Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

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Gobble Gobble!!  One of my favorite holidays is just four days away, and I couldn't be more excited!  We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I've been planning and organizing for weeks now. It's still not entirely fall-ish weather wise, but at least it isn't 90+ degrees like it was a few weeks ago!  My scarves got to make a brief appearance on a couple of early mornings, but my boots have yet to see the light of day this year.

I know it's cliche, but I've really been thinking about my many blessings recently.  We are so fortunate to live the life we live.  All too often we see horrible reports of heartbreak and chaos from around the globe, and it's easy to fall into a negative mindset.  I've made a great effort to focus on the amazing positives in my life, and every day is better for it.  I'm so grateful beyond words for my sweet little blossoming family and cannot believe I have the privilege of being Robert's wife and Ayden's momma.  I'm so thankful for my job, my friends, my extended family near and far, and for YOU, my sweet readers.  Thank you for welcoming me into your homes and lives and for being such a supportive and loving audience.  I just love ya!

One of the essential sides at Thanksgiving is the cranberry sauce.  Typically it's an afterthought that we hurriedly buy pre-made at the market, but this year is going to be different.  On a whim last night I grabbed some organic fresh cranberries and announced to Hubby "I'm making cranberry sauce!" He wasn't as enthused as I, but that's alright.  My father-in-law looooooves the cranberry sauce that my sweet sis-in-law makes, so hopefully this one gets his stamp of approval on Thursday.  :)  This recipe is very similar to hers, only with fresh cranberries and a few tweaks.

One of the best things about this is that you can make it ahead, freeze it, and thaw it the day before Turkey Day!  Woohoo!  When it comes to making Thanksgiving dinner, timing is everything, and if you can make something in advance do it. 

Here's wishing you and yours a warm and healthy Thanksgiving!  I can't wait to report back with photos from Ayden's attempts at eating turkey and stuffing.  ;)


Cranberry Sauce with Apples and Oranges
| Prep: 10 mins. | Cook: 15-20 mins. |
16 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 c water
2/3 c sugar
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 orange, small diced with rind
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 apple, unpeeled, small diced

Rinse cranberries and place in a medium saucepan.  Pour in approx 3/4 c of water (just enough to see it, but not cover the berries).  Set aside.  meanwhile, wash and dry the orange and apple.  Dice the orange, flesh and rind.  Add to the cranberries and water.  Add in sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and bring to a simmer.   Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries have burst and sauce has thickened (approx 15-20 mins or so).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Allow sauce to cool completely.

While sauce is cooling, dice the apple.  Add to cooled cranberry sauce and stir to combine.  At this point transfer the sauce to a freezer zip top bag if you plan to freeze.  Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours prior to serving.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Individual Pear Crumbles

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For once my knack for impulse purchasing has paid off...  I was hurrying through Trader Joe's the other day while Hubby waited in the car with a not-so-happy/teething baby and for no reason at all I grabbed a couple of pears with no idea what I was going to do with them.  I like pears but I have a bad habit of buying them and then forgetting them on the fruit tray until they are too far gone.  Doh.

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year.  Ayden's first!  Yay!  Inspiration hit me during nap time and I got to experimenting in the kitchen.  End result was not too shabby, if I say so myself!  Hubby even said I should make these for Thanksgiving dessert. :)

On another note - Happy Veteran's Day!!  Today is not about having a day off from work or school so you can prop up your slippered feet while you sip tea/coffee.  Today is about recognizing those who have selflessly given of themselves so that we may continue to know the freedom we take for granted.  While we sip our tea in our bathrobes in our comfy homes, there is a heroic soldier a world away staring down the barrel of a gun or gingerly navigating a road littered with explosives, all in the name of a stranger's freedom. I'm so very thankful for all who have and continue to serve, including my spectacular parents, who served in the US Army.  So get out there and hug a vet today!  And make them this dessert.

Individual Pear Crumbles
| Serves: 4 | Prep: 5 mins. | Bake: 30-40 mins. |
2 pears, any variety
1 c rolled oats
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c pecans, chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 c coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut pears in half lengthwise and scoop out core/seeds with a spoon, creating a little pocket for the crumble goodness.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, pecans and salt.  Pour coconut oil over mixture and stir until everything is coated.  Spoon the oat mixture into the pears and bake, covered for 30 mins.  Uncover and continue to bake for another 10 mins or so, until pears are tender and crumble mixture is slightly golden.

Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, if desired.  These baddies are just begging to be served a la mode.


Monday, November 3, 2014

{comfort food} Hearty Chicken Pozole

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Happy Fall!!

It's already NOVEMBER, guys.  When did that happen?? Time is passing at a frightening pace.  Ayden is already 8 months old (say wha?!) and I'm afraid I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be his first birthday!  I could cry just thinking about it.  He is changing so much each and every day (crawling everywhere, jabbering "Momma" and "Dad/Dada") and has blossomed into a sweet, happy boy.  He's already a complete wild man and is non-stop on the go from the minute he wakes until he closes his eyes. We love him so.

We recently took Ayden to the pumpkin patch for the very first time and though it was smack dab during his nap time (parenting fail) he rallied and had fun taking in the commotion of the hay rides and crowds.  We even took a hay ride as a family and Ayden tried to make friends with a little boy sitting next to us.  The kid was totally creeped out by the strange baby touching his shoulder.

That's Ayden's new BFF in the green t-shirt.

I have a great recipe for you today.  I've been dying to make some cozy fall food, but it has been so darn hot around here for the past couple of months that we've been sticking to summer dishes.  On Halloween Friday we finally got a tiny taste of chilly weather so I took advantage and made some Chicken Pozole for dinner.  A rainstorm blew through and gave drought-parched Southern California a good soaking (YAY!) and to be honest, I wanted to jumped around in the puddles like a little kid.  I'm totally going to stomp around in the rain with Ayden when he's big enough to get his own cutie rain boots.

Pozole is traditionally made with pork, however, it's becoming more and more common to find it made with chicken these days.  We found beautiful local produce at the market, including the most amazing bunch of organic cilantro I've ever seen.  The entire car smelled like cilantro on the way home.

This is a great make-ahead recipe and also freezes really well!  It's not overly complicated and the ingredients are easy to find.  I'm thinking this could be an awesome crock-pot recipe, too!  Served with creamy avocado and crunchy cabbage, this is a hearty meal in a bowl.  Hubby crumbled a couple unsalted tortilla chips in his, while I dunked crusty bread into mine.  Delish!

Chicken Pozole
|Serves: 4-6 | Prep: 10 mins | Cook time: 30 mins |
2 tsp coconut oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3 cloves garic, minced
1 lb chicken breast, cubed*
2 qts. low sodium chicken broth
1- 25 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
2-3 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
2 bay leaves

For serving:
shredded cabbage
sliced radishes
sliced avocado
fresh cilantro
lime wedges

In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil on medium high heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and diced tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 3-4 mins.

Pour in broth and stir to combine.  Add in chicken, hominy, chili powder, poultry seasoning, oregano, cayenne and bay leaves.  Stir to combine.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

*Chicken can also be shredded.  I find cubed is much easier/quicker.