Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cranberry Almond Bars

I found a pretty basic recipe involving cranberries and nuts, and doctored it up a bit to turn it into something spectacular. It wasn't that difficult, really - I think almond extract and a powdered sugar glaze will make almost any dessert fancier! If you've stocked up on cranberries, these blondie-like bars are a delicious way to use some of them. They look beautiful on a tray or plate, and they taste as good as they look. And they have fruit. So that counts for something!

Start by toasting the almonds. You can use whatever "kind" you have - slivered or whole - I used whole and chopped them up a bit. I toast them in a skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan once in a while so they don't burn.

The almonds will get really fragrant when they're getting toasty so watch, and smell, carefully!

Here's a neat trick I discovered: I don't know about you, but when you chop nuts you get all those small little particles. I didn't want those floating around, so I put the toasted almonds in a fine mesh sieve and shook away -

all the little particles dropped out and I was left with nice toasty almond pieces. (If the little particles don't bother you, by all means skip this step!)

On to the batter. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, almond extract and salt and beat well until combined. Add the melted butter

then gradually add the flour and baking powder and mix until incorporated. Fold in the cranberries

and the almonds.

Spread the batter into a greased cake pan

and bake for 30-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool completely on a wire rack. For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, milk, and a few drops of almond extract,

and stir until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bars in the pan.

Find more great recipes at Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays.

Cranberry Almond Bars

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2-1 tsp. milk
a few drops almond extract

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, almond extract and salt. Add butter. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to the sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in cranberries and almonds. Transfer to a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For glaze, combine powdered sugar, almond extract and milk, whisk until combined. Spoon over cool bars before cutting. Makes 24 bars.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sausage and Spinach Stromboli

A long time ago, I posted a recipe for basic stromboli that can be adapted to fit any tastes. But I like this combination so much that I wanted to bring it to your attention! Strombolis make great party food - they can be sliced thinly as appetizers or served as a main course.

Start by sauteing the spinach with some garlic. I used frozen flat leaf, but fresh would be great too.

Add the sliced mushrooms

and saute until the mushrooms have released some of their liquid. Spread out your dough - I used pizza dough but bread dough works well too. Note my funny shape - I am not good at "pulling" dough! Sprinkle the cooked sausage on the dough.

Top with the spinach and mushroom mixture.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese,

then close up the dough. You can do this a number of ways - rolling, or just bringing the sides up and over. It depends on your dough shape! ha!

Brush the dough with just a bit of olive oil, then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the dough is golden and the fillings are hot (you can tell cause they will start to "leak" out as you can see here.)

Slice and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Get more party inspiration at Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and Tuesday at the Table.

Sausage and Spinach Stromboli

1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage, cooked
1 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. flat leaf spinach (fresh or frozen)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pound bread dough or pizza crust
1/2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
marinara sauce for dipping

Saute the spinach and garlic in olive oil until wilted. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms start to lose some of their liquid. Meantime, roll or pull the dough into a rectangular shape and place on a greased cookie sheet. Spread the sausage over the dough, then top with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the spinach. Bring the sides of the dough up to fully cover the toppings. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and then slice. Serve with marinara for dipping. Serves 4 for main course.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cranberry Apple Coffee Cake

I cannot get enough of the combination of cranberry and apple and cake. This is obvious, since I just posted a cranberry apple cake last week! But this one is different, and OH SO GOOD and OH SO BEAUTIFUL that it qualified for my last post before Christmas. If you have room on your brunch buffet, or even on your dessert buffet, you should consider this cake. It is so festive and so delicious. See, I can't stop posting pictures of it, it's so great! Here's a close up of the goodness.

Start by preparing the topping. In a saucepan, combine the chopped, peeled apple with the cranberries,

and the brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch.

Add the juice (I used apple)

then stir well together to combine, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil.

Stir and cook for about 2 minutes more, until the berries begin to pop and the mixture thickens slightly. (I love the sound of cranberries popping!) Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, for the cake, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a small bowl and whisk to combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, oil and citrus zest.

(I zested a clementine cause that's what I had on hand!) Beat on medium speed for about 1 1/2 minutes or until well combined. Gradually add the sugar

beating until the mixture is light in color. Then beat in the egg. Turn the mixer to low, then gradually add half of the flour mixture. Pour in the vanilla and the milk

and mix until incorporated, then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms, about another minute. Pour the batter into a greased springform pan and then top with the cooled fruit topping.

Don't stir it in - just let it sit on top. Bake the cake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake is puffy and a tester comes out clean. The topping will still be moist. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

After cooling for about 20 minutes, remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve warm, or continue to cool to room temperature.

Merry Christmas!

Get more great Christmas inspiration at Mouthwatering Monday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday , Tuesday at the Table, Whatcha Makin' Wednesday , What's Cooking Wednesday and Cooking Thursday.

Cranberry Apple Coffee Cake

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apple, such as Granny Smith (about 1 large)
1/2 cup orange juice or apple juice

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp. butter, slightly softened
3/4 tsp. freshly grated lemon or orange zest
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp. for sprinkling
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

To prepare topping: Whisk brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a medium saucepan until combined. Stir in cranberries, apple and juice. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and the berries soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

To prepare cake, whisk flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Beat oil, butter and zest in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, first on medium speed, then on medium-high, until well combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until the mixture is light in color and well blended. Add egg and beat until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute longer.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture until just incorporated. Gradually beat in milk and vanilla until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until a smooth batter forms, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading to the edges. Spread the topping in an even layer over the batter; do not stir.

Bake the cake on the middle rack at 375 until the top is puffed in places and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (the fruit topping will still be moist), 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tsp. sugar over the top. Transfer the pan to a wire rack; let stand until cooled to warm, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan sides and cut the cake into wedges or let it cool completely.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Macaroon Kisses

These delicious treats are a take-off on the very famous Peanut Blossoms. However, they are macaroons with chocolate kisses instead of peanut butter cookies. I love macaroons, and so I was really excited to try these. And I wasn't disappointed. They're very cute, and very good!

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and sugar.

Cream together until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and the almond extract.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; then gradually add it to the sugar mixture and mix well. Add the coconut

and stir well with a sturdy wooden spoon to combine. The dough will be really stiff. Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour so the dough will be easier to handle.

Now roll the dough into one-inch balls and then roll in coconut.

Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes until they are lightly browned - the coconut will start to look toasted. While the cookies bake, unwrap the kisses!

(This is a great job for little helpers if you can trust them not to eat too many!)

As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, press a kiss into the middle of each one.

Let the cookies cool on the cookies sheet for 2 to 3 minutes

then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Pour a big glass of milk, or cup of coffee, and enjoy these special treats!

Find more holiday inspiration at the Holly Bloggy Christmas Party, Merry Merry Munchies, Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays and Friday Food.

Macaroon Kisses

1/3 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups flaked coconut, divided
36 milk chocolate kisses

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and add it gradually to the sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in 3 cups coconut. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll into 1-inch balls and roll in additional coconut. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and immediately place a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 3 dozen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cranberry Apple Cake

This is a delicious, colorful cake that would make a lovely addition to any holiday buffet. I actually would call it more of a cobbler, since the fruit is covered by a cake topping rather than “embedded” in the dough. But it doesn’t matter what you call it – it’s good, and it uses one of my favorite holiday ingredients – cranberries.

Core, peel and chop the apples.

Rinse the cranberries and pick through them to remove any that are mushy or bruised. You can usually do this just by filtering them through your fingers – it will be pretty obvious which ones need to be tossed!

Put the apples and cranberries in a 9x13 dish, or equivalent

and sprinkle the brown sugar over them.

Next, pour on the orange juice,

Then sprinkle with the cinnamon, and stir together so all the fruit is coated.

For the cake, in a large mixing bowl beat the eggs for 2 minutes. Then add the sugar,

sour cream,

melted butter

and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the salt and flour

and mix until incorporated. Spread the batter over the fruit,

then mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the cake tests done.

This cake is delightful served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Get more holiday inspiration at Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and Tuesday at the Table.

Cranberry Apple Cake

1 12 0z. bag fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

In a 9x13 baking dish, combine the apples, cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice and cinnamon and mix well to coat all the fruit.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs for two minutes. Add 1 cup sugar, butter, vanilla and sour cream. Beat until combined. Add flour and salt, beat until incorporated.

Spread cake batter over fruit in pan. Combine the 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8-10.
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