Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What did I do with MY cranberry sauce leftovers?

During my last post I confessed my love for cranberry sauce and went on a rant about how I think it's under appreciated. In another attempt to convince others to utilize cranberry sauce, I'm going to share what I did with my leftovers: 

Pictured above is my cranberry sauce on top of honey goat cheese and a rosemary raisin cracker. The perfect sweet and savory snack!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who said cranberry sauce is only for the holidays?!

Okay, okay. I'm not sure if anyone ever said that, but it seems the understood expectation of cranberry sauce is:
1. It must be part of every Thanksgiving spread. 
2. It adds color to the table, but rarely is the entire batch ever eaten. Most people run to the turkey or casseroles. 
 3. It sits in the back of the fridge for a few days, then tossed out because not many people know what else to do with it.
Why is that?! I LOVE cranberry sauce. No, not the congealed kind that flops out of a can. I love the kind my momma makes, with fresh cranberries and hints of orange. Yummy!

Why am I ranting about this, in January? Because I was craving some cranberry sauce yesterday afternoon and I didn't want to wait till Thanksgiving to enjoy some. So I went to Trader Joe's (my new favorite grocery store in Charlotte) and got a bag of fresh cranberries to make some cranberry sauce to accompany dinner.
It wasn't until I returned home, had the berries on the stove top with a cup of sugar and fresh squeezed orange juice that I realized...what the heck and I going to eat with cranberry sauce tonight? I'm not going to roast a 20 lb. turkey. That's stupid. And it also won't fit in my teeny tiny studio apartment oven. (Seriously guys, it rivals an Easy Bake. Bless it.) So I began rummaging around the kitchen to see what I had to put a semi-cohesive meal together for my boyfriend and myself. 

I ended up making one of my favorite meals I've ever made myself. Yes, I think so. Here's the recipe of something I developed and served with turkey meatballs and my cranberry sauce:

Harvest Hash
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Fresh Sage, chopped. (I used 6 leaves, but can adjust to taste)
2 T. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Asian pears, cubed
2 apples of your choice, cubed (I used Pink Lady)
1/2 C. crushed walnuts
3 T. molasses 
1 T. honey
1 T. ground cinnamon
3 T. melted unsalted butter
1/2 lb. bacon
Take a saute pan on medium-high heat. Lightly saute sweet potatoes in butter and fresh sage. Salt and pepper to taste. You don't want the sweet potatoes to be completely cooked through, just giving them a head start. Saute for 3 minutes. 
Take a casserole baking dish and place warmed sweet potatoes, cubed pears, apples and crushed walnuts in dish. Stir together. 
In a separate mixing bowl, add molasses, honey and cinnamon. Mix together. Then, while still mixing, slowly pour in melted butter. Mix together till evenly incorporated. Pour sauce over contents of casserole baking dish and stir everything together. 
Cover casserole with aluminum foil and bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Since I made this with an almost Easy Bake oven, you may have to keep an eye on this and make sure your oven requires a different cooking time. Most likely, it will be less than 30 minutes.) 
While your casserole is baking away, turn on your grill pan and cook up the bacon. When it's to your likeness, crumble or cut up in diced pieces. After your first 30 minutes of baking time for the casserole is completed, remove aluminum foil and add cooked bacon. Stir together and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

2012 brings new things...

I have successfully have started a new year in a new city. Settled in my new apartment, and applying for a new job. In March, as previously discussed on here, I will start a new school program to jump start my dream career as a food writer. I'm excited about studying culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University. March can't come soon enough! Yes, you could say this new year has brought several new things to me already, and I'm hoping for even better things to come. 

During my first week here in Charlotte, I have been fortunate enough to do a little exploring. Living in Uptown gives me not only many opportunities, but they are also convenient and within walking distance. My boyfriend, Grant, has lived in Charlotte since August, so he has a bit of an advantage on local info on me. It's been nice to get tips from him, though. He took me to my first Bobcats game, too. (for you non-sports fans, that's Charlotte's NBA basketball team). It was fun, but I still support Rondo and his Celtics! 

Lily, (my three-year-old Shiba Inu), also relocated with me. She sure enjoys the extra outdoors time with walking to do errands rather than driving with me. She even has a window in this apartment location to perch and look across her territory, just like she did in Tennessee.
Apart from the adjustment to the smaller apartment and the new noises, I think she's also settling in quite nicely. I've heard rumor of a dog park located close by, so I plan on going on a little adventure with her to check that out. She really misses her friends Jackson, Bear and Jabez, who still live in Tennessee. In an attempt to make opportunities for her to have new friends, a trip to the dog park may be in order. 

Now enough life updates, let's talk food. 

One of my new favorite restaurants is called the Dandelion Market. Located on 5th St., this American tapas bar has delicious food and a wide range of beers and wines, some are also of the local variety. My boyfriend and I have eaten there twice already! If you ever have  a few hours to spare in Uptown, I suggest checking it out if you're hungry. Sorry I don't have a teaser photo...the food smelled so good, I had to eat it immediately after they sat it in front of me!

Another restaurant I really love (and have also already visited twice!) is a brunch cafe called Toast. It's not walking distance for me, but a ten-minute drive away, nestled in the neighborhood of Dilworth. If you taste their hollandaise sauce, you'll understand how I feel they're definitely worth the drive. Here is a picture of a Sunday special, the lox benedict, with a side of hash browns.
For those who aren't up on their brunch dining options, lox benedict is commonly composed of smoked salmon on top of an English muffin, accompanied with none other than hollandaise sauce. I have also had Toast's four cheese quiche, which was also velvety and flavorful. There are many different options of baked items on the Toast menu, too. And if you're looking for just a good piece of toast, you have a variety of breads to choose from as well. 

Also, I did a little experiment in my own kitchen last night. Stay tuned for a post about those yummies!