Recipes

Warm Cranberry Spread (+Game Day Treats!)

Wow. I did not intend to disappear for an entire freaking month. It’s like the holidays ate me up and spit me out at the end of January with a backlog of winter recipes to share and a bunch of travel on the horizon. Last night, we got back from a trip to Florida visiting my family in Sarasota, and in 10 days I’m jetting to D.C. to present at a conference while Mark heads down to New York City for an audition. I literally cannot believe I have to get on a plane again a week from Monday. This comes right on the heels of a two-day, weekend-long professional training for women interested in running for public office (with a lunch break on Saturday to attend the Boston Women’s March in Boston) the weekend right before we left town for vacation. It was a whirlwind two days and I’m so honored to have been accepted to the program, but WHEW! Mama’s tired. And the training continues one weekend per month until June, when all 50 of the women in the program graduate. Interested to learn more? Visit EmergeMA.com.


Today, I’m sharing a yummy homemade warm dip that is perfect for your Super Bowl party! I can tell lots of you have been watching the playoffs big-time, because my website traffic these days is almost 90% for this Brown Sugar Kielbasa in the Slow Cooker and my super-simple Traditional Shepherd’s Pie — both great game-day options. And you know who I’m rooting for! #GoPats!!

I made this on New Year’s Day for a big family gathering we hosted with my in-laws and all of Georgia’s cousins. It goes great with a side platter of pita or crackers, as well as sliced  apples.  Here, I used lingonberry sauce, because I had almost a whole jar left over from Christmas dinner when I served it alongside Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. Any berry sauce or preserve you like, particularly whole berry, would work well.  I always buy the Ikea lingonberry sauce, which has whole berries in it, and I think that makes all the difference. I also mixed in some red pepper jelly to give it a hint of heat — which I LOVE! — but you could omit it if you really don’t want the kick. I will say, though, that my spice-intolerant husband liked this, and he can’t take any heat at all.


Warm Cranberry Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (8 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry or lingonberry sauce
  • 1 TBSP red pepper jelly
  • a of grated cheese such as pepperjack, white cheddar or parmesan
  • assorted crackers or toasted bread slices for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix thoroughly the berry sauce and hot pepper jelly.

In a baking dish or pie plate, spread the cream cheese evenly in one layer in an ungreased baking dish or pie plate. Sprinkle evenly with the grated cheese of your choice and then top with the berry-pepper mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until the berries are just starting to bubble and the edges of the cream cheese are only beginning to brown.

And that’s not all! If you’re looking for more recipe ideas for your Super Bowl party, I’ve got a TON.

Chicken Chili

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Sweet Hot Chicken Wings

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Slow Cooker Ribs

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Pulled Pork Sliders

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Pulled Chicken Chili

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Homemade Salsa

Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls

Meatball Pizza

VEGETARIAN IDEAS

Healthy Baked French Fries

Crispy Kale Chips

Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Meat-free Shepherd’s Pie

Baked Egg Noodles with Cheese

Pesto Flatbread

Soy Chorizo Chili

Fried Tofu Triangles with Peanut Sesame Dipping Sauce

Vegetarian Stuffed Shells

We are taking it easy Super Bowl Sunday instead of having, or going to, a party. We need the time to unpack and get ready for the workweek. If you’re hosting or attending a game day bash, have fun and stay safe! And Go Pats!!!


Holidays · Recipes

Chicken Chili

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One of the only redeeming things about winter settling in — and darkness falling before I even leave work — is the option to cook chili again. (Well, that and the idea of taking a nice, hot bath every night with my New Yorker, kitty, and a glass of wine…but back to the chili.)

This has been a rough couple weeks, right? After Election Night, I had a hard time putting two words together or getting dressed for work on time, never mind meal-plan, set up the slow cooker in the morning, or pack myself a healthy lunch, if I’m being honest. Luckily, I had some leftovers of this at the ready, thanks to the big batch I made at my freezer meal workshop last March…which I know I keep mentioning, but has honestly helped me entertain more times than I can really count this past year. If I hadn’t inherited a freezer full of food in August from a friend moving to Seattle, I’d be planning to do another workshop as we speak.

This can be frozen ahead, but it can also be made all at once. If you do freeze ahead, be sure to double bag and give it at LEAST 36 hours to defrost in the fridge before cooking. Mine was frozen solid and took two full days to thaw safely in the refrigerator.

Chicken Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs lean ground chicken
  • 3 TBSP dry buffalo seasoning*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz. can white or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TBSP olive oil**
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth (veggie works fine too)

To serve as toppings, or on the side: a bag of corn or tortilla chips, blue cheese or ranch dressing, hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, corn bread.

* I used Wildtree Blazin’ Buffalo seasoning. Other options include Frank’s Red Hot, McCormick, or something from a specialty store like Williams-Sonoma.

** I used Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil. Any other oil that tolerates heat well is fine; you can pick one with flavor infusions you like.

DIRECTIONS

(If you are freezing ahead, then you’ll need three bags: one smaller bag for the chicken, buffalo seasoning, salt and pepper; and another for the rest of the ingredients. Then double bag in a larger bag for storage, and thaw before cooking).

In a large pot on the stove top over medium-high heat, pour in the chicken, buffalo seasoning and salt and pepper. Use a large spoon to break up the chicken while it’s cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes, add  everything else except the chicken stock and cook for five minutes.

Add the two cups of chicken stock and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

To serve, place in bowls with condiments of your choosing. We had corn muffins, sour cream, cheddar cheese, hot sauce and tortilla chips. Blue cheese, ranch, corn chips and green onions would also be great toppings!

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Have a great weekend everyone! We are going to eat out for Thanksgiving this year after losing such a beloved member of our family in August, and then try again next year for building a new tradition. Here’s where we are eating. If you’re looking for good T-Day recipes, check here for cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes, two ways of doing Brussels sprouts, and these balsamic roasted green beans, which I adore despite the horrendous photos. I’ll leave you with this sneak peak from our holiday card photo shoot last weekend, thanks to our friend Thais at TDM Photography.

Looking for a great deal on your own holiday cards? Check out TinyPrints, which is offering up to 40% off foil and glitter cards this weekend only — until 11/20! — and 30% off anything else. Click here and use code GIVESHINE!

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

Holidays · Recipes

Do you STILL have leftovers to use up?

I know I do! I made a double-sized batch of my homemade cranberry sauce, and I still have some left over, even after two dinners with both sides of the family (with 12 people at each!) So this year, instead of my standby smoothie or salad dressing, I am instead going to make this awesome-looking cranberry upside-down cake from Simply Recipes:

Even though it calls for fresh cranberries, I am hoping that using leftover cooked sauce will turn out similar to this cherry upside down cake I made last year. I may even throw in a couple of fresh berries since I always have some hanging around for Miss G, who LOVES all fruit but especially cranberry sauce, even though it’s so tart!

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than the exhaustion of having a newborn around a major holiday, along comes the non-stop action of a toddler to make me rethink my position. We had a whirlwind four days “off.” First, that storm hit during the commute home Wednesday, so I didn’t get cooking for Thanksgiving #1 until like 8:30 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, we all got up to watch the parade and have muffins and coffee:

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Then we went to my dad’s for dinner, which was lovely. The next day, I got up and started cooking all over again, fielded some media calls for work, then went to the Christmas lights display at the zoo down the street from our house with Georgia and two of her cousins:

The next day, we drove an hour south to do Thanksgiving #2 with Mark’s family including all the cousins, the littlest of whom is just five months younger than Georgia. We had a nice time, though she got really upset on the way home because we just didn’t time it very well in relation to her bedtime, and got caught behind a huge accident on 93 coming through Boston.

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Georgia is still battling a really pesky, loud cough, so our sleep just hasn’t been great all weekend. Last night, she woke up at 2 a.m. all upset and covered in boogies, so I was up for at least an hour comforting her, cleaning her up, and generally dreading having to be functional at work today. Which I’m not.

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The good news is, my Christmas shopping is coming along nicely. I have all the kids done and I handed off their wrapped presents to my brother- and sister-in-law this weekend, I’ve got Mark all finished, and now I just need to design and order our Christmas Cards online (Shutterfly? Minted? TinyPrints? I’m paralyzed!) before finishing up everyone else.

If you are still looking for gift ideas, check out my list of Eco-Friendly Baby Gifts and my Gift Guide for New Moms. I’m working on another one for toddlers as we speak! As well as a post about coping with sick babies with as natural an approach as possible. Hopefully you are more well-rested than our family, and nobody has caught this nasty chest cold that our baby just can’t seem to kick. Happy Christmas Season, and have a great week everyone!

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Cherry Berry Smoothie

This was the last smoothie I invented before my muse, Miss Georgia, was born. When I can find time to actually MAKE smoothies nowadays, they are great to have on hand for a new mom stuck in the house.

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Cherry Berry Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • splash of cranberry juice or concentrate
  • 16 oz. bag frozen mixed berries (I used Trader Joe’s Very Cherry Blend, which has cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)

DIRECTIONS

Blend ingredients together until smooth, adding liquids to the blender first. Serve cold.

If you don’t like cranberry or don’t have it lying around, you can toss in a splash of any juice, really. I just wanted a little bit more sweet and tart, and that did the trick. You may also find that the smoothie is too thick for your liking with just two cups of liquid, so you can always punch up the water or coconut milk to your preferred texture and consistency.

Berries are full of antioxidants and are super refreshing in the summer and early fall, so enjoy this one!

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By the way…I’m considering investing in a high quality blender. I found this great comparison of the BlendTec vs. the Vitamix, and I think I’ve concluded that the Blendtec is right for me. Do you have one of these? Any advice or info on which you prefer?

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Creamy Strawberry Smoothie

Yup, another smoothie post! The baby is Boss Lady and she’s the one who keeps demanding new smoothies! How can I not comply?

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Creamy Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1 package frozen strawberries* (12 oz.)
  • 1 cup milk (regular, almond or coconut)
  • 1 frozen banana or a few scoops of yogurt, for creaminess
  • a splash of juice for tartness, your choice. I used cranberry.

 * add some ice cubes if you’re using fresh strawberries instead of frozen

Directions

Adding milk first then strawberries, combine all ingredients in your blender and process until smooth. Adjust thickness by adding more of the yogurt or banana if desired. Tastes like summer!

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PS: Is anyone else planning to go to the BlogHer Food Conference in May?

It’s being held in Miami and I’d love to go, and to make plans to meet up with any fellow bloggers or readers who will be there! Of course, this all depends on my mom or someone else being able to take care of the baby while I travel, since I’m pretty sure Mark is booked through May for this next theater season. Which is a good thing. I just … am still adjusting to factoring a baby into my long-term plans. And she’s not even here yet! But she will be, any day now…..

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Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

New favorite alert! As promised in my post from last week, I’m sharing a new smoothie recipe. I made this when Mark accidentally bought cranberry juice concentrate instead of cocktail, and I love how it makes the smoothie just tart enough. I added bananas to sweeten it, fresh juice from two delicious Florida oranges I still have hanging around from our shipment in late January, and almond milk for creaminess. yumyumyum.

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Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen raspberries
  • 1 -2 frozen bananas
  • juice of two oranges
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice concentrate (not juice cocktail)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Directions

Blend ingredients until smooth, making sure you add liquids to the blender first. It will be very tart if you use just one banana; two will make it sweeter. I used 1.5 (I always keep frozen ripe bananas, cut in half, in a baggie in the freezer so they are ready for smoothies). Add more almond milk to make the smoothie less thick.

SO refreshing!

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