French Lentil Salad with Feta, Cranberries, and Pecans

I have added this to my favorite lentil dishes. I recently bought French green lentils that had a recipe on the back of the package. I altered the list of ingredients to exchange pecans for the requested walnuts. We have access to wonderful local pecans, fresh at this time of year, so I enjoy using them in many dishes. We enjoy this with crackers or crusty bread for a light lunch.

French Lentil Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Pecans

1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed well

2 cups water

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped or left in halves

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijo mustard

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put lentils and water in a heavy saucepan, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot to cool. While lentils are cooling, whisk dressing ingredients together. Slowly drizzle over lentils, add salt and pepper, and toss with diced onion. Top with cranberries, feta, and pecans.  Serve as is in a small bowl, or on a plate of torn greens.

 

 

 

 

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Cranberry Ricotta Scones

cranberryricottasconesIn 1991 while traveling in Scotland, we stopped at a Tea Room. The rustic crispiness of these scones reminds me of  200 year old Shore Cottage Tearoom in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Lily McNaught, her daughters, and granddaughters baked sweets and treats. Thanks to online information, I see that Shore Cottage is still there but not as a “Tea Room” – the ladies moved the business to The Robins Nest on Main Street, Taynuilt and guess what – the Lunch, the Teas, the Cakes, everything is just as it was. This is not one of their recipes, but my granddaughter Maddie and I baked them together. Surely Miss Lily approves.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter,  cut into tiny pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (Whole Milk) Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 cup cranberries, fresh, roughly chopped

 

Whisk the following together to brush over scones before baking

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon milk or water

extra sugar to sprinkle over top.

 

Orange Glaze

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes then, using two forks or a pastry cutter, quickly work it into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and milk. Add to flour and butter mixture and use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  5. Add in the chopped cranberries and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer them to the prepared sheet. Leave an inch or so between each scone as they do spread a little.
  7. Lightly brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool scones on the pan for 10 minutes, then top with glaze and serve warm.
  9. For the glaze:
  10. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, zest, salt, and confectioners sugar. Drizzle over warm scones and serve at once.

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

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Years ago, my sister sent me a recipe for bread pudding which I believe she found in the Austin Statesman. I added cranberries and our family raved about it. I do not think I ever made bread pudding before that, but have certainly made up for it since. This has become a keeper, a favorite, a lovely holiday tradition for the Parker kitchen. I have mentioned it before on Kitchen Keepers, but it deserves a stand alone post. I served it this week at our family Christmas dinner.  it is also a favorite guilty pleasure served for next morning’s breakfast or brunch if there are any leftovers!

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

1 pound French bread loaf, plain

1 quart half and half

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

1½cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons almond extract

¾  cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dried cranberries

Tear french bread loaf into bite-sized pieces, place in a medium size bowl Pour quart of half and half over bread and soak for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 325 and butter a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 stick of melted butter, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 3 eggs. Then stir in 2 tablespoons almond extract,  3/4 cups sliced almonds, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Pour soaked bread pieces into buttered baking dish and add almond/ cranberry mixture over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until it is turning golden brown on top. While it is cooking, make Amaretto Sauce:

Amaretto Sauce

½ cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 egg

¼ cup Amaretto

Cook 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until hot. Allow the sugar mixture to cool to room temperature.

Whisk in 1 egg and 1/4 cup Amaretto.  After the bread pudding is cooked, slice it lengthwise and crosswise in the baking dish. Spoon sauce mixture over the top. Then, put the pudding back into the oven under the broiler until the sauce bubbles. WATCH CAREFULLY! It is really easy to burn the top of the pudding at the end. It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.

It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.   For individual servings, cut pudding into squares, place one at a time on oven proof dessert dish, spoon sauce over top and broil briefly as with whole pudding.

Cranberry Breakfast Pie

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I had never heard of a Cranberry Breakfast Pie, much less baked one until I decided to try one more cranberry recipe to use the rest of my batch of fresh cranberries. Now, it has become one of my favorite cranberry dishes. This pie was delicious for breakfast, but would make a wonderful dessert with a bit of vanilla ice cream, or a welcome offering to serve with coffee anytime. Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used, but fresh is always best. I discovered the recipe on The Texas HIll Country website, which reports it is served at  The Seasons Bed and Breakfast in Tyler, Texas, which is the area where I was born and grew up.

Cranberry Breakfast Pie

3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, sorted, and drained dry

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

2 eggs

1 tablespoon orange flavored liqueur

1 Tablespoon fresh orange zest

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 cup flour

Instructions:

Butter and flour a deep 10-inch pie plate. Place cranberries in the bottom of prepared dish. Sprinkle with pecans and ½ cup sugar.

In mixing bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, liqueur or juice, orange zest, sugar, and flour. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over cranberries. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean and top is golden brown. Cool pie on a wire rack.

Cranberry Christmas Tea Cake

 

IMG_3801 When fresh cranberries begin appearing in the markets every year sometime before Thanksgiving, I usually buy several pounds because we have so many favorite ways to use them – whole berry sauces, in bars and cookies, relishes, and hot salads. I love their color, the way they heap up, glistening, in a colander or on a cutting board.  They are beautiful to work with, if a little frisky to chop!  But I like most the delicious foods prepared with them, plus the good nutrition they offer. This year I made a tea bread, beautiful in its simplicity and dusted with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I even love the plate, one my sister gave me along with its companion book, A Cup of Christmas Tea. The title is on the plate under the cake!.

Yields 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped (fresh or dried)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • powdered sugar, garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy. 4-5 minutes.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Alternate between adding 1/3 cup of dry ingredients and 1-2 tablespoons buttermilk. Begin and end with flour mixture.
  6. Gently fold in chopped cranberries and pour batter into loaf pans.
  7. Place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, then sift powdered sugar on top and enjoy! (But one of our loaves disappeared while it was still warm!)

 

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

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Our church Thanksgiving dinner is tonight. Turkeys and pans of dressing are volunteered for and prepared ahead of time, but those attending (it is one of our congregations favorite functions all year) bring salads, vegetables, and desserts.  I am bringing 2 salads.  One is Caprese in a bowl using the last of the season’s basil leaves along with c herry tomatoes and tiny mozarella balls. The other salad is a hot salad, one of our favorite dishes this time of year.  I first found a similar recipe in a church cookbook given to us by friends from that church many years ago.  It can be found with many variations online, but this is my old, tried and true way to make it.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

21/2 c.whole washed cranberries
3 c. chopped apples, no need to peel
1 c. sugar
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
In an 8X10 inch baking pan,.mix together apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture of oats, brown sugar, and nuts over top. Cut pats of butter to dot over all. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Serve warm.

 

Cranberry Orange Smoothie

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This is hands down my favorite smoothie of all the new ones we have tried!  I have never bought frozen cranberries before, but will keep them in the freezer now. I love adding fresh oranges. The combination of flavors is full of flavor and blends so well with Almond Coconut Milk and Greek yogurt.

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Cranberry Orange Smoothie

1 cup almond coconut milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt, not low-fat)
2/3 cup frozen cranberries
2 oranges, peeled, segmented, and seeded
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
Combine the almond milk, yogurt, cranberries, oranges and maple syrup in the blender.

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Cranberry Orange Butter

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We were so blessed to have every one of our sons, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters at Thanksgiving dinner this year!  I smile when I remember our first Thanksgiving after we were married (1964).  We were far away from family, living in Oregon, and I tried my hand at roasting a duck!  I have not put a duck on the table again in 50 years!  We had cranberry sauce, right out of the Ocean Spray can, just like my mother always did it.

As years went by, I learned how much better cranberry sauce that I made on top of my own stove tasted.  When our boys were growing up (and again now with our grandchildren) we enjoyed the children’s book Cranberry Thanksgiving, and added Cranberry Bread to our Thanksgiving favorites. When dried cranberries became available I found dozens of ways to use them, often subbing them for raisins in old recipes. This year we found a new treat with our old friend the cranberry, Cranberry Orange Butter.  It is not just for a holiday table.  It is wonderful added to pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal!

Cranberry Orange Butter

8 ounces butter softened (I used Kerrygold Irish but

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries

zest of 1 orange

Let butter soften at room temperature, do not microwave. Place butter in bowl with cranberries and orange zest and blend with the back of a spoon until well mixed. Spread a large piece of plastic wrap out on the counter and put dollops of the mixture in a line. Roll into a log by holding the sides up and pulling back and forth, then with fingertips roll and smooth slightly.  Wrap with plastice wrap and place on a cookie sheet that will fit on a shelf of your refrigerator.  As soon as the butter hardens into shape, you can remove the cookie sheet and store the butter overnight or loinger.  When ready to serve, slice into rounds and place into butter plate or dish along with a butter knife or tongs.  Halve this recipe if you wish.  The smaller size roll is easier to shape.

Instead of cranberries, try freshly zested lemon,  chopped fresh rosemary or other herbs, or make a sweetened butter with a spoon or two of mashed raspberries or a spoon of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Kale with Raisins and Orange Peel

002I used Ruffled Kale for the dish shown in the above photo, but this recipe works equally well with Swiss Chard or collard greens.  These are all nutrient rich foods which we need to include and adding tang and sweetness with oranges and raisins offers a smorgasbord of rich flavor.  Topping with toasted pine nuts adds texture and more temptation for the taste buds!  Other variations include using dried cranberries (think Christmas!)  instead of raisins, and topping with toasted pecans or walnuts.  This dish goes well with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin.

I adapted this recipe from one of the most beautiful cookbooks in my kitchen:  The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances and Edward Mayes.  It features photographs by Steven Rothfeld that make you want to cook every recipe in the book!

Kale with Raisins and Orange Peel

1/2 cup raisins

2 Tablespoons orange liqueur (may substitute orange juice)

1 large bunch of kale

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried orange peel.  I use Penzey’s.  You may use instead the peel of  a fresh orange, cut into small strips.

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts.

Soak raisins for 15 minutes in orange liqueur or orange juice.  Wash kale leaves, then cut or strip the tough stem ends.  Slice leaves coarsely.  Heat olive oil and stir in chopped onions.  Cook until onions begin to turn translucent, then add kale and cook, tossing together until leaves are tender and wilted.  Add orange peel, raisins, including liquid, and cook covered for 2 or 3 minutes.  Top with pine nuts and serve.

Serves 4

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

 

 

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Although temperatures have only slightly dropped from triple digit summer heat, this time of year begins to whisper that Fall is just around the corner, and around here that means pumpkins!  Last year one of my Kitchen Keeper posts was titled Pumpkin Everything*  so it is not surprising we begin to make pumpkin bread and muffins as well as pies, cornbread and pumpkin bread pudding.  Thanksgiving 2012 I made a tasty pumpkin soup, and we have already decided that this wild rice dish will be part of our 2013 holiday table. It combines flavors that just sing Happy Thanksgiving:  green onions, celery, cranberries, and of course, pumpkin. It can be made ahead which is a bonus as well.

Very easy to prepare and ranking high in both nutrition and flavor, Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette is one more way to love cooking with pumpkins!  I like to double the vinaigrette ingredients so that I have leftover dressing to use for a spinach salad or chopped romaine with apples.  More than a side dish, this is a wonderful main dish that you can add to with some grilled chicken strips. This one truly is a Kitchen Keeper.

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (6 oz.) box long-grain and wild rice mix
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
  2. Prepare rice according to package directions; let cool completely (about 25 minutes). Stir in cranberries, celery, green onions, and toasted pecans.
  3. Whisk together canned pumpkin, next 5 ingredients, and 2 T. water. Gradually whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended.
  4. Pour vinaigrette over rice mixture; stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living, November 2009