If the skies are clear, revelers looking up at midnight will get an eyeful of the second full moon of the month—commonly called a blue moon. The last time a blue moon appeared on New Year's Eve was in 1990, and it won't happen again until 2028.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
"Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth."
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch of their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
WARM MEMORIES 'TOASTING' THE SOLSTICE ~ CRANBERRY MARGARITAS / SASSY CRANBERRY SALSA / CRANBERRY-GLAZED BRIE
(Rachael Ray - 30 Minute Meals)
1 1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
Mix all ingredients, except ice. Pour half in blender and fill the rest of blender with ice. Blend. Repeat with second batch. (2 medium pitchers)
SASSY CRANBERRY SALSA
1 unpeeled orange, quartered and seeded
2 cups cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 chopped green pepper
2 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno peppers
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
Coarsely chop orange quarters in food processor. Add cranberries, sugar, and salt; pulse 2-3 times until cranberries are coarsely chopped. Transfer to bowl and add green pepper, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and pecans. Chill and serve with Terra Vegetable Chips orfavorite corn chips. (3 cups)
(for 1 ~ 8-inch 2.2 pound Brie cheese wheel)
3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currants
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until most of the berries pop,stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. (Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)
Using sharp knife, cut circle in top rind of cheese, leaving 1/2 inch border. Carefully remove center circle of rind. Spread with cranberry marmalade. Serve at room temperature on pear and apple slices or crisp crackers.
Friday, December 18, 2009
CRANBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
~ Good old-fashioned holiday dessert (Detroit Free Press clipping)
10 Tbsp. room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
4 cups fresh cranberries plus 1 cup for garnish
1 1⁄4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 large room temperature organic egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2⁄3 cup milk
zest of 1 large orange
1⁄3 cup red currant jelly
1⁄2 cup unsweetened heavy cream (plus 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar)
or good vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 350º. Adjust oven rack to lower quarter of oven.
- Spread 4 Tbsp. of butter on bottom and sides of an iron skillet (heavier on the bottom). Sprinkle 1⁄2 plus 2 Tbsp. of sugar on bottom of pan. Place cranberries in pan. Set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1⁄2 cup of sugar. Set aside.
- In medium mixing bowl, beat remaining 6 Tbsp. butter until soft. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk. Mix until just combined Stir in orange zest. Pour batter over berries, smooth top and bake for 1 hours (top of cake will get very brown).
- Remove from oven and cool on rack for 20 minutes. With a paring knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake. Put the serving plate on top of the pan and invert so cake unmold on the plate.
- In small saucepan, heat jelly over low heat. Pour melted jelly over the entire surface of cake, bringing it to the edges with the back of the spoon. Let cool completely.
- Just before serving, whip whipping cream and powered sugar.
- Serve cake at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. (8-10 servings)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
HOLIDAY TORTELLINI SOUP
~ Year round favorite ... festive color for the holidays
6-8 minced garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 quarts organic chicken (or vegetable) broth
16 oz. tri-color cheese tortellini
(love Monterey 5 cheese Tortelloni, a wonderful blend of parmesan, ricotta, swiss, mozzaarella & romano cheese)
2 28 oz. cans good stewed tomatoes
8 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves (can also use chopped frozen)
2 tsp. dried basil
coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh seeded Italian tomatoes (optional)
chopped fresh basil
- Saute garlic gently in olive oil (careful not to burn).
- Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and reduce heat to gentle boil (avoid boiling vigorously). Cook about 5 minutes or until tortellini rise to top.
- Add stewed tomatoes, spinach, and basil; simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.
- Serve soup topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh tomatoes (if desired), and chopped fresh basil. (12 servings)
Note: Santa likes this soup with a glass of Michigan Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio and loaf of crusty peasant bread
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"Oh, with a little luck ~ December will be magic again."
~ Kate Bush
(Return of the native ~ 4th year)
CHOCOLATE BOURBON BUNDT CAKE
~ Perhaps because the taste is so memorable, ideal for holiday entertaining and Derby Day, this same recipe is posted on many websites ... this keeper is from Wickwood Inn ...
2 sticks unsalted butter (more for greasing pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 oz. good quality unsweetened chocolate
(like Ghirardelli 60% or 70% cacao for baking)
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon and more for dousing
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Confectioner's sugar or softly whipped cream for garnish
- Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
- Over simmering water, melt chocolate. Let cool.
- Put espresso and cocoa powders in 2-cup or larger glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come to the 1 cup measure. Mix until powders dissolve. Add bourbon and salt, and let cool.
- Using electric mixer, butter until fluffy. Add sugar and cream until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
- On low speed, beat in a third of the bourbon mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat, ending with bourbon mixture. Scrape batter into Bundt pan and smooth top. Bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 70 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more bourbon. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Friday, November 27, 2009
'ACOUSTICS OF THE SEASON' ~ (FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FEAST) CRANBERRY GINGER SALMON / CRISP MASHED POTATO CAKES
"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are crisp as autumn air. "
~ Eric Sloane
CRANBERRY GINGER SALMON
~ Great use for leftover cranberries
2 6 oz. salmon fillets (or whole salmon fillet)
1 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2-3/4 cup whole cranberry sauce
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly spray shallow pan with cooking oil.
- Combine ginger, honey, soy sauce and cranberry sauce.
- Place salmon on prepared pan and spoon mixture evenly over top of each piece.
- Bake 15 minutes or until fish flakes with fork. (2 servings)
CRISP MASHED POTATO CAKES
~ Another great use for those leftover potatoes adapted from Nov 2007 Cooking Light
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups chilled mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup Panko crumbs (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Coat baking pan with cooking spray.
- Spray large skillet with cooking spray and saute green onions until tender, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Place mashed potatoes in medium bow. Stir in onions, cheese, salt & pepper, and melted butter. Divide mixture into 6 equal size portions, shaping each into 1/2 inch thick patty. Dredge patties in panko and place on coated baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; bake and additional 12 minutes or until golden. (6 servings)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."
~ William Shakespeare
We return thanks to our mother, the earth,
which sustains us,
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squashes,
which give us life.
We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air,
has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in whom is embodied all goodness,
and who directs all things for the good of his children.
"God has two dwellings; one in heaven
and the other in a meek and thankful heart."
~ Izaak Walton
Saturday, November 21, 2009
HISTORIC TREAT ~ WICKWOOD COUNTRY INN (SAUGATUCK MI) ~ BROWNIES/ POMODORO / PECAN TASSIES / CHOCOLATE BITES / BISHOP'S CAKE
"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop."
(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)
Owned by Julee Rosso co-author of the Silver Palate Cookbook and her husband Bill Miller, the Wickwood Inn in quaint Saugatuck is a historic treat in many ways.
(dressed for the holidays)
Welcoming brownies, cookies,
hot tea, coffee & cold beverages
~ Traditional brownies from the Silver Palate Cookbook
1/2 lb. (2 sticks)
4 (oz.) unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shelled walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour 9 x 12-inch baking pan.
- Melt butter and chocolate in top part of a double boiler over boiling water. When melted, set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored; add vanilla. fold chocolate mixture into eggs and sugar. Mix thoroughly.
- Sift flour and fold gently into batter, mixing just until blended. Fold in walnuts.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until center is just set. Do not overbake.
- Allow brownies to cool in pan for 30 minutes before cutting into bars. (28 brownies)
(Tomato Bread Soup)
~ Perfect compliment (upper left photo) to the other offerings for the wine feast. Recipe compliments of Julee's Wickwood Inn Notebook
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (or to taste)
1½ Tbsp. minced shallots
2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5 slices day-old country bread, sliced ½ inch thick
Chopped fresh basil (optional)
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and shallots, and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent, 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, basil, stock, and salt and pepper. Stir, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and add them to the soup. Let it cook for one minute, then remove from the heat and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese. (Serves 4-6)
- Note: To change this from a chunky soup to a more “drinkable” soup for hors d'oeuvres, puree soup with an immersion blender and add up to 4 cups of great quality tomato juice. The flavor is so substantial that it remains delicious.
The Lodge Suite
"A Great House of the Adirondacks or a spacious cabin in the wide open spaces of Montana ... you decide. Red tartan taffeta ... uptown country roses ... antique linens on a Queen four poster feather bed. Red Wing Backs reflect in a roaring fireplace."
(description from website and ... truly, true)
~ Julee's miniature pecan tarts ... a memorable bedtime 'Sweet Dreams' Snack
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
3 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sifted flour
1 slightly beaten egg
¾ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a hand held mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together and add flour continuing to mix until smooth, about 1 minute longer. Shape into 2 dozen 1-inch balls, press into 1¾-inch muffin cups.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, melted butter, salt, and vanilla.
- Divide ½ pecans among the pastry lined pans. Add filling and top with remaining pecans. Bake for 17 minutes. Reduce to 250°F and bake 10 minutes longer. Cool and remove from pan. (24 tassies)
PETITE NUAGES de CHOCOLATES
(JULIA/JULEE'S LITTLE CHOCOLATE BITES)
~ From Julee's website comes this shared recipe for these delightful bite-size versions of Julia Child's Flourless Chocolate Cake ... trust me, the burst of rich chocolate is memorable!
9 oz. best quality bittersweet chocolate (60-64% cacao)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 lightly beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- Roughly chop chocolate into pieces. Transfer to medium-sized bowl and add the butter,. Place the bowl over the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until the two ingredients have melted. Mix well and transfer to large bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Sift sugar and flour together, then stir into chocolate. Add eggs and mix well. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The batter will thicken as it stands.
- Line 1 1/2-inch miniature muffin tins (24 to the pan) with cupcake papers. Of course, you can make these in regular muffin tins, but they are too rich to be large for our palate. Spoon batter to 3/4 full for each cupcake into the paper-lined cups. Bake 16-18 minutes (if large bake 30-35 minutes). The brownies will still be moist when done, but tops will puff up and the look crisp and rounded. They will fall slightly as they cool. Let cool in pan, if you can leave them alone. They're fragile and will fall apart if not cool. Best to disappear within 48 hours. (32-36 Little Bites)
Christmas tree in Breakfast Area
Fresh berries with Creme fraiche, Baked ham and sausage,
Apple Bismarck with Spiced Maple Syrup
Homemade granola, juices, yogurt, coffee and teas,
and Bishop's Cake
~ Classic, moist pound cake from the Silver Palate Cookbook
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) sweet butter
2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
5 eggs (always organic for me)
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
- Cream butter and sugar gradually; beat until fluffy.
- Sift flour and add to butter mixture. Stir just enough to blend.
- Add lemon juice and vanilla; stir well. Add eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition.
- Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted onto the center of cake comes out clean. (After 30 minutes cover closely with aluminum foil.)
- When cake is done, cool in pan on a cake rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. (8-10 portions)
Holiday Amaryllis blooming in every room
"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing,
of just going along,
listening to all the things you can't hear,
and not bothering."
~ A.A. Milne
(Pooh's Little Instruction Book)
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
fluttering from the autumn tree."
~ Emily Bronte
(flower of the month)
SIMPLE FALL MINESTRONE
~ Fresh autumn veggies and herbs make for a cozy soup
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 chopped onions (1 red, 1 sweet)
4 minced garlic cloves
1 small chopped head bok choy, napa, or savoy cabbage
3 quarts organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup white vermouth (optional)
1 diced red pepper
1 diced yellow pepper
4 cups cubed sweet potato or butternut squash
2 cups diagonally sliced green beans
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (2 tsp. dried)
2 tsp. dried oregano
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 (16 oz.) cans rinsed and drained cannellini beans
4 cups chopped kale or spinach
grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- Heat oil in large stockpot. Add onion and saute until wilted. Add garlic and chopped cabbage and saute until tender.
- Add broth, wine, peppers, potatoes (squash), and green beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add herbs, salt & pepper. Simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add beans and kale (spinach). Cook 5 minutes or until greens are wilted. Adjust seasonings.
- Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas. (12 servings)
ROASTED RED PEPPER QUESADILLA
~ Yummy side for soup or great appetizer from Cooking Light (Oct 2003)
Preheat broiler. Place 8 (6-inch) fat-free flour tortillas on large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle each tortilla evenly with 2 Tbsp. shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 2 Tbsp. chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers. Top each tortilla with another (6-inch) fat-free tortilla; coat tops with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn over, coat tops with cooking spray. Broil additional 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. (4 servings)