holidays


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So this is the one that worked…..Cranberry Bread – tart/sweet and hot from the oven – nothing is better!  I have two recipes for Cranberry Bread – both have the usual ingredients – flour, eggs, sugar, – but each was different enough that I couldn’t decide which one to make – so I combined the recipes and it worked! 

Cranberry Bread– adapted from Linda Millward (infamous baker/cook and mother of my friends, the Fashionistas) and Joni Geurts, my sister and wannabe Fashionista.  Makes 2 small loaf pans (6 1/2 x 4 1/2) and freezes well.

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider

2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil

juice from 2 large oranges, about 1/2 cup

1/2 chopped walnuts

1 cup fresh cranberries, cut into quarters

zest of two oranges

Zest both oranges, set aside.  Juice both oranges, gathering 1/2 cup of juice.  In a small bowl combine orange juice, oil, apple cider, beaten egg and both sugars.  Mix well.  In separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing only until moistened.  Fold in nuts, cranberries and orange rind.   Bake in greased bread tins, lined at the bottom with parchment paper (or use the disposable paper pans that need no greasing) and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before trying to slice – if you can stand to wait that long.

And now…..the recipe I ruined…..more times that I’d like to count, I have disasters in the kitchen and I will try to be scrupulously honest here and let you know when that happens – unless it happens everyday, in which case I will be forced to lie.  I was asked to bring corn bread to a church function tonight…..corn bread…..a no brainer, right?   Well, it is if you HAVE corn meal and if you FOLLOW a recipe….neither of which I did.  And I got the results I deserved.  When baking, if you don’t follow the recipe you might as well eat out.

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Here’s the before……and the after…..and it looks great!  But I’m jumping ahead – let me tell you what I did….while digging in the pantry looking for corn meal – and discovering that I had none – I found a bag of polenta which is basically the same thing as corn meal so I turned the bag over and there was a recipe for San Francisco Polenta Bread – so then I was in business!  But the recipe sounded kind of bland – let’s face it, polenta is really grits – and who can eat grits without dressing them up with butter or cheese?  So I decided – with my infinite wisdom – to doctor the recipe with cheese and cayenne and corn……it could have worked – truly – except that I made one fatal mistake…..I mixed everything together and started spooning it into the pan when I realized that I had forgotten the cheese – so instead of scooping everything back into the bowl and mixing it up – I thought how wonderful it would be to have a layer of cheese in the middle of the cornbread!  So I tossed in the TWO cups of cheese in the middle of the mixture – covered it up with the remaining batter and threw it in the oven! 

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I think you can see from the picture what the problem was….the layer of cheese had turned into an oozing mass of cheese – making the cornbread too gooey to hold it.  IF only I had mixed the cheese into the batter  then I think this would have worked….what little cornbread I could taste – the pieces around the cheese – had a great flavor but nothing could stop that wall of cheese from running all over the place!  Hardly something I dared take to the church dinner – not with all the blue ribbon cooks there!

So, if you want to give it a try – here’s the recipe…..and I cut back the amount of the cheese…just to be safe.

Polenta Cheesy Corn Bread

1 cups sifted flour

2 cups polenta

6 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (15 oz.) whole kernal corn

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese – try not to forget to mix this in!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.  (I love recipes that only use one dish….dump and mix!)  Pour into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.  May also be baked in two 8-inch square pans or muffin tins.  And may the force be with you. 

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Trying to think of unique gifts to give to friends and family is half the fun of the holiday season – which, if you weren’t aware, started yesterday…..this is a “prototype” of what I’ve come up with for my Foodie Friends – I had to make one for myself to be sure it was worth it!  (If you’re a Foodie Friend and I give you one of these gifts remember to act surprised!)

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All packaged nice and neatly in a clear pie box – tied with a pretty ribbon, cute, no?  Inside you can see all the goodies….an apron, which I will embroider with the lucky recipient’s name….recipe cards to write down their best cookie recipe on (so they can send it to me as a thank you!)….a cookie cutter to shape those wonderful cookies, cinnamon spice to give them that holiday flavor, a wooden spoon to mix the batter ever so gently, a pastry brush to make the butter glazing easier, a scraper so clean-up will be a cinch and a piece of chocolate to get them in the right mood to bake!  I think they’ll like it – what do you think?

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Pike Place Market Fruits…so yummy…..Caesar the Wonder Dog in the Pumpkin Patch – he did his best to pee on each and every pumpkin!  Maybe that’s why my pumpkin muffins had a strange taste this morning!   Or maybe it was the butter that had been put in the refrigerator next to an unwrapped piece of garlic?!? 

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Deviled Eyes…..Eggs:

8 hard boiled eggs

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons dill pickle juice (from a jar of pickles)

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Red decorator icing for that special bloodshot look

6 green olives with pimentos, cut in half

Paprika

Cut eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks and mash with mayonnaise, pickle juice, mustard, salt and pepper.  Refill egg whites with mixture.  Cut green olives in half, set one in middle of each egg.  Use the decorator icing to make red squiggly lines from the olive to the edge of the filling, making lines all around the egg.  Sprinkle each eye/egg with a little paprika and chill until serving time.  What do you do with a green monster?  Wait until he ripens!

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When I saw this cake on the cover of the October issue of Country Living, it made me want to buy the magazine….and then it made me want to make the cake.  It’s a beautiful cake to make for Halloween….double layered, orange frosting with a chocolate ganache glaze…..if nothing else, make it just to look at!  Before I made this cake, I told a friend that I was going to make it and she advised against it – said she had already tried it and that her family didn’t like it but as we talked she said the cake was okay but the frosting was too soft.  I used a different frosting than the original recipe and it worked great – it’s the only thing I changed.  (My friend was right about their frosting – I made it first and it was WAY too soft – so I scraped it all off and came up with the frosting below….much better!)  So, armed with the knowledge that I might be making a cake that no one would eat, and believe me, I was armed with nothing else…..I decided to give it a try anyway.  And I loved the results – I would definitely make this again but I will tell you that most of the children I served this to didn’t like it – (so my friend’s family was not taste-challenged!) because it’s not a traditional chocolate cake and I think that’s what they expected when they bit into it.  The adults who ate it loved it – because their pallet can appreciate the subtle “autumn” flavors….at least that’s the theory I’m going with!  There is cinnamon in the frosting and the cake itself is very rich, it almost has a fudge-like texture because it’s so moist.  Try it….I’m pretty sure you’ll like it!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, plus one yolk

Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 to 1/2 cup cream or milk

3 teaspoons cocoa

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

34/ teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

orange food coloring

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl.  Beat the butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time.  Reduce mixer speed to low and alternately beat in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in thirds.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake until a tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean – about 35 minutes.  Cool layers completely before icing. 

Frosting:

In the bowl of electric mixer, blend cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy.  Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and 1/4 of the cream or milk.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  If frosting is too thick, add in more cream, until desired consistency is reached.  If it’s too thin add in more powdered sugar.  Add in food coloring until desired color is reached.  Mix well. 

Spread a generous amount of the frosting between the two layers and use the remaining frosting to ice the top and sides of the cake.  Chill 30 minutes and then put the glaze on.

Glaze:

Place 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate (chop into really small pieces,) 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, and 3 tablespoons corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl.  Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil, pour it over the chocolate, and let sit for 3 minutes.  Gently stir, using a whisk, until smooth.  Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes, until the glaze thickens slightly.  Pour the glaze onto the center of the frosted cake and smooth out to the edges to allow the glaze to drip over the sides.  Makes 1 cup.

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DEADMAN OVER WORMS…… 

Herewith I submit my award winning recipe for Deadman Over Worms….well, I actually didn’t win any award, but I did win Emeril Live’s Halloween Contest last year….okay, so I was one of four winners….but I was definitely Emeril’s favorite – fine, so I wasn’t his favorite….but my meatloaf was….trust me on this, his exact words were:  “Folks, this is a really good recipe….BAM!”  Now I’m not making this up…..afterall, would I lie about meatloaf?  So out of all of the thousands and thousands of entries – probably millions – this was one of the winners:

 3 eggs

2/3 cup milk

2 slices French bread torn into small pieces

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cut grated carrot

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon bouquet garni

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 (16 oz.) package spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions

Butter

Topping:

1 cup tomato ketchup

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup of your favorite bottled spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add milk, bread, and oatmeal.  Stir in carrots, onions, cheese, herbs, and seasonings.  Add beef and sausage and mix well.  In a shallow baking dish, shape beef mixture into the shape of a body.  Round ball for head, (about the size of a softball) oval shape for body, mounding up for tummy.  Shape arms and place next to body (you don’t want them sticking out or they will cook too quickly.)  Shape legs and place next to each other, not apart.  Smooth meatloaf so the “seams” are not apparent. 

Make topping. 

Bake meatloaf for 45 minutes, then spoon half of the sauce over meatloaf.  Return to the oven and continue baking for an additional 45 minutes or until meatloaf is cooked thoroughly. (Total baking time about 1 1/2 hours – cover with foil if it gets too brown.) While meatloaf is baking cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.  Rinse noodles and put butter, to taste, on them; set aside.

When meatloaf is done, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.  Put spaghetti noodles on a tray.  Carefully place meatloaf on top of spaghetti noodles, using two spatulas.  Don’t worry if an arm or a leg falls off – just “reattach” and cover with sauce.  Before serving place a knife in the “heart” of the  deadman …..serve with remaining sauce.

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 I saw the Halloween House that Macy’s has by Martha Stewart – it’s $70 and, if I may say so, not nearly as cute as mine!  This was a cinch to make – a basic gingerbread dough that is overcooked so it’s really hard, and then royal icing, colored with black food coloring – and used as glue to attach the candy.  The windows were made with a squeeze tube of decorator’s icing and the faces in the windows, which are hard to see, are sugared candies that I bought at a cake decorating store.  Hey….when your last name is Slaughter then halloween has to be good!

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This is so easy – and so yummy….make it for your mummy today! (I realize this looks completely gross….vile really, but it’s really, really good! )

1 small to medium pumpkin

1 can tomatoes (29 oz.)

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, finely diced

1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced

3 tablespoons butter

3 cups cooked rice (I like brown rice)

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut top from pumpkin and scoop out seeds and pulp (save seeds to season and bake later.)  Brown onion, peppers and ground beef in butter.  Mix in spices and season with salt and pepper to taste.   Mix in tomatoes and rice, season again to taste.  Butter outside of pumpkin, and pumpkin lid.  Put lid in a pie pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and put pumpkin in.  Carefully pour rice and meat mixture into pumpkin.  Put lid in pie plate and pumpking in the baking dish in a 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, checking frequently after an hour of baking to make sure pumpkin doesn’t get overcooked – or it will collapse!  When the pumpkin is soft and the mixture is bubbly it is ready to serve.  When serving scrape out some of the pumpkin with the rice mixture.  (Since pumpkins have a lot of water in them it might be necessary to drain some of the liquid from the pan while baking.)  Serves 8.

 

 

 

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