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December 2011

November 2011

Cranberry Sauce for Grown Ups

IMG_1304Most people probably see cranberry sauce as a simple condement. And for such a simple condement, why should you spend a lot of time making it from scratch, when you can buy it for $2 a can? Why, you ask? Because the real thing is worlds better than anything you can get out of the can.

While I always liked cranberry sauce, I never felt like I could be bothered with the extra effort. The turkey, quite franky, was much more important and more worthy of my effort than some simple cranberry sauce. Boy was I wrong.

Last year at Thanksgiving, I made fresh cranberry sauce for the first time and I couldn't believe the difference. It was a simple recipe, with just cranberries, water, sugar, and a little orange rind. But it make such a big difference in our meal that I vowed never to eat cranberry sauce out of the can again.

This year, I decided to take the cranberry sauce to another level. We're having some friends over for Thankgiving this year and one of them is a big bourbon fan. So to kick up the cranberry sauce, I decided to use bourbon in the recipe. There isn't much guidance out there about adding Bourbon to cranberry sauce, but I did find a recipe on Epicurious about Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce

This gave me an idea, maybe I can use a bourbon drink recipe as inspiration my cranberry sauce. So I looked for good bourbon and cranberry drink recipes until I came across this blog post about reinventing the Bardstown Sling (which I had never had before). 

IMG_1325I improvised the recipe a little. I started with a basic cranberry sauce recipe and added any alcohol after the cooking cranberry sauce and letting it cool. In a short 20 minutes, during which I also made my boys lunch and changed a diaper, I had sweet, homemade cranberry sauce. The brilliant thing about cranberry sauce is you can make a lot of it in a short time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Whatever is leftover, you can freeze and bring out for any meal in the future.

So here is my Cranberry Sauce for Grown Ups recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Bourbon Orange Cranberry Sauce

16 oz. fresh whole cranberries
1/2 cup water 
1 cup sugar (use less if you like you cranberry sauce more on the tart side, you can also use honey or maple sugar)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Cointreau
1/4 cup Bourbon

IMG_1312In a medium sauce pan, mix sugar, water, lime juice, and cranberries and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cranberry sauce has your desired texture and thickness.

IMG_1319Remove the sauce from the saucepan and transfer to a mixing bowl until it is cool. (This would be the time to separate out the cranberry sauce for the kids from the adults.) Once cooled, mix in the Cointreau and Bourbon. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Bacon-Sausage-Prune Infused Stuffing

This was my first attempt at cooking stuffing. This Thanksgiving I plan on cooking everything from scratch, and even though it is a big task to take on, I am very excited.

Last weekend I decided to do a test run for the stuffing that I will make for Thanksgiving day, because to me, stuffing is more important than the Turkey. I love stuffing and, in my opinion, having poor-tasting stuffing on the big day can ruin the whole meal.

The first thing I did to prepare for my big cooking day was to peruse the internet for stuffing recipes. I looked at the MarthaStewart website, where I got the idea to use bacon. I read Simplyrecipes, where I got the idea for using French bread. And then I read a myriad of other blogs to get the basics for cooking stuffing. I decided to make a medley of the different recipes and to make my stuffing with prunes, sausage, bacon, and french baguette besides the regular ingredients such as celery, chicken stock, onions and butter.

I woke up on Sunday morning and went to the Bethesda Central Farmers Market, and walked around to see which ingredients I could purchase. I try to prepare most of dishes with organic ingredients when I can. I stopped by the Meat Crafters stand and purchased some Kielbasa sausage. (Apparently their recipe is a traditional recipe made of fresh pork, garlic, marjoram, and black pepper.) Then I walked over to the Bending Bridge Farm stand and purchased some onions. They grow their produce with care and patience and offer a myriad of fresh, organic produce.

Beside sausage and onions, I was not able to purchase any of the other ingredients I needed, so I went to my local supermarket where I was able to find the remaining ingredients. I headed home and immediately began cooking.

Bacon-Sausage-Prune infused Stuffing:

1 whole wheat French baguette
1 cup prunes (cut the prunes in half)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 cup of chicken stock
6 tbsp of butter
4 or 5 strips of bacon
2 keilbasa sausages chopped
2 tbsp of sage
1/2 tbsp of rosemary
1/2 tbsp of thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

I tore up the French bread into small pieces, and since it was not a day old, it was still very fresh, a good trick, I learned, is to put the bread in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until it dries out. Then place the bread in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat, cover the bread with 3 tablespoons of butter and let the bread brown but not burn. In a different pan saute the onions, celery, and sausage in 3 tablespoons of butter. Let the sausage fully brown then add the bacon. After the bacon has been completely fried and become crispy add the sauteed bread from the other pan, all of the chicken stock, sage, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then cover the mixture and allow to simmer on a low heat for an hour. Every 15 minutes check on the mixture to make sure it has not become too mushy and is not sticking to the pan.

Bacon-Sausage-Prune StuffingIf I may say so myself, the stuffing tuned out well. It had the perfect balance of flavors and it was not too salty (I feared this because of the chicken stock). This stuffing was very easy to make and did not take a lot of prep time. Perhaps the one thing I will add for Thanksgiving day are some chestnuts. I find chestnuts to be a very fall/wintery ingredient and should add some texture to the stuffing.

Voila. You have a delicious organic easy to make stuffing for your turkey on the big day.

Food and Friends' Slice of Life

FafsolEvery year, Food and Friends runs a pie sale called Slice of Life. Anyone can purchase a Thanksgiving pie and at the same time make an impact in the lives of thousands in need in the DC Metro region. Anyone can buy pies for themselves, as gifts for friends, or for Food and Friends to deliver to their clients on Thanksgiving Day. The great thing is that each pie purchased provides one full day of meals for a neighbor in need!

You can buy any one of the following delicious pies:

Picture Perfect Pumpkin Pie - $25

Harvest Apple Crumb Pie - $25

Oh So Sweet Potato Pie - $25

Southern Pecan Pie - $25

US Airways Sky Pie: Creamy Chocolate Covered Cheesecake - $40
(Each pie purchased enters you to win a $1200 US Airways gift card)

Pie for a Food & Friends Client - $25
(We'll deliver it to their door with a full holiday meal on Thanksgiving Day)

More information on the pies that can be purchased and their ingredients is available on the web site. After purchasing, you can pick up your pie at many area pick up locations on Tuesday, November 22nd from 11am to 8pm. Hurry up and buy your pies while you can. Sales close next Thursday, November 17th at midnight!