Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries ~ These sweet, yet tart cranberries make a wonderful snack on their own or a beautiful garnish on any festive dessert ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Why hello there! It’s been a while, because well, life. I’ll save you all of the details, but it’s been busy around here. Some good, some not so good, but there hasn’t been a lot of time for pausing and snapping pictures of our meals. Something had to give and it was the blog. I’ll be honest, I do have some posts planned for the upcoming month as the holidays approach and I’m in the kitchen more, but I don’t see any regularity coming back until hopefully after the New Year. Sometimes, though, a break is needed to refresh and revive the soul.

So, on to the food. I love all of the seasons because they bring great produce and a newness to your menu. For the most part, I think everyone is just about pumpkin-ed out, and while I love pumpkin, my favorite are cranberries. I’m fortunate to live in the Northeast where we have some great, local cranberry farms around. For the next month, my family will be inundated with cranberries from breakfast, snacks, to dinner. Besides their lovely tart flavor and vibrant color, they are just so healthy for you as well. Love!

These sugared cranberries are a great little snack to munch on during any of your holiday gatherings or you can use them for a garnish for any of your festive desserts. That’s why I just had to pop back on here and share these with you. So easy, so tasty, so pretty!

Sugared Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water

Make a simple syrup by bringing 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a bowl with cranberries and cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled, refrigerate overnight, stirring a few times.

Remove the cranberries from the simple syrup and let the remaining syrup drip from the berries by placing them on a baking sheet with a wire rack. Sprinkle the berries with 1/2 cup of sugar, turning over once to evenly coat. A little nudge from your finger will roll them enough without handling too much. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and roll each cranberry in it, giving it its final coat.

Let the cranberries sit until dry, about an hour and then place in an airtight container. The berries will keep up to one week.

Source: The Way to His Heart

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Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Cherries

Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Cherries ~ A make ahead breakfast that tastes amazing and is great for you in so many ways ~ The Way to His Heart

Thank you Stonyfield and Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post as part of Stonyfield’s Clean Plate Club. As always, the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Busy, cold mornings are upon us and I still want to make breakfast count before I send my daughter off to school each day. Thankfully, she loves oatmeal. It’s her first choice for breakfast, even over pancakes and waffles! My son will eat it as well, but not as often. I love this recipe because I can make a big batch and it can last the week. It becomes just as convenient as the instant stuff, but it’s so, so much better for you.

How good? Well, the way I’ve made it I’ve used some great ingredients from some great companies. Using Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, I’m giving my daughter all of the nutrients that she can get from the oats. Toss in Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Sugar and I’ve given her a delicious taste, while not using as much sugar. Be forewarned, coconut sugar is lovely, but has a caramel taste and smell so use lightly until you’ve found your desired flavor. Next, I’ve used Stonyfield’s amazing Grassfed Yogurt. I’ve waxed poetic about this yogurt before, but suffice to say grass fed is best and I know that I’ve sent her off to school with a healthy gut which leads to a healthy mind, no really. It’s proven 🙂 Last, but not least, are the cherries. Yes, they are in there to add a punch of flavor and a pretty factor to the dish, but don’t be food, cherries are a great anti-inflammatory and help boost sleep and memory. Umm, I need to be eating a lot more cherries I think!

You all know me though, while I do care about what’s going into my family’s body, I am big on flavor and the flavor here is awesome. It really makes waking up early in the morning worth it, well almost!

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Creamy Steel-cut Oats with Cherries

Ingredients

To make the oatmeal:

Make this the night before you want your oatmeal.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oats and brown them for 2-3 minutes, until they start giving off a toasted, nutty aroma. Pour in 3 cups water and salt, stir.

Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off heat and cover. Let sit over night.

To reheat the next morning, simply warm up on the stove top or scoop out what you’d like and microwave and put remaining oats in the refrigerator.

To make the cherries:

In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and cornstarch; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the cherries. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened and cherries are soft, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add cherries to oats or refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble oatmeal:

Warm up oats, stir in yogurt, and top with warm cherry mixture. Enjoy!

Note: Both the oats and cherries may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The creamy factor is best when the yogurt is stirred in after warming.

Source: The Way to His Heart

Roast Carrots (Vegetables)

Roasted Carrots ~ How to roast vegetables for maximum flavor~ The Way to His Heart

I’m always sad to say, “Good bye” to summer but at least fall comes next which means lots of baking. My oven gets turned on as the leaves change, the apples and pumpkins get picked, and the last of my vegetables from the garden are brought in. While I eat veggies all year long, my favorite way to prepare them or eat them is by roasting. It really maximizes the flavor. If I’m trying a new vegetable out on the kids or my husband, roasting is always the way to go first. Give them the best so they wont refuse it the next time!

Since I’m picking the last of our carrots and roasting them I wanted to share with you a great way to easily roast your vegetables. There is nothing better than a carrot that has been browned and crisped on the outside but sweet and tender on the inside.

When roasting, make sure your veggies are cut to the same size for even cooking. Also, allow room on the pan for the heat to circulate.

Roasted Whole Carrots

Ingredients

  • 8 medium carrots
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Scrub carrots and dry well, peel if desired. Arrange carrots in a single layer, well spaced on a baking sheet. If you are roasting other veggies, make sure they are cut to the same size for even cooking.

Drizzle with oil, turning to coat all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tightly cover pan with foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and return pan to oven and bake an additional 18 minutes or until carrots are tender, turning once.

Source: Cooking Light January/February 2016

 

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

I received the below mentioned products for free from OXO, but in turn they will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post (up to our $100,000 commitment*.)

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

These.are.amazing. Seriously. If you like anything chocolate you’ll love these. I don’t want to hear that you aren’t on the salted caramel band wagon. You don’t like pecans or nuts on your sweets, that’s okay because you’ll be too busy scarfing these down to even realize. Now, if you are allergic, just skip them, it will be okay without them. The base of these bars is a delicious chocolate shortbread. It’s delicious on its own, but is definitely not the star of the show and acts as a nice base for all the goodness that is  poured on top of it. Salted caramel and dark chocolate are where it’s at. This gooey layer on top is what you’ve been dreaming of all along. Add the toasted pecans for crunch and you have perfection!

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Thanks to OXO I got to make these delicious bars with what is now my new favorite baking and storage dishes, the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware and their Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. Honestly, I didn’t know I could love a hand mixer until I met this beauty! It has intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed. There are no surprises as you change your speed which means no splatters all over the kitchen counter! When you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage. My favorite part is that it the base is flat and the cord can be tucked in on either side. That means that there is no awkward way of setting the mixer down. Just plop it down, the cord will handle itself and you can get on to whatever task you’re doing. Thank you OXO! 

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

Now let me back up to the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware for a minute. I’ve talked about these containers before but what I love about the Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid and Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid especially is that the lids don’t lay flat. They allow a little space so that casserole you make or dessert you frost doesn’t get smooshed. The lids also seal very well and you don’t have to second guess yourself all of the time. Of course they’re also made from BPA-free borosilicate glass and can withstand extreme temperature changes. Not to leave anything out, the OXO Brownie Spatula is an extremely handy tool to make serving so much easier and more presentable!
Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars ~ Delicious and rich, the shortbread cookies give way to the star of the show, salted caramel and dark chocolate ~ The Way to His Heart

 

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars

Ingredients

For the Shortbread Base

  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Caramel Topping

  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • About 1⁄2 cup (60 grams) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.

To make the shortbread base:

Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the dough comes together. This will take a little longer than you might expect, so don’t get discouraged. Give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula and scrape it out into the pan. Using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan; press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners. Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.

To make the caramel topping:

Put a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone) next to the stove. Put the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.) Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir to blend.Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.

When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, care- fully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut 21 bars (cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars). Alternatively, leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.

When the caramel is fully set, the cookies (cut or intact) can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 21 bars

Source: Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan