Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cranberry Wassail

It's only two days after Thanksgiving and I am on my third batch of this stuff.  That's how much the family likes it.  Just bottled a half gallon jar to send back with my daughter to college.  I accidentally left the sugar and honey out of my last batch and everyone liked the tartness, so I'll list them as option.  Also good mixed with a little brandy or Southern Comfort.  Strain the leftovers and store in the fridge, then microwave a cup when you want it.

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1/2 gallon cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 24 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional)
  • 1 orange, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger.

Combine juices and stir in sugar and honey, if desired. Put cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange in pot.  Bring just to boil, then cut back to simmer.  Add rest of spices, stir, and serve in your favorite holiday mug.  Also works well in the crock pot.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fancy Brussel Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts, but most of my family doesn't so I usually make them for company.  I adapted this dish from a Guy Fieri Recipe for Christmas dinner last year.  His recipe calls for currents and raisins and pine nuts, but I am not crazy about pine nuts and tend not to like sweet raisins and currents mixed into vegetables, especially when the savory flavors of bacon and capers are supposed to be there.  So, I chose red peppers and added sesame seeds for a little extra texture.
  • 2 16 oz. bags fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 6 oz diced pancetta
  • 3 oz. jar capers, drained
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 red peppers, diced
  • salt to taste
  • sesame seeds
Wash Brussels sprouts and cut in half.  Saute pancetta and capers in skillet, remove and set aside.  Cook sprouts in pancetta fat until slightly brown, transfer to casserole.  Mix in oil, vinegar, peppers and season with salt, roast in 350 oven for 20-30 min. or until nicely browned and tender.  Mix in pancetta and capers, transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Layered pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin pie is one of those things I feel I have to serve at holiday meals, but a little goes a long way.  If I have one piece between November 15th and New Years, I am set for the season, and whenever I make it, it never gets finished. Having had my seasonal piece at my school's Thanksgiving lunch last week, I decided to try something different this year.

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
Combine sugar and crumbs, gradually mix in butter.  Press into bottom and up sides of springform pan; bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Cool.

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 packets cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla.
  • 2 eggs
Mix pumpkin, brown sugar and spices, set aside. Soften cream cheese in microwave, then beat in sugar, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and flour until smooth. Add eggs and beat just until well-blended. Divide batter in half, pour one half into cooled crust. Mix pumpkin mixture into remaining batter, pour over first layer.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until mostly set but still a bit jiggly in center. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Sweet potato casserole

My adaptation of the Southern Living classic, with less butter, maple syrup and orange juice instead of the sugar and milk and no pecans. I also bake the potatoes in the oven instead of boiling...  more carmelizaed potato sweetness!
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes*
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed, if possible)
Scrub potatoes, rub skins with oil and prick with fork.  Bake  at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until soft.  Cool; skins will loosen and peel off easily. Mash in a large mixing bowl.
Beat eggs and stir into potatoes.  Add syrup, vanilla and orange juice and mash until smooth.  Pour into greased casserole dish.

Topping: (if you family doesn't insist on marshmallows)
Cut 2 tablespoons butter into 2 tablespoons flour until crumbly; mix with 1/3 cup brown sugar. Sprinkle over top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

*"Medium" must have meant something much smaller than today's typical sweet potato when this recipe was written.  Usually I need no more than 3-4 of today's size potatoes, and that's with saving a cup for muffins.

Sweet Potato Muffins

Holidays are approaching, which means it's beta carotene season in Doc Thelma's Kitchen.  First up is a new muffin recipe for me.  I am making sweet potatoes in preparation for Thanksgiving and, as usual, overestimated the number of potatoes needed.  This in a nice way to use an extra cup or two.
  • 1 cup mashed baked sweet potato
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper cups.  In my tins, this recipe makes about 18. Beat together briefly eggs, sour cream, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla.  Add sweet potatoes and blend. Mix dry ingredients and spices, add to bowl and stir just until combined. Fill cups 3/4's full; bake 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool.

Glaze (optional)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix all ingredients until smooth, drizzle over cooled muffins.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stuffed Bell Pepper

For some reason, I have never been overly fond of bell peppers, but my daughter, the pickiest eater in the house, loves them, so I've been picking them up at the farmer's market and cooking more with them this summer.  This is a recipe adapted from a couple of different ones.  I like that it includes meat, starch and veggie all in one.

  • 6-8 bell peppers*
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 can spicy Ro-tel
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook rice according to directions, set aside.  Slice tops off peppers, remove seeds.  Cook pepper cups in boiling water 3-4 minutes, remove and drain.  Remove stem from pepper tops, chop up the rest and saute in hot oil 5-6 minutes.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt to skillet, heat until bubbly, then remove and cool.

Mix rice, tomato sauce and beef together, stuff into peppers.  Bake peppers for 1 hour or until meat is cooked through.

*recipes mostly call for 6, but this makes a lot of stuffing and can fill 8.
 If you have extra, bake it in a casserole.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One Cake to Rule Them All...

For my son's thirteenth birthday tomorrow, I made a Hobbit Hole cake.  Cake is from a mix, baked in Pampered Chef batter bowl.  I cut a small chunk from one side to make the door, the leftover made the little hill under the right hand tree.  Fortunately, it's the right season for Christmas tree peeps.  Path is yogurt-covered raisins, windows are chocolate coated raspberry rings.

Update:  Another year, another Hobbit birthday party.  This year I adapted this cake and added some chocolate gold coins to create Smaug in his lair. I think if I was doing it again I would use red gummis for the claws and eye ridges, but everyone enjoyed.