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Posts published in “Recipes”

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

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I really wish I had this recipe growing up, when my mom and I used to make tons of cranberry sauce for the holiday season. It's a great way to use leftover sauce that totally works, given that cranberry sauce (at least, how I make mine) is typically spiced, as well as sweet and tangyjust like barbecue (BBQ) sauce.

Skeptical? Don't be! The cranberry flavor isn't as pronounced as it would be eating cranberry sauce on its own. The cranberries do give the sauce a pretty, dark magenta color and are of course complemented by classic BBQ sauce ingredients, including tomato. Another benefit: using cranberry sauce helps to cut back on the overall sugar that you would normally add to a BBQ sauce because it already has some. I also found that I didn't have to add vinegar, given the tartness of the berries.

Tips and Tricks for an Intimate Holiday Brunch

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I'm used to smaller holiday gatherings already—4-6 people is the norm for me, as my family isn't that big—but the holidays may be different for many this year. There are still ways to make it as special as possible, even if it's a smaller group than usual that you may be entertaining.

Brunch is probably my favorite thing to make for the holidays. It's easy, delicious, and doesn't leave everyone with a stuffed-feeling that typically comes with eating dinner late in the day by the time all of the cooking is done. What you serve, or how you serve it, can also help elevate the experience to make what you are eating feel even more special.

Continue reading for fun ideas for a Christmas weekend or New Years Day brunch for two or a small group.

Festive Mulled Wine

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I call it mulled wine. Dave jokingly calls it "hot sangria."

He's not totally wrong. A classic, mulled red wine does remind me of a holiday sangria only, well, hot (or at least, a drinkable, warm temperature.) Take out the extra spices (with the exception of the cinnamon stick, which looks nice as a garnish) and yes, it could all just be poured into a large pitcher of ice and served over ice in wine glasses, as an alternative!

Whatever you call it and however you serve it, I'm hopeful that the warming spices, extra kicks of pear vodka and ginger liqueur, and jewel-like red color will bring some cheer to your holiday table!

Classic Spiced Cranberry Sauce

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The season for holiday eating starts and lasts in my home well into January, since my birthday happens to fall on January 6th, just after the Christmas and New Year holiday stretch and on the day celebrated by some Christians around the globe as Three Kings Day. One of my favorite things about going grocery shopping at this time is how easy it is to find fresh cranberries. It wouldn't be the holidays in my house without cranberry sauce, which I have made every year for Thanksgiving since I was a kid.

In its fresh, not dried and sugar-coated, form, the cranberry is a controversial fruit: some love it, some hate it. I'm definitely on Team Cranberry and growing up, it was a contest each year between my mom and I to see how many bags of cranberries we could make for our sauce, which we did on Thanksgiving day. One year, we made six or seven bags worth of sauce, which we gave to family members in plastic containers along with festive tins of homemade cookies for their holiday celebrations.

And call me weird, but I like canned jelled cranberry sauce, too. I have mashed it up with some water, orange juice and fresh or frozen whole cranberries to make a "shortcut" cranberry sauce in the past, although I believe there is no substitute for homemade sauce from scratch.

I happen to think the cranberry is underrated. A lot of people don't like them because although they are round, like blueberries, they are mouth-puckeringly tart. Blueberries start off small and tart, ripening and getting sweeter as they mature. Not a cranberry, which is why I think of them as the blueberry's sassier cousin. Sadly, I guess that is why any cranberry dessert, cranberry juice, or cranberry sauce I have ever come across has been either spiked with a lot of other berry flavors, usually from raspberries, to up their sweetness (but sometimes detracting from rather than complementing the cranberries) or laden with a ton of sugar.

Fresh Old Fashioned Cocktails

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I made these Old Fashioned cocktails over the summer with fresh cherries and clementine. The drink, from muddling the cherries with the sugar and clementine, turned a lovely ruby color and was punch-like from the sweet bing cherries that I used.

It reminded me a lot of bottled fruit punch, actually—but in a good way.

Caprese salad: The best way to say farewell to summer produce

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There's something to be said about having the right tools to get a job done. I think this goes for just about anything in life, even food.

When you have nice ingredients or tools, cooking is more of a joy. It could mean a splurge on a quality olive oil or an aged balsamic vinegar, a luxury like truffles or Kobe/Wagyu beef (for meat eaters - maybe not for me ;) ), or a nice quality knife or cutting block to work with as you prepare meals.

Sometimes, it doesn't have to be expensive at all: buying produce in season, for example, when it's abundant. You're already off to a good start of making something good when you're working with fresh food that's in-season. It speaks for itself. You can do so little to it and it's still delicious.

As ready as I am for the season to change as I sit here on my porch, on the cusp of my favorite time of the year — with cool wind blowing through the windows, anticipating the turning colors of the leaves that will start any time now — I'll always take time to savor the last of the wonderful summer produce that I've grown and harvested or purchased locally at markets.

And one ingredient I always miss the most as the season turns is the tomato.

Farmhouse Kitchen Sink Cookies

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I was asked to bring a dessert for a recent dinner that Dave and I had with his parents. It was right before the cooler, fall weather started to kick in this past week (at last - my favorite time of year!) As much as I didn't want to turn on the oven on a warm day, these cookies were on my mind as an idea to make for quite some time now.

It was a perfect reason to use my new KitchenAid bowl, too, which is blue ceramic with a scalloped texture.

A few years ago, I had a clear glass KA bowl with a handle and cup measurements on the side of it that I loved. Unfortunately, it shattered into a zillion pieces when I was making cookies and it slipped out of my hands and broke on my mom's granite countertop.

They have a lot of fun patterns and textures now, which made it so hard to choose, but this one was unique and something I haven't seen in a lot of stores. And I just love the color...