Thursday, November 22, 2012

Favorite Cranberry Sauce

Simmering goodness!
Here we are at another Thanksgiving. The years go by so quickly! I found this recipe for Basic Cranberry Sauce in my Cooking Light magazine several years ago and I've made it every year. I'm making another batch for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow as the cranberries are popping. It smells like orange and mulling spices. The sauce is so fresh, tart, but sweetened from the brown sugar and honey. It simmers with orange juice, cinnamon stick, and allspice.

I'm always amazed how the natural properties of the cranberries thicken the sauce as it cools on the stove top.

I think it's best when you make it the day before your meal so it will be chilled for the feast. I always make a double batch to go with the leftovers.

When I was a kid, I loved to eat cranberry jelly from the can. My grandparents would slice it on a plate along side the turkey. But now as an adult, I love whole berry cranberry sauce and nothing is better than fresh.

Cranberries are so good for you! They are so high in nutrients that science research has touted that they protect against a number of things such as heart disease, urinary tract infections, even preventing plaque on your teeth! So grab a bag or two in the produce aisle and try this recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Freezer Meal: Sweet Potato Quesadillas & Black Bean-Corn-Edamame Salad with Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

Quesadillas were perfect directly from the freezer!

Defrost and Mix.

I made this freezer meal for my September exchange and meant to post this recipe ages ago. Better late than never! I try to use seasonal produce because I'm making my meals in bulk and I want to buy top quality ingredients locally as much as possible. This meal is especially easy for the Summer since you don't have to use the oven to heat anything up, but it's great during any season. The quesadillas can be cooked directly from the freezer on an iron skillet. It was so easy!

Freezer Meal Menu:
The recipe that I based this from used corn and since the salads had corn, I decided to use sweet potatoes and sweet peppers since I had so many peppers this time of year from my produce delivery. I diced the sweet potatoes very small the same size as sweet potatoes and cooked them on a skillet in olive oil with no seasoning, just a bit of salt. I used the Chile and Onion Trader Joe's tortillas. You have to be very careful with tortillas that you buy if you're shopping in traditional grocery stores because of the funky ingredients so I always buy ours at Trader Joe's. I made 30 quesadillas on a large non-stick griddle. I made the salsa verde with roasted tomatillos, onion, and jalapenos seasoned with lime, honey, cumin and salt. To cook quesadillas, warm them on both sides in an iron skillet. Cut in wedges and top with salsa and sour cream.

Homemade Tomatillo Salsa packs with the quesadillas.

On Labor Day weekend, I had trouble finding fresh corn in Indiana since it was a bit late in the season. But I found an Amish produce stand where I picked up two dozen ears of corn by my in-laws lake house. I used one dozen for the freezer meal salads and the other dozen was for us to keep for the winter. I cut the corn off the cobs, then cooked the kernels in boiling water. You can also use frozen corn for this recipe since you're going to put it right back in the freezer if you make this in the off-season.

I cooked dried black beans in the slow cooker, which is my favorite method. Check out my post. If you use a 14oz can of black beans for each salad, make sure you rinse and drain it first. I always cook my own beans because you end up opening up way too many cans. Plus, it's more eco-friendly and budget conscious if you cook your own dried beans. You will need 1 1/2 cups for each batch for the recipe below.

These were very rich so I made two batches for the 6 meals so people would have a small sweet after dinner. I used a nice quality dark chocolate from Trader Joe's for the brownies. They were amazing!

I hope you enjoy these freezer meal posts. I really enjoy freezer cooking and our monthly exchanges. I usually set aside a couple weekends a month to make my meals on the weeks that we're home. Sometimes I have help from Ava and other times Aaron will entertain her outside while I'm cooking. Then we average a freezer meal per week, which we reserve for a Monday or Tuesday night.