In My Life, I've Loved Them All

Playing in the Kitchen: Cranberry Sauce

Forget the can.  If you have enough kitchen prowess to make Top Ramen or a Box of Kraft Mac & Cheese, you can make your Cranberry Sauce from scratch.  Seriously.  It’s so easy.  And adding the words “from scratch” makes anything you serve 1000x more impressive.

This time of year, you can find bags of fresh cranberries in the produce department of your regular grocery store (no need for a special trip to some fancy market).  This bag at Wal-Mart cost $1.99.  Cans of Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce cost $1.10.

<center><a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/inmylife99/8188990685/” title=”cranberries by InMyLife99, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8199/8188990685_bf3e93e54c_n.jpg” width=”320” height=”213” alt=”cranberries”></a>
Buy an extra bag or 2, pop them in the freezer,
and you can have fresh cranberry sauce year round
</center>

Here is the recipe, straight from Ocean Spray, for your basic cranberry sauce:

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries

Directions:
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil.
Add cranberries.
Return to boil.
Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 2 1/4 cups.


That is it.  The cranberries pop open and their juice is what helps make it “saucy” instead of “soupy.”
And when you can make it yourself, you can adjust the sweetness level to your preference (or use a sugar substitute to cut calories**gasp**)
You can even make it on WEDNESDAY so it is one less thing to stress out about on Thanksgiving.

Last year, I took my homemade cranberry sauce a step further and made Barefoot Contessa “Cranberry Fruit Conserve”... the same basic process with some extra stuff stirred in at the end.  But doesn’t it sound so much more sophisticated?  Make some to impress you relatives this holiday season.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/inmylife99/7608129576/” title=”Barefoot Contessa Cranberry Compote by InMyLife99, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8144/7608129576_53c1ae6d5f_n.jpg” width=”320” height=”240” alt=”Barefoot Contessa Cranberry Compote”></a>

Ingredients
1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions
Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open.
Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts.
Let cool, and serve chilled.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Reasons to love FALL (Christmas, you wait you turn!)

Do not be fooled by the Christmas commercials on TV or the unexpected snow fall around the country.  It is FALL!  Full of some of my favorite yearly things, including but not limited to the following:

Seasonal Beer  Fall means the weather is getting cooler an the beer is getting darker.  Excellent!  Some of my personal favorites are St Arnold’s Oktoberfest and Dogfish Head Punkin. -*I strongly encourage supporting Craft Breweries-

Turn on the Oven, Roast Everything!  There is a good reason we grill food outside in the summer time… keep the heat outside!  Why crank up the AC indoors if you are just going to turn on your oven and heat up the kitchen/house.  That is silly.  We don’t even run the dishwasher during the day in summertime.

Roasting may be my favorite method of cooking… oven is at 400 degrees+ and food gets a yummy char/caramelized deliciousness.  Roast chicken, turkey, potatoes, and even broccoli and green beans!

Barefoot Contessa Cranberry CompoteSage and Pumpkin and Cranberries, oh my!  Ah, the flavors of fall.  You should eat “seasonally” because the food tastes the best when it is in season.  Stores usually have A LOT on hand, so it is cheap too. Here is a list of healthy fall produce.

Just cool enough Not to hot and not to cold.  Pants and a Sweatshirt is just right… and cool enough at night for a blanket. When the weather gets to cold, I never want to get out of bed or even leave the house… I just want to hibernate.

Mimi's Corn ChowderSoup!  Salads are for summer.  Fall and winter means it is time for SOUP!  It keeps you warm and is very filling for not a lot ton of broth soups.  And despite my name, I recommend steering clear of canned soup!  It is SO EASY and INEXPENSIVE to make it from scratch.  Once you start making your own, you feel silly for every buying it from a can.
Here are a couple great soup recipes:
Mimi’s Corn Chowder
Best Cream of Broccoli

Leaves  Leaves are changing pretty colors!  And then falling to the ground… you don’t have to throw them in the trash… put them in the compost pile!

Thanksgiving  A Holiday centered around food, family, and being grateful for the things you have.  All of my favorite things!

Football & Basketball Sorry, but the Houston Astros were a bit of a let down this Summer. But the Texans are making things quite exciting this Fall! The Rockets season has started as well, but we have not been able to view ANY game because ComCast is blocking all home and away games for non-cable-subscribers. YAY Texans. Boo Comcast.

Is there anything I am forgetting?


Lobby Pumpkin 2012- Finding Nemo!

Every year at the Hotel that so generously employs me, there is a pumpkin carving/decorating contest.  5 years in a row, I have not won.  But I love art and being creative, so I don’t mind.  Each year I try to do something different than the last (Carved to Decoupaged) but my mind was drawing a blank for 2012, and it was already October 28th!

<center><img src=”http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq211/gwcindy/CindysPumpkins.jpg”/></center>

I decided this year should be Pop Culture!  And in my mind, picking a character that was already mostly orange would mean it’d be easier.  WRONG.  I spent more time on Nemo than any of my other pumpkins.  But everyone knows what Nemo should look like, so I wanted to get the details just right.

<center><img src=”http://i449.photobucket.com/albums/qq211/gwcindy/FindingNemoPumpkin.jpg” border=”0” alt=”Finding Nemo Pumpkin”/></center>

This little guy was a hit with all the kids in the lobby!  Little girls were taking their picture with it, which made my heart just melt.  Nemo didn’t win the overall contest, but he is one of my favorite pumpkins yet!

<center></center><iframe src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=0528-20&o=1&p=26&l=ur1&category=outlet&banner=0ZRS3NW04617JAFB6GG2&f=ifr” width=”468” height=”60” scrolling=”no” border=”0” marginwidth=”0” style=”border:none;” frameborder=”0”></iframe>

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