During the Pandemic lockdown, the girls and I joined our local winery, InVINtions, for their Zoom Italian Cooking classes with Chef Lucas. We made many wonderful dishes with Chef Lucas, and Pears in Red Wine Sauce was a delicious surprise. We didn’t have great expectations for this recipe, but trust me, it was one of many fantastic dishes!
When the holidays are upon us and we are tired of dishes that are too sweet or too rich, this is the perfect answer. It is a beautiful dish to serve your guests or to enjoy all by yourself!
PEARS IN RED WINE SAUCE
6-8 Pears 1 Bottle Red Wine 8 Ounces (1 cup) of Sugar 3 Cinnamon Sticks 6 Cloves
In a pan, combine all the ingredients.
Cook over low heat for about 1 hour.
If you desire a thicker sauce, remove the pears after cooked and mix one teaspoon of corn starch with a 1/4 cup water and mix with the wine.
Serve hot or cold. They are delicious warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! You can store in the fridge for about a month.
Cranberry and Orange are a culinary match made in heaven. The combination in this wonderful quick bread is divine, especially with the addition of Orange Glaze.
The bread is great with a cup of coffee or tea or can be served as a dessert.
CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE
1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk into the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. If your loaf starts to get too brown drape a piece of foil over the top to finish baking. I did this during the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife. Carefully remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
While the bread is cooling, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Cut and serve.
Note-The bread is best eaten within 2-3 days or freeze.
Cranberry relish for the holidays is a tradition. I’ve made cooked and raw cranberry sauce, but the addition of raspberries, is a nice change. Cranberry relish is great with the big meal but also great on a leftover turkey sandwich.
Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe, healthy Thanksgiving in this difficult 2020. Let’s take the time to count our many blessings, thank our medical and essential workers, hug (virtual and real) those we love, help those in need, take care of ourselves, and breathe!
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine ALL ingredients.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
After 10 minutes, mash up berries using a potato masher or fork or something to mash up the berries. You can mash up all the berries, some, or none, depending on how chunky you like your cranberry sauce.
Curling up by the fire with a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate is one of the things I look forward to as we approach the holidays and cold, snowy weather.
Last year, my daughter, Megan, introduced me to Fireside Coffee and I was a big fan. I kept a container ready all of last winter and will do the same this year. I made my Fireside Coffee with decafinated coffee so I could enjoy it day or evening.
What a wonderful gift this would be for neighbors and friends.
FIRESIDE COFFEE MIX
2 cups powdered cocoa mix (15 packets of Swiss Miss individual servings)
2 cups powdered coffee creamer
1 cup instant coffee (I used decaffinated)
1.5 cups sugar (I used 1.5 tablespoons of Stevia instead)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix ingredients well. Store in tins, jars, or plastic bags.
Mix 2 heaping tablespoons mix with 2/3 cup very hot water. Stir and enjoy!
A Christmas tradition in our house is to make Kringla, typically flavored with Anise extract. My oldest daughter Megan, likes Kringla, but not the taste of Anise. Lucky for her, I was out of Anise extract and tried Almond Extract instead, and loved the results. I had to double the amount of extract to make sure the Kringla actually carried the almond flavor.
Kringla…hot chocolate…Kolaches (cherry and chocolate)…family gathered in the living room late Christmas morning…what a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas.
Our new tradition…Almond Kringla.
I usually double the recipe and freeze several to enjoy long after the holidays are gone.
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or more to suit your taste)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups flour
Beat egg and sugar together. Add anise extract, melted butter, buttermilk and 1/2 of sour cream.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with remainder of sour cream and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Mix together flour, baking powder and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Mix together flour mixture alternately adding egg mixture and sour cream mixture. Dough will be very stiff and you will need to finish mixing with your hands.
Chill dough overnight. Remove 1-2 cups of dough at a time so the dough remains chilled. Take a small piece of dough (size of a small walnut) and roll into a ball and then into a pencil shape. Shape the dough into a pretzel shape and place on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven and then on top rack of oven for 2-3 minutes. Bottom of Kringla should be golden brown–tops may not be brown. (I have found that every oven is different. Mine tends to run hot so I decrease the amount of time on the bottom shelf to 3 minutes.) In a convection oven, I’ve found 5 minutes on the middle shelf to be sufficient.
Cool and store in airtight container. Great warm with butter and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
During the holidays there are so many parties and potlucks and it’s fun to make something that people remember. Charlene, an AT&T co-worker, shared this recipe several years ago after she brought this to one of our office potlucks.
The first time I made it, I had the snowman standing upright. Big mistake, no one wanted to dip into it and have Mr. Snowman tumble. Give Mr. Snowman a rest on a platter and surround him with crackers. He’ll be a big hit!
SNOWMAN CHEESE DIP
1 tub whipped cream cheese
2-8 ounce bars cream cheese
4 ounces dried beef, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon dried parsley
bunch of green onions
Mix cream cheese bars and chopped dried beef. Add chopped green onions (white part only). Blend in garlic, horseradish and parsley.
Form into 3 balls (small, medium and large) using waxed paper. Stack into snowman shape using a toothpick to attach. (NOTE: I lay the snowman down on the platter)
Spread whipped cream cheese over snowman using wet knife. Garish and serve with crackers, carrots, pretzels.
rosemary branches or broken pretzel twists for arms
Kitchen Memories started to flood back to me as I looked at my kitchen for the last time before the cabinets were removed. So many conversations took place in my kitchen with our girls from babyhood to teenage years to adult years. Meals were prepared for many loved ones, some of which are now gone.
When we first moved into our Smurf blue house in 1988, the kitchen had brown, patterned kitchen carpet, one of the worst ideas on the planet. The Cherry Cabinets were quite nice and the Columbine (Colorado’s State Flower) tile was fitting of the ‘country’ craze at the time.
This kitchen became the heart of our home. Weekday mornings were frantic as Karl and I prepared for work so the girls would often gather on the floor of the kitchen as I prepared breakfast and our lunches.
As I look at the kitchen for the last time, a stream of memorable movies play in my head, including:
Homework, Science experiments, crafting
Holiday meal preparations
Meal preparation while the kids often sat on the counter to chat and share
This Friday I’m feeling under the weather so am reposting my Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip as an idea for the coming AFC and NFC championship games. So good and would also be great baked on potato skins.
Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip is a holiday/party regular. This is an easy, tasty appetizer to serve for a holiday party or family gathering.
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP (BAKED) WITH PITA CHIPS
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke heart quarters, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze to drain
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
Toasted baguette slices, assorted crackers or Pita Chips (recipe below)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach and bell pepper.
Spoon mixture into greased 1-quart casserole
Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.
Cover and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with pita chips, crackers or baguette slices.
Every Christmas, for many years, we have made Cinnamon Hard Candy. I’ve often wondered how Peppermint hard candy would taste and it is also very good. My girls are freaked out by the blue color but you could also make it without any food coloring if you are smurf-adverse.
PEPPERMINT HARD CANDY
1 cup white sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (usually behind the prescription counter at your grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon blue food coloring powdered sugar
Combine sugar, syrup and water in a sauce pan.
Boil without stirring, over medium-high heat until it reaches hard crack stage (300-310 degrees).
Once the candy starts to thicken and turn golden brown, watch carefully or it can scorch.
When done, remove from heat and quickly add peppermint oil and food coloring.
Pour into a metal pan that has been lined with about 1/4 to 1/3″ powdered sugar.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of candy immediately. Let cool until the edges start to firm up and then immediately begin to score the pieces from around the edges and keep cutting inward, in squares, as the candy hardens. This makes it easier to break into more uniform pieces once the candy has hardened.