Friday, October 20, 2017

Bring on the Cranberries

Well I missed the Wisconsin Cranberry Marsh Tour but I was in time for a cranberry sale at the grocery store. You know it's autumn when recipes call for fresh cranberries. Whether it's an old family recipe or a new one you want the freshest cranberries available. You want them as crisp and tangy as can be-like they came straight from the bog.

Cranberrieare an American native fruit and a favorite seasonal ingredient found in traditional holiday recipes. They were also a Native American staple. The berry helped Indians and colonists survive.
The nutritional power of the fruit cranberries are extremely high in antioxidants and are thought to help prevent heart disease. Iroquois and Chippewa used cranberries for an assortment of medicinal purposes.
Cranberry Trivia
  • There are small pockets of air inside cranberries that cause them to bounce. Air also makes the berries float in water. 
  • There are approximately 440 cranberries in one pound.
  • Cranberries are 90 % water.
  • Fresh cranberries can be frozen up to one year in an airtight container.
  • Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries. 
  • Cranberries do not grow in water but on low running vines in sandy bogs and marshes.
  • Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season. More than 94% of Thanksgiving dinners include some type of cranberry sauce.
  • Fresh cranberries stored in the refrigerator are usually good for up to 2 weeks otherwise freeze them. Cranberries last up to one year in the freezer. Buy cranberries in bulk when stores run specials and freeze for a later use. 
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Cook's notes: This moist cake is sure to be a crowd pleaser with bursts of tart cranberries and sweet orange icing. It shines as a brunch side or as a dessert for your holiday gatherings. The original recipe called for it being baked in 2 large loaf pans but I used a 13 x 9 pan. Recipe adapted from
Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon 
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 TB. orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • Optional 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Orange Glaze Ingredients:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 TB. orange juice or fresh juice an orange
  • 1 TB. orange zest
  • 1 TB. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. softened butter
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 pan or 2 loaf pans.
  • Mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon. Add in cranberries and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside. 
  • In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, vanilla and orange zest for 3 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time. Beat well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Use a mixer on low speed and add dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk to the butter/sugar/orange zest/egg mixture. 
  • Fold in sugared/cinnamon cranberries.
  • If using a 13 x 9 pan bake at 25 minutes or when center comes clean using a wooden skewer and cranberries have popped. If using loaf pans check at 40 minutes. 
  • Add glaze after cake is cooled.
Orange Glaze:
  • Use a whisk and blend ingredients until smooth. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spear a Spooky Halloween Kabob

Think outside the box for your Halloween gathering. Treat your guests to some healthy treats and spear a kabob!

Give your Halloween party guests a break from the sweet stuff. Serve up these savory skewers threaded with string cheese, olives and pepperoni.
Peeps like fruit kabobs
Monster Fruit Kabobs
And some other fun and healthy treats
Many years ago one of my co-workers gave me a beautiful poetry book called "Caroline Kennedy A Family of Poems My Favorite Poetry for Children." 
The book is such a treasure that over the years I have given copies to friends and family members. Caroline is quite a gifted writer who has created this anthology of more than 100 poems cherished by her own family over the years. She has divided the book into different sections and written an introduction for each part. I was intrigued by the section: Seasons where she included an original poem by her mother Jacqueline Bouvier. Caroline wrote that she always liked her mother's poem Thoughts because it captures the feeling of sitting in school daydreaming about a life of adventure. I thought I'd share the poem since it seems rather fitting for this time of the year.

I love the Autumn
And yet I cannot say
All the thoughts and things
That make me feel this way.

I love walking on the angry shore,
To watch the angry sea;
Where summer people were before,
But now there's only me.

I love wood fires at night
That have a ruddy glow.
I stare at the flames
And think of long ago.

I love the feeling down inside me
That says to run away
To come and be a gypsy
And laugh the gypsy way.

The tangy taste of apples,
The snowy mist at morn,
The wanderlust inside you
When you hear the huntsman's horn.

Nostalgia-that's the Autumn,
Dreaming through September
Just a million lovely things
I will always remember.

by Jacqueline Bouvier
Autumn on the Mississippi (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seasonal Plate

Three Little Ghostesses

Three little ghostesses 
Sitting on postesses, 
Eating buttered toastesses, 
Greasing their fistesse, 
Up to their wristesses, 
Oh, what beastesses 
To make such feastesse!
Plan a feastesse for Hallows Eve with Slow Cooker Olive Garden Copycat recipe Pasta E Fagioli Soup. It’s rich and hearty loaded with veggies and a good amount of protein with beans and beef, the perfect comfort soup for fall. Pair the soup with some holiday treats Cheese and Blackberry Kabobs and M & M Blondies. 

Slow Cooker Pasta E Fagioli Soup

Cook’s Notes: Pasta e fagioli means "pasta and beans” and is a traditional Italian dish. Like many other Italian favorites, including pizza and polenta, the dish started as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients. Add dried pasta in last 30 minutes of cooking time to avoid becoming mushy.

  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian Sweet Sausage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup each diced sweet onions, carrots and celery
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (basil, garlic)
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Great Northern White Beans 
  • 1 jar (24.5 oz.) Marinara Sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. each Italian seasoning, chili powder, parsley flakes
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Optional ¼ tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 cup uncooked dried pasta e.g. ditalini, small shells, elbow macaroni
  • Brown meat with onions and garlic in a fry pan. Crumble meat, drain and pat dry of grease.
  • Add meat mixture to slow cooker with rest of listed ingredients except pasta. Mix well. 
  • Cook soup on high 3 hours or low 5 hours. Stir occasionally. Add in pasta last 30 minutes of cooking time. 
  • Remove bay leaf. May need to add more broth as pasta does absorb a lot of liquid. 
M & M Blondies
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1- 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup combination orange, yellow and brown M & M’s, divided
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass 9 x 9 pan with cooking spray. 
  • Place butter and brown sugar in a medium sized saucepan and heat. 
  • Whisk constantly until sugar and butter are mixed and smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. 
  • Pour mixture into mixing bowl, adding in eggs one at a time. Stir until incorporated adding in vanilla. 
  • Add in flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, beat until combined. 
  • Stir in chocolate chips and half of the M & M’s to batter, Mix well. 
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. 
  • Sprinkle rest of M & M’s evenly on top of batter, do not press in. 
  • Bake for 22 minutes.
Halloween Kabobs
  • Blackberries or Black Olives
  • Cubed Cheddar Cheese or Cantaloupe
Alternate on a skewer; blackberry and cubed cheese

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October Colors

As colors fade and slip away from the landscape, trees stand bare.
We rely on words to keep the memory alive.  
Holly Mathers-Shuemaker

The Colors live
Between back and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best 
Isn't everything,
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry-
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel;
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
to the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I
Know well
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful 
Story to tell... 

ending page from Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O"Neill

Add some color to your October meal with Halloween Blondies

Monday, October 16, 2017

Butternut Squash Phyllo Cups Appetizer

Autumn Drew Its BedTime Bath
by Lea Johnstone
from Autumn Drew Its BedTime Bath 
Poems and Paintings of Minnesota

Autumn drew its bed-time bath
With colors of every hue
And soaked its aching twigs and limbs
In bubbles of reds and orange and cerulean blue

But winter came along and pulled the plug
And all the colors washed down the drain
The reds and orange and cerulean blue
But left the palest of icy rain

A stretch and a yawn from November sleet
Dressed jammies on bare little limbs
Flurries nestled between clean white sheets
While Jack Frost tucked the blankets in

Snowflakes coated meadow lands
In shades of milk and cream
And slowly closed the sleepy eyes
Of a weary wandering stream

North winds whispered a love you lullaby
With all the notes their lips could sing
Orion read a bed-time story
Then it's off to sleep till spring 

The fall colors in this photo reminded me of this poem's first stanza especially the cerulean blue lake. Lea's use of metaphors throughout the poem help create wonderful seasonal imagery. 

Food Network Magazine 2017 (available at grocery store) has a plethora of recipes perfect for the holiday season. This issue features many creative recipes with unusual combinations. Take for instance...
Butternut Squash Phyllo Cups Appetizer
Cook's Notes: Cheesy goodness topped with cinnamon roasted butternut squash appetizer will definitely catch the attention of your guests. The butternut squash can be roasted earlier in the day. 
  • 2 cups diced peeled butternut squash (about 1/2 small squash)
  • 1 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon 
  • drizzle of honey 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 30 frozen mini phyllo shells

  • 4 ounces lite cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip 
  • 1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese or a cheese blend (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme. snipped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  • Toss the squash with the olive oil,cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper; spread in a single layer on a lined parchment baking sheet. Drizzle with honey. Roast until just tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shallot and roast until softened, about 2 minutes. Let the squash cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet.
  • Meanwhile, place the phyllo shells on another baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 4 minutes. Mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise/Miracle Whip in a medium bowl. Add in shredded cheese. 
  • Fill each phyllo shell with a teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture. Top with a few cubes roasted squash and sprinkle with snipped thyme and walnuts. 
  • Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Weekend Round-Up
Stalking the Graveyard
Use your favorite cake or brownie mix to recreate the scene, adding in cookies and candies for garnishes. 

Applesauce Spice Cake 

Cook's notes: The cake can be made in a 13 x 9 pan or baked as cupcakes. It is dense moist cake with packed with yummy flavors. Add a scoop of orange sherbet to each serving.
Cake ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cups of white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice 
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/3 cups applesauce 
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped peeled apple
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cake Directions: 
  • Preheat oven at 350 and grease 13 x 9 pan or use cupcake liners. 
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, dash nutmeg baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • Add in applesauce, oil and eggs and beat on low speed until ingredients moistened.
  • Beat on high for two minutes, fold in apples, raisins and walnuts
  • Pour into pan or divide among cupcake liners.
  • Bake 13 x 9 pan about 25 minutes-cupcakes 18-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from the center 
Maple Icing
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (do not substitute margarine)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons apple juice, cream or milk
Icing Directions:
  • Use a mixer beating all ingredients until smooth. Add in more liquid as needed for correct spreading consistency.  
Another frosting option: Penuche

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Honey Cinnamon Roasted Squash

Cook's notes: A splendid autumn salad that includes some of Minnesota’s very best natural ingredients. Butternut squash works well for this dish because the squash holds its shape beautifully after being roasted. The combination of nutty wild rice with a simple maple dressing, is not only delicious together, but their vibrant colors combine to make one stunning dish. Consider a time saver by making the wild rice ahead and toasting the pecans. The dressing can easily be doubled. Recipe serves four. 
Pair the salad with pumpkin cornbread. Recipe link below.

Honey Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes or Butternut Squash
2 cups sweet potatoes or butternut squash peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 TB. olive oil or melted butter
1 TB. honey
1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, cinnamon and salt.
Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes or until squash is tender.  

Set aside.

Ingredients Maple Cider Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • 3 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice 
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Ingredients Salad:
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes
  • 5 cups mixed greens or Romaine 
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, both white and green parts or green onions
  • 1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts or salted pistachios 
  • 5 cups cooked wild rice or combination long grain and wild rice 
  • Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and mix well. Refrigerate until needed
  • In a measuring cup place dried cranberries or cherries. Pour boiling water over it and let set for 15 minutes. Drain. 
  • In a large bowl, combine leeks or onions, cherries or cranberries, rice and roasted squash or sweet potatoes. 
  • Stir dressing into salad; taste and adjust salt level if needed. Place mixture on mixed greens top with toasted nuts. 
  • Serve dish at room temperature.