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Entries in Holidays (12)


Cranberry Relish

One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal is the cranberry relish, not the gooey sticky kind that comes mostly from a can but the fresh chunky kind made from whole, organic ingredients. I guess I like my cranberry relish they way I like my salsa. This recipe came from orignally, and I added the nuts (why wouldn't you add nuts? Just don't forget to add them at the last minute to keep them from getting too soft from all the moisture).

Cranberry Relish, fresh style

Yield: about 3 cups.
Prep Time: 15 minutes.

  ● 2 cups raw cranberries, washed
  ● 2 tart apples, skinned and cored
  ● 1 large whole (peel ON) seedless orange, cut into sections
  ● 1-2 cups granulated sugar to taste

1. Use a food grinder with a medium-sized blade to chop up the berries, apples, and orange (pith and all). You can also chop by hand (wow, that's a lot of work) or use a food processor (but be careful not to over-pulse or it will become mush).

2. Mix in the sugar. Let sit at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.



Pizzas as pumpkins

This is not a recipe post, but an idea post. I told my mother yesterday that we would be making pumpkin pizzas for dinner and as soon as I saw the loook of doubt come over her face I realized I needed to change my naming. We weren't making pumpkin pizzas, after all, but pizzas that looked like pumpkins. We made three different pumpkin shapped pizzas (really, what pizza isn't already kind of pumpkin shaped) and we each decorated one of them with pepperoni. Other fun pumpkin shaped ideas are, of course, cookies, and also pancakes. Those are the easy ones, if you get more adventurous you can always cut pumpkin shaped tea sandwiches...


Irish Soda Bread

We tried this tonight to go with our Irish boiled dinner. The bread is definitely yummy - not overly sweet but definitely belonging to the sweet bread category - but we had some problems with the recipe as it is written, so I'll give you the recipe as I found it (on and also tell you where it didn't work.

• 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
• 2 Tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 4 Tbsp butter
• 1 cup raisins
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 2 cups buttermilk

Add 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Using a pastry cutter work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk and mix until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in some more flour. Do not overknead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf.

Even with the alloted amount of flour I could not get this to be anything but a gelatinous mess. I think I finally added an additional cup of flour (total 5 cups, so only 1/2 cup more than the max called for).

Transfer dough to a lightly greased baking sheet and score top of dough about 1/2'' deep in an "X" shape. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness also via toothpick method.

At 50 minutes my bread was still raw at the center - completely raw - but it was browning on the outside, so I covered it in tinfoil and cooked it an additional 20 minutes (totalling 1hr 10min) before it was ready to come out.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or toasted with butter. This we had no problem with. Yummy!


Christmas cookies - two varieties

Such a cold day, only four days from Christmas, found us seeking indoor diversions today, so we baked.  Isn't that a rather traditional thing to do this time of year?  I'd found two recipes in our Penzey's Spices magazine that we had wanted to try.  The first is for cocoa cookies and, while they taste pretty yummy, they were a pain to make; even after over an hour in the fridge the dough was too sticky to successfully transfer from counter to cookie sheet with its shape still intact.  The second recipe is for no-chill cookies and that one worked like a charm!


Cocoa Cutout Cookies (thanks to Penzey's Spices)

Combine 3/4C sugar, 1/4C corn syrup, 1 egg, 1t vanilla and beat on medium until creamy.  Add 1/4C cocoa powder, 1/2t baking soad, 2/3C butter (softened), 2C flour, and 1/2t baking powder and beat on low until well mixed.  Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling on a lightly floured surface to cut.  Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 8 minutes per sheet.  Cool before frosting.


No-Chill Cutout Cookies (thanks to Penzey's Spices)

Mix 1C butter (softened) and 1C sugar until creamy.  Add 1 egg and 1t vanilla, mix until creamy.  Add 3C flour and 2t baking powder, blend well.  Form dough into a smooth ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface to cut.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 400 for 6 minutes.  Cool before frosting.


Vanilla Frosting (thanks to Penzey's Spices)

Combine 2C powdered sugar, 2t butter (melted), 3TB milk, 1/4t vanilla and mix until smooth.  Apply to cookies right away.  I made a make-shift applicator by rolling wax paper into a cone shape and filling it with frosting - a trick I learned umpteen years ago in Girl Scouts!


Sinterklaas Vooravond: 3 dishes for a Dutch holiday dinner

We held our annual De Vooravond Van Sinterklaas party yesterday (a day late, yes) and spiced our holiday fun with three decidedly Dutch dishes - runderlappen, hutspot, and brussels lof.  Although we can't recommend the last one, the first two were quite fun, so here you are!


Runderlappen is basically meat and onions slow cooked in traditional spices, so start with 3lbs of round steak, pound it, saltand pepper it, then cut it into serving size pieces. Browned these pieces on both sides in about 1/2C of bacon drippings (I reserved these from preparing the bacon for the hutspot), then remove them to a slow cooker (with so much meat this took me several batches, and a little additional butter fat). After the final batch of meat is removed add 3 onions, sliced, and fry them slightly before adding 1C water, 3T vinegar, 1T mustard, 2 bay leaves, 1t whole cloves, and 10 peppercorns. Bring this to a boil, stirring to mix in the drippings from bottom of the pan, then pour over meat in the slow cooker. Add enough water (or broth) to just barely cover the meat and cook for 2-4 hours or until very tender. Turn meat every 1/2 hour or so. Serve hot with onions and some of the juice.



Hutspot is boiled potoatoes, onions, and carrots mashed together and served with meat. It's as easy as that. The recipes that we have seen call for about 6 onions, 6 carrots, and 8 potatoes to be washed, pealed, cut into pieces, and boiled in salted water alongside smoked sausages (Gelderse rookworst, to be exact). The vegetables are then removed and mashed together with 1/2C milk and 4T butter, then served with the sausages and cubed pieces of well done bacon. That's the traditional dish, but I left out the sausage and served it as the side starch to the runderlappen. I did serve it with the bacon, however, since I conveniently needed bacon fat for that dish!


Brussels lof

My computer translates this literally as "brussels praise" but I found a few web pages that make me think this is simply what the dutch call endive.  In any case, endive is popular as a cooked vegetable in the Netherlands and several other European countries.  In fact, the endive we were finally able to locate stateside had been shipped from Holland, and we don't mean Michigan.  I washed our endive, then sauted them in butter over high heat for about 2 minutes per side, after which I reduced the heat and added 3T lemon juice, 1t salt, and 1T sugar to the butter, covered the pan, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  I can't say we enjoyed this dish.  It was relatively flavorless, and next year I might try a different endive recipe, or I might search for a completely different vegetable all together.  Who knows.

Happy (Dutch) holiday cooking!