Cranberry Orange Bars


Unless this is your first visit, you may have noticed my blog looking pretty different. I finally was able to transfer to a new host over the weekend and while the transfer process itself was pretty painless, it didn’t really occur to me that my layout would not go with it! Imagine my surprise to learn that I would have to re-do everything! I don’t know why I was surprised, I read that before, but I just forgot. So, this is what you get in 24 hours folks! I hope you like it! Over the next couple of weeks, I will be tweaking some things and will be adding some new features so stay tuned!

Now, onto the good stuff, these cranberry orange bars! I have a holiday party to go to at my advisor’s house this weekend and agreed to bring dessert. I decided on a cookie tray so I hope you all like cookies! I also hope you like cranberries because I have a lot of them in my freezer to use up! Since I am so busy during the week because of work and school, I wanted to get a head start by baking some of the cookies and freezing them until the weekend. These cranberry bars are sweet and tangy. They are also pretty easy to make!

Cranberry Orange Bars

Makes about 24 bars

Ingredients:

– 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

– 1 small orange, zested and juiced

– 3/4 cup water

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 box yellow cake mix

– 1 cup rolled oats

– 3/4 cups butter, melted

– 2 eggs

– Optional: 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

1. You’re basically going to start off by making cranberry sauce! In a saucepan, add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is absorbed. Add the rinsed cranberries, along with the orange juice and zest. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the cranberries pop and the mixture begins to thicken. Pour into a bowl and let cool completely (at least 1 hour).

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add the cake mix, oats, melted butter, eggs, and cinnamon. Mix until everything is well-combined. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the mixture. In a 9×13 baking dish, spray with non-stick spray. With the remaining batter, spread and push down into pan, forming a crust.

3. Spread the cooled cranberry sauce evenly over the “crust”. Then, with the 1 1/2 cups of batter you reserved, drop it by the spoonful evenly over the mixture. Then, with a knife or spoon, gently try to push down and spread some of each spoonful so it’s not as thick. You do not need to cover all of the cranberries and try to avoid pushing the batter down into the cranberry sauce. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let the bars cool for at least 2 hours before cutting into bars (trust me on that one!)!

 

 

Notes:
– If you want to try to make this sugar-free, then you can used Stevia or Splenda for the cranberry sauce. As for the cake mixture, look for sugar-free or no-sugar added cake mixes in your grocery store or in health food stores!

Holiday Gifts For Foodies

Gifts for Foodies

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I thought I would make a list of some of my favorite holiday gifts for foodies! Not sure about you guys, but at least half the items that are on my wishlist are cooking and blog related. I’ve scoured all of my favorite sites and compiled a list of some of my favorite things. And best of all, all of these items are $50 or less! Happy Shopping!

1. Amazon.com: Oster FPSTBW8207-S Electric Wine-Bottle Opener, Silver:…
$20 – amazon.com

This electric wine opener is the perfect gift for wine enthusiasts! It’s durable and works really well! I know this because I have given it to friends and family myself and everybody seems to love it!

 2. 3-Piece Snowflake Bowl Set in Christmas Entertaining | Crate&Barrel
$20 – crateandbarrel.com

I love these bowls!! I love the big, bright snowflake print and they would be perfect for baking and serving festive treats for the holidays!

3. Santa’s Elves Cookie Mix
$12 – crateandbarrel.com

Not only is this cookie mix cute and tasty, but it makes great gifts for co-workers or teachers. Crate and Barrel has a ton of other different types of baking mixes and candies that would also make great gifts on their own or in a gift basket!

4. Chanukah Salad Plates, Set of 4 | Williams-Sonoma
$40 – williams-sonoma.com

Um, how awesome are those menorah salad plates?! I love the beautiful blue color! These would be perfect for anyone that throws a lot of parties and can be used for not just salads, but appetizers and desserts!

5. Winter Berry Hand Soap & Lotion | Williams-Sonoma
$40 – williams-sonoma.com

Foodies do a lot of cooking and baking. This also means we do a lot of dish washing and in the colder months, this could lead to dry and chapped hands! This hand soap and lotion will keep hands clean, soft, and smelling just lovely! :)

6. Amazon.com: Cuisinart DLC-2ABC Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor, Brushed…
$40 – amazon.com or surlatable.com

While this mini-food processor may not be large enough for soups, it is perfect for dips, pesto, and salsas! (um, hello brownie batter dip!!). It also comes in tons of bright and fun colors! You can get them on Amazon or Sur La Table.

7. Amazon.com: Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker: Home & Garden
$46 – amazon.com
This fondue pot is by far one of my most favorite things in my kitchen.  Hubs and I love making fondue. This pot is easy to use and clean and all you have to do is plug it in! I use it for cheese, meat, and dessert fondue!

8. Large Holiday Baker
$20 – crateandbarrel.com

Us foodies can never have enough baking dishes. We love them in all shapes and sizes! Add a fun color and we love them even more!

9. Red Double Swirl Glassware
$6 – pier1.com

I’m not sure about you guys, but I could always use extra wine glasses. I love these festive glasses from Pier 1!

10. Froth & Pour Hot Chocolate Pot | Williams-Sonoma
$30 – williams-sonoma.com

Here’s a gift the whole family can enjoy! This awesome little pot blends, and froths hot chocolate for you and then all you have to do is stick in the microwave to heat it up!

What items are on YOUR holiday wishlist??

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla-Pecan Butter

I have a confession. I don’t like brussels sprouts. I’m not sure why. It might be the texture or the fact that I hate the way they smell when roasting in the oven. Yeah, I know, I’m weird like that. But, something changed today. I made brussels sprouts that I actually liked! These pomegranate brussels sprouts may have made me a changed woman. They are roasted in delicious pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds and then topped with vanilla-pecan butter! Hello! Who wouldn’t love these? This would be a wonderful side dish to serve at your upcoming holiday dinner parties!

Pomegranate Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla-Pecan Butter

Serves 4-6

From Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

– 6 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

– 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or use 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

– 1/4 cup toasted pecans

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 lb. brussels sprouts, rinsed and trimmed

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 3 tbs. pomegranate molasses

– 1/2-3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

– Optional: fresh lime and orange zest

Directions:

1. Combine the butter, vanilla, pecans, and season with some salt and pepper. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the brussels sprouts on a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes until a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and toss with the molasses. Return the sprouts to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Remove the brussels sprouts and add to a bowl with the pomegranate seeds, vanilla-pecan butter, and the lime and orange zest. Toss lightly and serve.

Notes:
– If you don’t want to make your molasses yourself, you can buy it bottled, but I recommend giving it a try yourself! I made mine the night before and it was super easy and super tasty! I have a bunch leftover that I can’t wait to use on something else!

– Never seeded a pomegranate? Here is a great tutorial from the Shiksa!

– If you want to cut some calories from this, you can cut down on the butter. In fact, this would still be good without the vanilla-pecan butter as most of the flavor comes from the pomegranate!

Brownie Batter Dip

Ok, I know, it’s been a while since my last post. I’m sorry! Hubs and I drove down to stay at my mom’s for Thanksgiving and I didn’t get to spend much time cooking. But, I’m back now and I wanted to make up for my absence by making you all this brownie batter dip. How could you not forgive me?!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! It was so nice to have so many days off. Aside from spending a lot of time working on my prelim paper for school, we tried to relax as much as possible, though it is kind of hard in my crazy house! We also went to see the Muppet movie. It was so cute and funny! Unfortunately, we were running late for the movie and as we were walking into the mall, my right ankle decided to give out on me and I sprained my ankle pretty badly. It’s swollen and the whole right side of my foot is badly bruised. I’ve sprained this ankle numerous times since I was a teenager and have some torn ligaments, but I’ve only ever done therapy for it, but it’s still so weak and it’s scary because I never know when it will give out! So, that kind of put a damper on my weekend! Lot’s of R.I.C.E. happening on my couch!

Alright, now that you’ve read enough about my disgusting ankle, we can move onto the the brownie dip. Ever since I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip, I have been dreaming about making a brownie batter version. Like the cookie dough dip, this brownie batter dip is also healthy. I used the cookie dough dip recipe as a base and swapped out the chick peas for black beans. The black beans really gave this dip the appearance of real brownie batter. I found that black beans worked better than the chick peas as they are softer and resulted in a richer and silkier dip compared to when I used chick peas for the cookie dough dip. And let me tell you guys, I like this dip better than the cookie dough version! Perhaps it is my love for chocolate, but the texture of this dip was just perfect!

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa

Alrighty friends, I have yet another quinoa recipe for you! I made this last month, but I figure that after tomorrow, you all will be over your pumpkin-cravings. So, if you are looking for some new ways to use up that pumpkin puree, here you go! This breakfast quinoa is just as filling as oatmeal and tastes like fall in a bowl! I topped mine with almonds and blueberries, but dried cranberries would have been better if I had them.

Also, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for each and every one of you that continues to read my blog!

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse if not already pre-washed)

– 1 cup skim milk

– 1 cup water

– 3/4 cup pumpkin puree

– 1/3 cup brown sugar*

– 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

– 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

– 1/2 cup nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts)

– pinch of salt

– 1/4 cup dried cranberries or fruit of your choice

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, add the water, milk, and quinoa. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients and serve!

Notes:
– You can adjust the sugar in this recipe to meet your own tastes. You can swap out the brown sugar for Splenda or Stevia if you want to make this sugar-free. You can also add more or less of the brown sugar. It’s really up to you!

Quinoa Cakes with Sugar-Free Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Thanksgiving week is here! This week, we will all be stuffing ourselves silly with delicious turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie. I’m not sure about all of you, but I can’t wait! But, in an effort to try to help make your dinners a little less carb-heavy, I came up with these quinoa cakes. Packed full of protein and flavor, they would make a good substitute for potatoes or stuffing. I topped them with some sugar-free cranberry-orange sauce to make these more Thanksgiving-y. But, these would be great any time of the year. A lemon aioli sauce would also be great to dip these in!

Quinoa Cakes

Makes about 20 cakes

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse if not already pre-washed)

– 1 cup water

– 1 cup chicken broth

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

– 1/2 cup shredded carrot

– 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

– Zest of one lemon plus the juice, reserved

– 2 tbs. parsley, chopped

– salt and pepper to taste

– 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

– 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

– 4 eggs

– 2 tbs. parsley, chopped

– Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Directions:

1. In a pot, add the quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, water, and broth. Cook about 10-15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, add the quinoa, onion (you can saute the onion first if you prefer for it to be more cooked), carrot, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add to quinoa mixture and mix well. If the mixture still seems to dry, you can add some water, 1 tbs. at a time.

3. Heat a medium non-stick fry pan on medium-low heat. Add olive oil (I did about 2 tbs.). Use your hands to form small patties and gently place each cake in the pan. Fry on each side approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Once they are done cooking, place them on a paper towel to drain them and then serve.

Tips for frying:
– Make sure your patties are an even thickness all the way around to ensure even cooking. Some of mine were thicker in the middle and it was harder to get the edges to brown since they weren’t touching the pan.
– Before you flip your cakes over for the first time, make sure they are fully browned on the one side. If they are not cooked enough, they will fall apart.
– Go easy on the oil. You should make sure there is some oil in the pan for each batch, but you really only need a little for each batch. I used a small pan and only did about 3-4 at a time so I only needed about 1-2 tsp. each time. If you drown these in oil, they will fall apart.

– Side note: As I was making these, I was also thinking that it might be possible to bake them in the oven and skip the frying, but I’m not sure if they would crisp up as much. If anyone wants to give it a try, please let me know how they turn out! :)

Sugar-Free Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Ingredients:

– 1 bag whole, fresh cranberries, rinsed

– 1 cup water

– 1/2-1 cup Splenda (add more if you want more sweetness. Any sugar or sugar substitute will do.)

– 1 orange (use all the juice) and zest from about half of the orange

– Optional: pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan on medium heat, add the water and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange juice and sweetener of your choice. Add the cranberries and zest. Cook about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to pop. Pour the sauce into a bowl and the sauce will thicken as it cools. Once it is cooled to room temperature, you can stick it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.