White Cranberry Bread

I’m really not sure when I got this basic recipe from my sister, but it was the perfect one to use when making a quick bread to give to the guys who are out plowing our neighborhood in today’s snow storm.  I, of course, added a little white wine, but you can certainly omit that if you prefer.  Here’s how to make this delicious quick bread:WhiteCranberryBread (1)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2/3 c orange juice
  • 2 T white wine
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 T melted butter
  • 1/2 c coconut
  • 1 cup craisins (or chopped fresh cranberries)
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 2 t orange rind, freshly ground is preferred
    • NOTE: original recipe called for 1/3 c pecans and NO chips or seeds)
  • 1/2 confectioners sugar
  • 1 t margarine
  • 1 t almond milk (more, if needed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease a loaf pan and lightly coat with sugar (I used cinnamon sugar)
  2. In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter and then mix in orange juice and wine.  In separate bowl mix coconut, craisins, chips, and seeds – toss together with a spoon of flour to prevent clumping.
  3. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in the liquids  Mix well.  Add coconut/craisin mixture and blend everything together until just combined.
  4. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Blend confectioners sugar, margarine, and milk to make a thin glaze.  Use your best judgement and feel free to use orange juice or wine instead of milk for a different taste, if desired.
  6. Pour glaze over the entire bread while still warm.  Remove from pan when slightly cooled and slice as desired to serve.  Great when warm but equally good cold.

This recipe is quick to put together and looks amazing when cut.  You can leave it as a whole loaf if giving as a gift (we used to do this for teachers) but it’s moist and full of flavor.  Best part, in my opinion, is that it makes the kitchen smell heavenly!

Enjoy this recipe and please, stay safe in this blizzard we’re experiencing on the East Coast!

Starter Recipe: Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

I have been making some version of “Shepherd’s Pie” for ages, but I wanted to try and make something that would be a simple recipe for others to duplicate.  This recipe is pretty healthy, has lots of “hidden vegetables”, and tastes absolutely divine… a perfect comfort food dish for those who are just learning to cook and those who are proficient.  HealthyShepherdsPie

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • Coconut oil – I used about a Tablespoon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 handful of baby carrots, diced
  • 1/2 sweet pepper, diced (I used 2 small yellow peppers)
  • 3 mushrooms, diced fine minus stems (I was trying to hide them)
  • 1 handful of frozen peas (added at the very end)
  • red wine (I like the flavor when added to ground turkey)
  • granulated garlic (or use fresh, if you have it)
  • salt/pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dollop ketchup
  • flour (use as a thickener – I just sprinkled some over the pan)
  • mashed potatoes (I used a batch of leftover potatoes, but use what you’ve got… if you don’t have any on hand, just boil two or three potatoes and mash with milk/butter)

Directions:

  1. Brown onion and carrots in coconut oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.  I then added the peppers and mushrooms but feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  This is a great way to use up things in your fridge!
  2. Once veggies are cooked, add the ground turkey and brown thoroughly.  I use a potato masher to get all the meat separated so it browns evenly.
  3. You’re now going to flavor your dish.  I always use red wine when I’m cooking ground turkey – I feel it adds a depth of flavor to the turkey and gives it a more “full” taste.  Once the wine was incorporated, I sprinkled granulated garlic, added salt and pepper, and flavored things with the Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.  I like to add the ketchup in something like this because it adds a touch of sweetness without getting a cloyingly sweet/sugar taste.
  4. When the flavors are balanced, I sprinkled on some flour to thicken the dish and tossed in the frozen peas.  Stir all to combine and put into your serving dish.
  5. Top your dish with mashed potatoes.  I love to use this dish when I have leftover mashed potatoes but it’s not difficult to make a small batch of mashed potatoes if necessary.
  6. Bake this dish for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, in a 350 degree oven.  I love to serve this with garlic toasts (made from sliced ciabatta rolls, this is a simple side that can add a lot to the meal).

I hope you find this to be an easy recipe that makes your winter a little “warmer”.  Comfort food that doesn’t take hours to make is something that makes me very happy!  If you have any questions, as always you are welcome to message me and I’ll do my best to help walk you through the process.  Cooking should be fun and enjoyable… don’t stress over making it too “perfect”… it’s simply food and you’re feeding the ones you love.

Enjoy the process!

Recipe: White Cream Puffs

This recipe is one that has been used in my family for as long as I can remember.  As a child, my mom would make these cream puffs for her bridge club nights.  She’d make the cream puffs, cut off the tops and fill them with vanilla ice cream, then frost them with some chocolate before serving them to her honored guests.  Occasionally, we’d be given one of these treats before the ladies arrived and they always looked so incredibly elegant.  What a gift to find out, years later, that this was a simple recipe that I could share with my own guests… and now I get to share that gift with you!WhiteCreamPuffs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups boiling water (I like to use 2/3 cup water and 1/3 cup white wine)
  • 1/2 cup butter (don’t skimp… butter is the only way to go here)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the water/wine with the butter and bring to a boil.  Once melted and fully boiling, add the flour/salt at once and stir, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth.
  2. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Drop by teaspoons onto 2 greased cookie sheets (or baking sheets lined with parchment), shaping dough to peak in center and round out on the bottom.  Place dough 2″ apart.
  3. Bake in preheated 375* oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350*  and bake for an additional 25 minutes.  Cool and fill.  Freeze or use immediately.

These cream puffs make a lovely dessert – slice off the top of the puff, fill with softened ice cream and replace the top, then frost with a bit of chocolate.  My Red Fudge Sauce is fabulous with this dessert (as seen in the photo), but you can use whatever sauce you like best.

Another alternative would be to fill the puffs with a small amount of my Nutty Chicken Salad and serve for a fancy luncheon. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to using these cream puffs!  Enjoy!

Recipe: White Kielbasa and Homemade Kaiser Rolls

I have to say that this meal is probably one of my favorite recipes to pull out on a given night.  The recipe for the rolls is one that I have been making for decades and is both delicious and forgiving, which immediately makes it “fabulous” for me. The kielbasa is another component that is easy when trying to make a quick, healthy dinner that will please all the picky eaters in my house.  I’ve been making both of these things, together and apart, for so long that I was astounded to find that I’d never posted the recipe before.  Please forgive my error and let me rectify this as quickly as possible!

The “Kaiser Roll” part of the recipe:  WhiteKielbasa&Rolls (1)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T vegetable oil (but I’ve used most any oil I have on hand)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 t yeast (I typically add a little more, especially if I already have the tablespoon measure in hand)

I use my bread machine to make the dough for this.  If you don’t have a bread machine, I’d suggest finding a basic bread dough recipe and following those instructions because I truly haven’t made bread without the machine for so long that *I* would have to look up “how to make bread dough” if I were going to make this recipe without the machine.  Once the dough is made, you’ll want to section off equal size pieces of dough and form them into rolls.  For a full recipe, I typically make 9-12 rolls, depending on how large I want the rolls to be when I’m done.  If I made a half recipe, I like to get 6 rolls out of the dough… everything depends on how big and what shape you want your rolls.

When forming the rolls, I like to pull the dough from the top of the ball and squish (technical term, right?) it into the bottom so I’m forming a very round ball.  I then pull the dough out from the center and stretch the roll to make it “flatter” and wider. Once formed, I place the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet and allow them to rise until doubled (maybe a half hour or so). Bake the rolls in a pre-heated 375* oven for 10 minutes, turn the rolls around in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. They should be nicely browned and come off the pan easily.  NOTE: I spray the rolls a few times (once going in, once inside the oven, and again after turning the rolls) with ice water.  I’m honestly not sure what this does, but my original recipe told me to do this, so I continue to do so.  The crust doesn’t get too crispy and the rolls are puffy and light.

The “White Kielbasa” part of the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Oil/fat (I like a mix of olive oil and coconut oil, but butter/margarine is fine too… use what you like)
  • Turkey Kielbasa (I use 1-2 packages, depending on how many mouths I’m feeding)
  • Onions (I use a half onion, sliced, per package of kielbasa, but use as much/little as you like)
  • Seasonings (I like granulated garlic, salt, and pepper)
  • White wine (I use whatever wine I have on hand… just don’t use anything that’s too sweet)

I like to first saute’ the onions in some variation of fat, until they’re lightly browned and toasty. If you want to do a full-on caramelization of the onions, go for it… they’ll be a terrific addition.  It’s all about what you’d like to have with your dinner.  Slice the kielbasa into “pennies”… I cut them slightly off kilter, so they look pretty, but it’s all about what works for you as the chef.  I’ve cut them into long slices, but the kielbasa tends to curl up so the “penny” shape works better for me. Add the kielbasa into the pan and season with garlic, salt and pepper.  Saute the kielbasa pieces thoroughly on one side before flipping them over and browning on the other side.

Once the kielbasa and onions are cooked thoroughly, I like to add some white wine to add a bit of a sauce to the pan.  The wine picks up the browned bits and adds a nice back note to the meal.  You certainly can omit this step and still have a delicious dinner… it’s all about what you’d like to make and how you’d like it to taste.

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe sometime.  I love to keep turkey kielbasa in the freezer for that day when I want to make dinner but don’t have a ton of time… this meal fits the bill for me!  Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions or comments… I’d love to hear from you!

Recipe: White Veggie Cups

I’ve now made two or three different renditions of this recipe and it’s become one of my favorites. It’s a great way to use up any leftover vegetables in your fridge and is healthier than most of the things I can come up with to eat for a quick meal. Veggie cups (made with some white wine) are delicious, versatile, and even freeze-able!

Ingredients: 

  • A leafy green vegetable (I’ve used a bunch of Swiss Chard, Spinach, or even Kale), chopped fairly fine
  • Onion (I like to use 1/4-1/3 of a sweet onion), chopped fine
  • Leftover vegetables from the fridge, chopped.  I used a small yellow pepper in these photos, but I chopped up a tomato recently and it was equally delicious
  • Shredded Cheese (I sprinkled a small amount on each muffin cup – it totalled about 3/4 of a cup).  I have used Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese – use your favorite
  • 2 cups of egg mixture (I used 1 1/2 cups of fat-free egg substitute, 1/4 cup egg whites, and 1/4 cup white wine
  • Seasonings (I like simple salt and pepper, but go wild and use what you like!)WhiteVeggieCups

DIrections:

  1. Chop all your veggies, put your egg mixture together, spray your muffin tin with cooking spray, and pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Into each muffin cup, place some chopped greens, chopped onion, chopped veggie (yellow pepper, tomato, whatever you’re using), and top each with a sprinkling of cheese.  Add seasonings.
  3. Ladle a bit of the egg mixture into each muffin cup, using the ladle to push the veggies and cheese into the egg mixture.  If you have extra egg mixture left over, add it to the cups so everything is as equal as possible but DO NOT overfill the cups.  They should be about 3/4 full since they will puff up as they cook.
  4. Cook the Veggie Cups at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes until the egg is set.  Allow the veggie cups to cook slightly before removing them from the pan and serving.

This recipe is extremely versatile.  You can add bacon, sausage, or ham to the veggie cups if you’d like.  You can substitute vegetables as you prefer.  This is a great way to make a quick breakfast sandwich but simply toasting an english muffin and putting one veggie cup in the middle.  Play with this recipe and see if it doesn’t become one of your favorites as well.

Enjoy!

Starter Recipe: Red, White, and Blue Trifle (with variations)

Desserts can be one of the most fun things to bring to a gathering.  Not only is it the last thing people may have that evening, it’s also an easy way to up the “wow” factor in your contribution to the event.  I adore trying new things that are complicated and take lots of steps, but there are times when all I want is to be able to whip up something simple and quick before hurrying off to a friend’s house.  This is the BEST dessert for such an occasion, IMHO.  I love that you can personalize it any way you choose, you can increase or decrease the calorie count, and you can substitute almost any flavor and still have a really fantastic dessert.  RedWhiteandBlueTrifle

Here are the basic ingredients:

  • cake (I used a store-bought angel food cake, but any type of cake or brownie will work well here)
  • filling (I used 2 store-bought pie fillings, but you could opt for mousse or pudding if you so prefer)
  • wine (you can omit this addition if you like…. again, do what you want!)
  • whipped topping (anything light and airy is wonderful… real whipped cream or whipped topping… your choice)

NOTE: In this specific dessert, I added a few tablespoons of a light, dry Pinot Grigio to each can of pie filling before I began assembling my dessert. For the first layer, I tore half the angel food cake into small pieces and spread them on the bottom of a trifle dish.  I then added one can of strawberry pie filling (to which I had already added the Pinot Grigio) and then spooned an entire small container of light whipped topping and spread it out to the edges. *Make sure to spread each layer to the edge of the dish so they’re easily seen from the side.  For the second layer, I tore the remainder of the angel food cake into small pieces and spread them across the entire dish.  I added one can of blueberry pie filling (which had already been doused with wine) and spooned the second container of whipped topping to cover the dessert.  My final addition was a sprinkling of gold sugar crystals, just for decoration.

My cousin makes this recipe using cherry pie filling and then names it “Cherries in the snow”… it’s my son’s “go-to” dessert when he’s asked to bring something to an event.  I’ve also added vanilla pudding between the pie filling and the whipped topping (or you can add it between the cake and the pie filling).

If you really like chocolate, I would HIGHLY suggest making a brownie trifle:

  • Use red wine in place of the water in a store-bought brownie mix and use that to replace the angel food cake
  • Use chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse in place of the pie fillings
  • Add a bag of toffee bits to each layer, just above the pudding/mousse layer
  • Stick with the basic whipped topping so there’s a lovely white layer in among all the chocolate

Trifle desserts are such fun to make and create.  Use your favorite ingredients and come up with your own favorite flavor combination… you’re only limited by your own imagination!

Recipe: Caprese Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze

I’m never quite sure what to bring when someone asks me to contribute an appetizer to an event.  I love making dips, but sometimes they clash with whatever is being served and I really wanted to make something that would look lovely, taste wonderful, and take advantage of the fresh tomatoes of the season.  Enter, the Caprese Salad!

Of course, since I was taking the dish to a fellow wine-friend’s home, I was going to need to incorporate wine somewhere, so I tried to find a recipe that would fit all the necessary categories.  Finding a few ideas on the web, I set to work creating a Toasted Caprese Salad on Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze.CapreseBruschetta&PortGlaze

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Port Wine (whatever you like or have on hand)
  • Butter (just a small tab is enough to “gloss the sauce”)
  • 2 loaves of long/thin French/Italian bread (I made my own, but store bought is also wonderful in this recipe)
  • Olive oil (enough to brush each side of the toast slices)
  • Tomatoes (I used two large, ripe tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • Basil (Fresh is preferred, but I only had dried, which worked well)
  • salt/pepper (to taste)
  • White Wine (I used a Pinot Grigio, but use whatever you have available)
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese (I bought a log of sliced mozzarella and cut it into strips)
  • Extra basil (fresh is preferred but dried is perfectly acceptable)

I made the Port Wine Glaze first, since it would be need time to rest and thicken.  Pour the 2 cups of port into a sauce pan and simmer the wine until it is reduced to 1/2 cup.  You can tell it has thickened enough if you can see a faint/quick line after drawing a spatula through the sauce from top to bottom.  Add a small tab of butter to “gloss the sauce” and adjust seasonings using a pinch of salt/sugar as needed.  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.  If you’re making this step a day ahead, keep the glaze in the fridge and warm slightly before using so the butter isn’t solid when spooning it over the bruschetta.

Next, make your tomato mixture.  I diced two tomatoes fairly fine and then tossed them with salt/pepper and a bit of Pinot Grigio.  The tomato was fairly juicy, so just before using it, I placed the mixture into a small colander to drain the excess liquid off to keep the bruschetta from getting soaked.

To create your bruschetta, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the loaves of bread into ~3/4″ pieces (as thick or thin as you like) and layer them onto sheet trays lined with foil.  NOTE: Using foil will make the final toasts easier to move to a serving tray.  LIghtly brush the top of each piece of bread with olive oil and allow to toast for 5 minutes.  Flip the toasts over and brush again with olive oil before toasting the second side for 5 minutes.

To assemble, top each toast with a layer of tomato mixture, a sliver or two of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of basil.  Once each toast is adequately topped, pop your bruschetta into the oven for a final 5 minute toasting to melt the cheese a bit. When they come out of the oven, spoon the Port Wine Glaze over top of each individual toast, allowing the glaze to pour over the edges and be soaked up by the bread.  Serve as quickly as possible – these are best when warm, crispy, and dripping with glaze.  NOTE: If you have leftover bruschetta, you can re-toast them the following day to brighten up the flavor.  You can also chunk them up and toss them into a salad to create your own version of a Panzanella salad.

This is a really beautiful appetizer that is surprisingly simple to make. Adjust or alter things as they appeal to you and your family.. that’s what makes cooking such an adventure!