Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sugar and spice . . .

. . . and less than 5 ingredients.  That’s the name of the game for me.  As we all eat our way through the holidays and hope that no one notices that we are wearing more and more elastic pants, I thought I’d share a few recipe ideas I got these last couple of days that were really helpful.  Plus, it’s been a slow news day and I have to keep up my 12 days of cranberries.
So Monday I had Bunco and it was pot luck.  Of course, the event started at 7pm and at 6:30 I had an “oh sh*t” mommy moment and realized that I was bringing the only salad and I had NONE of the ingredients.  My mom had shared a quick and easy salad recipe and by 7:15 I had gone to the store, made the entire salad and was at my friend’s doorstep with a fantastic salad and homemade dressing.  Of course, if you do this you may not want to enlist your father to shell the pistachios on the salad – he MAY play the "one for the salad, one for me" game which explains why I only ended up with half the bag in the salad.  Following are 3 great recipes that are easy and sure to be a hit.  And, most importantly, won’t make mommy insane!  Starting with the cranberries . . . .
1)      Barefoot Contessa Cranberry Fruit Conserve.  This spices up the old stand by and makes for a sweet but tart and even crunchy side dish.  I made a few slight modifications.

1 (12 oz.) bag of cranberries, cleaned
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 orange – zest grated and juiced
1 lemon – zest grated and juiced
¾  cup pecans
(the Contessa also had raisins, but I left those out of my version because I don’t like them)

Cook cranberries, sugar and 1 c. water over low heat until the skins pop open.  Add the apple, zests and juices.  Cook until thickens (about 20 minutes).  Remove from heat and add nuts.  Let cool and serve chilled.  The original recipe can be found at

(Serves 4)
6 cups mixed arugula, mache, and Bibb lettuces (I actually used a box of salad greens)
1 cup green grapes (I cut them in half)
1 cup red grapes (make sure they’re seedless – mine weren’t and it was a huge pain in the @$$ to get those things out)
1/4 cup pistachios (or however many get in there because your 9 year old and your father are in charge of shelling)
handful of fresh dill sprigs (I left this out)

Combine the lettuces, grapes, pistachios, and dill in a bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over all and toss.

Tyler's Ultimate Vinaigrette
makes about 1/3 cup
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the ingredients in a jar and shake to emulsify.

3)      Godmom Sue’s Bailey’s Cake – A. . .MAZING!
1 pkg yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 large pkg. instant chocolate pudding
½ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
½ cup sugar
1 cup oil
¾ cup water
Mix cake mix, eggs and chocolate pudding.  Add Bailey’s Irish Cream, sugar, oil and water.  Mix until moist.  Pour into bundt pan sprayed with Pam.  Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
¼ cup Irish Cream
2 cups powdered sugar
Blend Irish Cream and powdered sugar and drizzle over top of cake.  It is best if the cake has cooled before putting on the glaze.
I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends and I did!

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