Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Making cranberry sauce from scratch is almost as easy as opening a can. The result tastes so much better than anything you find in a can. If you are having turkey for Thanksgiving, you have to have cranberry sauce as well. The two just go together. I like to make the cranberry sauce a day or two before serving. That gives the flavors time to develop.

My family are not crazy about cranberry sauce, so we always have leftovers. I never know what to do with them. What are your favorite ways to use leftover cranberry sauce?

Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

1 12-ounce bag of fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely before refrigerating. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Collards and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Collards and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Don’t you just love hand pies? They are fun. And tasty. And portable. Stuffed with a savory filling, they are great for the lunch box or for breakfast on the go.

Get creative with the filling. Different greens (like kale) and cheeses lend way to a wide range of possibilities. I considered adding drained black-eyed peas to the filling. It is something I will definitely try in the future.

Collards and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

Collards and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup fat (use butter or shortening or a combination of both)
ice water

1 large bunch collard greens, washed, ribs removed, and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
crushed red pepper
goat cheese

1 egg, beaten

Make the crust first. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and black pepper. Cut the butter and/or shortening into the dry mixture with a fork or pastry blender. Add the ice cold water one tablespoon at a time until dough comes together (5 tablespoons seems to be just about right most of the time). Divide the dough into two halves and flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer while you prepare the collards.

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring, until they start to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chopped collards and 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet and cook until the collards are wilted and somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Remove the dough from the freezer. Divide it into 10 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape it into a ball and then roll out into an approximately 6-inch circle on a floured surface. They don’t have to be perfect, you can trim them later. Place 1/10 of the collards mixture on the bottom half of the circle. Crumble a tablespoon or so of goat cheese on top of the collards filling.

Filling hand pies

Fold down the top portion of the dough over the filling and crimp with a fork. Trim the edges with a knife. Place the hand pie on the baking sheet. Cut a couple of small slits on the top of the hand pie (or pierce a couple of times with a fork). Repeat with remaining dough and filling.


Brush  each hand pie with the beaten egg. Bake at 375º for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.




Creamed Collards

Creamed Collards

This simple, yet rich side dish is perfect for Thanksgiving.

By using half and half instead of heavy cream, you can save over 500 calories from going into this recipe. The end result is still creamy and indulgent. You will not miss all those extra calories and fat.

Creamed Collards

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 large bunch collards, washed, ribs removed, and chopped
1 cup half and half
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until they start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped collards and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the half and half and reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer, stirring often, until the collards are tender and the liquid is reduced, about 10 minutes.

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)


This is a quick and flavorful vegetarian/vegan meal. It is a favorite of ours. It tastes even better the next day. Serve it with Basmati rice.

Bamia (Okra with Tomatoes and Chickpeas)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, drained
1 pound frozen whole okra (or fresh), ends trimmed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and black pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, okra, tomatoes, cumin, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to medium-low. Cook until the okra is soft, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with warm rice (I like Basmati) and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

These muffins are sooo good. They turn out light and moist. They are packed with zucchini so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating what is essentially breakfast cupcakes. The kids will love them too.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 firmly packed cups of shredded zucchini
1 – 3 tablespoons of milk (if necessary)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line muffin tins with baking cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and shredded zucchini. Pour the zucchini mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. If the batter is dry and crumbly, add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth. The zucchini will release moisture while the muffins are baking, so you don’t want to add any more milk than necessary.

Divide the batter between 18 muffin cups. You want them to be about 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Almond Bundt Cake

Almond Bundt Cake

I am running a bake sale at my oldest son’s school next Saturday. I am considering baking this Almond Bundt Cake as one of the items I contribute to said bake sale. I have made this cake a few times over the past year. It’s delicious! It’s quick and easy to prepare, but extraordinary enough for a special occasion. I think it will sell quickly.

Tip:  Trader Joe’s sells Almond Meal at a reasonable price that is perfect for this recipe.

Almond Bundt Cake

Almond Bundt Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cups ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup milk

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk (plus more, if needed)

sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.

Mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

Mix the flour into the mixture, alternating with the cup of milk.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for at least 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack. Let the cake cool.

Make the glaze. In a bowl, mix the powdered sugar, almond extract and milk together until smooth. Drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of the cake, if you wish.


Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so flavorful. Traditionally, it is not done in the crockpot, but there is no reason why it can’t be. Cooking it in the crockpot is not only easy, but it allows for the flavors to meld as it cooks over several hours. It turns out fantastic! To make it a little more substantial, sometimes we will eat this soup over some cooked rice vermicelli noodles.

This recipe contains several ingredients that may not be easy to find in a regular grocery store. Use this recipe as an excuse to visit an Asian market. I cook so much Thai food that I tend to keep these ingredients on hand.

Galangal: I have rarely been able to find fresh galangal, but I have been able to find it frozen or dried at Asian markets. If you use dried galangal, don’t mince it, instead throw a handful of slices into the soup. Remove the galangal slices (as you would a bay leaf) before serving. If you are unable to get galangal, you may substitute ginger instead.


Lemongrass: I am able to find lemongrass at my local Asian market. I will buy a bunch and clean it up and freeze it to use later. I have also seen a lemongrass paste in the produce section of my Publix. I would think 1 tablespoon of the paste could be used instead of minced lemongrass. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can leave it out.

Kaffir Lime Leaves:  These are actually kind of hard to find in any store. This may seem strange, but I buy them on ebay, usually from someone in California that has a kaffir lime tree growing in their yard. They go out and pick the leaves and mail them. The leaves ship well and don’t need to be refrigerated right after picking. Once I get my kaffir lime leaves, I freeze them. They keep forever in the freezer. Lime zest can be substituted for kaffir lime leaves. The flavor isn’t exactly the same, but it is similar.

Sambal Olek:  They actually sell this at Target in the ethnic food section. It is usually right next to the sriracha.

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai

Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 (approximately) ounce can coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece galangal, minced (substitute ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1/2 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves, rib removed and julienned (substitute zest of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon sambal olek (or sriracha)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the Thai basil and fresh cilantro in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the Thai basil and fresh cilantro. Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro.


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