Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Recipes: Fresh Cranberry Recipes and Tips

Don't miss out on using fresh cranberries this holiday season! When purchasing, choose berries that are bright red in color and they shouldn't be soft. Fresh cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator without washing for up to 14 days and they can be frozen up to a year. Frozen cranberries should not be thawed before using in a recipe.

Cranberry Apple Pie

2 bought or homemade 9" pie crusts (one top, and one bottom)
8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Place the apple slices in the pie crust. Blend the cranberries in a blender and spoon over the apples. Mix sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and spoon over apples and cranberries. Place the top crust on the pie and cut slits in the crust. Brush the tops with a little milk. Bake in oven at 425° F for 50 minutes.

Cranberry Cake

1 egg
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces fresh cranberries (2 cups)
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Beat the egg; then add 1/2 cup sugar, milk, oil, orange juice and extract; mix and set aside. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt; add to egg mixture and mix. Pour into the prepared pan. Chop the fresh cranberries in a blender or a food processor; spoon over batter. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup flour the 3 tablespoons sugar and cut in 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle over cranberries. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Cranberry Yams

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
2 17-oz cans yams, drained
2 cup fresh cranberries

Combine flour, sugar, oatmeal and cinnamon. Cut in butter with fingers or a fork. Mix a cup of the oats mixture with yams and cranberries. Place in a sprayed or buttered baking dish. Top with the remaining oat mixture and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Cranberry Waffles

2 cups buttermilk baking mix
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp. shortening, melted
1 cup fresh cranberries

Place the fresh cranberries in a blender and process. Combine biscuit mix and sugar; stir in eggs and milk. Add the melted shortening, mixing well; fold in cranberries. Bake in a preheated waffle baker as directed.

Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash
1 apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. honey

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Combine the other ingredients, except the honey. Place the squash in a baking dish. Fill the squash halves with mixture. Drizzle the honey over squash. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree F oven. Remove the foil and continue baking until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Serves 4

More recipes such as fresh cranberry sauce, relish and jelly can be found here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Checklist for Organizing a Successful Holiday Event

Any event worth doing is worth doing well. And the biggest inside secret to organizing is.... PLANNING.

Ask anyone who has ever successfully hosted a party, sponsored a community event, or thrown a children's birthday party, and they will tell you their secret was in the list. Not Aunt Mabel's famous sugar cookies, not the special sprinkles on the cupcakes, and not the high-dollar caterer.

So where do you begin? Even if you are not a list-maker, you can plan and pull off a successful event by using the infamous KISS method: Keep It Simple Sweetheart. That's not to say that you should make a half-hearted effort by tossing a few opened bags of chips on the table and telling everyone to help themselves to the drinks in the fridge! Just don't make things so complicated in your efforts to make an impression on the guests.

To keep stress at a manageable level, as well as your blood pressure, try these 3 tips for simple holiday planning:

Make this as detailed or brief as your little heart desires. If one word jogs your memory, that's all you need on your list. If you are into details to keep you afloat, then by all means write everything down. We each have a different communication style, and isn't writing and reading just one more way to communicate, even if it is with ourselves? (Besides, you may get lucky and pass on one of those items to someone else to do!)

Include refreshments, serving ware, decorations, tables, chairs, tablecloths, favors (optional), entertainment, eating utensils, and anything else necessary for your events' success.

Don't underestimate your abilities, but don't be too eager to go outside your comfort zone if you're already going to be stressed. If you don't cook or bake, then hire a caterer. Can't afford one? Then order a party tray from your favorite deli or grocery. There is something for every budget imaginable. Don't know how to make fancy centerpieces? Call your florist, visit your local craft store, or call in a favor from a talented neighbor. Candles, cut greenery, and candycanes placed strategically around the house or banquet hall are colorful and have impact.

3. CALL 911. 
Yes, to all you overachievers out there, it IS perfectly ok to ask for help from friends, family, and professionals. Most people are very willing to help out with assembling trays, decorations, picking up tables & chairs from rental stores, etc. Not enough room in your home for an assembly line? Divide the list, assign tasks, and let your helpers HELP. Don't micromanage, don't worry. If things are not the way you would do them, that's fine. You're only one person, remember?

It's showtime! Everything is in order, and it's time to be the best host or hostess you can possibly be. Relax, take time for yourself, change your clothes, grab an ice cold drink of something refreshing, and have fun. Can't be in more than one place at once? Not a problem, just enlist someone to fill the buffet plates, refill the ice bucket, tend the bar, take coats at the door, etc. From age 3 to 93, I'm sure you can find someone to do these jobs - just ask! And after the party, be sure to take a moment to make notes to ensure next year's planning is even easier. Happy partying!

Copyright 2000-2001 Debbie Williams

About the author
Debbie Williams is an organizing strategist, and freelance writer. She is the author of Home Management 101

Monday, November 30, 2009

Household Tidbits From 1902

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

I have a book from The Grand Union Tea Company in my collection that was published in 1902. The poor thing is falling apart and has lost the cover, but I still enjoy looking through the tips and recipes. Today I'm sharing some things that I find helpful, or just plain fascinating.

What to Do With Wet Shoes

When shoes are soaked, get some oats and stuff the shoes with them until the shape of the foot is preserved. The shoes should be filled above the instep. Then they may be put near the stove or even into a cool oven and will not dry hard or out of shape. The oats may be used two or three times.

Washing Silk Embroideries

Avoid scalding water, cheap washing powders and hard wringing. Do not fold or roll up the article while wet.

A Mammoth Pudding

A plum pudding three feet long, two feet wide and a foot deep, and embracing fifty pounds of raisins and ten cans of milk in its composition, was a feature at a Thanksgiving dinner, at Roger Williams Hall, in Providence, for the news-boys and bootblacks. Jack Horner's pie was nothing to that.

Note: a bootblack was a man or boy who shined shoes. Usually the word is written boot-black or sometimes shoe-black. They were also known as shoeshiners, which is more widely used.

I thought this recipe was interesting:

Beef Olives

Cut a round steak, which should be about half an inch thick, into pieces about four inches square. Cover each piece with a forcement of bread crumbs, a pinch of finely shredded suet, some minced onion or shalot (shallot), pepper and salt. Roll each slice and put it on a skewer. Then put them into a stewpan, cover with brown gravy or stock, and stew until tender.

Notes: I looked up the word forcement and couldn't find it as a cooking term. I'm guessing it means to combine the ingredients and spread them onto the steak. A large, deep pan should work for the cooking. I also would not use a thick gravy, as it might thicken even more and burn.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old Fashioned Holiday Entertaining

Practical Recipes for the Housewife is a hardcover book published by the Detroit Times in 1934. I picked it up along the way for my cookbook collection. I thought I would share some of the entertaining tips with you today.

Buffet Table Arrangements

The table cloth may be of damask, lace or embroidery or runners if the hostess prefers. Careful arrangement of the centerpiece, be it flowers or fruit, are its main charm. Candlesticks come next, or a candelabra may be used for the center, with flowers on either side. Candles are not used, however, before four in the afternoon.

The coffee or tea tray, or the punch bowl, are placed at the opposite ends of the table. Plates filled with sandwiches, tea cakes, etc., are arranged down each side, with the silver and china needed close by so that guests may serve themselves easily. Piles of napkins, too, must be where easily reached. Guests stand or sit at a buffet meal, as they wish.

Tips for Table Setting

Never decorate your table with ribbons. (Brenda's note: I'm not sure why!)

Pickle jars, catsup bottles and tooth picks likewise have no place on the well dressed dinner table. Pickles and sauces, if you must have them, are served in glass dishes with small serving spoons--likewise jelly or marmalade.

There was also a note that ladies no longer have to retire to the drawing room while the gentlemen smoke. All I could think of is how I make people go outside if they need to smoke, It's interesting to learn that in 1934 the ladies of the house were already taking a stand:)