Blueberry & Merlot Cranberry Sauce

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Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I thought I would share my recipe for homemade cranberry sauce.  If you have never made your own cranberry sauce, it really is quite easy.  Plus, there is no comparing homemade to the canned stuff.  I stopped buying the sauce in a can a long time ago and have experimented with a many different recipes but this one is my favorite thus far.  The taste is unbelievable! Plus it has wine in it and we all know how much I enjoy my wine.  Win Win!!

I have been making this recipe for the past couple of years.  The first year I made it, I followed the recipe exactly and it didn’t go over so well with the husband for one reason; CLOVES.  Ask him any day of the week, “do you smell that?” or “what is that smell?”  You get the response of, “I don’t smell anything.”  He never smells anything. However, slightly loosen the lid to a jar of cloves, he becomes a blood hound:

“You bought cloves didn’t you?”

Yeesh.

I thought maybe I could get away with it because he was at work when I made it but that didn’t happen.  It’s all he smelled for days and candles didn’t help cover it up.  And of course, he wouldn’t touch the sauce, I knew there was a chance he wouldn’t but I thought, I could trick him.  His hatred (yes, it’s a hatred) of cloves makes baking this time of year difficult.  His sister is the same way.  In all fairness to them, it was the way they were punished if they talked back, swore or got sassy as kids.  They had to sit with whole cloves on their tongue. Better than sitting with a bar of soap in your mouth but still.

I, on the other hand, LOVED the sauce.  What’s not to love? It’s wine, blueberries, cranberries and a couple spices!

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Last year I adapted the recipe and every single drop was consumed in two days.  We probably could have eaten it with a spoon but we do have some etiquette.  I made biscuits and we ate the leftovers that way.

You are going to use fresh cranberries and frozen blueberries. No, there is no need to thaw the blueberries out first.  You could also use another fruit besides blueberries or a mixed berry blend but I have to be careful of seeds for some family members so I have only tried with blueberries.

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I used a Merlot because it is my favorite and what I always have on hand but any type of red wine will work here.  It also doesn’t have to be expensive. I have never tried using a white wine so I’m not sure how well that would turn out.  Now, for those of you questioning my sanity of serving this to kids, I don’t have a problem with it. The wine is cooked for 30 minutes so any alcohol would be cooked out.  No one will be getting drunk from eating the cranberry sauce.  Sorry!  However,  it’s your choice as to whether this is appropriate for you and your family.

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Here is the original recipe but like I said, I adapted mine to fit my family and our tastes.

Cheers!

Yield: 2 Cups (16 oz)

Blueberry & Merlot Cranberry Sauce

5 minPrep Time:

25 minCook Time:

30 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 8-ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) fresh cranberries
  • 6-ounces frozen blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups), unthawed
  • 1 cup Merlot or a favorite red wine)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large kettle (it seems like an overkill but the sauce will triple in volume as the mixture boils).
  2. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring intermittently for 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture has reduced and thickened slightly and most of the cranberries have burst.
  4. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes before transferring to heat safe jars.
  5. Allow the sauce to cool completely before refrigerating.
  6. Sauce will thicken while cooling.

Notes

Sauce will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.

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5 Ingredient Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

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It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth.  Most people do, everyone’s is just displayed in different ways.  I only eat cake on birthday’s (I don’t care for frosting, its too sweet for me) and I am not a pie fan. You also won’t find me sitting eating a Hershey bar.  My sweet tooth comes out with cookies, brownies, muffins, sweet scones and breads.  I could sit and eat those all day long.  Of course, that’s my problem.  If I bake them, I will eat them.

Now I am one of those people who says, everything in moderation…well, for the most part.  I believe if you tell yourself you can’t have any of the sweet things you love, you will just crave them more.  I can testify that this is 100% true.  If I deny myself, my cravings get out of hand and I eventually break and eat them all and much more.  Thus leading to extreme guilt.  If, I want a cookie with a cup of tea in the afternoon, I eat one but limit myself to one or two.  I have found by doing this, I have actually started craving these things less.  It’s all about balance and portions.  One of my best friends is a Registered Dietitian and recently posted an article about this.  You can read it here: Managing Foods that Have Power Over You

So how does this all fit in with healthy eating?  First, I try to make most things so, I know exactly what is going into everything that is being made. Yes, I understand not everyone can do this. We still buy store bought goodies, I’m human just like you. I just limit the amount that I buy.  I also realized that instead of making huge batches of everything and eating them before they go bad,  I keep out what we are going to use for that day and maybe the next and freeze the rest for a later date. Another great tip is dividing recipes in half, that way you don’t have as many. I am also working on substituting the not so healthy ingredients (sugar, oil, creams) for things that are better for us (bananas, maple syrup, honey, greek yogurt).

This doesn’t always go as planned.  I often find myself beyond frustrated and full of failed recipes.  It’s all a work in progress but I am trying.

One of the cookies recipes I have grown to love is Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies.  They taste like banana bread with chocolate chips.  I said, I had to grow into these but only because these cookies are more cake like and not crispy like how I enjoy cookies.  My kids loved them immediately.  Five ingredients blended together and baked.  That’s it.  Easy and delicious.  They also freeze well.

Go ahead and give them a try.  I promise you will be pleasantly surprised!

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Serving Size: 2 cookies

5 Ingredient Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

10 minPrep Time:

12 minCook Time:

22 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 small ones)
  • 1/4 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup Mini Chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking dish with baking paper or silpat and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and banana and mix well- This should be very crumbly.
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt your nut butter with choice of sweetener and pour into the dry mixture.
  4. Mix until fully incorporated and a thick batter is formed.
  5. Add chocolate chips.
  6. Form into balls and transfer to the lined cookie sheet.
  7. Press firmly into a cookie shape and bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to sit for 10 minutes until they firm up slightly.

Notes

These cookies can be kept at room temperature covered for up to 3 days. These are delicious refrigerated and can also be frozen too.

21 Day Fix: 1 Y, 1 tsp

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Turkey Meatloaf

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Comfort food.  It can mean many different things to many different people.  For me, it’s pasta or homemade bread.  For other people it might be soup, mac and cheese, fast food, cookies, or something that triggers a comforting childhood memory or in this recipes case; meatloaf.

Those folks that know me, know I do not care for meatloaf.  I have honestly tried ya’ll, I really have.  Whether it is because it is beef or the meatloaf mixture of beef, veal and sausage OR it’s because it is a whole lotta meat in a loaf form (only bread should be in loaves), I don’t know.  The very thought of it grosses me out. They can be tricky to make sometimes either drying out to quickly or not getting done enough in the center.  Unfortunately, it’s my husbands favorite meal or his comfort food.  Ack! I make it homemade with a “meatloaf mixture” once a year on his birthday. Every year it is meatloaf, mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.  I know, I know, it sounds mean that I don’t make it more often BUT once I started making it with ground turkey instead of the meatloaf mixture, I have found it on my menu at least two -three times a year.

Of course, over the 17 years we have been together I have tried different kinds of meatloaf recipes but his favorite, is my families recipe.  We actually got the recipe from my sister in laws mother but since we’ve known them for eons and we’ve all been making each others recipes, it kind of all blends together.  When my husbands mother passed away seven years ago, my mom, who was helping out by cooking meals for us, made him a 3 lb meatloaf!  Three pounds people!!  It’s his comfort food and we were very appreciative that she made it.  And yes, he ate every bite.

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef or meatloaf mixture (ground beef, veal and sausage) but I have found that even with making it with 1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey, it still comes out juicy, not dried out like a lot of ground turkey recipes can get.  If you have seen my other recipes, you know that I usually add zucchini to my ground turkey burgers and meatballs to give them moisture but it’s not needed this time.

My mother and I also disagree on one thing.  She adds oatmeal as a binder to hers, I like to add breadcrumbs.  There really isn’t much difference.  The seasoned breadcrumbs just give it more flavor in my opinion.

What do you think? Are you ready to give my turkey meatloaf recipe a try?

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Serving Size: 1 Slice

Turkey Meatloaf

A Comfort Food Classic Without all the Calories!

10 minPrep Time:

1 hr, 15 Cook Time:

1 hr, 25 Total Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground Turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (can substitute oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup no sugar tomato sauce
  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup no sugar tomato sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. prepared mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all the meatloaf ingredients together by hand in a large bowl.
  3. Form into a loaf shape and place in a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes then remove the meatloaf from the oven.
  5. Carefully pour off any grease that might have formed.
  6. Mix sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  7. Pour the sauce over the top of the meatloaf and continue baking for 1 hour.
  8. Let the meatloaf cool for 10-15 minutes to make cutting easier.

Notes

21 Day Fix= 1/2 P (no sugar tomato sauce) 1R, 1Y, 1 TSP

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Turkey-meatloaf

 

 

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pesto Pasta

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I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t look pretty but I PROMISE it tastes amazing!  My kids are not picky broccoli eaters.  They eat it no matter how I cook it.  I lucked out in that department.  To save time, I usually just chop it and steam it as a side dish.  Every so often, you need something that is a bit different. This recipe actually happened as a mistake.  I was trying to make pasta with chunks of the broccoli and to save time and dishes, I cooked the broccoli directly with the pasta.  And I cooked it a bit too long.  Oops!  Things happen; like this amazing dish that turned into more of a broccoli pesto!  I am a huge basil pesto fan but no one else in the family eats it.  More for me I guess.  They had no problem eating this though!  In fact, they went back for seconds.

You can use any type of pasta you wish for this.  I had orecchiette in the pantry so that is what I used.  You just have to make sure you time adding your broccoli correctly.  All pastas have different cooking times.  You will want the pasta al dente but the broccoli on the soft side.  This type of pasta usually cooks to al dente in 14 minutes, so, I added the broccoli with about 10 minutes of cook time left on the orecchiette.

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One of things I love most about this dish is how easy it is!  The pasta and broccoli cook together so you save some time and your hands from the dish water!  You can use which ever chicken sausage your family likes best or you can leave it out all together.  I know there are some brands that make a spicy chicken sausage which would be really good!  As, I have said before, this is my favorite kind.

You could even use chunks of chicken breast if you wish.  I like the flavors that chicken sausage add to dish.  It matches the broccoli well.  The choice is yours! Enjoy!

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Serving Size: 1 Cup

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pesto Pasta

5 minPrep Time:

15 minCook Time:

20 minTotal Time:

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Ingredients

  • 1 package Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
  • 12 oz uncooked pasta
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli florets, stems removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet and brown the sausage over medium-high, for 5 to 7 minutes; remove from heat.
  3. When the water comes to a rapid boil, add the pasta and bring back to a boil,
  4. Cook pasta for 5 minutes then add the chopped broccoli.
  5. When pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  6. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  7. Return the pot to the stove and set heat to medium; add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  8. When oil is hot, add garlic. cooking, about 1 minute.
  9. Reduce the heat to low and add the pasta/broccoli mixture and sausage to the pot. Stir.
  10. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste mixing well and smashing any large pieces of broccoli.
  11. Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and mix well adding the rest if the mixture is too thick.
  12. Serve with additional grated cheese on the side, if desired.

Notes

21 Day Fix: 2Y, 1G, 1R, 1 tsp

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