Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is somewhat an acquired taste. I get that.

But homemade cranberry sauce is so much better, I am thinking you will like it.

The recipe calls for a cup of water. You can easily substitute that with 1/2 cup of orange juice 1/2 cup of water if you want to increase the orange note in the sauce.

You can also reduce the sugar if you want. Start out with half as much and add more if you think it needs it. If you use less sugar, reduce the amount of water you add as well.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
Optional Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

Rinse cranberries: Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries.

Boil water with sugar: Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add cranberries, cook until they burst: Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.

Stir in mix-ins if using: Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is, or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans a pinch or two of orange zest.

Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. If adding spices, start with a pinch of each and add more to your taste.

Let cool: Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

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Dress Up That Dressing

Moist & Savory Stuffing

1/4 cup butter
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped, about 1 cup
1 large onion, coarsely chopped, about 1 cup
2.5 cups chicken broth
1 14-ounce package stuffing

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.

Add the broth to the saucepan and heat to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the stuffing and mix lightly. Season to taste. Spoon the stuffing mixture into a greased 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Cover the baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the stuffing mixture is hot.

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Get Your Brine On

I’ve recommended brining your holiday turkey for a number of years.

This is my favorite brine recipe.

4 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon juniper berries
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 hefty bunch fresh thyme
6 to 8 springs of fresh rosemary
1 gallon water, plus more as needed
2 pounds ice
1 12-15lb turkey (heritage breed, if possible)

Combine the water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns and juniper berries in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. While making the brine, place the ice in a 5-gallon bucket. Remove the brine from the heat and pour over ice to cool. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary and stir to incorporate.

Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. Top off with water and, if necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed. Cover and refrigerate. After at about 12 hours, remove the bird from brine and pour remaining liquid out of cavity. Your turkey is now ready for roasting.

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Stuffed Onion Leaves

This dish takes some of time for preparation, but it is not complicated, and the results are spectacular.

4 or 5 very large yellow onions
Place the whole unpeeled onions (the larger the better) in a pot, and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil; then turn down to a simmer. Cover, and simmer the onions for 20 minutes. Remove, drain, and cool the onions so that you can handle them.

2 cups long-grain rice, soaked in water for 2 hour, then drained

1 pound ground lean lamb or beef (I used a half and half mixture)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Fresh-ground pepper and salt to taste
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
Olive oil
3 cups beef stock

Mix together the lamb and beef. Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, allspice, pepper, salt, and rice. Mix well, and then add the tomatoes. Gently mix again, being careful not to squeeze the juice out of the tomatoes.

For an interesting variation you might also add some dried dill weed and some cardamom to the filling. This would make the dish very Moroccan.

Cut the top and the bottom from the cooked unpeeled onions.

Slice into the onion by making a cut down the side of the onion that goes to the center of the onion. Remove the outer skin, and then, very carefully, remove the large outer leaves of the onion.
(Save the center of the onion, the core, for some other dish.)

You will get about five or six leaves from each large onion.

Place a bit of the filling in the middle of each onion leaf, and roll it up like a sausage. The skins will practically roll themselves, so let the onion do the work.

When all are rolled, select a large frying pan with a tight ­fitting lid (a heavy kettle will do also; you need something large enough to hold all the onion rolls in one layer).

When the pan is hot, add a bit of olive oil and then the stuffed onions, all in one layer.

Cook for a few minutes on medium heat until they begin barely to brown on the bottom. Add the beef stock, and cover.

Simmer for 40 minutes, and serve.

Stuffed Onion Leaves


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Prep 30m
Cook 2h 30m
Ready in 3h 15m

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
2 6.5 ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Drain fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and red wine. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce.

Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil. To prevent sticking, spray the foil with cooking spray.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Homemade Lasagna


Homemade Lasagna


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English Tea Cucumber Sandwiches

“A refreshing and delicious sandwich. Depending on the way you cut the bread, these can be made as appetizers or a simple lunch time sandwich.”

Sliced Cucumbers

Sliced Cucumbers

1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 (1 pound) loaf sliced bread, crusts removed
1 pinch lemon pepper (optional)

Place cucumber slices between 2 paper towels set in a colander. Allow liquid to drain, about 10 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion salt, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on one side of each bread slice.

Divide cucumber slices over half of the bread slices; sprinkle lemon pepper on cucumber.

Stack the other half of the bread slices with spread sides down over the cucumber slices to make sandwiches.

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Hamburger Seasoning

Use this on burgers, chicken, or whatever you need to step up the flavor level on.


1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients together. Sprinkle seasoning on burgers before cooking. Store in an airtight container.

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All That Jazz Creole and Cajun Blast Seasoning

This spice blend has all the flavors of traditional Cajun seasoning, but with less salt than commercial brands.

1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients.
Store in an airtight container.

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Montreal Steak Seasoning


2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Cook peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill seeds, and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and beginning to pop, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush, or transfer to a sturdy resealable plastic bag and coarsely crush with the bottom of a heavy skillet. Add salt, garlic, and chile flakes and crush to combine.

Spice rub can be made 1 month ahead. Store in an airtight container.

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Egg Drop Soup

One of the simplest soups one can make, this remains one of my all time favorites.

Egg Drop Soup

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
2 teaspoons water (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 drop yellow food coloring (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Bring to a boil.

Stir together the cornstarch and water to dissolve cornstarch; pour into the boiling broth.

Stir gently while you pour in the egg and yellow food coloring if using.

Season with chives, salt and pepper before serving.

Egg Drop Soup

Egg Drop Soup

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