I make these sparkly little berries almost every winter for holiday festivities. They are a delightful burst of sweetness and tartness. Sugared cranberries dress up any party spread and compliment so many different flavors. There’s still time to make these for New Year’s! They take a while because they soak for a few hours in syrup, but the hands-on time is only about 10 minutes. You make simple syrup with water and sugar, and a little added flavor from ginger. This syrup can be re-used to make multiple batches of cranberries. It can also be used in mixed drinks. It turns a cheery bright pink color and has a hint of cranberry flavor. This year, my friend Stephen improvised a super delicious and therefore dangerous mixed drink with the leftover syrup. He calls it “Cranberry ginger fizz,” and I’ve shared the ingredients below.
Recipes after the jump!
I unexpectedly learned many ways to prepare wood ears (also called black fungus and cloud fungus) when my husband decided to rehydrate a whole package of them, not realizing it would turn into about half a gallon of shiny ear-shaped fungus! My affection for wood ears began one day in the office breakroom, when my colleague, “Sunshine,” was eating one of her many delicious smelling homemade lunches. I asked her about it and she told me the ingredients in her stir fry. She offered a wood ear for me to try. It tasted of the soy sauce and vegetables in her dish and had the texture of thin rubber, but in a really fun way!
At the end of the growing season I am always left with a ton of basil. A great way to preserve the leaves is to keep them in the fridge, covered in olive oil and salt. They will keep for many months this way. I use them in any cooked dish that won’t mind a little extra oil. They are great in a stir fry, mixed with roasted meat and veggies, or in one my favorite dishes, Ezekiel’s chicken.
Deb’s decadent hot chocolate mix lives up to its name. It gets the decadence from using dark chocolate in addition to cocoa powder. The dark chocolate is ground in a food processor or finely chopped so that it perfectly melts when you add hot milk. It’s not too sweet so you can really taste the chocolate, and it has a thick and creamy texture. I expect nothing less from Deb of Smitten Kitchen. She is my favorite food blogger and taste bud kindred spirit. This hot chocolate mix is definitely gift worthy and takes about 10 minutes to make. Deb has some ideas for cute packaging and mixing in other flavors on her site.
Did you know you can save up food scraps and make a killer broth out of them? We’ve made a habit out of keeping a freezer bag for scraps we would otherwise throw out: bones, shells, carrot peels, celery butts, onion skins and pieces, and herb stems. These are all the ingredients needed to make a delicious stock. Obviously, stock tastes like what you put in it. You can mix it up as much as you want or try to stick with a theme, such as seafood stock with shrimp shells, fish bones, and complimentary herb stems. Or you could take a traditional chicken, carrot, celery, onion, and herbs approach. The finished stock is tasty enough to drink hot and seasoned with salt and pepper. You can also use it as a base for miso soup or other kinds of soup, or use in any recipe that calls for stock.
This lovely recipe consists of chicken smeared with a salty, umami mix of miso paste, honey, butter, and rice vinegar, and roasted with whatever veggies you have on hand. This time, I used broccoli and little red potatoes. It is such an easy, healthy, and delicious meal, it has become a regular at our dinner table. Or dinner bar to be more accurate, since we usually eat at our gorgeous live edge pecan bar.
My name is Hillary. This blog is about the everyday food I prepare in my kitchen, with tips and recipes for easy, wholesome, and diet friendly meals. I have been chanting "cheese please!" since I was a toddler, although lately I've cut back on dairy.