Saturday, November 30, 2013

Butternut Squash and Smokey Ham Quinoa

I seem to be on a role at the moment....during the fall I saved so many recipes that I wanted to try and I am finally back in the kitchen and having the pleasure of trying them out!

This particular recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs, The Cafe Sucre Farine.  Chris has so many tempting recipes on her blog that I can hardly keep up!  Earlier I made her Mediterranean Chicken with Tomatoes and Cannelini Beans.  It has become a hands down top favorite of ours.  I also enjoy reading about her grandchildren and their many special times together.

Mr. T. raved about this dish and I know it will be requested again...really tasty and worthy of repeating!

You can get the recipe here on Chris's blog.  I hope that you will try is a nice change from all of the leftover turkey!!  Hmmm...I wonder if I should try substituting turkey for ham...just a thought....

I hope you enjoy your time at A Cafe Sucre is a lovely place to visit!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

On Thanksgiving morning I wanted to make some Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes...but I also wanted to make this Cranberry Breakfast Cake.  The cake won...for its simplicity and I love cranberries and had to try it!

I saw the recipe for this Cranberry Cake on Stacey Snacks.  She raved about how simple and delicious this cake is, she even made two and froze one for Christmas...she had me convinced, and here it is....  Stacey had a great blog and prepares many delicious meals...I so enjoy reading about her cooking adventures.  Stop by if you have a chance.

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

Preheat oven:  350° F.
Grease a 9" springform pan or a 9" tart pan with removable bottom.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup fresh  cranberries
2 Tbsp sugar for topping (I used Turbinado Sugar...I like the way raw sugar adds a little crispness to the crust.)

Mix the butter and sugar.  Add the almond extract and eggs, combine well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Press the fresh cranberries into the top and sprinkle with the two tablespoons of sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan before removing the sides.


I like that it is not a very sweet cake. A slice of this breakfast cake was perfect with coffee this morning....yum!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

For the Love of Cranberries!!

When I was growing up we always had the usual can of jellied cranberry sauce with our Thanksgiving dinner.  It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the jellied cylinder that has little rings (indentations) around it...I remember being sent to the store and coming back with whole cranberry would think that the world was coming to an end...we had to eat the "wrong kind". Dad was rather particular, I guess.

Things didn't vary much....when I got married and had my first Thanksgiving dinner away from home, we had cranberry sauce made from a bag of fresh cranberries. I remember thinking how great it tasted....of course, they also served the jellied cranberry sauce as there was another dad who was particular.

When it was my turn to host Thanksgiving dinner I knew that I was going to be a bit more adventurous...I actually made two different kinds of cranberry sauce and a chutney....and, yes, a small can of jelled cranberry sauce for those who are not adventurous!

Today, I realized that I have only posted one my tried and true, old favorite cranberry sauces and chutneys....and guess what? Since there were no pictures of them, they won't be posted this year, either!

BUT, I did just finish making a new cranberry sauce recipe and I am happy to share it.  I found it on Sam's blog, My Carolina Kitchen.  She posted a collection of cranberry and chutney recipes...I made her "go to, favorite" recipe that she dubs My Carolina Kitchen's "French" Cranberry Sauce.  I have been sampling all morning so I know why it is her favorite!!  Sam has an excellent blog with super recipes...I have made many of her dishes and they are always perfect!!  If you haven't paid Sam a visit, you will want to....soon!

I am not certain that what I did is very French....there was no French wine in the house except for a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse....not the best choice for cranberry sauce.  I decided that a fruity Zinfandel would be perfect and Mr. T. got home just in time to select a bottle for me....(I selected a Zin on my own was I to know that I was cooking with a very expensive bottle of wine....)  I should add that he cringed when I asked him to select a Zin for me.  It is his favorite wine and I don't think cooking with it was what he had in mind.  Thank you, Babe....

I think I should change the name to "California" Cranberry Sauce based on the wine location...but I want Sam to have full credit for her recipe!!  So here is the California "French" Cranberry Sauce!!

"French" Cranberry Sauce
adapted from My Carolina Kitchen

1 (12 oz) package of fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup dry red wine (I used a fruity Zinfandel.)
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup.)
2 navel oranges, zested and juiced

Put the cranberries (fresh or frozen) in a sauce pan with the cinnamon sticks, red wine, and sugar. Zest and juice the oranges.  Reserve half of the zest for garnish.  Add the remaining zest and the juice from both oranges to the cranberry mixture.

Stir the cranberry mixture and bring to a boil.  Let the mixture simmer (about 15 minutes) until the cranberries have burst.  Remove from the heat, let cool, and discard the cinnamon sticks.  The sauce will set as it cools.  It can be refrigerated, covered from up to five days.

Just before serving, garnish with the remaining fresh citrus zest.  Serve at room temperature.


I do want to share the two other cranberry recipes that I have posted.

Spiced Cranberry Chutney with Oranges  above, is the perfect balance between sweet and tart.  It does make a large amount so count on feeding the neighbors or consider cutting the recipe in half.

Last year I tried this Orange Maple Cranberry Sauce.  It was one that I sampled all morning long...I wasn't disappointed in this simple addition to our Thanksgiving table.

I am so thankful for all of the wonderful men and women I have met through my blogging experience.  Thank you all for your visits, comments, and help!  I hope each of you has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

KILLER Pumpkin Bars

This is the last chance to get things planned, organized and ready for the best feast of the year!  To me the Thanksgiving meal is the very best....a time of gathering family and friends together to give thanks for our many blessings and to enjoy the very best cooking of the year!

In preparation and motivation for the feast, I read through many of my favorite blogs...saving recipes that I thought would be perfect for the season and the big day.  When I read Monique's post about the pumpkin bars that she had just made and dubbed, KILLER Pumpkin Bars, I knew that I had to make them.  Monique's blog, La Table de Nana, is one of the first that I started to follow...she has a lovely blog that is filled with inspiration along with amazing visit will love the tour....thank you, Monique for sharing.

The Pumpkin Bar recipe is one of those that has moved from friend to friend...I can see why, each bite was heavenly....I wanted this recipe to continue of its journey, bringing smiles and a bit of heaven to all...

These are the type of bar that cannot live long in my house...they were plated and delivered to others...continuing the journey....  They are easy to make and worth adding to your seasonal menus.

Killer Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15 oz can)
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each:  cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Lightly grease a 15 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch jelly roll pan
(A small baking dish of similar dimensions should work fine.)

Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt together.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add the pumpkin and eggs.  Beat until well combined.

Spread the mixture into the pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes...until the center of the cake springs back...or the tester is clean.

Cool completely and frost.


3 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste...)
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat until smooth and frost the bars.


Mr. T ate quite a few of these delightful bars.  I know that the KILLER Pumpkin Bar recipe will be on my "forever" list.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple Crisp Mix-In the Pan Bars and a New Cookbook

A package came in the mail from my daughter and guess what was inside?  Among the tissue I found a new cookbook and an amazing set of new measuring cups!  Yippee!  I love new things for the kitchen...and the measuring cups include measures such as 2/3 and 3/4 as well as the regular measures; and, they are labeled on the handles with both the standard and the metric measure. Their short handles are so easy for scooping..I love them!!

As for cookbooks, well, they are my delight and my reading....and so much fun...this one proved to be just that, fun! The book is one that is getting lots of press lately.  It is called One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti.  The concept behind the book is that one can have great  desserts  without complicated steps and multiple bowls.  Everything is done in one thought was, really?  I can't imagine using just one bowl...but, it works....

When my daughter was visiting she wanted to make the Apple Crisp Mix-In the Pan Bars...who cares that it is late in the evening...we had apples so, why not?

Apple Crisp Mix-In the Pan Bars
adapted from One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti

Yield:  12 (4 X 2 inch) bars

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, divided
3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp baking soda (1/4 plus 1/8 tsp)
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
5-6 (about 2 pounds) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced thin (about 1/8-inch thick), divided (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place the oven rack in the middle. Preheat to 375° F.

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the salt, and the baking soda directly into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Add the butter and stir until moistened.  Reserve 1 cup of the crumbs and set aside.  Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan.

Spread half of the apple slices evenly over the crust.  Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon over the apples.

Layer the remaining apples and then sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top.  Scatter the reserved oat mixture over the apples and cover the pan tightly with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes to start to soften the apples.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the oat topping is golden and the apples are tender, about 30 minutes longer.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool.  Cut into rectangles.


Apple Crisp Mixed in a Pan and cut into Bars.....mmmmm...this smelled heavenly while baking. We could hardly wait to dig in...warm apple crisp and a scoop of ice cream...delicious....

If one has to have a weakness, it is a good thing for it to be cookbooks!  One can count on having something delightful at the end of the reading....

I am sharing with Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Bake

Sometimes it is nice to have something a little different for breakfast.  That is just what I was looking for when I saw a post on Noble Pig for Banana Oatmeal Bake.  Cathy posts some amazing recipes so I knew that this was going to be delicious and perfect for our busy morning.

With a wonderful banana bread aroma wafting through the house, I could hardly wait for the minutes to tick away and the timer to ring.  I poured a bit of milk over the top and enjoyed each and every bite!  I also knew that it was going to be loved by Sabine.  Yes, my granddaughter has been here and she loves this was certainly the perfect breakfast!

Banana Oatmeal Bake
adapted from Noble Pig

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups milk (reduced fat works fine)
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, 10-Grain Cereal baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, milk, egg, vanilla extract and mashed bananas.  Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.

Lightly spray an 8 X 8 baking pan with cooking spray and pour in the mixture.  Bake at 375° F. for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the walnuts on top and bake for another 5 minutes to toast them.

Serve hot!


This would be a good bake to make when there is company in the house or for Thanksgiving morning...or any morning for that's delicious and easy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I remember the first time that I saw Spinach and Artichoke Dip on the restaurant menu.  It sounded so good to, saucy, spinach and artichokes blended with cheese....not necessarily the most healthy of dips but one that is....wait, it has vegetables, it has to be a little healthy!  Let's just forget the mayo, cream cheese, the gooey Parmesan cheese and whatever else is usually mixed in....I mean, really forget in a state of denial allows one to truly savor each and every bite of those wonderful vegetables!

I have always wanted to make this dip and I had been researching recipes for a long time.  Most everybody has a twist on this recipe...Alton Brown has one that looked pretty good and I loved the sprinkle of red pepper flakes in his recipe.  I made a note to include that when I made it...if I ever did....

Then there was the article from America's Test Kitchen that mentioned how the dip is sometimes floating in grease, bland and turns to rubber as it cools...yep, that describes the last time I ordered it.  The Test Kitchens set forth to make a creamy dip that wasn't the least bit greasy or's made with a flour-thickened Parmesan and cream sauce....mmmm...mmmm...I adore Parmesan cheese....and they included hot sauce!

So, yes, I made the dip...and yes, I lived in denial, and yes, I enjoyed every piece of naan spread with this warm and creamy concoction...and since I don't do this very often, I didn't worry about it!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
adapted from America's Test Kitchens - Cook's Country

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 box frozen chopped spinach (10 oz), thawed and squeezed dry

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat to 450° F.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the artichokes and cook until lightly browned. about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Set the pan aside.

Melt the remaining butter in an empty saucepan.  Stir in the flour and cook until just golden, about 1 minutes.  Slowly stir in half-and-half, 1 1/4 cups Parmesan, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Off heat, stir in the spinach and the reserved artichoke mixture.

Transfer to a 1-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and serve.

This can be made ahead:  The dip can be prepared to the point prior to baking and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.  To heat, let the dip come to room temperature for 1 hour, them sprinkle with the cheese and bake, covered with foil for 10 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking until golden brown and heated through, about 15 minutes longer.


I must admit to not reading well...maybe it was the size of the print...whatever it was, I made an error and used all four tablespoons of butter when I browned the onion and artichokes....ooops....then I did it again when I used the entire measurement of the Parmesan when making the still was wonderful!!

So, what motivated me?  It was actually The Secret Recipe Club and the blog I was assigned, Fit Mama Real Food.  The blog is Heather's combination of fitness and healthy eating...along with some parenting tips and home projects.  Heather is a fitness instructor and as such, has a passion for fitness.  Her passion naturally carries her to the kitchen when she works her special magic creating healthful recipes to share with her family.  Heather posted a Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip using Greek yogurt and low fat cream cheese as her base....and this was the motivation for me to dig out my notes, make some comparisons and prepare the dip!