Cranberries In All Their Glory

Huzzah for Cranberries. They are pretty. AND they also happen to be low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in Vitamin E and fiber. AND they are pretty. Did I mention they are pretty?

By far, my favorite thing to bake this time of year is my mom’s Cranberry Walnut Coffee-Cake. The flavors are sweet and the key is to use whole cranberry sauce so that the cake is sweet instead of tart. The other secret ingredient: sour cream which makes the cake very moist. And, like all my recipes, it’s EASY! I’ve had a few requests for this recipe, so enjoy! :)

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Corey’s mom also sent me this appetizer recipe that sounds amazing. Pass on the cranberry love! What’s your favorite cran-recipe?

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce and Walnuts

Ingredients

·     ¾ cup whole cranberry sauce

·     1 16-oz brie round

·     Zest of one orange

·     2/3 cup walnut pieces

·     Crackers for serving

Instructions

1.  Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.

2.  Remove top of rind from brie cheese using a serrated knife.  Discard the rind.

3.  Place the cheese cut side up on oven safe plate or bowl.  Make sure the plate is large enough to accommodate melted cheese.  Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

4.  Remove from oven and top with cranberry sauce.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and warm.  Sprinkle the top with orange zest and walnuts.

5.  Serve immediately with crackers.

6.  Enjoy!

Other ideas for cranberry lovers: Use them in your wreaths, table centerpieces, etc. Get creative!

 

Gift Ideas for the Sweet Lovers in Your Life

It’s that time, and people are starting to think about holiday gifts…so here are my picks of the week for those special sweet addicts in your life. Some of these are store bought and some are homemade, but all are frugal! Happy Shopping!

Check out my Pinterest page for more ideas!

Edible Fun: Peacock Feathers

Edible Peacock Feather Cupcake Toppings $10

Cupcake Kit

Colorful cupcake liners can be found anywhere from Michaels, to Etsy, to TJMAXX, to the Dollar Store. Collect them and make a cupcake kit.

Cupcake liners $3

Cupcake Kit

Vintage Apron

Sure, you can pay $30 at Anthropologie, but TJMAXX has even cuter aprons for $8-14!

Vintage Apron $8-30 avail at Anthropologie and TJMAXX

Lavendar Extract

For the more adventurous baker!

Lavender Extract $ 5-8

Gift Mitt

Have someone that loves kitchen gadgets? Check out these sites and put together a Gift Mitt. Find a neat Mitt like the one below from The Paper Source!

Mitt Gifts

Paper Source Lotus Oven Mitt $11.95

 

 Gingerbread Cookie Mold Pan

Who doesn’t love Gingerbread?!

Gingerbread Man Pan $5

Ice Box Cookies, The Lincolns, and Dickens.

Note: Bake with a large skirt, corset, and a British accent. Your cookies will taste better.

Maybe it’s just pure coincidence, but within a few weeks of beginning rehearsals for Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol,” I have also dived into a book on the Lincolns, and discovered the glory of icebox cookies. It seems there’s a time warp happening and I’m tuning in the 1800s…

Icebox cookies. The first time I heard this name I wasn’t sure what to think….Sounds old fashioned? Is this a complicated process? Does it involve ice? To answer my own questions: it is indeed old fashioned, simple, and you might say it involves ice.

As one of my favorite New England authors once said. Simplify Simplify Simplify. (Name that guy!!) With 9 shows a week of caroling and wearing early Victorian period costumes, I need something quick and easy to whip up for the holiday season and these cookies fit the bill.

Ice box Cookies- a type of cookie with the dough formed and chilled before being sliced for baking; also called refrigerator cookie. Yeah, that’s right. Put it in the fridge and bake when it’s convenient!

The History: I love a little bit of history and am thoroughly enjoying reading “The Lincolns: A Portrait of A Marriage” as I eagerly await the release of the film this week. Lincoln’s favorite dessert was Apple Pie; but, I’m guessing Mary Todd Lincoln had a nice Icebox, and I like to imagine, she too, baked icebox cookies at some point along the road to the white house. As I gear up for performances of A Christmas Carol (first published in 1843 right around the time Lincoln was running for Congress) I am also hoping icebox cookies were being made by those who could afford fresh ice in London. With the advent of electric iceboxes, or refrigerators, in the early 1900s, people were able to prepare more foods with the luxury of refrigerating before hand. Icebox cakes and cookies started appearing in cookbooks and became very popular. We now know them as refrigerator cookies.

So Thank You Ice Box! Here’s the first Icebox cookie of the season, Butterscotch Cinnamon Ice Box Cookies, adapted from “Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No Holds-Barred Baking Book” by Judy Rosenberg. So incredibly simple and delicious.

Check out my Pinterest and this link from Martha Stewart for more icebox ideas.

*Note: Bake with a large skirt and corset and adopt a British accent. Your cookies will taste better this way.

Mix Ingredients.

Form dough into log and refrigerate. Remove and slice.

Bake until golden brown.

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Do you have a favorite icebox cookie recipe?

Cacao Love {Sweet of the Week}

There’s a reason why the Latin name for the cacao tree means “food of the gods.” Why the ancient cacao bean was worshiped by the Aztecs. Why most women can’t get through a day without chocolate…

There are few places left where you can really taste the history. Where you can really taste and feel what our ancestors described as a spiritual, medicinal, nutritional, and an aphrodisiacal source. “Cacao,” Atlanta’s bean-to-bar chocolate company, is one of those special places. If life is a box of chocolates, Heaven is Cacao’s chocolate bar.

THE GOODS: Cacao makes a handful of unique TRUFFLES catering to every taste bud. Each truffle has a number. Don’t worry, they include a key card that lists each truffle numerically with a short description!

THE SPOT: Cacao (3 locations: Inman Park, Virginia Highlands, Buckhead and ONLINE!) Each location has that signature “Cacao feel”…clean, elegant, a touch of shabby chic, and pure class. Just walking through the door makes you feel light, confidant, and…hungry.

THE SCOOP: It’s no secret: you can tell their chocolates are made with the finest organic ingredients and pure LOVE. My favorites: The caramel with it’s sprinkle of sea salt was perfection.  The strawberry and blueberry lavender were also delicious, subtle flavors that weren’t overly fruity or sweet. The Cola has a slight but familiar hint of the historic Coca Cola flavor and their #9 cayenne passion fruit has a surprising and definite kick! The list goes on with a dozen more surprising and creative flavors. Check your local cacao for the most recent truffle selection.

FACT MORSEL:Cacao is one of a handful of bean-to-bar chocolate companies across the nation that make their own chocolate on site. What is bean-to-bar? Well, simply put, it’s hand-made. From scratch. On site. Every step of the way, from the cacao bean to the chocolate bar, is done by hand with natural ingredients. Stay tuned for my bean-to-bar feature next month!

Meanwhile, check out this Cooking Channel Video and this article on Kristen Hard, the founder of Cacao and get excited for a chocolate factory to come to Atlanta!

 

* Some of these pictures were not taken by my professional i-phone camera :) , if you click on them, they link to their original source.

* Thanks to Kevin, at Magick, for always bringing in new truffles to taste.