Berry Fudgy Brownies

Berry Fudgy Brownies

An incredibly rich and fudgy brownie with a deep chocolate flavor embellished with the tart flavor of cranberries. The tart berry makes the perfect counterpoint to a super sweet brownie and are an unexpected but lovely surprise.

I used frozen, leftover cranberry sauce from Christmas, but a berry jam or preserve is a shoe-in. The cranberry sauce has to be homemade, the canned stuff won’t work here. Or anywhere.

These are a thin, soft brownie that taste delicious chilled. Bursting with flavor, the combo of sweet and tart is utterly divine.

Berry Fudgy Brownies
Berry Fudgy Brownies
(adapted from Saco Foods)
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 + 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 + 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, chopped, optional
heaping 1/3 cup cranberry sauce or other type of berry jam/preserve
1/2 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9×13 inch baking pan (for thin brownies) or an 8×8 inch pan (for thicker brownies) with  parchment paper.

2. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat (or melt in microwave). Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, flour and salt. Do not overbeat. Fold in nuts.

3. Spread in prepared pan, drop cranberry sauce by the spoonful over top and use a knife to swirl into batter.

4. Bake (9×13) 28-30 minutes, (8×8) 36-38 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Melt half the chocolate in a small saucepan or in the microwave, remove from heat and stir in the remainder of the chocolate until melted. Drizzle over top using a spoon or a baggie with the corner cut off. Remove to cutting board and cut into squares, wiping knife clean after each cut.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Pumpkin Spice Bread

This recipe comes from my nephew who brought two loaves over with him for Christmas. He baked the bread himself and told me I should take pictures for my blog! How cute is that?

One bite of the moist, dense bread and there was no doubt in my mind that it was worthy of a blog post. Packed full of pumpkin flavor, walnuts and cranberries with a fragrant, spicy aroma that reminded me of gingerbread, this is the stuff pumpkin dreams are made of. Truly, the recipe seems incredibly easy to make for such outstanding results.

My nephew brought two loaves with him and I mistakenly sent one back home with him because we had so much food to eat we never even cut into it. Once the last slice was gone I wistfully wished I could take the loaf back! I could whip up my own batch in no time at all but there’s something all the more sweet about having my nephew make it for me. It just tastes better.

Pumpkin Spice Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries, dark seedless or golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9″ by 5″ loaf pan.

2. In large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients. In medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, and oil; stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in raisins and pecans. Spoon batter evenly into loaf pan.

3. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

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Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti

Cranberry and White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

Biscotti are long, hard Italian cookies that usually get dunked in coffee and sometimes wine before eating to soften them up. They get their distinctive crispiness from a double-baking process. They are formed into a log for the first baking, then they are sliced and baked a second time. The crispiness can be controlled on the second bake. For a crispy cookie that remains soft enough to eat on its own pop them back in the oven for about 8 minutes, for a super hard cookie that is best eaten with coffee cook them the recommended time of 20 minutes.

Cranberries and white chocolate are such a good match for biscotti. The sweet creamy vanilla flavor of the white chocolate tempers the tartness of the chewy berries for an equal balance of flavors and textures that hold up well to the dense cookie. Dipping them in chocolate makes them extra special and when you dunk them in your coffee (or tea) a little bit of the chocolate melts off and sweetens up your drink.

One of the things I like most about biscotti is that they don’t have any butter in them. That gives them their dense texture and also makes them fairly low in fat. They are ridiculously easy and fun to make, store well and are extremely versatile. They hold up well to a variety of different flavors and you can add whatever nuts, dried fruits, candies or chocolate you like. So go ahead and conjure up your own delicious combination of flavors!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, rough chopped
1 + 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together. Add eggs one at a time and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until mixed well. Beat in vanilla extract then cranberries and 1/2 cup of the chips.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough in half and form each one into a log about 2 inches in diameter and 15 inches long. Bake until puffed and golden brown around the edges about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

3. While still warm but cool enough to handle carefully remove the logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on the diagonal about 1/4 inch thick and place back on the cookie sheet standing upright on their bottoms, not flat. Bake again 8-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them.

4. Cool cookies on wire racks. When cool melt remaining cup of chocolate and shortening together, whisking well. Dip ends of each cookie allowing excess to drip off. Place on parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set. Store in airtight container up to 1 month.

Cranberry White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

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Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry Cheesecake

I hope you all had a lovely family and food-filled Thanksgiving! My Mom’s table was a heavily laden carb fest of deliciousness; broccoli/velveeta casserole, streusel-stuffed baked sweet potatoes, sausage stuffing, potato-rutabaga-cheese casserole, buttermilk biscuits, cranberry sauce, and of course a giant turkey. We gobbled gobbled our way through that and then for dessert we had this cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and fruitcake.

The cheesecake was scrumptious and so gorgeous with the vibrant cranberry sauce on top! And is there a more fitting topping than cranberry sauce at this time of the year? The cheesecake bakes up light but dense with the creamiest consistency I’ve ever tasted in a cheesecake. There’s no excuse for not making your own cranberry sauce – it’s so simple and so much fresher tasting and healthier than the high-fructose canned variety. This is perfect to bring to a holiday party or potluck. And I think it will find it’s way onto our Christmas table.

Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry Cheesecake
(adapted from Good Old Food by Irena Chalmers)
1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 and 1/2 pounds Cream Cheese
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 and 1/2 cups Sour Cream, at room temperature
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter in a small bowl. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the springform pan.
3. Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the sugar and the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and sour cream.
4. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake* for 55-60 minutes until cheesecake is puffed and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and run a thin knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Let cool completely and chill for several hours or overnight before serving.
5. Serve with cranberry sauce and whip cream.
*I recommend cooking this in a bain marie to prevent cracking. Put the uncooked cheesecake/pan into a larger baking pan, put on oven rack and fill halfway up sides of springform pan with boiling water. Bake as directed.
Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh Cranberries
To flavor add one or a combo:
orange zest, lemon zest, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
In a medium sauce pan dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat. Add cranberries and continue to cook, stirring, carefully, the cranberries will pop, about five – seven minutes. Add your flavoring element. Combine well. Remove from heat. Cool. Store in fridge.

Cranberry Cheesecake

Kale with Garlic and Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

My friend Heather of Girlichef is hosting this weeks BSI (blogger secret ingredient). Heather chose greens; a much overlooked source of stupendous veggie power. I did my shopping for the week and totally spaced out on this one. I came home without any greens. Shame on me. I was lucky to find a package of chopped kale in my freezer, the next best thing to fresh. I don’t have many recipes for greens, aside from adding them to soups my go-to is a saute of garlic and olive oil. I did a search and found some really good ideas like this one with dried cranberries. One of my loves. The heat really worked in plumping them up to bring out their sweetness and along with a little drizzle of honey the kale lost any bitterness it might have had. Hints of garlic are offset by the juicy berries and salty Parmesan. I imagine this as a perfect side-dish for Thanksgiving. Or anytime!

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

Kale w/ Garlic and Cranberries
(loosely adapted from Epicurious)

Frozen chopped Kale, 16 oz.
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1-2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and fresh pepper
Parmesan or Romano cheese, fresh grated, for serving

Steam the kale in a steamer basket pan for 10-12 minutes until thawed out and tender. Let cool slightly and using a large spoon press the water out of the kale so that it drips through the basket into the pan.

In a large skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil over low-medium heat until the garlic begins to turn light brown. Add the cranberries, kale and honey to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until kale is reheated through and cranberries are plump and warm. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

Printable Recipe

Kale w/ Garlic & Cranberries

Blue Cheese, Cranberry and Pecan Salad with Grilled Chicken and Honey Mustard Dressing

Red, White & Bleu

This recipe is a recreation of one of my favorite salads from my favorite diner! It is packed with blue cheese, pecans, dried cranberries and topped with grilled chicken. The creamiest, most-delicious, homemade honey mustard you can imagine is drizzled over top.

The textures and different flavors in this salad make it so fun to eat. My taste buds are totally addicted to tart and sweet flavor pairs. I love dried cranberries! They take on a whole new life compared to fresh ones. They are sweeter, less tart and the contrast between them and the bite from the blue cheese is off the flavor charts. Soft, savory, sweet, smoky, salty, crunchy, chewy, creamy, crisp, tangy, tender and juicy; this salad has it all!

It is the most perfect warm weather dinner salad. You can throw the chicken on the grill and have the dressing and salad assembled in the time it takes to cook. And it is nothing short of sublime! Light yet filling and completely addicting!

100_6935 (Small)

The great thing about this salad is you can make it for one or for a crowd. You can adjust how big or how little you want the salad to be. That’s why I haven’t included measurements for the salad fixin’s. But be on the generous side. They really make the salad.

Red, White and Blue Grilled Chicken Salad
(by Reeni)

For the salad

Chicken breast, boneless, skinless
Romaine hearts, chopped
Dried Cranberries
Pecans or Walnuts
Blue Cheese, crumbled

For the dressing*

2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons Honey
2 teaspoons Rice Vinegar
Salt and pepper
Mayonnaise (optional)

1. Pound out your chicken breasts between saran wrap using a mallet to your own desired thickness. Season well with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through.

2. Meanwhile toast the pecans or walnuts in a dry saute pan for about five to seven minutes on low tossing a few times.

3. In a food processor emulsify the mustard, honey and vinegar. Taste and adjust to your liking by adding more honey or more mustard. If too thick thin with a little more vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. For a creamy dressing add a teaspoon or two of mayonnaise. I save my empty honey bear bottles for storing my home-made dressings in. *For creamy honey-mustard in a pinch mix equal parts Ranch dressing and honey mustard.

4. Assemble your salad, start with the romaine and top with generous amounts of cranberries, walnuts and bleu cheese. Drizzle with honey-mustard and top with the grilled chicken.

Printable Recipe

Red, White & Bleu Salad

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