Turkey Day Prep: Zinful Cranberries

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This is a recipe I shared yesterday to my wine lifestyle blog #GirlsGoneWine that I love pulling out for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s one that I have been making for a few years. It’s fast, easy, and tastes so good!

Growing up, my family never ate any cranberry sauce that was homemade.  In the preparations for cannedcranberriesThanksgiving, someone was always assigned the task of bringing two cans of jellied and one of whole berry cranberry sauce.  You couldn’t try and pull a fast one by buying store brand.  It had to be Ocean Spray on Grandma’s Thanksgiving table!

When I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family I automatically followed the same routine until I became obsessed with the Food Network a few years back and made my first foray into making cranberry sauce from scratch.

For the first few years, I stuck with the basic “back of the package” recipe:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz bag of whole fresh cranberries

Boil sugar and water, add cranberries and cook 10 minutes over a slow boil until berries have popped, refrigerate until time to serve.  *If you wanted it jellied you strained out the berry solids and skins using a mesh strainer before refrigerating.  BORING!

This year I put some time and creativity into the preparation and came up with a winner:

Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 & 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Zinfandel Wine (Best Quality you can afford – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • 1 – 12 oz Package Ocean Spray Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Orange or Tangerine Zest

Bring sugar, wine and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to use a splatter shield to avoid splashing when cranberries pop. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.  Cool slightly then move sauce to serving dish.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve cold.  Sauce will thicken up as it cools.  Garnish with a few cranberries, blueberries and curls of zest.

Don’t worry, for the holdouts who just can’t stand not seeing the canned Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, I still have the obligatory dish with the slices in the shape of the can. 😉  #CAGirlsGoneWine

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

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For those of us hosting big family meals, at just over a month before Thanksgiving, we’ve officially reached the “almost the holidays” panic time.  That time when we revisit what we did last year to determine:

  • What dishes served had the most leftovers
  • What dishes got rave reviews
  • What dishes had no leftovers (for adjusting amount prepared)
  • What dishes were too much effort and underwhelmed

It’s also the time when we take a look at new recipes that we might want to add to this year’s menu, which means we get to make our families Guinea pigs for the next few weeks while we’re trying them out.

I already have one sweet potato recipe that my family loves, but this one (from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine Magazine) looks pretty good, it’s easy, serves 10 – 12, and can be made the day before which frees up time on the big day, another bonus.

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Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a food processor (I actually use my stand mixer). Puree until fairly smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the processor (or stand mixer) on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

I’d definitely consider doubling this recipe to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for piling on a turkey sandwich or frying up as sweet potato pancakes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Boozy Dole Whips

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As much as I love bourbon and wine, sometimes it is just too hot to consider anything except something cool, fruity & boozy from the blender.  This timely little find from the team at Delish fits the bill perfectly!

Boozy Dole Whip

  • 5 Cups frozen pineapple
  • 3/4 Cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 Cup coconut rum (Mailbu)
  • 1/4 Cup sweetened condensed milk
  • Pineapple slices & Maraschino cherries for garnish

  1. Blend frozen pineapple, coconut milk, rum, and sweetened condensed milk in a blender.
  2. Pour into glasses and garnish each with pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

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PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Fluffy Peach Cobbler with White Wine Whipped Cream

Peach Cobbler with Maple Cream Sauce

Summer fruit season is at it’s glorious peak and the produce department at my grocery store is overflowing with bins of fresh apricots, nectarines, plums, and luscious ripe peaches!  With this bounty of  rich, sweet fruit available, I love nothing more than to peel a pile and bake a juicy, lip-smacking cobbler.

Few things go as well together as a crisp white wine and stone fruits.  Wine Enthusiast recommends a Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc-Roussillon, France like: Gerard Bertrand Terroir Picpoul de Pinet 2016.  Total Wine or BevMo should be able to point you in the right direction for a wine that’s similar if they don’t carry this $18 bottle.

Another option is to enter the search term “Picpoul de Pinet” into your google search, hit enter, and then select [Shopping] beneath the search box after your selections come up. Locations where you can buy it will come up.

This recipe for peach cobbler combines the two flavors beautifully and, bonus, it doesn’t need to be baked in the oven, so no heating the house up!

Fluffy Peach Cobbler with White Wine Whipped Cream

  • 10 Ripe Peaches – peeled, pitted & sliced into quarters – It’s OK if they’re a little squishy.picpouldepinet
  • 2 Cups Dry White Wine (like a Picpoul de Pinet)
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 tsp Cornstarch
  • 3 tsp Cold Water
  1. Set your electric Pressure Cooker (like your Instant Pot) to the Brown or Sauté setting.
  2. Combine wine, juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon in Instant Pot then add peaches.
  3. Sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Combine cornstarch and cold water.  Stir into peach mixture in Instant Pot.

Prepare Batter:

  • 4 TBLS Butter Softened
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean, Scraped
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  1. In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until completely incorporated.
  2. Add heavy cream and vanilla bean.
  3. Fold in combined flour and baking soda a little at a time until ragged, sticky batter forms.
  4. Place spoonfuls of batter over peaches, but don’t cover top completely.  Push dough balls down into peaches.
  5. Secure lid and close pressure valve. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  6. When done, let pressure drop naturally for 5–10 minutes. Release remaining pressure, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prepare Whipped Topping:

  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream, Chilled
  • 1 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean, Scraped
  • 1 tsp White Wine, Chilled
  1. In mixing bowl, whip heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and white wine until light and fluffy.
  2. It should double in volume and clump into whisk. Don’t over whip, or it will turn to butter. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine has some of the best #CookingWithWine dessert recipes and is my go-to when I’m looking for something new & different to make for dessert!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

Getting ready to have the #GirlsGoneWine over for a Tuesday night #SipSnackAndChat and came across the picture for this dreamy goat cheese #WryToast that just screams to the #WesterlyWineOhs, “Serve me with Westerly Red wine.”

Total prep time is 20 minutes, which makes this an easy weekday treat, plus the jam portion makes enough to feed a crowd and keeps in a sealed container in the refrigerator for two weeks, if you can leave it there that long. 😉

I made a couple of minor adjustments to the original recipe, but nothing drastic.

Smashed Blackberry Goat Cheese Toasts

  • 1 1/2 cups blackberriesBlackberry-Toasts
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest (I added this)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I substituted 1 tsp Grand Marnier® liqueur)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps sugar
  • 3 tbsps water
  • 1 – 2 tsps cornstarch, sifted
  • French Baguette, sliced
  • 8 oz goat cheese (More or Less depending on how many you are serving)
  • fresh mint to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan combine the blackberries, blueberries, vanilla (Grand Marnier®), sugar, and water (covered) over a medium low flame. Once simmering and the fruit begins to burst (about 5 minutes) gently mash with a fork or potato masher, then whisk in the cornstarch until well incorporated.* Cover once more and simmer over a low flame until needed. (I removed from the heat so that the jam would cool and thicken)
  2. Meanwhile, toast the sliced baguette on a baking sheet in the oven as desired.  I made mine crispy but not crunchy.
  3. When ready, smear each slice with a thick layer of goat cheese, then spoon over with the smashed blackberries. Garnish with mint, then eat!

*add 1 tsp if you want the blackberries more runny, 2 tsps for a thicker texture!

Thankfully the freezer section is stocked with plenty of bagged blueberries, blackberries, and now even a mixed berry with pomegranate option that can make prepping this recipe easy and as easy to change as picking a different bag of frozen fruit! #GirlsGoneWine

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat