Thursday, November 30, 2017

Glazed Eggnog Bread with Cranberries

One more literary birthday to end the month
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain)
Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri.  He wrote under the pen name Mark Twain and went on to author several novels, including two major classics of American literature: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor. Twain died on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut.

Some interesting trivia...

Mark Twain favored white linen shirts and suits and smoked 20 cigars and countless pipes every day. 
He first fell in love with his wife, Olivia, when her brother showed him a photograph while they were on ship together. Twain said: "I do believe that young filly has broken my heart. That only leaves me with one option, for her to mend it." On their first outing together, he and Olivia went to a reading by Charles Dickens. She turned down his marriage proposals three times before accepting. For the rest of their lives together, she edited his novels, essays, and lectures.

Cook's Notes:1 quart goes a long way.
So lucky me I had enough to make 3 mini Eggnog Glazed Loaves with Cranberries. Buying these cute bags recently at a craft fair inspired my baking. I shared the treats with three special friends. 
The recipe makes 3 mini loaves or 1 standard loaf size. It was easy to prepare. I really liked the flavor. The bread was moist and sliced easily. It makes a great holiday gift. Wrap in Christmas cellophane and tie with a ribbon or find a cute little bag. Be sure to attach the recipe to the gift. Recipe adapted from 
Bread Ingredients:
  • 2- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg or ¼ tsp. dried nutmeg 
  •  2 large eggs 
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar 
  • 1 cup eggnog (low fat is fine) 
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract or 1 tsp.dark rum, optional 
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, halved
  • 1 TB. sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp.cinnamon

Eggnog Icing
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 
  •  1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • Dash freshly grated nutmeg or regular ground nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons eggnog 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans. 
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and set aside. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, eggnog, melted butter, vanilla, and rum extract (if using). Beat well 3 minutes. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). 
  • Mix cranberries with cinnamon sugar mixture and gently stir into batter. 
  • Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes for mini loaf pans or 40 minutes for standard size loaf pan. Check for done-ness when a toothpick to the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, remove and cool completely on a rack. 
  • Prepare icing: Combine sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Stir in enough eggnog to reach drizzling consistency. 
  • Option: add toasted coconut on top of glaze for contrast. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Apple Cranberry Crisp

She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain.
Louisa May Alcott
In 2014 I posted a blog on one of my favorite writers, Louisa May Alcott whose birthday is  November 29. Coincidentally she and her father Bronson Alcott share the same birth date.
Alcott was often inspired by familiar elements when writing her novels. The characters in "Little Women" are recognizably drawn from family members and friends. It was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. It falls into the genre of coming of age.

In 2016 I took on the Jump Into A Book ReadKidsClassics Challenge.

Valerie Budayr, children's book author, publisher, co-founder of Multicultural Children's Book Day and creator of jumpintoabook site encouraged readers of all ages to either read or reread children's classics. So I reviewed one of my all time favorite children's classic, "Little Women" and posted my review on Ever Ready.
Jo, Beth and Amy March came from a family where money was scarce. Often they had to make do with very little. I think they'd like Cranberry Apple Crisp. It takes advantage of fall harvest bounty found in the New England region where they lived. 
Cook's Notes:
I used a 9 x 9 glass pan.
Filling  Ingredients:
  • 5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced. 
  • 1/2 bag fresh cranberries (6 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut in small pieces
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish 8x8 or 9x9. 
For filling: 
  • Whisk together brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, zest, flour and cinnamon. Stir in apples and cranberries. Spread evenly in a baking dish.
For topping: 
  • Stir together oats, nuts, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  
  • Work in butter with hands until pea sized or add topping ingredients to food processor and pulse a few times. 
  • Sprinkle evenly over apple cranberry mixture.
  • Bake 25 minutes or until cranberries are bubbling and topping is lightly golden. 
  • Serve warm with ice-cream. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sipping Soup at William Blake's Inn

William Blake ( November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, painter and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered an important figure in the history of poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

"A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers" is a children's picture book written by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. The book was published in 1981.

In 1982 Willard won the Newberry Medal for the book. The Provensens, illustrators, were runner-up for the Caldecott Medal the same year. "William Blake's Inn" remains the only Newbery-winning book that is also a "Caldecott Honor Book."

In a prose introduction, Willard tells how she was introduced to the poetry of William Blake when she was ill as a seven-year-old. She asked her babysitter, Miss Pratt, for a story "about lions and tigers" and Miss Pratt responded with Blake's poem The Tyger. Two days later she received a copy of "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" inscribed "Poetry is the best medicine. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. yrs, William Blake."

The fifteen poems that follow, plus an epilogue, describe the events of a day and a half of a child's visit to William Blake's Inn. It is inhabited by such creatures as the Rabbit, the Rat, the Wise Cow, the King of Cats, the Tiger, the Man in the Marmalade Hat, and of course William Blake himself. It is a place of wonder and magic.

The Tyger is perhaps the most famous of all Blake’s lyric poems. First published in 1794 the collection Songs of Experience has captivated children but has had academics arguing for over 200 years as to its meaning. Whether the poem is simply a delightful lyric for children or a political allegory of the French Revolution remains a hotbed of discussion. Whatever the case, it remains an evocative piece by Blake at his most inspired.
I was quite taken with these two pages. The simplicity of the words evoke strong images for me.
I wonder if Blake would have enjoyed sipping Smoky Black Bean Soup at his inn?? It's not too British with more of a Southwest flair. 
Cook's Notes: This soup has some ingredients that you might not normally think would be in a soup but trust me it works. It has just the right amount of smokiness with the coffee and a bit of a  kick with several spices. I used Italian sausage but bacon or chicken work well too. Need a vegetarian meal? No problem-omit the meat and substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Prep the vegetables ahead for easier assembly. The recipe called for 2 cans black beans but I found 1 can was enough for my taste. 
Top your soup with some shredded cheese and diced avocados plus a few tortilla chips thrown in for good measure.
The recipe makes 6 servings depending on the size of the bowl. I was inspired by Real Food Fall 2017 publication by Lunds & Byerlys. 
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage or chicken or 8 slices of bacon
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup each diced carrots, onions,celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each red pepper flakes, sugar, cumin and smoked paprika  
  • 1 TB. tomato paste
  • 2 TB. each dark balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced  tomatoes (basil and garlic) 
  • 1 box (32 oz.) low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1-2 cans (15 oz.) black beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 TB. each cornstarch and water
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice  
  • Cook meat, crumble and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in soup pot. Saute onions, carrots and celery 5 minutes. Add in garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Cover and on a low heat sweat vegetables for 5 minutes.  
  • Uncover and stir in red pepper flakes, sugar, cumin, paprika and tomato paste. Whisk to mix well. Add in balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, diced tomatoes, broth, coffee and beans. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  • Mix cornstarch with water, add to soup mixture and cook until slightly thickened about 10 minutes. 
  • Sir in lime juice right before serving.      

Monday, November 27, 2017

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

Let eggnog elevate your holiday cooking to a new level with Overnight Eggnog French Toast. It's a no fuss recipe that can be made ahead so you have more time to visit with your company. The cinnamon sugar flavors sprinkled over the french toast right before baking make it a real crowd pleaser. Bacon or ham are a perfect side.
The recipe can easily be doubled for a 13 x 9 pan. I used a 9 inch glass pan.
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine December 2017 and serves 4 using 12 slices of bread.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 TB. each granulated sugar and brown sugar
  • 1/2 TB. vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 loaf challah bread or another dense firm bread e.g. Italian, Peasant, cut into 12 slices 
  • Mixture of 1 TB sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in half and half, eggnog, sugars, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. 
  • Grease baking pan well especially the bottom so bread slices do not stick during baking. 
  • Dip each bread slice in eggnog mixture and arrange in 2 lengthwise rows, shingling the slices. Pour remaining egg mixture over the baking dish.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.
  • Bake 30 minutes until browned and puffed. Let sit 5 minutes before serving with warmed syrup.       

Spotlight on St. Kateri Teckakwitha 
She is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. St. Kateri was canonized on 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict Her feast day is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.

Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656. Tekakwitha is the name she was given by her Mohawk people. It translates to "She who bumps into things."

Kateri was the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. She refused to marry and converted to Christianity as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe for becoming Christian. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it.

Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus.

She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. Immediately after her death it was reported people noticed a physical change. Her face that had been so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed and became beautiful and so white. Later Kateri became known as the "Lily of the Mohawks". 

Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishment of Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St, Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Festive Holiday Cooking

Eggnog is traditionally consumed throughout the holiday season. During this time commercially prepared eggnog is sold in grocery stores but it can be home-made using milk, eggs, sugar and flavorings. Eggnog is served with cinnamon or nutmeg. While eggnog is often served chilled, in some cases it is served warmed, adding in whiskey or rum.
Since eggnog is a seasonal item one has to be quick to purchase a carton in the dairy section as supplies are available for a limited time .
A word about Saigon Cinnamon  
Saigon cinnamon -- sometimes referred to as Vietnamese cinnamon -- has some distinctive characteristics that set it apart from the other cinnamon varieties. The flavor is more intense than regular ground cinnamon so you would use less than regular cinnamon. 
It will not surprise you that I am a huge fan of the spice as it's an ingredient regularly included in my recipes and enhances a lot of dishes.
 Eggnog Coffee Cake is a moist and flavorful cake perfect for those holiday morning get-togethers. Fresh cranberries, dried cranberries or dried cherries and sliced almonds can be added for extra flavor,texture and crunch. It's delicious and even better with your favorite  cup of coffee or tea. 
The recipe was adapted from Food Network Magazine December 2017 and serves 8.
For the cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 TB. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream-light
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries or 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar  
For the topping and glaze:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 TB. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup almonds 
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 TB. eggnog
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees  and coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Beat the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla until combined.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the sour cream in two batches. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until well combined, about 30 seconds. 
  • Stir in dried cherries or fresh cranberries and spread evenly into prepared pan.

Topping Directions:
  • Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Work in the butter with your fingers until clumpy or pulse a few times in food processor. Scatter the topping over the cake batter. Sprinkle with almonds.
  • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 35-40 minutes. 
  • Transfer pan to a rack and let cool 20 minutes, then remove the springform ring and let cool completely.
Glaze Directions: 
  • Whisk the confectioners' sugar with 3-4 tablespoons eggnog in a medium bowl until smooth and desired consistency.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake before serving.
Leftover Mash Potato Rerun 
Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. My sister had made a huge bowl we couldn't finish up on Thanksgiving. Her mashed potato recipe is pretty standard with butter, milk, salt and pepper, a little Boursin cheese and some sour cream.  I took the leftovers and changed them into crispy puffs. Oh my, they were good and I am not even a potato person! 
The recipe makes 8-10 depending on size of pan used. The recipe comes from
  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated cheese such as Parmesan, shredded Mexican cheese, Gruyere
  • 1 tsp. each chives and parsley flakes
  • 1/3 cup diced meat e.g. cooked ham or crumbled bacon
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat muffin pan. 
  • Beat eggs and add in mashed potatoes, cheese, spices and diced meat. 
  • Bake about 23 minutes. Let cool in pan five minutes before removing. 
The options are endless. But here are two ideas to consider
  • Goat Cheese and Spinach with minced garlic 
  • Italian-Inspired-chopped sun dried tomatoes, chopped basil and finely chopped shallots   

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

Thrifty Holiday DIY Ideas

100 Notable Books 2017 Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. This list represents books reviewed since Dec. 4, 2016.

Thanksgiving Recap
We hosted Thanksgiving and this was a last minute decor idea. I bought king size Hershey bars and found this great website where you can print your own candy bar wrappers for any holiday or special occasions so no need for an extra step to download any special apps.
I thought this one would be perfect for a sweet treat on Valentine's Day. 

Leftovers: The photo below shows some of Ever Ready recipes served. The supporting sides bought by guests did not make the picture nor did the turkey which was polished off leaving no leftovers behind. 
Cranberry Apple Chutney
Sausage Cranberry Apple Cornbread Stuffing
Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch
Mixed Nut Chocolate Tart

And I did Shop Small in Walker, MN  on Saturday.
It was festive on Main Street with rides 
and all the stores were decked with holiday greenery and Shop Small welcome mats. 

Eggnog French Toast 
Black Bean Soup
Cranberry Apple Crisp
3-1 Appetizers

Friday, November 24, 2017

Shop Small and Eat Light

The controversy over holiday shopping on Thanksgiving day has been drawing a lot of media attention. Retailers are opening their doors earlier and earlier each year on Thanksgiving to jump start Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Small Business Saturday
is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 25th.

This movement is an refreshing alternative for small business retailers trying to compete against the big-box chains. Many small independent stores are offering early promotions on Saturday as a savvy way to counter big-box retailers.

On Nov. 25, you can impact your community by finding small businesses for your shopping and gift needs. When entrepreneurs start a business that does well, the return of jobs and revenues directly go to their communities to make a powerful impact. Small businesses are still the engines of our national economy. 

And when you shop small stores give out these really nice canvas bags as an advertisement to shop small all year round. We live in a small up north community whose economy depends on community support for survival. So I am grabbing my bag from last year and heading out the door Saturday. Perhaps I might see you.
Just in case your company hasn't eaten all your turkey 

here's a lunch idea on the lighter side.
Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps
Cook's notes: A healthy crowd pleaser for Thanksgiving weekend.  It's a meal the kids will love. The recipe filling was adapted from Cooks Ilustrated and  
Be creative with toppings and set up a taco bar as an added interest. 

  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cups shredded turkey or 1 lb. ground turkey meat
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder 
  • 1 tsp. taco seasoning mix 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Romaine or butter leaf leaves, doubled up, for serving
  • Toppings: shredded Mexican cheese, diced Roma tomatoes, diced red onion, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, light sour cream, for serving
  • Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add turkey and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing and breaking up turkey occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add chili powder,taco seasoning, cumin, paprika, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered about 20 minutes until sauce has reduced. Using a slotted spoon to drain juices serve mixture over lettuce leaves. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

With A Grateful Heart

Be filled with gratitude and joy today and everyday!


and from Bella
to all my Facebook friends who follow my blog
and Happy Turkey Day! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

T is for Turkey

And these kindergartners are right on for this holiday with their art and a counting chant.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner this holiday can hardly happen without Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Minnesota tops the nation in turkey production (45 million) followed by North Carolina (35 million) Arkansas (29 million) Indiana and Missouri (17 million), and Virginia (16 million).

Since 1995, Wisconsin has produced the largest crop of cranberries -- currently, about 57% of the United States' total production. Massachusetts fell from first to second largest producer in 1995, and currently produces another 23-30%. The remaining U.S. cranberry crop comes mainly from New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. ,
Need a cookie fix to keep you going till Thursday?
Ever Ready sugar cookie recipe might be just what you need. Skip the icing, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar to the cookie right before baking.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...