December 27, 2010

Cranberry-almond couscous salad

I made this salad twice this holiday season. Once for a potluck lunch at work and once for a family gathering. It was a hit at both. The colors and ingredients are festive for the holidays, but the salad is really light and full of fresh ingredients and tastes. It was a nice side dish to serve with all of the other holiday foods, which tend to be heavier and richer. Another great thing about this salad is that it is a snap to make. You can even make the couscous the night before and then stir in the remaining ingredients the next day. 

December 26, 2010

Cranberry-walnut bread

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I did; despite my nagging cold and cough. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful husband and family. I must make sure I remember to appreciate them every day of the year. I am a lucky girl and I received quite a few cooking/food related Christmas gifts. I'm sure I'll be posting about my new cookbooks and toys as I begin to use them.

I made this cranberry-walnut quick bread to take to my Grandmother's house for Christmas morning breakfast. Since I hadn't been feeling well, I wanted something quick and easy. This quick bread was a great choice. I love that it uses fresh cranberries instead of dried. The bread is tart and just slightly sweet, which I really enjoyed paired next to all the super sweet holiday treats. Serve it warmed or room temperature and you can eat it as is or top it with some butter or cream cheese to make it even extra special. The recipe is adapted from here and will make one loaf.

December 20, 2010

Pfeffernüsse

I like to have a spice cookie with my Christmas cookie spread. Usually, given my love of ginger, I make my crystallized ginger spice cookies. This year I wanted to try something different though. I found this recipe for Pfeffernüsse (originally from Martha Stewart), a traditional German Christmas cookie, that means "pepper nuts." These cookies are slightly spicy and cake-like in texture. I really like them a lot. I enjoy having a spice cookie full of all the holiday flavors and that isn't super sweet. Although this particular recipe didn't call for nuts, I added them because I felt that a cookie that means "pepper nuts" should contain nuts. The recipe below is my slightly modified version and it will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

December 17, 2010

Chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies

I've been slacking on my Christmas preparations this year. Not because I don't want to do it, or that I don't enjoy doing it - I just haven't had a lot of time (or ambition)... I finally started getting my cookies done and think I've picked out a good variety this year. I always try to have a chocolate and peppermint cookie because I love the combination. I was searching for a new recipe and came across this one from Bakers Royale. I think the cookies turned out good. They took a bit longer to cook for me, but otherwise were great. I made the dough a couple days ahead of time and left it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Then I just pulled it out and was able to get these baked in an evening after dinner (while listening to some Perry Como Christmas songs). The recipe will yield about 3 dozen cookies.

December 13, 2010

Roasted buttercup squash and apple soup

I'm still well stocked on winter squash from the giant basket I bought at the end of our farmer's market this fall. We also still have a few apples left from apple picking this year. I wanted to make a simple soup that really highlighted the squash with a few background accents of other flavors. I chose a golden buttercup squash for this soup, but you could use any winter squash you choose.

This soup is also my entry to this month's Healing Foods which is highlighting winter squash. Winter squash are high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients. Aside from being delicious and beautiful, winter squash are good for you, too!

December 11, 2010

Gingerbread pancakes with clementine-yogurt sauce

What a wonderful way to start off a cold December Saturday morning, or a holiday breakfast! These gingerbread pancakes are just sweet enough and have a warm spice to them that really reminds you of eating a gingerbread cookie. The yogurt sauce is tangy and slightly sweet with a hint of clementine flavor running through it. When you top these pancakes with the white sauce, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and some dried cranberries, it makes them really festive (like snow)! Start your day out with these pancakes before wrapping presents, decorating the tree, baking cookies, or any other holiday activities you have planned. They are a sure way to begin your day off in the holiday mood! This recipe will make about eight 4-inch pancakes, or about 2-3 servings. It can easily be doubled for more people. 

December 9, 2010

Pumpkin risotto

I made this risotto one evening when my husband was at class. I don't usually like to cook for myself and end up eating leftovers or something easy like a sandwich when it's just me. This night though, I was in the cooking mood. I decided to try to use up some more of my pumpkin puree and I've been wanting to try the mini-blue hubbard squash I had bought at the farmer's market. I also had some sage still lying around from Thanksgiving. I decided to make a risotto and to roast the squash and use it as my bowl. It was quite good and the presentation was lovely. The blue hubbard squash was also good -- not too sweet with a dense flesh. This recipe will make enough risotto to fill two halves of a medium squash and will feed two as a main dish with the squash bowls. You can easily double the recipe to serve more people. 

December 6, 2010

Swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

This recipe post is from back in 2010 and I'm updating it now with better photos and more. When I first made these ten years ago, my only experience with Swedish meatballs was a dish my brother made when he was about 10 years old out of a kids cookbook. I remember they were tasty, but I'm willing to bet they were not authentic. I've tweaked this recipe ever so slightly over the years. My recipe does not contain sour cream (though you can certainly add some if you wish) and it definitely does contain nutmeg and allspice. You will find tons of variations of this recipe, but this is how we make them.We love to make these around the holidays and make a double batch to freeze for eating throughout the cold winter.

While we try to keep the meatball recipe fairly traditional, we like to serve ours on egg noodles, which is not traditional. Boiled or pureed potatoes would be a more traditional choice, but they are all delicious. Make sure you look to find lingonberry sauce to serve with your meatballs. It's a perfect compliment to the flavors of the meatballs and the gravy. We also serve these with a side of peas and green beans for a complete meal. They are even a hit with the kids, which is always a bonus! We've served these for both Christmas Eve and New Year's Day over the years and it's a perfect holiday time meal.

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish. The spices and flavors make them perfect for around the winter holidays, or any winter evening where you want a warming and hearty meal.

December 4, 2010

Turkey and cranberry paninis

These sandwiches are another way I used up some of our leftover turkey. It was a bonus because it also used up some of our leftover cranberry sauce. This is hardly even a recipe really, but I just enjoyed them a lot. In college, I used to order a turkey and cranberry panini every once in a while from a coffee shop on campus and I always enjoyed it. I had never had one of these sandwiches before or after that. I remembered them recently and knew for sure that I needed to make these. I made two sandwiches on panini rolls I bought at the bakery. You could use any hearty bread. The below recipe is per sandwich.

December 2, 2010

Molten chocolate lava cake

These little cakes are the perfect way to satisfy a chocolate craving. They are a tasty single-serving treat for when you want a dessert that is warm and gooey and full of chocolate. I've made these cakes twice now and they do not disappoint. I found this recipe when I was looking for a way replicate these cakes at home (I've had a similar dessert at a restaurant). I changed it a little bit and found it was a perfect way to make one for each of us. I must admit that once I got to the last couple of bites, I had my fill of chocolate. They are a pretty sweet treat, but they are good as an occasionally dessert! This recipe makes two little cakes in individual ramekins.