Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Our family Thanksgiving dinner is small by comparison to some.  We usually have less than ten people total.  I still love all the cooking and togetherness that comes during this time of year.  Because most of the people that attend live in our house, I am always the host.  That means most of the cooking falls to me.

One secret to a successful holiday meal, big or small, is proper planning.  A couple of weeks ahead of time I sit down and plan the menu, grocery lists, and cleaning that need to happen.

This year our menu will consist of:

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Candied Yams
  • Mashed Potatoes With Gravy
  • Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Ginger Cookies

Given our busy schedule this year, we chose to purchase our pumpkin pie and cheesecake at Costco while grocery shopping the weekend before the holiday.  The turkey is lounging in the refrigerator to thaw since early Monday morning.  The yams, stuffing and potatoes will be cooked on Thursday.  The cranberry sauce will be made Tuesday while I cook dinner.  The ginger cookies will be made on Wednesday while we clean the house.

Today I would love to share my super easy recipe for Homemade Cranberry Sauce with you.

cranberrysauce Title

Are you ready?

Here it is….

Homemade Cranberry Sauce:

Ingredients:
‎1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
4 Cups Fresh Cranberries.

cranberry sauce ingredients

Directions:Put in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool. It will thicken as it cools.

cranberry sauce cooking

Yep.  It really is that easy.  Just three ingredients and ten minutes gives you beautiful, delicious, fresh cranberry sauce.  Once you try this, you will never want to eat the factory canned stuff again!  You can make it a couple days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Another option is to home can it.  You can water bath can this sauce just like a jam or jelly.  Ten minutes of processing in the water bath canner makes it shelf stable.

What is your favorite recipe to cook for the holidays?  Comment below and let’s start a conversation!

Don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest for more pictures, stories, and ideas!

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Butter Biscuits Recipe

My family really enjoys warm buttery biscuits. They are delicious with roast and vegetables, or you can drown them in hot sausage gravy. Or you can go the traditional route, and just top it with some lovely homemade jelly.
This is my favorite recipe for biscuits. One batch makes nine good sized biscuits. I usually do a double batch, just because we all love them so much. What makes these biscuits different than most is how they are baked!  Not only is there butter in the dough, but a good helping of butter in the pan for them to soak up as they bake.  So tasty!

First you need to preheat the oven to 350*f and get the pan ready. If you are doing a single batch, you will need an 8×8 pan. (If you are doing a double batch, you will need a 9×13 pan.  The 9×13 pan makes 24 biscuits.) Put a half a stick of butter in your baking dish and slide it in the oven to melt while you make the dough. (A whole stick if doing a double batch.)
Ingredients for the dough:
2 cups Flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk (approximately)

Time to get your hands dirty!
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Start to work your butter in.  Just squish the butter in with your hands.  Work the butter in until it is all crumbly and you don’t see any large chunks of butter.

Butter Biscuits Dry Ingredients

Now it’s time to mix in the milk.  You want just enough that the dough holds together, but isn’t sticky.  Just add a bit of milk at a time.  Mix and knead.  If you still have dry bits, add a bit more milk.
Once you have made your dough, it’s time to make the biscuits. Take your hot pan out of the oven. Your butter should be melted, but not burnt.

Butter Biscuits Butter
Grab chunks of dough slightly larger than a golf ball. Roll it into a ball in your hand, and then give it a bit of a squish. You want it to be about half an inch thick. Put the biscuit in the butter, then roll it over and place where you want it. Each side of the biscuit should have melted butter on it. Don’t leave space in between the biscuits. You want them to push against each other as they bake.

Butter Biscuits in pan
Bake at 350*f for 15 to 20 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Remove from pan as soon as they come out of the oven. You should be able to just dump the whole pan out onto your cutting board.

Butter Biscuits Done
Then it’s time to enjoy the buttery goodness that is a butter biscuit.

Butter Biscuit Recipe

Loaded Potato Soup

This is my absolute FAVORITE soup. I am only allowed to make it once or twice a month because I will eat myself sick. I just cannot control myself. Be warned, not a low calorie recipe!

loaded potato soup recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bacon cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 32 oz box of chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups instant mashed potatoes (apx)
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream

 

Toppings

  • Green onions sliced
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar cheese shredded
  • Bacon crumbles


Directions

1.Start the bacon pieces frying in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic with the bacon until the bacon is cooked through.

2.Stir in the potatoes and just cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are tender (apx 10 minutes). Add the cheese, stir until melted.

3.Pour cream and instant potatoes into the soup stirring constantly, until soup has thickened. Add more instant potatoes if it isn’t thick enough.

4.Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, and bacon crumbles on top.

Dinner And A Movie

dinner and a movie

Ever since we bought our trailer, I have wanted to watch this epic film.  I love Lucille Ball in everything I’ve seen.  Her special brand of slapstick just tickles me.  I had seen bits and pieces of this movie, but never the whole thing.  It took me a few months before I finally ordered it off Amazon.  It arrived a few days later and we were ready for dinner and a movie.

Hubby and I decided to have a night in.  I cooked some pork chops, kernel corn, and fried apples.  We settled in together to watch “The Long Long Trailer”.  Oh my!  I laughed until I cried.  Hubby and I kept looking at each other and commenting about our own adventures on the many road trips over the years.  My favorite scene is when Taci is trying to cook dinner while they are mired in the mud.  As the eggs slide right off the frying pan, I remember all the times I ended up cooking dinner in the rain while we tent camped.

Bonus recipe!

My great grandmother used to cook fried apples every single night.  I stayed with my great grandparents for a couple weeks when I was fifteen.  She cooked the same thing every night.  Each person got a fried chicken thigh, about half a cup of mashed potatoes with pan gravy, and half a fried apple.  I got real tired of that dinner.  When they both passed away later that same year, I actually missed the fried apples.  Thankfully, while I was there, she showed me her recipe.

You will need:

apples (I prefer more tart apples for this, but any will work)
cinnamon
sugar
butter

 

fried apples peel

Peel, core, and slice the apples.  I like to use my fruit peeler because it peels, slices and cores the apples all at once.

fried apples rings

I cut each spiral cut apple in half for bite sized apple slices.

fried apples sliceStart to fry the apples in a frying pan with some melted butter over medium heat.

fried apples spiceSprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon and sugar.

Stir frequently while the apples slowly fry over the medium heat.  You want to cook them until they are just starting to become translucent, but don’t turn into apple sauce.  They are a wonderful side dish for pork chops, or just a lovely snack for fun.

*This post contains sponsored links from www.amazon.com.  I was not paid to do this post or review of the The Long Long Trailer .  However, if you use the link to purchase I will receive a small compensation.  Thanks for checking it out and helping to support my bloggy habits!*

Cheesecake

It is my husbands birthday today. In celebration, I made homemade cheesecake with strawberry topping.

Graham Cracker Crust
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Combine ingredients and press into pie pan. Bake at 375* for ten minutes.

Cheesecake
1 lb cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients with mixer then pour into crust. Bake at 375* for 25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

While that cools, make the sour cream topping and heat oven to 475*.

Sour Cream Topping
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over cooled cheesecake, then bake at 475* for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before cutting. Serve with fruit topping.img_3278

Kung Pao Chicken

img_3085We have a local chinese restaraunt that is the most fantastic place. It has been around in our community since my mother was a little girl. Four generations of my family have eaten at this lovely little place. It is not fancy, but the owners know the customers and often visit while you wait for your food.  There have been several families come in to run this business in our community.

When my husband and I started dating many years ago, this was one our favorite restaurants. We watched the children of the owners grow up in the restaurant. In fact, a few years ago the owners announced they would be leaving our community to join their youngest child at college so they could still live as a family.
The last few times we went there I lamented how much I was going to miss them and their food. I finally asked once what was in my favorite dish, Kung Pao Chicken. The owner laughed and rattled off all the ingredients so fast I could hardly understand. The next time, I went in with a pen and paper! She never had measurements and her instructions were always so fast. I wished I could just go in and watch them for a day!
Each time we went in, I asked for another recipe. Then I would go home and experiment with it. When we went back again, I ask her how I need to change it to get the flavor right. I went home and played with the ingredients and measurements for the Kung Pao Chicken. This is pretty darn close to the Eastern Garden.
My family has missed The Eastern Garden.  Every time I make this recipe, I think of the owners and how much they were a part of our community and our hearts.

Kung Pao Chicken

5 carrots
5 stalks celery
2 small zucchini
½ cup peanuts (or 1 tsp peanut butter)
2 chicken breast halves
3 cloves minced garlic
½ chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicier)
3 tablespoons Soy sauce
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 cup water
2 cups cooked rice

Mince and chop onion and garlic. Cut remaining vegetables into bite size pieces.

Cut chicken into small bite size pieces.

Fry chicken pieces in large frying pan with butter, garlic, and onion until chicken is cooked through.

Stir in red pepper flakes, peanuts, carrots, and celery. Cook this, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the zuchini is softened a bit.

Stir together soy sauce, cold water, and cornstarch for sauce. Add into hot mixture and stir until sauce thickens.

Serve over cooked rice.

This makes enough for my family of 6 plus extra.

Every Morning Smoothies

For the last four months I have been having a smoothie for breakfast every single morning.  Wonderful for my health, great for my weight, not so great when I like to have variety in my diet.  I started out with milk and my protein shake.  BORING.  Nasty tasting.  Blech.

Thankfully, in our time we have the wide world of the interwebs to turn to in our time of need.  I headed to the wonderful world of Pinterest to look for ideas.  So many ideas!  Everything from Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie all the way to Fruity Raspberry Lime.  Every one that I have tried was fantastic.

Once I got into the swing of every morning smoothies, I found myself using the same main ingredients over and over.  I now have a drawer in our freezer set aside just for smoothie ingredients.  I stock it with all sorts of frozen fruit, spinach, and cucumbers.  In the cupboard I stock cocoa powder, coconut milk, and instant pudding mix.

Today’s post is all about making the use of only a few ingredients for as many smoothie combinations as possible.  All the recipes today will use only the following ingredients: milk, Thrive Lifestyle Mix, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, frozen peach slices, and frozen cucumbers.

All ingredients

I thought I would take you along for my smoothie experience this week.  Every day I used only these five ingredients to make a different smoothie for breakfast.  You can have a great variety of smoothies with only a few ingredients.

On Monday I made Blueberry Peach.  Blue Peach Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 4 peach slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together this makes a lovely blueberry flavored smoothie with light peach undertones.  If you want a stronger peach flavor, add less blueberries and more peaches.

 

 

On Tuesday I made Peach Cucumber.  I really like adding cucumber to my smoothies.  It adds a nice summery flavor that I really enjoy.

peach cucumber

  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 peach slices
  • 10 cucumber slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together I love the cucumber flavor!  The peaches add a sweetness to the smoothie, but the cucumber is the star.

 

On Wednesday I had simple strawberry.  This is my go to smoothie recipe.  Some days I’ll add in a spoonful of cocoa powder for a chocolate covered strawberry flavor.  Today was just nice and easy plain strawberry.Strawberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 frozen strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

All blended together this is simple strawberry.  So easy and satisfying.  This is the comfort food of smoothies for me.

 

On Thursday I had simple blueberry.  Another wonderful, busy morning go to smoothie.  Simple perfection.blueberry

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

This one blends into a lovely purple smoothie, perfect for a morning when we are leaving for the first of two field trips in one week.

 

 

Friday morning started super early.  My class was set to leave at 6:30am for our second field trip of the week.  For what it is worth, I am not a morning person.  Seriously, my brain doesn’t turn on before 8am.  For this reason, I do not have a picture of the smoothie for Friday.  Friday I had strawberry peach for my smoothie.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 strawberries
  • 3 peach slices
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thrive

This blends into a sweet start for my morning, even at 6:30am with 48 students on a bus for two and a half hours.

All in all, six ingredients, five different smoothies, five ways to start my day with a healthy breakfast.  I’m still exploring different recipes and hope to share them with you all as I pick my favorites.  I’d love to hear your favorite smoothie recipes too!  Drop me a comment to share your favorites.  If you are interested in getting started with Thrive, leave me a comment and I’ll get you set up with a customer log in!