Category Archives: Winter/Christmas

Cranberry-Pecan Blondies

As summer turns into fall, I like to start making recipes with fall flavors, like apples, cranberries, and pumpkin. Pecans are always a great compliment to these flavors, and although I like all kinds of nuts, I tend to gravitate toward pecans more in the autumn. So I was excited to receive Continue reading

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Hoppin’ John

I learned a few years ago that this dish, Hoppin’ John, is a New Year’s Day tradition, probably more popular in the South. It’s said to symbolize good health and prosperity in the coming year. The black-eyed peas are supposed to represent coins, which tie in with prosperity. And since black-eyed peas are actually beans, they’re good for you (they have lots of fiber and are a good source of potassium, protein, and iron), so that certainly ties in with the “good health” part of the symbolism.

In addition to black-eyed peas, Hoppin’ John also has chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and some canned diced tomatoes with chiles. This is traditionally made with a smoked ham hock, but you can use chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage instead. I actually used veggie sausage in this and it tastes good that way too–something to keep in mind if you’re not a meat-eater. The taste of this dish reminds me a little of Red Beans and Rice–if you like that, you’ll probably like Hoppin’ John! 

HOPPIN’ JOHN by NancyC, adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes about 8 servings

  • 1 (1-lb. bag) dried black-eyed peas (about 2 cups), soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium size green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped smoked ham or smoked sausage (or use 1 smoked ham hock)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups hot cooked brown or long grain rice
  • Optional: 1–2 green onions, sliced, and/or 1–2 Tablespoons bacon bits or crumbles, for garnish

Sort and rinse peas, then place in a large pot and soak in 6–8 cups of water (enough to cover the peas) for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse soaked peas; set aside.

In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper; sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic; sauté about 2 minutes.

Add chopped ham, smoked sausage or ham hock. Then add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and cayenne pepper. Heat mixture to boiling. Reduce heat to simmer, then stir in soaked peas. Add salt to taste. Cook 50 to 60 minutes or until peas are tender. If using a ham hock, remove ham from bone–discard bone, shred ham, and stir ham into the mixture.

Stir all ingredients and garnish with sliced green onion and/or bacon bits or crumbles, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice.

If you want a real Southern-style meal, serve your Hoppin’ John with collard greens and cornbread. And have a Happy New Year! 🙂

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Gingerbread Scones

Christmas would not be Christmas without any gingerbread treats. And these gingerbread scones, topped with coarse sugar that adds a nice sparkly touch, are definitely a treat–especially for breakfast or brunch. They’re not really sweet enough to be considered a dessert scone, but they have a rich gingerbread flavor and are great in the morning with some coffee or tea.

I just saw the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas and it’s the perfect movie for this time of year! It’s about how Charles Dickens came to write his much-loved classic, A Christmas Carol. It will certainly get you in the holiday mood, kind of like how eating gingerbread-flavored things can get you in a holiday mood. Hmmm…I wonder if Dickens happened to have any gingerbread scones as he was writing his story?

GINGERBREAD SCONES by NancyC

Makes 8 large scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium size bowl, mix the molasses, milk, vanilla, and egg yolk (save the egg white for later). Stir this mixture into the crumbly flour mixture, forming a crumbly dough.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about 6 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on prepared baking sheet, then cut into 8 wedges (if you don’t want the wedges to bake together, separate them by about an inch on the baking sheet).

Beat egg white well, until foamy, and brush over scones. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 22 minutes, until set. If you hadn’t separated the scones on the baking sheet, they will have baked together, so you can slice them where you had cut them before baking. Serve scones warm or let cool.

Have you made any gingerbread goodies this season? Or have you seen the Dickens movie?

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Cranberry Pecan Muffins

I’ve been so glad to see fresh cranberries at the grocery store these past few weeks! I just had to make something with fresh cranberries and muffins seemed like a good idea. I added some orange extract to give these muffins a subtle orange flavor. You could also add some orange zest if you wanted to.

These muffins bake up with nice rounded tops and have lots of cranberries and pecans in every bite! These are great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast or brunch, or for anytime in the fall or winter, for that matter. They also make a nice snack or dessert if you’re wanting something a little less sweet. You could probably substitute dried cranberries for the fresh, but I’ve always made these with fresh–I like their slightly sweet, tart flavor!

CRANBERRY PECAN MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 muffins

  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (or substitute dried cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix milk, butter, orange extract, and eggs. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in chopped cranberries and pecans and stir until evenly distributed in batter (be careful not to overmix). Batter will be thick!

Spoon batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake at 350˚F for 22 to 25 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for a few minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack, or serve warm.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned out? Are you making anything with fresh cranberries for your special meal? Whatever your plans are, have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Let us be thankful…. HEBREWS 12:28

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Easy Corn Casserole

It’s not often that you find a recipe that is wonderful comfort food, inexpensive, and easy to make–like this Easy Corn Casserole. Friends have told me about this recipe and I also did a search in the web comparing recipes, and most of them have these ingredients in common: a can of corn, a can of cream-style corn, corn muffin mix, butter, and sour cream. Most recipes call for anywhere from one to three eggs, but some don’t. Since this kind of casserole is so widely made, I guess you could call this a well-loved comfort food classic.

When I made mine, I decided to use two eggs, and it turned out really well. This is a creamy, full-of-corn casserole that has a delicious corn muffin-like crust on top. A perfect side dish for a big meal. If you’re looking for something to add to your Thanksgiving menu or any holiday meal, this would be a great dish to add! It makes a 9×9″ pan, or about 6-8 servings, but you can easily double it and bake it in a 9×13″ pan for a larger crowd.

EASY CORN CASSEROLE

Makes a 9×9″ pan, or 6-8 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box Corn Muffin Mix (I used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, light sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (you can omit eggs for a denser casserole, or you can use 1, 2, or 3 eggs)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease an 9×9″ baking pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl, combine the corn with the cornbread muffin mix, then add melted butter and sour cream. Add in the eggs, mixing everything well. Pour into prepared 9×9″ baking pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes, or until casserole is set. Remove from oven and serve while hot or warm.

I’ve also seen some recipes that just use an 8-ounce can of corn and an 8-ounce can of cream corn, with 1 or 2 eggs and 1/4  or 1/2 cup butter. One even used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. So, there are lots of variations on this recipe! Have you ever made corn casserole as a side dish for any of your meals?

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