milk or cream though.

I chopped about 1/3 cup of carrots into very small pieces, and about 1/4 cup of onions.  Tossed them in a pot with some olive oil and sautéed them until they were just about tender.  Then I poured in a 32oz carton of chicken broth/stock.  Shredded about 1 cup of chicken that was left over from a Buffalo Chicken Dip that I made. And man oh man was that delish!  I’ll post that later.

Anyway, after the chicken I put in a good handful of noodles, about 1 cup. While that was coming to a simmer, I decided to make it creamy.  So I put a very big heaping tablespoon of flour in a small jar and added enough water so that when I shook it, it was the consistency of a gravy.

Once the soup was simmering and after the noodles were al dente, I slowly added about half of the flour mixture and stirred it well.  I waited a few minutes to decide if I wanted to add more, which I did. turn the heat on a low heat, let it cook for a few more minutes while you chop some  kale into small pieces.  Add the kale and turn off the heat.  Slice your crusty bread, pour your wine and get yourself a big bowl of soup!!

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Hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did today!

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Salted Caramel ice cream and coffee’s seem to be a popular flavor these days.  Funny, but I can remember from my childhood that my Mom’s favorite ice cream was caramel, when it wasn’t popular.  Or salted!

There was a little dairy store in a neighboring country town that made their own ice cream, and even though I was always a chocolate kind of girl, that caramel ice cream was fantastic and I would often sneak a few spoonful’s of my Mom’s!  And, she usually had those little Kraft caramel candies in the pantry too.

I’ve always loved caramel and now I seemed to have outgrown that chocolate phase (well….not entirely), I seem to choose caramel over chocolate these days.  Is that a sign of old age, or just big girl maturity?

So, when I go out, and I see salted caramel milkshakes, latte’s, etc, I will definitely choose that over chocolate.

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One evening I was craving something caramel and made this caramel smoothie.  Another new addiction!

I only buy plain greek yogurt, you can use vanilla but I find that depending on the brand, the vanilla can overpower the taste I am going for, you use whatever you want.

Also, I am one to make just about everything from scratch however, when it comes to some things (like caramel topping) I will buy the jarred or bottled caramel sauce.  I don’t use that much so it’s really just a time saver thing for me, again, use what you want or what is easy for you.

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Here’s the recipe:

Into a small blender or smoothie maker add:

1/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)

1 T sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 tsp vanilla

Blend well.  Add 2 T caramel sauce and 2 dashes of salt and blend again.  Taste, adjust the caramel and salt to your liking, I added another tablespoon of caramel (total of 3 T).

Pour into your glass, top with whipped topping and a drizzle of caramel sauce and enjoy!

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The first time I tasted hummus, I hated it!  It was garlic, and I love garlic, but that was some nasty stuff!!  Since then I gave it another try, went for the roasted red pepper hummus, and I loved it!  Now I make my own.  It’s super easy!

Red pepper Hummus (2)

I dump the beans in a colander to drain them and give them a good rinse, toss them in the food processor.  Add the tahini, and 2-3 T of the olive oil and puree.

Add the garlic, half of the roasted red pepper, the lemon juice and seasonings, process again. I use jarred roasted red pepper, its just quicker and easier for me.  Starting with just half of a red pepper allows you to get the perfect red pepper taste that you are aiming for!  The first time I made it I instantly added more than one and it was just too much.

Taste and adjust the seasonings if you need to; also you can add more of the red pepper and garlic if you choose.  If you prefer more of spicey hotness then add more cayenne.  That’s the best part about making your own hummus, you can adjust any of the seasonings and ingredients to your preference.

At this point, you can slowly drizzle in additional olive oil as you need to thin the hummus, only add one tablespoon at a time.  I have this weird thing about the texture of beans, I actually prefer mine thinned than what I made today.

Hope you give this a try!  It’s great to take to work for a snack or lunch.  Play around with it, try other spices.  Next time I make this I want to add a chipotle pepper, that should be delish!!

Ingredients:

1 15/16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 whole roasted red pepper, from a jar, cut in half

1 heaping tsp minced garlic

2-3 T olive oil (plus more for thinning out)

2 T lemon juice

2 T Tahini paste

Dash of cumin, cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Fresh Mint Tea

When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, my Mammaw made tea from the mint tea plants she grew in her garden.  I remember smelling the fresh mint as it grew, and I remember the kitchen smelling like mint while she simmered the leaves.  But I did not like drinking it all! Until now.

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My love for mint tea happened many years ago, I bought my usual box of green tea at the market.  Or at least I thought I did.  It was green tea, but with mint.  I was in heaven!  One of the girls I work with also has mint tea in her garden.  She offered me a handful of mint sprigs, so I decided to give it try and make my own mint tea.  I am now hooked and will surely be sad when the mint tea no longer grows for the year.

The first time I made it, I threw the tea sprigs in a bowl of water and put it in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes.  Then I left it sit in the hot water for another 15 minutes.  Scooped out the tea leaves, poured it in the pitcher, and while it was still hot I added about a half cup of sugar and chilled it.  It was actually pretty good!

But I thought maybe it needed to be darker. So I called my aunt and uncle, who also grow the mint tea leaves and make their own tea.  I remembered Mammaw simmering it on the stove so I thought that must be the trick to a darker tea.  But I discovered that really just depends on how long you let it steep after simmering.

So the next time I made it, I used my one quart pot, cut the tea stems in half and put them in the pot.  I use the entire stem with the leaves, but if any of them have a flower on it, I snip that off, but my aunt leaves it on.

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I covered the tea sprigs with enough water to fill half the pot. Brought it to a low boil then reduced the heat to a light simmer.  I left it simmer for about 10-12 minutes.  Then I removed it from the heat and left it steep for about 15-20 minutes.   My entire house had a delightful fresh mint aroma.

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I LOVE sweet tea too so I decided to try my aunts version and I made a simple syrup.  I used about ¾ cup of sugar to ¾ cup of water, brought it to a light simmer until the sugar melted and then removed it from the heat.  Next time I will cut back slightly on the sugar, it was just a bit too sweet.  I cannot believe I just said that!!

I scooped out the sprigs, poured the tea in my pitcher, added the simple syrup and then added water to fill up the pitcher

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If you want to make your own mint tea, play around with the amount of sprigs you use, the more sprigs you use is really up to your taste preference, as is the sugar.  I’m not sure if simmering longer could result in a more minty flavor, but it’s worth a shot.  And the way you sweeten the tea is your preference as well, just remember the sugar will dissolve better when the water/tea is still really warm.  When pouring the tea and sugar in the pitcher, you may need to add more water to the pitcher, just be careful that you don’t add too much and dilute the tea/sugar flavor.  Go ahead and play around with it, and enjoy!

This was the best tea I have ever made!!!  Cheers!

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What a heat wave we’ve got going on!  And who wants to cook when it’s this stinkin hot!!  But you still have to eat so how about a BLT?  How about dressing up the old stand-by BLT and making it a Caprese BLT?

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I made the bacon the easy way, I nuked it!!!  I’d rather do it in the oven but what’s the point of firing up the oven when I’m trying to avoid cooking and making the kitchen hotter than it already is!!

I found this bread at grocery store, I have to admit, as many times as I have browsed the bakery aisles at my store I have never seen this bread.  Actually, it’s a roll.  Saloio Padinha.  Found it over by the muffins, bagels, and….rolls!!!  Who knew!  I cut the roll in half and popped it in my toaster over until it was just slightly toasted.

Sliced my tomato and the mozzarella cheese, gathered my lettuce (about a half cup) and at the last-minute decided to make the mayo a little fancy.  I put about a tablespoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes in the tiny little food chopper (electric) that I have, and sent them on a whirl.  Then I added about a 1/4 cup of mayo and sent that on a little trip until it was blended.

I also made balsamic syrup.  I put 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and added about  a heaping 1/3 cup of brown sugar.  Brought it to a boil and then turned it back to a simmer for about 20 minutes or so, just when it has reduced by about half and was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Then I started layering.  The mayo went on first, then about 3 slices of bacon (okay it was 4), then the lettuce, the tomato was small so I carefully placed about 3 tomato slices next, topped it with a few slivers of the mozzarella cheese and drizzled the cooled balsamic syrup over the top.  Salt and pepper if you wish but I don’t think it’s necessary.

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Hope you enjoy!

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It’s been a really long time since I posted!  WOW!  I have been cooking and working on some recipes, hopefully I’ll get them all posted soon.  But I think I’ll need to start exercising harder and walking on the treadmill for about 5 hours every day!!

I love potato soup, I think it has to be my all time favorite soup.  I really struggled putting this recipe together though, I am in such a habit of just tossing the ingredients in the pot.  I had to slow down and actually take my time to work on the measurements.

This soup is super easy to make, serves 2 BIG bowls and is ready to eat in about 15 to 20 minutes!

Potato Soup Creamy (2)

I usually use a baked potato for my soup.  After pouring the milks and broth in the pan I would just cut up the baked potato in cubes (minus the potato skin) and toss it in.  Figured it couldn’t get any easier than that.  Until I found cubed hash brown potatoes in the freezer section of my grocery store!!!  They are the perfect size for this soup.  And you don’t have to thaw them!!

Potato soup (2)

First gather all the ingredients, while the butter is melting over a medium heat, I measure the broth in the measuring cup ahead of time so its ready to go.  I prefer to use vegetable broth but you can use chicken broth if you like.  Once the butter is melted, add the flour and slowly whisk together, letting it cook for just a minute or so.  Then slowly whisk in the vegetable broth, whisking as you pour.  After making sure there are no lumps, add the half & half and the milk.  Add the potatoes, and let the soup come to a very light simmer.  Stir often and don’t wander away to do something!  Let the soup simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes (stirring often!!) so the potatoes can cook and heat thru.  Reduce the heat to a low setting and add the cheese and sour cream.  For the cheese, add about a half cup first to test the thickness and flavor and add more as you like.  Once the cheese and sour cream are melted thru, remove the pot from the heat and serve.  If you think the soup is too thick, you can add a little milk to thin it out.

I love having a glass of wine and piece of thick crusty bread with this soup.

Enjoy!  Recipe below.

Potato Soup Creamy (1)

CREAMY POTATO SOUP

1 T Butter or Margarine

1 T Flour

¾ Cup Vegetable Broth (chicken works well too)

¾ Cup Half & Half

½ Cup Milk

1 to 1-1/2 Cup Cubed Frozen Potatoes

½ to 1 Cup Shredded Cheese

½ Cup Sour Cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pot on medium heat, when melted add the flour and whisk together, let the flour cook just a little.  Slowly whisk in the broth, making sure there are no lumps.  Add the half & half and the milk.  Add the potatoes and bring to a very light simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir often, don’t walk away.  Turn the heat to a lower setting and add the cheese and sour cream.  When blended, remove pot from heat.

Top with bacon, sour cream, chopped dill or scallions, any of your favorite toppings!

Cook’s Note:  use your favorite cheese, I prefer Monterey Jack but use whatever you like.  Adding the cheese will thicken your soup, if it gets too thick you can thin it out with a little milk.

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