Friday, November 27, 2009

Mr. Whiskers Bread

When I was teaching Kindergarten, I couldn't imagine a late November passing me by without reading Cranberry Thanksgiving to my students. If you have never had the chance to enjoy the Cranberry series by Wende and Harry Devlin, you should really check it out and share it with any little ones in your life. Not only do the stories have a nice lesson, there is always some type of cranberry recipe in the back that happens to be really delicious. The one I will share today is a slight adaptation to the one in Cranberry Thanksgiving and is a nice addition to a brunch or dinner any time of the year. The dough goes together quickly and is a great use for those fresh cranberries hanging around the local stores. The bread fills the house with an amazing scent and freezes well, so you can plan ahead for all of your holiday gatherings.

Mr. Whiskers Cranberry Bread

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. orange zest
3/4 c. orange juice
2 T. oil
1 egg
1 c. chopped cranberries (use the'll thank me later)

Preheat oven to 350. Stir together dry ingredients. Add the orange juice and oil and mix until combined. Add the egg and beat until combined. Stir in cranberries and pour batter into well greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Pot Roast

Ina's Company Pot Roast


1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

**This was a delicious dish! We had it last weekend, since we would obviously be having turkey for dinner today. We especially loved the sauce, as it seemed the meat was a little on the fatty side. Not sure if it is normal for the cut or just an issue for the piece we bought.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can never go wrong when you combine pumpkin and chocolate. It is a really delicious combination, particularly when the chill of Fall sets in. This recipe was shared with me from a close friend of my husband's family. Phylis is a baking machine, constantly turning out amazing bread, cookies, and pies that are out of this world. Here is a cookie recipe that will not disappoint.

Phyl's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 package good chocolate chips

Cream first four ingredients. Add in eggs one at a time until combined. Stir in pumpkin. Sift together dry ingredients and add slowly to wet mixture. Once the dough has come together, stir in package of chocolate chips. Chill before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes.
**These also freeze well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers Creme Brulee

This weeks Barefoot Blogger post comes to us courtesy of Suzie from Munch and Nibble. I have tasted many a creme brulee in my day, but this was the first time I tackled it myself. I must say the recipe was incredibly easy to follow and yielded great results. In fact, I have never had crust as tasty as it was homemade. We are in the middle of a move, so the kitchen torch is God knows where so the broiler was a great stand in. I left the oven door open and watched carefully to develop that delicious crackle that is my favorite component of creme brulee. Thanks for another winner, Ina!

Creme Brulee

  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar carmelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.