No matter how prepared I think I am for Christmas, I inevitably find myself pulling together at least a few last minute gifts. When there's no time left to shop - I head to my kitchen for gift inspiration.
What better way to say "Merry Christmas" than with a batch of snowy White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins? Whip up a batch of these tasty muffins and pass them out to a deserving teacher, a friendly neighbor, a helpful friend or a stressed out co-worker.
White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
Spoon into well greased mini muffin tins. Bake 5 minutes at 425. Turn oven down to 350 and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.
Allow muffins to cool on wire racks.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
I do a lot of online shopping at Christmas time and our delivery drivers (USPS, Fed Ex and UPS) not only have to make frequent stops at my house in December, they also have to endure the antics of a very rambunctious Weimaraner. I feel like I need to thank these tireless delivery drivers so I may just have to prepare a little bucket of treats to leave outside my door this week. I saw this idea on Pinterest.
If I tuck in a few of my White Chocolate Cranberry Muffins - my bucket will be complete. Now all I have to figure out is how to keep the dog OUT of the treat bucket.
I think that all of the busyness of the Christmas season has caught up with me. I was so busy with birthday preparations, getting the house decorated and catering orders that I only managed to fix dinner - 1 day last week! I share that somewhat embarrassing confession with you just to let you know that we ALL get overwhelmed and overloaded during the holidays - especially food bloggers.
Don't worry about my dietary requirements though - we managed to survive on a smoked chicken that I picked up from our favorite BBQ restaurant and a batch of vegetarian chili from the freezer.
This week - I'm determined to do better about getting home cooked meals on the table. Hello trusty slow cooker.
Ben and I both like pulled pork but it doesn't ever seem practical to make an entire pork shoulder for just two people. As luck would have it - I found a boneless pork shoulder that was a little over a pound at my local meat market last week. That is the perfect size for the two of us - with leftovers for lunch the next day.
Finding a pork shoulder made for two was the perfect excuse to try out my new recipe for Slow Cooker Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce. I put the pork in the slow cooker before we left for church on Sunday morning and it made a delicious dinner.
Slow Cooker Pork with Peach Barbecue Sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 pound pork shoulder
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup molasses
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 cups sliced red onion
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Drizzle sauce over pork and onions.
I was really frustrated with myself over this meal because I drastically overcooked the pork. I cooked my 1.5 pound boneless pork shoulder for 6 hours - big mistake. I adjusted the recipe to say 4 hours but that is really just my best guess at this point. The flavor of the meat was really good and I will definitely try this recipe again - with a shorter cooking time.
Anyone else have a list of mystery foods? The things that you like to eat when you're out at a restaurant but have never even considered preparing for yourself at home? My list of mystery foods include things like conch, tamales, ceviche and plantains.
As of today, I'm moving one of my mystery foods out of the mystery category and into the "attempted" category. I was so clueless about plantains that before I even attempted to buy a plantain, I had to google "buying plantains."
Baked Coconut Plantains
2 ripe plantains, diagonally sliced
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400. Lay plantains on a greased baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.
Roast 30 minutes or until lightly golden on bottom. Turn halfway through baking.
Place under boiler until deep golden brown - if necessary.
My only regret about this recipe is that I didn't make nearly enough. These baked plantains were sooooo good that I ate them all in less than 10 minutes. Seriously - I only saved 1 for Ben to taste and I ate the rest all by myself.
These plantains are best eaten while they were warm - not that I had any trouble gobbling them up as soon as I pulled them out of the oven. I think you'll agree - they are delicious. Take my word for it - double the recipe and make extra - you'll be glad you did.
With Christmas quickly sneaking up on me - I'm thankful to have a few great side dish recipes in my back pocket that look just as great sitting on my holiday table as they taste. Roasted Butternut Squash with Sticky Walnut Topping is exactly that - a vegetable side dish that tastes as good as it looks! It looks elegant and fancy and it tastes scrumptious but more importantly - it's super easy to put together. Just the recipe that I need when I'm trying to pull together an entire holiday meal.
I'm a big fan of squash but I know that not everyone shares my love for the gourd family. I think that I might just be able to change the mind of some non-squash lovers with this scrumptious recipe though. I'm fairly certain that I could eat a piece of cardboard if I put this sticky walnut topping on it. It really is THAT good.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Sticky Walnut Topping
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 butternut squash, halved lengthwise
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Spoon walnut mixture over squash and serve.
I didn't peel my squash first but it you wanted to serve it to guests who may not be aware that you shouldn't eat the peel, you may want to do it ahead of time. I also didn't have any fresh sage on hand so I used dried sage instead. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried sage is all you need to replace the 2 T. of fresh sage in this recipe. I also think it would be fun to experiment with other fresh herbs. Enjoy!
When Cooking Light magazine publishes a recipe for a vegetable skillet lasagna - I feel compelled to try it. I love lasagna - I'm obsessed with vegetables and EVERYONE loves dinners that you can make in a single pan. I made a few modifications to the original recipe but I definitely have to give a shout out to Cooking Light for the inspiration behind this amazing meal.
I'm not sure that I would give this meal "guilt free eating" status but I do love the 21 grams of protein in this lasagna. I also love the nutritional boost and from all the vegetables.
Just in case your curious ... this is the nutritional information on this recipe.
Calories 384 Fiber 7g
Fat 15g Sugars 5 g
Satfat 5g Added Sugars 0g
Unsatfat 9g Sodium 548 mg
Protein 21g Calcium 39% DV
Carbohydrate 44g Potassium 17% DV
Skillet Vegetable Lasagna
2 Tablespoons oil
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4" thick slices
1 1/2 cups onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
4 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 1/2 no boil lasagna noodles
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Sprinkle mozzarella over lasagna and broil until lightly browned.
You probably noticed from the pictures that I didn't follow my own recipe exactly. I didn't have a can on crushed tomatoes on hand but I did have an opened jar of marinara that I had to use up soooo I decided to substitute. I poured the marinara over the zucchini and then I opened a can of diced tomatoes to pour over the noodles. I really should have drained my tomatoes though because it added a little too much liquid to my lasagna. I ended up simmering it - with the lid OFF - for an additional 15 minutes to get some of the liquid to evaporate.
I would say that this recipe was a success. Ben had 3 helpings!!! In the world of me - that is a big compliment. This one is definitely going to be on our short list of quick and easy dinners. I'll just have to keep a can of crushed tomatoes on hand!
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