Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spiked Spiced Cider

Cold weather calls for hot drinks. And since it's Thanksgiving Eve and it's snowing (well, at least flurrying) here in Delaware, I think it's time to share a recipe for a hot toddy. I like to brew a pot on the stove on the weekends and refrigerate the leftovers in a pitcher in the fridge. If you don't drink alcohol, don't despair; this recipe still tastes great without the liquor. Consider making this a last-minute addition to your Thanksgiving menu, a fun beverage to enjoy while you put up your Christmas decorations or a nice drink to sip by the fire after a long week.

Spiked Spiced Cider

8 cups apple cider
1 cup spiced rum, optional
1 cup apple pie moonshine, optional (I buy Midnight Moon at Costco, if you can't find it, use spiced rum)
1 pear, sliced
1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 orange, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks

Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Leftover cider can be enjoyed cold or reheated in the microwave.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cherry-Apple Cranberry Sauce

It's Thanksgiving week! Are you excited? I've been recording Food Network Thanksgiving shows on my DVR for the past week and watching them over and over again while I plan my menu. This is the first year that we're hosting Thanksgiving at our home and I am thrilled to build this menu and cook this meal for our family.

Are you a fan of cranberry sauce? I bought some of the old-school jellied version for the traditionalists, but I decided to make a fresh, homemade cranberry sauce this year. Interestingly, I don't love cranberry sauce with my turkey dinner, but I enjoy using it on French toast and other unexpected places.

This sauce is a bit of a departure from the home-canned version I posted in 2011. It's a smaller batch and you don't have to can it. I love canning, but I know that not everyone has the time or desire to do so. This small batch of sauce can be prepared a few days in advance of Thanksgiving. I've already made mine in anticipation of the big day.

This sauce is tart (as expected!), but there are also bites of sweetness due to the dried cherries. I'm looking forward to serving this on Thanksgiving and finding a creative application for the leftovers. I'm thinking of using it on baked brie, leftover turkey paninis, and using it to make a flavored butter. This is a quick recipe. I hope you try it!

Cherry-Apple Cranberry Sauce
inspired by Cookin' Canuk

1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed
3/4 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all berries are popped and sauce is thickened.

Carefully pour cooked sauce into container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold. This sauce will hold for a week or more in the refrigerator.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carrot Souffle

Last year I took a few cooking classes at my local ShopRite. I enjoyed each class, but this recipe was hands-down my favorite.

Years ago I enjoyed an awesome carrot soufflé at a cafe in North Carolina. I attempted to make it at home, but I wasn't able to get the smooth, fluffy texture like in the restaurant. Here's the thing: carrots seem to take forever to cook and once they're cooked they can be a pain to whip to a smooth consistency. I finally realized that a food processor made all the difference. Between using a food processor and having the right recipe I finally struck gold.

This side dish is slightly sweetened, but not sickeningly sweet. I think it's a nice alternative to candied or mashed sweet potatoes and it would be an awesome addition to your thanksgiving meal. The fresh ginger gives it a subtle holiday flavor and the sweetness makes it pleasing to the vegetable-averse members of your family. I enjoyed this so much that I ate it for breakfast the next day. And Max loved it, too.

Carrot Souflé
inspired by ShopRite Culinary Workshop
about 8 servings

1 pound of carrots, peeled and chopped into 2" pieces (or 1 pound baby carrots)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 teaspoons grated fresh peeled ginger root
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil carrots for 25 minutes or until carrots are very soft. Drain carrots and put them in the bowl of a food processor.

Add butter, ginger, sugar and vanilla. Pulse until smooth. Add eggs, flour and baking powder. Pulse until smooth.

Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until center of soufflé is set. Serve hot.

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