Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries

Hello everyone! It’s officially the holiday season once again. It’s also my favorite time of the year for baking and cooking. I thought I’d start off with something really easy to make. Sugared cranberries are great for garnishing your desserts or dessert trays or even as a sweet and sour treat all on it’s own.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar divided (2 cups & 1 cup)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine 2 cups of sugar with the 2 cups water in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Do not bring to a boil!
  2. Remove from heat as soon as sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, add cranberries. Top with the sugar syrup you just made and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight is best.
  4. After your cranberries have soaked, drain off syrup completely and allow to sit in strainer for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Pour remaining  1 cup of sugar in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Add cranberries and shake until all cranberries have been well coated.
  6. Empty contents of bag onto a wire rack (with pan or foil underneath to catch excess sugar.)
  7. Let cranberries dry for at least an hour.
  8. Store in refrigerator until ready to use as garnish.

Sugared Cranberries Close Up

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Quick and Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad 1Do you need a quick and easy side dish to take to an office party or family gathering? I’m almost embarrassed to share this recipe because it’s really so simple  and all the flavor comes from a store bought pesto sauce.  But, hey you had to cook the pasta and cut up everything yourself.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound rainbow rotini pasta (or whatever shape of your choice)
  • 8 ounces cubed Colby Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 8 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3.8 ounce can of sliced black olives, drained
  • 3/4-1 cup pesto or Italian dressing of your choice
  • 8 ounces hard salami cubes (this is optional. I didn’t have any on hand but it tastes wonderful in the salad.)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Chill in ice bath and remove once pasta is cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut up cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, and salami if using.
  3. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir in pesto. Mix well.
  4. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight for the next day.

Pasta Salad

Joann’s Egg Salad Sandwich

Egg Salad Sandwich 1I know. Egg salad. Not much of a recipe. But I always like to put a little “extra love” into my recipes. So this is not just plain old chopped eggs and mayonnaise.  It is MY version of an egg salad sandwich. And there is no mustard in this recipe. Why? Well, because I just don’t like mustard. But feel free to substitute it for the caesar salad dressing if you prefer. This will be posting around Easter. So maybe you have some extra hard boiled eggs you need to use?

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 spear kosher dill pickle, diced (one quarter of a whole kosher dill pickle)
  • 1-2 tablespoons red onions, diced
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon caesar salad dressing
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 15 minutes.
  2. While eggs are cooking, dice celery, pickle, onion and romaine lettuce. Add to a bowl.
  3. After eggs have sat in the saucepan for 15 minutes, remove the eggs from the hot water. Let eggs cool. Then peel and chop eggs.
  4. Add your chopped eggs into the bowl with prepared vegetables.
  5. Then add mayonnaise, caesar salad dressing, salt, pepper and paprika.
  6. Stir to combine. You may serve now or place bowl (covered) in your refrigerator  to chill before eating.
  7. Use your favorite type of bread to make the sandwich and serve with fruit on the side. Enjoy!
  8. Makes 4-6 sandwiches depending how much you like to stuff them. 🙂

Egg Salad Sandwich

Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms and Orzo

Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms and OrzoI’m all about quick, easy and one pot dinners. Here’s a recipe for all you busy people out there that want a home cooked meal but don’t have the time or energy to spend more than 30 minutes making it. This is a fun take on chicken and rice. Except we are using orzo pasta instead of rice. For my vegetarian friends out there, feel free to omit the chicken, substitute vegetable stock and add more veggies to this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to season chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella or cremini mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Parmesan or Romano grated cheese for garnish
  • Italian parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sprinkle liberally both sides of chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Add olive oil and butter. Heat until bubbly.
  4. Sear chicken for 2-3 minutes per side until a nice crust forms. (chicken will not be cooked through but will continue cooking with the orzo.)
  5. Remove seared chicken to a plate.
  6. Add mushrooms to hot skillet and saute until cooked about 2 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to medium.
  8. Add garlic and orzo to pan and saute for 2 minutes.
  9. Add chicken stock, cream and spinach.
  10. Place chicken into orzo mixture.
  11. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 F degrees.
  12. Top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and Italian parsley leaves.

Makes 4 servings.