Warm Cranberry Pudding Deep Dish Pancakes With Pomegranate Crunch
A warm cup of tea and a good conversation with a friend always makes me smile. Hopefully my blogs will make you smile too!
Mom says just when you think a family favorite dish is perfected don't underestimate the delight of an inspired twist.
Warm Cranberry Pudding Deep Dish Pancakes With Pomegranate Crunch
Years ago when my daughters were quite young we making homemade cranberry sauce and it was nearly a disaster. The sauce didnt set up properly but tasted delicious. I pureed it in my Vitamix then added some tapioca pearls and brought it to a gentle boil. The end result was amazing and we've been hooked on cranberry pudding ever since!
So for the next 15 years we've also used the cranberry pudding as a base for our deep dish pancake. This is a simple but satisfying breakfast while we sit in our jammies and watch the Macys parade before the holiday festivities create a flurry of activity in our household. It was a calm, loving start to a day focused on the things we are most thankful for.
Today my daughter and I were making it for breakfast and as my daughter was putting away the left over pudding (we have enough for breakfast tomorrow, YUM!) she noticed we still had pomegranates left so we decided to add some to the top. I dusted is with some sugar and the result is somewhat indescribable. It's the perfect marriage of tart and sweetness with tender and crunchy. This is definitely the way we will make these for years to come...until some other inspired twist becomes our new favorite.
French Style Onion Soup
French onion soup is a classic. All warm and packed with flavor topped with toasted bread and cheese. But I must admit I love to deviate from the classic recipe now and again. Some days I am not in the mood for cheese so I will top with croutons or have a side salad instead.
Regardless of what flavors you use I find ising my crock pot is the easiest way to make this classic soup.
1 large sweet onion
4 Tablespoons butter or 1/4 cup garlic olive oil
2 teaspoons Mrs Dash
1 1/2 teaspoon herb d'provence
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon pepper
2 large cubes bullion cubes*
1/2 cup wine*
4 cups stock*
Sometimes I use chicken bullion, white wine, and chicken stock. Other times I use beef bullion, red wine, and beef stock. Both are delicious but I find the chicken version to be a little lighter and the beef one to be a bit richer. And yes, you can add bullion to 4 cups of water in place of the stock.
If I am really being indulgent I'll use Better Than Bullion Lobster bullion and Bar Harbor Foods Lobster Juice. Then I will top it with garlic toasted sour dough bread smothered in brie and place delicate bits of loster claw meat on it before I broil it carefully. Luckily Bar Harbor Foods has canned lobster meat that is better in both flavor and freshness than some lobster I've eaten in restaurants!
Of course you can always choose to use vegetable bullion, beer, and vegetable broth too. That's what I love about cooking. I am in complete control of the delicious flavor I crave at any particular moment.
To make this simply slice the onion and place in a crock pot add butter and seasonings into crock pot and cook on high for one hour. This allows the onions to absorb flavors from the bullion and carmelize with absolutely no effort required.
After about 90 minutes
Add wine and the stock. Then cook on high another hour. Top with toasted bread and cheese if desired. But truly this soup stands alone quite well.
Please let me know if you like this recipe by commenting here or on my other social media
A good day starts with a great breakfast. Apricot oatmeal, fruit salad, orange juice, and a nice cup of tea is one of my favorite weekday breakfasts.
Serving it in fine china makes me sit down and enjoy it with a smile which is essential for me to have a sense of peace and calmness on a busy day.
Remembering that life is precious and needs to be savored is an important concept I try to remain mindful of. Fine dining at breakfast reminds me that I have been blessed with a fresh new day to bring a smile to someone in need, take a brave, bold step towards building the life purpose and meaning as I pursue my loftiest dreams.
So if you don't already do so plan a nice way to start your day and make today your best day yet!
Thinking for yourself
The ability to think for yourself and not simply allow someone to orchestrate your thoughts is something I treasure. In todays world where we are bombarded with the opinions of talk show hosts, politicians, celebrities, family, friends, facebook, other social media, and news sources it's a wonder we even get out of bed in the morning to face it all. But I believe, now more than ever, it is essential we actively strive to think for ourselves and not absorb the thoughts and opinions of others seemlessly into our individual minds.
Simply ask any parent who has embraced their role in raising another human being seriously rather than just feed and clothe them and they will tell you how incredibly difficult it is and how much it changes you in the process. Things you never thought of become increasingly important. Things you thought were critically important seem to diminish. You worry about more things and wonder about the magesty of life and the future world your child will make their way in one day. Sometimes you want to shelter your kids from the pain and hardship of the outside world. Then there are times you want them to feel free to run about and explore it in wild abandon. Life is an exhuberant mixture of confusion, exhileration, hard work, laughter, and love. If you are lucky you smile more than you cry and love more than you ever thought possible.
I have been blessed being raised in a family filled with love and laughter. I was raised with the freedom and confidence to explore the world in its entirety. To believe in the notion that the universe offered infinite possibilities and endless opportunities for me to explore with my mind, body, and spirit.
It's how we've raised our kids. Now, more than ever, I am thankful we raised our kids to be thinkers rather than arbitrarily following the path that someone else lays out for them. Given the emmense challenges we face as a nation and the intense bombardment we endure from multiple sources it is easy to get caught up in how we "should" think and feel on critical issues. We are told we are racist if we voted for Trump, an idiot if we voted for Hillary, homophobic if we dont support same sex marriage, and xenophobes if we don't embrace someone else's views. The list of labels that will get attached to us if we venture to speak can render us mute. If our voices are muted out of fear our mind begins to deteriorate. We become afraid to disagree in our speech and that leads to fear to disagree in our thoughts and squelches our inquisitive mind.
Our children were exposed to a lot of liberal mindsets in school and in the community we live in. My husband and I tend to be more conservative in our approach to politics but did not want to force our kids to do as we or think as we think. We saw the intrinsic value in nourishing their own thoughts. As our kids grew up we exposed them to a variety of perspectives rather than keep them sheltered in our singular perspective. We had great discussions with them over diverse political, social, family, and personal issues. We gave them our perspective, of course, but we also tried to honestly convey the opposing perspective too. We did not want them simply pick up the cloak of our faith or our political mindset and adopt it as their own. We encouraged them to research and think on their own and made them feel comfortable to explore other perspectives, religions, etc. We made them feel safe to discuss their thoughts on their journey to form their own opinions. We assured them that changing your closely held opinion because you acquired new information or insight was a good thing and changing it arbitrarily was a bad thing. We raised them in a God centered, loving, and conservative household because it reflected our values. We raised them with the caveat that they needed to respect our values even if they did not embrace our values just like we would respect their values even if we did not embrace them. We could not control their individual choices of what to value and what to disregard but we each needed to live an authentic life true to our individual values and trust that sharing our true selves with one another without fear was the purest definition of love.
I have known many families who have told their kids if you vote for (fill in the blank) I will disown you. I have been told to cut off family ties because someone announced they loved someone of the same sex. I have been told that someone abusing their spouse, child, or animal is none of my business and shouldn't change my desire to invite them into my home for dinner. I have been told that I should tolerate someone condemning me for my beliefs yet still respect respect them for their beliefs. Somehow in all the craziness of the world we managed to raise two intelligent and dynamic daughters who can and do think for themselves and in so doing cause Joe and I to think we did a pretty amazing job raising them.
I would like to think I taught my children well and gave them the tools to navigate a complex changing world using compassion, wisdom, and love. But, truth be told, my kids have taught me much more than I have ever imagined they could and far more than I could ever hope to teach them.
Raising my children to be strong independant thinkers has at times been extremely frustrating and difficult. But seeing them be able to think for themselves make me less fearful of the harsh realities of a troubled world and focus more on the tremendous good I see in people who think differently than I do.
Now off to bake something wonderful!
Orange Kale Slaw
Today I was using this as a side salad to my lunch but I will make this again for an easy weekday lunch by simply adding a delicious lean protein such as a bit of shrimp or diced chicken breast.
All of the products I mentioned I keep in my very ample pantry and I encourage you to consider adding them to your kitchen pantry as well. Should you need help tweaking the recipe or substituting other ingredients please drop me a line as I am always eager to help you cook up something wonderful in your own kitchen too with whatever ingredients you might have on hand already.
A few weeks ago I tried a demo of a frozen pizza at my local warehouse big box store. I am not a big consumer of frozen foods but I thought this one was pretty good. It was supposedly a healthier version that the other brands offered. I remember reading the nutrition information they had pre-printed and was surprised that it wasn't too bad. Well today we changed our lunch plans and I decided that the pizza would be quick and easy lunch.
I began cooking my pizza knowing that it would be a bit higher than my delicious scratch made pizza but would still me a fairly good choice that wouldn't put me over my target calorie goal for the day. As it was cooking I impatiently peered at it through the glass door of my Advantium oven. Somehow it did not seem to be topped with quite as many veggies as the little topping rich sample I had in the store. But, I was still hopeful that it would be just as tasty.
I carefully removed it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes on the little cardboard disk that had previously held the frozen pizza. I cut the pizza into wedges and poured a bubbling glass of diet tonic water and cranberry juice. I ate the pizza and logged into my account at MyFitnessPal.com to enter it into my diary. Then the reality of what I had just done began to sink in.
Apparently the nutrition information I had read in the store inaccurately stated the portion size. According to the package I had just ingested 80% of my allotted calories for the day with this one foolish food choice.
To add salt to my wound my homemade pizza is a slightly larger serving but has only 1/4th the calories and infinitely more flavor.
Click here for my recipe.
So the lesson I learned today is that I really should continue to stay out of
the frozen foods department and prepare my own homemade ready to bake pizzas to be stored in my freezer.
I hate to waste food but I doubt that I will be eating the last remaining frozen pizza anytime soon. If I am going to splurge and consume almost 1000 calories at a sitting rest assured that I will be eating something a lot more enjoyable than a frozen heat and eat pizza.
This morning I left the house earlier than usual to meet a new-found friend for a walk before heading to work. Living in the wine country north of San Francisco has many advantages. I love being close enough to enjoy all the trappings of a spectacular city yet able to take a stroll and feel like I am in the middle of an old country farm complete with chickens, cows and sheep. The vineyards, forests, hillsides, and coastal cliffs are not bad either.
Starting my day off strolling in the countryside rejuvenated my spirit and rekindled my desire to live a healthier lifestyle. Walking among the gardens and apple orchards while seeing horses, sheep, and other wildlife reconnects me to all the important things in my life and forces me to drop all of the stresses that a busy life can cause me to hang on to needlessly.
I had so much fun this weekend that I failed to prep my lunch last night and was too focused on meeting my friend to make it this morning. I decided to throw some bananas, strawberries, and ginger into a bag so I could make a smoothie for breakfast and planned on just picking something up for lunch vowing that I would do a better job tomorrow.
As I started driving to work after my walk I felt so energized that I decided to pick up a few items at the store so I could make a quickie soup for lunch later in the day. This way I would not be tempted by the assortment of 1000 calorie lunches that surround my office. Over the weekend I had purchased a new magic bullet blender for my kitchen and had placed my old one in my car to take to the office. At the store I simply picked up some roma tomatoes, bell peppers, kale and some small single serve cans of spicy V-8 juice and found it surprisingly easy to resist all of the temptations that were before me.
My fruit smoothie was delicious but did not compare to the heavenly flavor achieved in my simply delightful soup. I blended the tomatoes, peppers, and V-8 juice together then added a bit of kale that I pulsed until smooth but not thoroughly blended. I knew the soup would be tasty but I had relatively low expectations because I did not take the time to break out the George Foreman grill I keep tucked in my cabinet at work. I poured my soup into a microwave safe bowl and zapped it until warm.
Now I must confess I make an awesome roasted red pepper soup but this quickie soup was every bit as flavorful. Using the spicy V-8 juice added a wonderful flavor dimension that made up for the non-roasted veggies.
Usually, I take pictures of my food to include in my blogs but since I did not anticipate writing this blog all I can post a picture of is a bowl and spoon that have been licked clean! Maybe tomorrow I will be able to snap a few pictures to add and post the precise recipe too. For now, I am so happy that I went for a walk and am still on track to live a healthy lifestyle that will motivate and encourage me to repeat my good choices tomorrow.
As you might imagine I love to eat. Most often the most delightful and enjoyable dishes come from my own kitchen or that of some very dear friends who share my passion for quality ingredients prepared with love.
Therefore, most of the times when I eat in a restaurant it is because of circumstances or convenience. Rarely, do I have the privilege or pleasure of enjoying a meal out that makes me smile from ear to ear. Let alone, take the time to write a blog about it. But all of that changed when my family stopped in for a late night dinner at Joe's Crab Shack.
My husband loves crab. So, after a long drive from our home in Northern CA to Disneyland, it is our preferred late night dinner destination. Generally, I find their clam chowder and crab stuffed mushrooms is the perfect meal before settling into our hotel for a good night's sleep.
All of that changed when I opened the menu and discovered Lobster and Shrimp Pot Pies were being featured. I ordered it with what I must confess were relatively low expectations. I thought that it would be a nice change of pace and that I would probably make a really good version of the dish when I returned home.
When the dish arrived it was beautifully presented. A lobster claw stood upright rising through the piping hot crust. It looked wonderful but I wrongly assumed that the lobster claw would be the only lobster I would find in the dish.
I carefully removed the meat and broke it into bite sized pieces to mix in with my pie. As I began eating the pot pie I soon realized that the filling contained an abundance of both shrimp and lobster. Furthermore, fresh rosemary infused the crust and transformed a plain crust into something that awakened my taste buds after a seven hour drive fueled by an assortment of snacks.
A few moments later our friendly and proficient waitress Diana appeared to see if we were enjoying our meal and needed anything else. By now I was fully awake and savoring every mouthful. I told her how absolutely delighted I was by the scrumptious dish I was enjoying. Thankfully, the restaurant was beginning to wind down for the night so the other patrons did not complain as I occupied so much of her time expressing my enthusiastic review of my meal.
By now my entire family knew what would happen next. I had to order the S'mores Cake that combined a chocolate cake with the traditional campfire treat. The warm toasted marshmallows, melted chocolate, graham crackers, and chocolate cake was the perfect way to end our dinner.
The highest compliment I can give the chef who prepared our meal was that I would not change a single thing when I recreate this dish in my kitchen. It is my hope and dream that this item will become a regular item at home on their daily menu. Just in case it remains a seasonal item, please make a point to visit your local Joe's Crab Shack and tell them Mom sent you!
And if you happen to be in the LA area be sure to visit the Joe's Crab Shack located at 12011 Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove, CA and say "Hi!" to Diana. The window proclaims that there will be "Free Crab Tomorrow!" but service with a smile and steaming hot seafood will be your reward today!
An Accidental Soup
Every once in a while I throw something together quickly in the kitchen without really giving it much thought and a new favorite is created.
That is what happened today. I made a delightfully creamy potato soup with crispy bacon bits along with steamed spinach and kale swirled in to add texture and color.
Well, the real reason I added the greens were less about their flavor enhancing properties and more about the fact that my vegetable bin was curiously devoid of baby carrots this morning. I have come to expect that my refrigerator magically contains and unending supply of my favorite fruits and vegetables just waiting for me to make a smoothy, salad, soup, or sauce. In reality, the magician that keeps my fruit and vegetable bins filled to the brim is my wonderful husband who works at a grocery store.
On a cold rainy day in Northern California this soup was the creamy warm comfort I needed. I paired it with some soft french bread slathered with sweet creamy butter. Sometimes the best surprises in life start out as an unexpected twist or turn in the road. If I had not decided to forge ahead with my desire to make a creamy potato soup despite the obstacle that one of my favorite key ingredients to the soup I have come to love was absent I would not have created a soup that had me nearly licking the bowl. Luckily I had some french bread to wipe the bowl clean so I could appear somewhat civilized while dining at my desk.
Reflecting on my empty yet somewhat pristine bowl I realize that my soup adventure is a metaphor for my life. It's wonderful to have a goal or a mission, such as making potato soup, but being able to deviate from your plan when circumstance change and make the best with the opportunities that are readily available will yield a life that exceeds your wildest expectations.
So, next time I am frustrated at the obstacles before me I will remember the valuable lesson I learned from a quietly unassuming bowl of soup.
Lavender Rose Petal Scones
A sweet friend brought me back some lavender sugar from the fields in Hawaii and it inspired me to make something wonderful. As I began to ponder the possibilities I thought that scones would be the perfect carrier of the delicate floral flavor.
Just like a bouquet is beautifully complimented by blending a well chosen variety of flowers, foods can often be improved by blending flavors together as well. The more I thought about it the more I settled on the notion that the perfect pairing would be flavors lavender and roses. Although lavender can be found in the spice aisles of most grocery stores culinary roses are more difficult to come by if you don't have them growing in your own organic garden.
I did not want a crumbly scone that would over power the delicate floral flavors and fragrances. Simply mixing the flowers into a scone dough would not yield the results I wanted to achieve. Although I wanted the floral notes to take center stage I did not want to create the flavor with rose water or flavored extracts.
I also wanted a scone that had a crunch on the outside but was soft on the inside unlike most of the scone I have eaten in the past. Thankfully, the technique I settled on maximized the flavor and enhanced the texture at the same time.
I made an infused whipped cream by combining lavender with some heavy cream in my Magic Bullet mini processor for about 10 seconds. I also picked the most fragrant rose petals and made a second batch of rose infused whipped cream. I let both of these rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours before making the scones. I made the creams separately so I could better control the floral blending when mixing the scones. In the end I used about a 50/50 blend of the creams but I am still glad I did not make just one infused cream.
The velvet texture of the red roses combined with the decision to use whipped cream instead of it's liquid equivalent created the single best scone recipe I have ever eaten. It was golden brown and crusty on the outside thanks to the lavender sugar I sprinkled on top before baking. The inside was flaky in places yet still had some large moist crumbs. It was as if the large moist crumbs were held in place by hugging layers of flakiness. The resulting texture that unfolded in my mouth was like nothing I have had before in a scone. Crunchy yet almost creamy.
Ultimately, I made a third batch of scones with both vanilla and lemon zest which is reflected in the final recipe. Click here for the recipe or to listen to the podcast.
Now on to Pumpkin Pie Scones. Enjoy!
Christine is a passionate lover of food. Creating new recipes, cherishing old recipes, and blending the two together to meet the modern world has been a driving force in her life since childhood. Recently she began sharing her passion with the world and has been touched by the response she has received.
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