Fruit and vegetables have always been a theme in my Christmas decorating. Each year I decorate the mantel with pineapples, oranges, apples, artichokes and grapes along with cedar and pine roping. This year I'm adding these beauties.
I'm curious if anyone else likes to decorate for the holidays with fruit and vegetables. If you do, which fruit and vegetables do you prefer and how do you use them?
I have been on a mad eating frenzy that can only rival that of a hungry Great White Shark feeding off the coast of Seal Island, South Africa. Not a pleasant sight to be sure. Suffice it to say I have been eating anything and everything since Thanksgiving. If it wasn't nailed down I was eating it. It's a good thing my arms are attached to my body or I'd be typing this post with a pen in my mouth.
I've decided to give myself an intervention. I will be eating salads from now until Christmas. If I can make them as delicious as this one, I will be more than happy to give up the junk food. I devoured this salad just as hungry sharks usually do.
Pink grapefruit, avocado and feta cheese are the stars in this healthy salad. I supremed my grapefruit in a bowl and then sliced the avocado and placed it in with the grapefruit sections and juice.(the acid in the grapefruit juice keeps the avocado from turning brown) I took a large handful of baby greens and wild arugula and put the grapefruit, feta and avocado on top. I added a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to the juice along with Fleur de Sel and pepper then poured it over the the whole thing. I will absolutely make this again. Maybe next time I will add a thin slice of red onion. YUM!
Good nose Bella. Yes, you do smell something. You smell the aroma of biscuits wafting from the kitchen. I made you a batch of Christmas treats.. Now stop your drooling , sit like a pretty girl and I'll give you one.
Bella did have one and loved it.. Earlier she sat on the rug by the backdoor and waited for them to cool down enough to test one. I know she enjoyed it because when I gave her the second treat she flew into the living room to wolf it down on my good rug.
I toyed around with the portions from the original recipe and they came out better than I expected. Here's the recipe.
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Treats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup canned pumpkin
5 tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup oats
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a stand mixer, mix together all the above ingredients. Dough should be stiff but workable. Roll out to 1/2 inches and use what ever cookie cutter you prefer. Bake 30 minutes and cool on a wire rack. I cut out 60 treats with my bone cookie cutter.
Every year around this time I sprinkle red and green decorating sugar into the sugar bowl. I love how just a spoonful can bring holiday cheer to my morning coffee. Its a simple little tradition, but one I look forward to each Christmas season .
I purchased another three pound bag of cranberries from the local bog and I'm working my way through them slowly but surely. To make these delicious cookies I took some of the ingredients from one recipe and then a little more from another. I'm thrilled they came out so well. They turned out chewy and delicious. Here's the recipe. Enjoy! Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp.vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. orange zest
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt, stir in oats, raisins, cranberries, orange zest,walnuts and white chocolate chips.
Drop by heaping teaspoons two inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.
With cranberry season in full swing, New Englander's will use these tart gems in just about any recipe they can. This is not your ordinary salsa and you are absolutely right, the color is a little different, but the flavor is spot on. This was a cinch to make and a great success at my mother's birthday party this weekend. Here is the recipe.
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch scallions
2 jalapenos pepper
juice of two limes
2 tbsp. Grand Marnier
1/2 cup sugar (I used cranberry honey produced by the bees at my local bog)
Throw it all in the food processor, blend and let sit over night in the fridge so that the flavor will deepen. Serve with tortilla chips.
What a delicious pie! Perfect for the holidays and a wonderful use of my local cranberries from the bog in Carlisle. I doctored up the ingredients slightly by adding a bottom crust and adding a tiny cap full of my orange oil ( King Arthur Store) to the batter. Here's the recipe from Ocean Spray Recipes!
1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 inch pie plate. ( I used a bottom crust so I didn't grease the plate)
Layer cranberries on bottom of the crust or pie plate. Sprinkle with brown sugar and walnuts. Beat egg in a medium bowl until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and melted butter, blend well. This is where I added the orange oil. Orange zest would be perfect in the batter as well. Pour over cranberries.
The cranberries are exceptional this year. There is such a distinct flavor difference between the bagged super market cranberries and the locally grown berries. It's almost as if they had a little bit of a sparkle to them. Anyway, with three pounds to use I went straight to the cranberry experts, Ocean Spray Cranberry. This recipe sounded delicious and easy. I did however make quite a few modifications to the Ocean Spray recipe. I used floured pork instead of plain chicken, fresh cranberries rather than dried, apple cider because I forgot to buy apple jelly and then took it upon myself to add the mustard and raw sugar. Everyone loved it.
4 boneless, center cut pork chops sliced in half as if your were making cutlets. So tip to tail..
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup apple cider
2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp. raw sugar
3 apples, peeled and cut into 1/4 slices (any variety will do)
1 cup fresh cranberries
Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the pork cutlets lightly in the flour. Melt the butter along with the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork and cook 3 or 4 minutes per side. Remove to a warm platter in the oven to keep warm. I put my oven on 190 degrees.
Stir in wine, cider, mustard, apples, raw sugar and fresh cranberries. Bring to a boil all the while scraping any brown bits of the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and return pork to the pan for 2 or 3 minutes to finish cooking. Here is my version. Enjoy!
I was so busy taking the photo I forgot to pour the delicious sauce over the top. That's the best part!!
These ruby beauties are local cranberries from the bog ten minutes up the road from my house. They are bigger, fresher and tastier than the fresh variety you find at the supermarket and I LOVE THEM. I have a few new recipes I want to try out so stayed tuned. Until then have, here are some facts about these antioxidant rich yummies.
The first cranberry crop was harvested in 1816 in my home state of Massachusetts.
The cranberry was made the official state berry of Massachusetts in 1994.
Cranberry juice contains a chemical that block pathogens that cause tooth decay.
Honeybees are often used to pollinate cranberry crops, and are in fact more valuable in the performance of this task than they are in the production of honey.
Cranberries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, flavonoids, phenols and other substances that help protect against health problems like urinary tract infections, and chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
A six quart pail has been used as the standard picking measurement since 1870.
There are roughly 200 cranberries used in a can of cranberry sauce.
A twelve ounce bag yields 3 cups whole or 2 1/2 cups chopped cranberries.
I better get making my list for the market tomorrow . There is one particular recipe I'm dying to try.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord Massachusetts isn't the least bit frightening. I have visited several times and find the historical graves rather interesting. Here in this modest grave rests the famous Harvard graduate, American author, philosopher and poet Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Many of you will remember him for his book Walden or from some of his famous quotes. "Be true to your work, your word, and your friends."
Buried nearby on Authors ridge is Thoreau's friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) another Harvard graduate was a prominent member of the Transcendentalist Movement. Emerson's final resting place is more ornate than the other authors on the ridge, yet still rather simple by today's standards. Most of Emerson famous essays were written for the 1500 lectures he gave. "Do not go where the path may lead, instead go where there is no path and leave a trail." I have always loved that quote.
Is there a girl out there who hasn't read Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott ? (1832-1888) The novel is based loosely on her life with her sisters in their home in Concord MA.. Louisa was also a feminist and was the first women to vote in a school election in Concord. Her father was Bronson Alcott another famous member of the Transcendentalist Club and who was also the founder of the Utopian Fruitlands in Harvard Ma. You might remember from an earlier post, I visit there quite often. Louisa has so many notable quotes it is hard to choose just one, so I will choose two that have been meaningful to me. "Stay is a charming word in a friends vocabulary." the other "Far away in the sunshine are my aspirations, I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is another famous author and friend of Emerson and Thoreau. The Scarlett Letter and The House of Seven Gablesare two of the more notable books written by Hawthorne. I can remember reading The Scarlett Letter in high school and my heart aching for Hester Prynne. Great book!! One more inspirational quote. "Happiness is like a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
I hope you have enjoyed your Halloween visit to Authors Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
There is a reason I only buy Macintosh scented candles and if you've ever walked through an apple orchard when its harvest time, you'll understand why that is. The fragrance of the orchard is intoxicating. I made my annual fall trek to the orchards with Kerry the lovely, my oldest sons girlfriend. Kerry was kind enough to come home from school for the weekend and accompany me to Brookdale Farms. This is our third season going together and do we ever have fun. We always pick huge bags of apples so there is always plenty to eat and plenty to bake with. Soooo....instead of baking up a dessert storm, I thought for a change of pace, I might try this baked breakfast masterpiece. This delicious, filling oatmeal treat is why I love to cook. You can take the most ordinary ingredients throw it all in a casserole and the results are extraordinary. Baked Apple Oatmeal is very close to a deconstructed Apple Crisp, but healthier.
If you are a fan of oatmeal you will absolutely love this easy to make breakfast delight. Oatmeal, brown sugar, dried cranberries, nuts, apples and cinnamon baked along with a few cups of milk. Wow!!!
Baked Apple Oatmeal is from a lovely blog I follow called rita-may-recipes.blogspot.com . Pop over and visit Rita's blog for her recipe. You will be so glad you did!! Thank you Rita, it exceeded my expectations.
This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever make. You need one box of spice cake mix and one 15 oz. can of plain pumpkin. Mix together the dry spice cake mix with the canned pumpkin. No oil, no eggs, no water. Just the dry cake mix and the canned pumpkin. Scoop into a muffin tin and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. I sprinkled diced walnuts and raw sugar on top. Could it get any easier? These muffins are super moist and packed with flavor. Makes one dozen spiced pumpkin muffins. Recipe courtesy of my sister Ann.
I love this old red New England barn.
I want to work on the farm that owns this barn.
I want the farm to have a large flock of chickens.
I want to be in charge of gathering the eggs from the chickens.
I want to experience all the growing seasons first hand and up close.
I want to go to work early while there is morning dew still clinging to the vegetables plants.
I want to hear the rattle and clunk of the old farm tractor as it heads up the road.
I want to lovingly arrange all the fresh produce in wooden bins for the customers who come to visit.
I want to marvel at the magic of the farmers bounty.
I want to walk through the orchard and smell the sweet fragrance of the apples.
Next summer if there is a farm stand position I think I might just apply. Talk about being in heaven!!!
"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787
'Rouge Vif d'Etampes is just a fancy pants French name for Cinderella pumpkins. I made a yummy pumpkin soup with one of these beauties. I sliced the pumpkin in half, scooped out the seeds and stringy center and roasted it in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs at 400 degrees. When the pumpkin was almost done roasting I chopped an onion and simmered it in four cups of chicken broth. I then added the baked pumpkin flesh along with cayenne pepper, ground marjoram and four ounces of light cream cheese to the broth and onions.
I then took my immersion blender and went to town whirring it until it was as smooth as silk. Salt and pepper to taste and diced fresh chives for garnish. Delicious!!!
Does anyone out there know why my fig jam is such a cheery rose color? I was under the impression that fig jam was going to be an earthy brown color. The jam itself is delicious in a fruity sort of way, but lacks the color that I thought fig jam would be. I'm thinking Fig Newton brown. Anyway, I happily spread some on grilled Tuscan Bread with Gorgonzola Cheese and it was perfectly yummy!!
Here's the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens You Can Can canning cookbook.
2 3/4 pounds of fresh Black Mission Figs.(30 to 35)
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1 1.75 pkg. powered fruit pectin
7 cups sugar
Rinse figs. Remove stems from figs, halve or quarter. Place 1/3 in food processor. Blend until almost smooth. Transfer fruit to large bowl. Repeat with remaining figs. Measure 5 cups fig pulp.
In an 8 qt. heavy pot stir together the fig pulp, lemon juice, water and pectin. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Add sugar all at once. Return to full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Immediately ladle jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes( start timing when water returns to a boil). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
I only had 2 pounds of figs so I played with the amounts of lemon juice, water, pectin and sugar. It came out great.
Here is just two of the six jars I made of my funny color fig jam. Pretty color though, don't you think?
Chrysanthemum is the buzz word in September for sure. No matter where you go there are mounds of magnificent mums.
Some farms display their mums in varying degrees of the same color. I'll take one of each please.
Other farms plop the pots down where ever there is space on the ground. To me it doesn't matter where the farmers place them or how perfectly color coordinated the rows are. They are a spectacular way to welcome us into fall.
This is the color I chose this year. Do you have a favorite chrysanthemum
color that you prefer?
Extra Extra!!!! Read all about it. Guess what everybody. I finally found something at the corner thrift store. Seven crystal dessert glasses that actually ping when you clink them. Week after week. Month after month I would trudge in there looking for something, anything that tickled my fancy. I spied these beauties on a dusty shelf in the corner. Just four dollars for the seven of them. Yippee!! A fellow blogger Cathy from Acorn Hollow put the bee in my bonnet about thrift stores. Cathy is an expert when it comes to thrifting.. The items Cathy finds are remarkable and she usually posts about them. I hope it isn't another six months before I score another great deal.
Summer's commitment to the vegetable garden is coming to an end This most generous of
the growing seasons has performed it's duties well. The hot summer's sun grew vegetables that
were healthy, colorful and delicious. Summer's mission was accomplished. The gifts were
plentiful and deeply appreciated.
What shall we do without your tender, sweet, golden kernels? Perhaps one more bowl of roasted corn and shrimp chowder before your tall willowy stalks are wired to the lamp post .
Good-bye toasted tomato sandwiches with sweet basil and mayonnaise. I will miss our noontime soirees. So long Insalata Caprese Salad. I will never forget how you extended the invitation to others to share the spotlight on your platter.
Oh, and then there is you my dear zucchini friend. Who knew how delicious you could be
sliced and sauteed with tomato sauce and scrambled eggs. The sweet bread that you so
generously sacrificed yourself for has made so many people so very happy. Your ability to
transform yourself from savory to sweet is in a word magical. Until next year my summer
The weather was gorgeous yesterday. I had all my doors and windows opened wide and a cool breeze was blowing throughout the house. It was one of those summer days when you can actually use the oven and not heat up the entire house.. Dom at Belleau Kitchen, Chicken Risotto dish was delicious. The dish is simple to assemble and the ingredients readily available at the market. Chicken thigh, chicken drumsticks, onions, carrots, mushrooms, peas, wine and vegetable stock.
It smelled so good while it was baking, I was asked several times if supper was almost ready.
Click on Dom's name (above) for the recipe to this tasty dish. You will be very pleased you did. Thank you Dom we loved it!
For me, fresh summer produce is like receiving a gift that you've been pinning for for a long time. Here's one of the recipes I use when the gifts start arriving.
2 hothouse cucumbers, halved and seeded but not peeled ( I use Lebanese Cukes)
3 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
8 plum tomatoes
2 red onions ( I use only one)
6 garlic cloves, minced
46 oz. tomato ( I use between 4 and 5 cups)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and red onion into 1 inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess.
After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits the better it tastes. I serve mine with goat cheese, croutons and a little extra olive oil on top.
I found this recipe on a lovely blog called Mountain Breaths. Mountain Breaths found the recipe on one of my other favorite blogs There's Always Thyme To Cook. I went back to my bookmarks and sure enough there it was bookmarked and saved from when There's Always Thyme To Cook posted it in April. I say thank you to both blogs, the lemon brownies were out of this world delicious. Here's the recipe!!!
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
additional lemon zest for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees: Line the bottom of a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with Pam. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt: add butter. Stir together eggs, juice from 1/2 lemon and zest from 1 lemon. Stir into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until set, use a toothpick to check. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When brownies are cool prepare glaze by stirring the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp. lemon juice together and then spread over the cooled brownies. Once again I added a few drops of my pure lemon oil from King Arthur's Bakery.
I won't be going to the Mediterranean anytime soon, but I do enjoy eating as if I'm there. Fresh native tomato, grilled eggplant and mozzarella napoleons. I used the rosemary as a skewer to keep it stacked and pretty and then sprinkled them with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shredded sweet basil.
Delicious Greek marinated chicken breast. Yum! The marinade is simple and easy. I use one bottle of Christy's Greek Salad Dressing, chopped fresh Greek oregano, two cloves minced garlic and a few tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Marinate all day,throw it on the grill and you're done. A Mediterranean inspired meal you will love.
If you have a minute please pop-over to my niece Katie's blog.Kate's Happening. Katie is brand new to blogging and would love some new visitors. Thanks so much friends.
This afternoon I took a ride to one of my favorite farms in Hollis, New Hampshire. What ever the season, Brookdale Farm always has the best and sweetest fruit available. Today the native peaches were calling my name. I came home and made this dessert before I even patted my dog Bella. It's really that quick.
This is so simple it borders on the ridiculous. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Spray flesh side of the peach with butter flavored Pam and place flesh side down on the grill. Grill about 3 minutes or until the peach loses a little of its firmness. Remove the peach from the grill and immediately place a little piece of chocolate in the middle
Scoop up some vanilla ice cream, plop on top and enjoy!!