Monday, December 31, 2012

Slow-cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

Slow-cooker Cranberry Pork Roast
The last few weeks have been very hectic and busy in my house, as I’m sure at yours.  The kitchen is where you will find me on any given day, baking cookies, quick breads, coffee cakes and other goodies!  After spending a day in the kitchen baking, the last thing I want to do in the evening, is to start making dinner.  So, I have learned to take advantage of my Crock Pot!  I use it year round but, more often in the cold weather months.  This small appliance is a such big helping hand!  I get up in the morning, load it with everything called for in the recipe and turn it on.  As the day progresses, the slow cooking aromas that permeate my house are wonderful, and several hours later I have a delicious meal ready to serve.  The recipe I’m sharing today is on old standby!  Cranberry Pork Roast!  The gravy is a bit oriental in flavor! I usually serve it with rice and a veggie!  But, as you can see in my previous post, I served it with Dories Celery Root Puree!  Crock Pot meals are a real winner in our house. I hope you give it a try!

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

1 2-3 lb pork loin roast 
1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1/3 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup raisins 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ground ginger 
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Cooked rice for serving

The Directions.
Place pork roast in crock-pot.  In a medium bowl, combine cranberry sauce, juices, and sugar. Stir in raisins, garlic, ginger, mustard, salt and pepper.  Pour over roast. Cover and cook on Low 6-8 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker, cover with foil to keep warm. Measure 3 cups of cooking juices, pour into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a cup, dissolve cornstarch in cold water, stir into saucepan. Cook stirring constantly, until thickened. Slice roast, serve with sauce and rice.

(I add the cornstarch to the crock-pot after I remove the roast, and stir till thickend….saves dirtying another pot!)

Mix all ingredients with cranberry sauce except cornstarch
Add Pork roast to crock pot
Pour sauce over roast
In six hours you have this….a lovely gravy
And the roast is tender and delicious
And From My House to Yours a Very Happy, Healthy New Year to All!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

FFWD ~ Go-with-everything Celery Root Puree

The very delicious Go-with-everything Celery Root Puree

This week, for French Friday, our recipe is Go-with-everything Celery Root Puree. I really wasn’t sure about this one.  First of all, I had never eaten celery root.  Secondly, celery root is one ugly vegetable.  Dutifully, I went to the grocery store the day after our snow storm to buy my celery root.  I wouldn’t  think of sending my husband. He would take one look at that ugly root, and walk right by it!  This recipe involves cutting up two medium celery roots, a medium russet potato, and an onion. Boil it all in a mixture of milk, water and salt.  When tender, drain and puree in a food processor.  Easy, yes!  But, how would it taste?  I loved this one, but my husband not so much. Although he likes celery, he prefers just plain mashed potatoes. To me, these were just like mashed potatoes, but lighter with a slight celery taste.  Delicious!!  I have a new found respect for this ugly root vegetable, and will try adding it to my soups and stews. I guess you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover!
Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy New Year!!
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table”. The recipe can also be seen here at Epicurious! To see what other Dorista’s thought of this recipe, check it out here.

The not so pretty celery root
Chopping all the veggies
Simmering away till tender
Loved this!!
I topped this with some butter, and fresh cracked black pepper along with some fresh thyme
I made a pork roast, and served it with my Go-with-everything Celery Root Puree…very nice!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Amaretto Cheesecake and How to Fix the Crack

A very creamy and delicious cheesecake
I think I could live on cheesecake. Probably my all time favorite dessert. I love a traditional New York cheesecake but, any cheesecake will do!  That’s why, whenever I host anything at my house, cheesecake is always on the menu.  This past weekend I hosted a Christmas party for my dinner club.  It was a great evening with wonderful food, good friends and...Amaretto Cheesecake!  This recipe is from Southern Living.  It calls for an almond crust, which added a nice dimension to the flavor.  When I pulled the cheesecake from the oven, it had a big crack down the middle. However, I know how to fix a cracked cheesecake and I’m sharing it with you. This is a very cool trick!  First the cheesecake has to cool...refrigerate it for several hours. You will need an offset spatula and some hot water.  Take the spatula and dip it into the hot water and start to push the cheesecake into the crack, smoothing as you go. If you’re like me you may need to see this done, here is a great video.  So, if your looking for a delicious cheesecake to make over the holidays, this one may be it!
Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Almond crust
Cheesecake batter
Just out of the oven with a great big crack down the middle…oh no!
Starting to fix the crack
Once you are finished fixing the crack and smoothing out the sides…refrigerate till ready to serve
The top will dry and it will be smooth all over….I never got pictures of the whole cake 
It was delicious!

Amaretto Cheesecake

Southern Living
Yield: Makes 12 to 14 servings


2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup amaretto
Garnishes: whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds


Process almonds in a food processor until ground; add 1/4 cup sugar and butter, and process until blended. Press into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of an aluminum foil-lined 9-inch springform pan.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Beat cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour; beat until smooth. Add whipping cream and amaretto; beat until blended. Spoon into crust.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°, and bake 30 minutes or until center is firm. Turn off oven. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with oven door closed, 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TWD~Baking with Julia ~ Finnish Pulla

Beautiful Finnish Pulla

This week, for Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Baking with Julia, we are baking a Finnish Pulla or sweet yeast bread. The contributing baker is Beatrice Ojakangas.  Sweet doughs are a favorite of mine for the holidays.  I always make one for Christmas morning.  It’s tradition! My bread of choice is my Aunt Emma’s Christmas Bread, which is posted here.  Italian in origin, I use the same dough for my Christmas bread as I do for my Easter bread.  The Finnish Pulla looked lovely in the photos so I thought, why not make a change this year?  It will still look pretty and quite festive on my Christmas morning table.

Friday, December 14, 2012

FFWD ~ Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande

Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande
I’ve been on a roll with French Fridays lately! I enjoyed all of our dishes; even the ones I wasn’t quite sure about. I loved the Cauliflower soup, the Beef Daube was incredible, everyone enjoyed the Herbed Olives I put on the Thanksgiving table, and oh those Goat Cheese Mini Puffs…awesome! That being said, the Chicken, Apples, and Cream à la Normande left a lot to be desired in our home.  I followed this recipe as written, and thought “this should really be good".  Chicken, being the main ingredient, seemed like a winner. It’s a favorite in our house! Brown it in a mixture of olive oil and butter…done!  Add a chopped apple, a chopped onion and sliced mushrooms…done!  Add the chicken broth…done! Cook for about 10 minutes and then add Calvados…I used brandy.  Boil until it’s almost evaporated then add the heavy cream...cook until reduced by half.  Serve!  I served mine with mini roasted potatoes and a salad.
While this dish was cooking it smelled great and it looked even better. I was really looking forward to sitting down and eating my dinner.  However, this dish just didn’t do it for us!! It had an odd flavor! The combination of apples, onions, and Brandy sounded good but,  just didn’t work.  Hey, you win some and you lose some. This recipe was a disappointment in our house!  Happy Friday everyone!!
This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans book “Around My French Table”. To see what other Dorista’s have done with their Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande, check it out here.  

Browning the chicken
Apples, onions and mushrooms added to the pot
Cream added and reducing
Just couldn’t wait to dig in….looks great but…just didn’t do it!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cranberry Crumb Cheese Tart

The lovely Cranberry Crumb Cheese Tart
This has been a week of decorating. The tree is up, most of the shopping is done, the mantle is hung with stockings and now, the baking really starts…hopefully!
One of the things I made this week was a lovely Cranberry Crumb Tart, to take to a friend who just had knee replacement surgery. After some thought of what I could do to help, I decided to make dinner for them.  It would be a nice way to relieve some of the stress on him and his wife. So, last thursday I made my Sherried Beef  which I posted a year ago. For desert, since I had a can of whole berry cranberry sauce sitting in my pantry,  I thought Cranberry Crumb Tart sounded like a wonderful choice. This tart has a yummy layer of cream cheese, a layer of whole berry cranberry sauce, and topped with a crunchy walnut crumb topping. Quite wonderful!

Pre-bake pie crust
When cool, spread with cream cheese layer, then cranberry layer
Sprinkle crumb topping over the top…then bake 45 min. @ 375 degrees
Out of the oven and ready to enjoy
 This is a lovely treat for the holidays…creamy, tart and crunchy!  

Cranberry Crumb Tart 


Pastry for one 9 inch tart pan or pie pan
Cheese layer:
1 (8 ounce) package cream
cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened
condensed milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Cranberry layer:
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (16 ounce) can whole berry
cranberry sauce
1/4 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. Bake unbaked tart shell in the preheated oven 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sweetened condensed milk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Transfer to the tart pan.
4. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon light brown sugar and cornstarch. Mix in whole berry cranberry sauce. Spoon the mixture evenly over the cream cheese mixture.
5. In a medium bowl, mix butter, all-purpose flour and remaining light brown sugar until crumbly. Stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle evenly over the cranberry mixture.
6. Bake 45 minutes in the 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven, or until bubbly and lightly browned. Cool on a metal rack. Serve at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator.

Friday, December 7, 2012

FFWD ~ Creamy Cauliflower Soup sans cream

Dories' Creamy Cauliflower Soup…sans cream

This week, on the agenda for French Fridays, is a recipe that leaves my house divided! Kind of like congress! We will never come to an agreement!  I knew when I decided to make it, I would only be making half the recipe because, I’d be eating it alone! My husband hates cauliflower, or any vegetable in the cabbage family.  He eats slaw…even made with broccoli...because I have become a genius at hiding veggies he won’t eat!  However, that wasn’t going to happen with this soup.
On the other hand, I love cauliflower! When I saw this soup picked for FF, I was delighted!  So, I decided to make it for my dinner, and make my husband lamb chops!  We would both be happy! Unlike congress, we’ve learned the art of compromise!

Cauliflower is actually a large edible flower. The head of the cauliflower, called a “curd”, is made of undeveloped white flower buds. There are many varieties and colors of cauliflower. 
My favorite way to eat Cauliflower is roasted in the oven.  A little olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and you have one absolutely fabulous side dish!

This soup was quite easy to put together. In a dutch oven, add olive oil and butter, heat slowly. Then add  chopped onion, chopped celery, garlic clove, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes.  Toss in the cauliflower, add chicken broth, and cook until very soft. Finally, puree. That’s pretty much it...delicious! I will be eating it for lunch again today, and will enjoy it just as much as I did the first time! Ahhh compromise!!  The secret to being married a very long time! 

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or here, where it has been published. To see what other Doristas are doing with this recipe check it out here.

Onions, celery, garlic and thyme slow cooking in olive oil and butter
Cauliflower and chicken broth added
Served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of walnuts
Ohhh soooo good!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TWD ~ Gingerbread Baby Cakes

Gingerbread Baby Cakes…YUM!!
I’m late...I’m late...for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodby…I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!  It’s Wednesday and, I’m late for Baking with Julia!  It’s called Tuesdays With Dorie for a reason! However, the holidays are upon us and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want.  Like putting up my Christmas tree, that I bought two years ago!  Pre-lit…three pieces…easy to assemble...baloney! Well, you should have seen me trying to put those three pieces together…or maybe not! I was not exactly pleasant to be around!  Soooo frustrating!  My plan was a simple one…put the tree up then go bake my Baby Cakes.  Well, the tree took me so long, and left me so annoyed, there was no way I was going to bake anything!!  Never try to bake when frustrated. Wisely, I waited until this morning to bake my Gingerbread Baby Cakes! I’m so glad I did!

These cakes were quite easy to make. The recipe comes from Johanne Killeen.  All dry ingredients get mixed together.  Then, beat the butter and brown sugar together in a mixer bowl until smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the fresh ginger and the molasses (would you believe 2 cups of molasses). I have never used two cups of molasses in anything I baked.  Lucky for me I had two bottles in my pantry.  Now you fold in the flour mixture and pour into the prepared pans.  I don’t own mini cake pans but, I do have a giant muffin pan and three little heart shaped springform pans! They worked great! These were wonderful. The taste was a bit chocolaty and spicy…a delicious gingerbread!  Perfect for the holiday season!  A keeper for sure!

Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories is our host for Gingerbread Baby Cakes and you can find the recipe on her site.  You can also see what all the other bakers are doing at Tuesdays with Dorie.

These little cakes have a big taste

These were just plain wonderful….a perfect treat for the season
So delectable!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chocolate Marshmallows

Delectable Chocolate Marshmallows
A few years back, I was browsing the Williams-Sonoma catalog, and saw the most wonderful marshmallows for sale.  They looked so dense…and yet so fluffy…not like those little jet puffs of air that you buy in the grocery store.  I so craved one of those marshmallows, peppermint, chocolate, plain, some dipped in chocolate!  Delectable!!  When I looked at the price, my conscience yelled…NO WAY!  I closed the catalog and went on to something else.  Uncontrollably, my mind kept wondering back to those marshmallows.  I finally decided to make a batch.  I remembered seeing a recipe in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks so, I went for it!  The results were incredible, fluffy yet dense, spongy and delicate, melt in your mouth delicious marshmallows!  ADDICTIVE!!  No resemblance to the store bought variety!!

I now make marshmallows quite often, in several different varieties! This week I made Chocolate marshmallows. Yum!
Tis the season for homemade marshmallows and some hot chocolate!! Enjoy!

Cocoa mixed with warm water.
Gelatin mixed with cold water.
The cocoa and gelatin mixtures mixed together.
Water, corn syrup and sugar on medium heat to 240 degrees on candy thermometer. 
When 240 degrees, very carefully, add to gelatin mixture in mixer bowl.  Whip for 15 to 20 minutes.
When it looks like this, pour into prepared pan and let rest overnight or at least 10 hours.
Mix cocoa, cornstarch and powdered sugar and sieve over surface.
Turn marshmallows onto cocoa mixture…then sprinkle over the marshmallows and cut.
I’m sure my grandkids will love these!
So amazingly yummy!!

Chocolate Marshmallows
adapted from

Note that marshmallows need to sit for at least 8-10 hours before cutting them, so it’s a good idea to make these a day before you plan to eat them. I usually make them in the evening, and they’re ready to cut and use the next morning.

1/3 cup plus 4 tbsp cocoa powder, divided
1-1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water, divided
3 envelopes gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
12 ounces chopped chocolate or chocolate coating (optional)


1. Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil liberally with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Place ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp water in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 2 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup cocoa powder over the hot water, and stir or whisk to dissolve the cocoa.

3. Place ½ cup cold water in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and stir briefly to distribute. Let gelatin sit and dissolve for at least 5 minutes.

4. Spoon warm cocoa mixture into gelatin, and stir or mix on low to thoroughly combine.

5. Place remaining 1/2 cup of water, corn syrup, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and insert a candy thermometer.

6. Allow the mixture to cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees on the thermometer. Brush down the sides occasionally with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallization. While the candy cooks, briefly run the mixer on low once or twice to ensure the gelatin and cocoa is well-mixed.

7. Once the candy reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the heat immediately. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the mixer bowl. Be careful, as the syrup isextremely hot. If you have a large (at least 3 cup) liquid measuring cup with a spout, you can transfer the hot syrup to the cup before pouring to make it easier.

8. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until it running on high. Whip the marshmallow mixture for 15-20 minutes, or until it is stiff and shiny. You can tell it is done when you stop the mixer and lift up the beater, the marshmallow will slowly drip back down into the bowl in a thick, shiny stream.

9. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Allow it to sit and firm up at room temperature for at least 10 hours.

10. Sift the powdered sugar, 4 tbsp cocoa powder, and cornstarch together. Cover your workstation with waxed paper to protect it, and liberally sprinkle the surface with the sugar/starch mixture. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow with the sugar/starch coating, and flip the marshmallow face down onto the prepared surface.

11. Carefully peel back the foil from the marshmallow. Spray a large smooth-bladed knife with nonstick cooking spray, and coat both sides with the coating powder. Cut the marshmallow into squares, coating the knife blade with sugar/starch as needed. Roll the cut edges of the marshmallows in the coating mixture so that all sides are smooth and not sticky.

12. If desired, melt 12 ounces chocolate coating (or temper 12 ounces chocolate) and dip the cut marshmallows halfway into the chocolate. The chocolate needs to be able to set without refrigeration (which will ruin the texture of the marshmallows) so use only tempered chocolate or chocolate coating for dipping.

13. To save marshmallows, store them in a dry airtight container in a temperate, dry location. Do not refrigerate them or keep them in a very humid place. Fresh marshmallows go stale after about a week, so these are best eaten soon after they are made.