Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cranberry Almond Loaf

This quick bread is light in texture and not too sweet. This recipe makes 2 loaves. Keep one for yourself and bring one to a holiday party as a hostess gift.

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups of light sour cream
1 and 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries

In a large mixing bowl, beat (on medium speed) oil and sugar. When light and somewhat fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add extract and cranberries. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Beat after each addition.

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2 loaf pans with Pam. Spoon batter evenly into the 2 pans. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour. When a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean, the loaves are baked.

After removing from pans, place the loaves on a rack to cool. While still warm, drizzle glaze (recipe below) over the loaves on cooling racks. Make sure you have a cookie sheet under the racks to catch the excess glaze. Allow glazed loaves to cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap.

Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar; 2 Tablespoons orange juice; 1 teaspoon almond extract. Combine all and mix until smooth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Appetizer Cheese Log

You can't have too many appetizer recipes during the busy holiday season. This cheese log is rolled in toasted, chopped pistachio nuts. It's easy to make and adds an elegant touch to your buffet table.

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar or parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup of shelled, chopped pistachio nuts
A variety of crackers for serving

Using an electric mixture beat first four ingredients until completely combined. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 1 and a half hours, until slightly firm.

In a small saucepan heat chopped pistachios for 5 minutes (stirring constantly) over medium heat, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and place toasted nuts on a plate to cool.

Place firmed-up cheese mixture onto a piece of wax paper and form, using the paper, into a log shape - about 6" long. Roll log in cooled pistachios and tightly wrap log in saran wrap. Refrigerate for several hours before serving with crackers or toasted rounds. This recipe may be made a day before using.

Pumpkin Pie

Several years ago I came across this recipe and abandoned the recipe on the pumpkin puree can label forever. This one is that good!

Standard 9" Pie Crust:

2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Crisco
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4-5 Tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut Crisco into flour mixture (You may do this in a food processor or by cutting through the mixture with a pastry cutter or by slicing through the mixture with 2 knives.) until crumbly. Sprinkle water on the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, tossing the mixture with a fork (lightly pulsing if using food processor) until all flour is moistened and dough can be formed into a ball. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured board and roll to an 11" circle. Fold pastry into quarters and carefully place the crust into a 9" pie pan. (Tip: Use metal pie tins. Before placing the crust in the pie pan, sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on the bottom of the pan to insure a baked bottom crust.)

Pumpkin filling:

3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 425. Place a foil-lined cookie sheet on the lowest rack in the oven.

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, egg yolk and sugars. Add salt and all the spices and mix well. Slowly stir in the milk and cream. Stir in pumpkin puree until completely incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell. Allow room at the top for filling to expand slightly during baking. If there is too much filling for your crust, you can place excess into buttered ramakins and bake alongside your pie. Place pie on the foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack. Do not cut until completely cooled. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.