armadillas


Mistletoe

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It’s Christmas Eve! I can hardly believe it. I don’t know what it is about this year, but it does n’t really feel all that much like Christmas to me. Perhaps it’s the crazy Virginia weather we have. 70 degrees one day, 35 the next. It’ll throw a person for a loop! Oh, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a little snow? For the most part, it snows once or twice a year around these parts. Sure, it melts almost as soon as it comes, but even one day of a winter wonderland is a magical, wondrous thing. Last year the magic didn’t come. I think we had an hour tops of flurries and not a spec of it showed up on the ground. I suppose I better stick some mittens under my pillow to invoke some winter chill. I remember doing that as a little girl. I don’t recall who taught this ritual to me, but every year I would pull out my mittens or even some gloves if mittens couldn’t be found and I would whisper some Christmas prayer in hopes to wake up the next morning to a frosted window. Believe it or not, it worked…though that’s likely due to the fact I usually did it on nights that were already calling for snow. Magic or no, it’s a tradition I always enjoyed. Like the elves knocking on our door every Christmas Eve and leaving pajamas. I still can’t figure out how those “elves” managed to ring the door bell every year without getting caught. Oh, the joys of Christmas.

But this year I don’t quite have the Spirit that I usually do. I just chuck it up to all the recent changes in my life. There’s just too much stimulation to sit down and really enjoy the nog, which goes completely against my last post about Indian Time. Plus, all my friends are spread out across the continents this year and things are just not the same. But that’s okay. I’ll still relish a feast of beasts tonight along with a little Christmas mass. And let’s not forget the presents either! We finally finished up the last of our presents last night and I’m rather satisfied with everything. Now I just need to get some boxes to start shipping a few things out to those too far away to visit (sorry guys…you won’t be getting anything until after the holidays).

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Christmas aside, I did promise to finish up my Thanksgiving posts and true to nature I’m cutting it right down to the wire. But my first recipe is for a lovely blackberry-cranberry sauce that would be just perfect for Christmas dinner. See, I’m not late. I’m just making the recipe better accessible for holiday chefs.

Now I’ll admit that this recipe is not completely my own. It’s a hodge podge of at least three different ones I found while browsing the web. Here are the links in case you’re interested to draw some inspiration of your own:

Spinach Tiger’s Cranberry Blackberry Sauce and Syrup

Joy of Baking Cran Raspberry Sauce

Fake Food Free Blackberry Cranberry Sauce with Cinnamon

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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 package fresh blackberries (I used the large pack)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon

I promise is super easy, much easier than the last recipe I posted. The first thing you want to do is rinse off your cranberries and blackberries, then dump them into a decent size pot/sauce pan. We’re making sauce after all!

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Add a 1/2 cup of sugar…

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And a 1/2 cup of lemon juice (or however much your taste buds desire!). If you’re feeling real adventurous, throw in some zest too. I prefer lemon juice, but you could totally substitute orange juice. Be creative

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Now for the cinnamon and honey. This step is completely optional and completely to taste. I really enjoy both cinnamon and honey, so I was a little generous with my shakes and tablespoons

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Stir stir stir and set your heat to medium high

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Watch it bet bubbly!

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Did you know sitting a wooden spoon over your pot helps prevent it from boiling over? I wish I had known this years ago. It would’ve saved me a lot of clean up and certainly is a lifesaver nowadays. Stir occasionally as your sauce boils, about 10 minutes or so. You’ll hear the cranberries popping away.

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After 10 minutes of boiling and your berries are all popped, turn the heat down low to simmer. This is where you should taste taste taste to see if your sauce is too bitter, too sweet, not cinnamony enough. Adjust accordingly. This is YOUR sauce! Also, as your sauce simmers, it will thicken

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Of course, you can remove your sauce from the heat if you want to skip the simmering bit. Either way, it will thicken. I just like to simmer for another 10 minutes because it makes me feel important and sophisticated. When you have enough sophistication in your life, turn off the heat. Once the sauce is cool, you can put it in a pretty mason jar!

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Yum yum, if this doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit (whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas), I don’t know what will

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Be warned! This sauce may be a little too tart for your friends who insist on buying the sugary sweet store bought stuff in a can. That just means there’s more for you! But seriously, if you aren’t big on tartness just bump up the amount of sugar in the beginning. But I embrace the tartness! Ah, isn’t is just beautiful?

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Happy (late) Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! Now, where can I find some mistletoe…

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Heat of the moment

So. Much. Cranberry sauce! I honestly don’t know what to do with it all. But…it was a hit at the luncheon. I’m so happy. I was really nervous there for a second. I kept thinking they aren’t going to like it. It’s too tart and is going to end up back in my kitchen again. Thankfully, that was not the case. Someone even took some of the leftovers home with them. Hallelujah! That certainly made my day. But I still have more sauce left in my fridge than I would care to have in there. So I was thinking. Why not cook it up with some pork. It’s holiday season and I always see magazines at all the sores with lovely photos of pork loin served with cranberry sauce. I could totally do that! Of course, I didn’t have a pork loin on hand, but I’ve always been one for improvisation and a couple thick cut boneless pork chops will serve the same purpose. It’s like a pork loin cut in half… right guys?

Anyway, my dinner tonight was inspired by The Pioneer Woman. I like how that woman handles here meat! She provided her own recipe for cranberry sauce, but for obvious reasons I just used the one I already had handy. But by all means, use her method. Looks pretty good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick cut pork chops, boneless
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Cranberry sauce

First, wash your meat! Pat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Lots of pepper. In a castiron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is nice and hot, we are going to sear our pork chops. Mmm mmm mmm. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera was back in business until this moment. Oops

 

Once it’s nice and brown on both sides (the color here does not do it justice), pop the whole thing, pan included, into a 425 degree oven

 

Meanwhile, reheat the cranberry sauce in a small pan

 

On a whim, I added some honey

 

After ten minutes, check your chops with a meat thermometer if you’re a little on the paranoid side like me sometimes

 

I seriously think my meter is broken. Either way, your meat should read 155-160ish.  Just look at that color!

 

Yum yum yum. Serve with a good glob of cranberry sauce on top. Perfect. just perfect!

 

It tastes especially good sliced and piled up on a dinner roll. Enjoy!

Tijuana


Endings

Last night I was asked to whip together a homemade cranberry sauce for some Thanksgiving luncheon today. Cranberry sauce? No problem! Actually, before last night I had never made cranberry sauce before. For that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever tried homemade cranberry sauce either. As with a lot of things, cranberry sauce is a new love of mine discovered a year or two ago. Can you blame me? The stuff does not look that appetizing. Jiggly red stuff out of a can…no thanks. But then one thing led to another and I tasted it and it was surprisingly yummy. If the canned stuffed is so good, imagine what the fresh stuff will taste like. So I tackled the challenge!

I didn’t follow any one particular recipe. I looked at a few recipes online and read the back of the cranberry bag and what I came up with is just a hodgepodge recipe of things thrown together. It really was not that bad for my first try. It’s tart to be sure, but we are working with cranberries. I suppose that’s to be expected.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh cranberries
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice (or any citrus of your liking)
  • Cinnamon

Okay, I know I didn’t give you any measurements, but I have a good reason so don’t yell at me yet. See, a certain someone decided they wanted to buy 32 ounces worth of cranberries…and you really don’t need that much in my opinion. My bulk sauce took a lot longer to cook than your average run of the mill sauce so I’m going to attempt to scale it down for you guys! The way I see it, the most common method is boiling a cup of water with a cup of sugar and then adding your 12 oz bag of cranberries and simmering the whole thing together until the berries burst open and become real tender.

Well, according to this method I needed three cups of water. To play around with flavor, I did two and half cups of water and half a cup of lemon juice. I took a similar approach with the sugar; 2 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup honey. But I didn’t add the honey until after I added the cranberries. Then I just kept adding cinnamon to taste. So basically, this is how it went down:

  1. Boil 3/4 cups of water and 1/4 cup lemon juice with 3/4 cups of sugar.
  2. Add 12 ounces of cranberries and bring back to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Pour honey into cranberry mixture and stir. Sprinkle in a dash or two of cinnamon and stir some more.
  4. Allow mixture to simmer until all the berries pop and you’re cranberry sauce begins to take on the consistency of jelly, about 10 minutes
  5. Remove from heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

My sauce took maybe 30 minutes to finally break down,which made me nervous because I read you’re not suppose to cook cranberries for more than 15 minutes, but it turned out fine. Besides, I had three times as many berries as I needed so it makes sense that it would take longer to cook. Overall, I was happy with my finished product and hopefully it will be a hit at the luncheon. Guess we’ll find out!

Also, if you neglected to notice…my camera is working again! At least temporarily. I just hope it holds up through Thanksgiving because I’m going to have lots of recipes to post and it’s just not the same without pictures.


Tijuana