Tag Archives: Cranberries

Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Granola

Dear Future Exam-Taking Self:

While I appreciate that you had grand plans to start outlining this weekend, you really made a wise decision by visiting Union and Eastern Markets with friend and foodie Amanda, doing laundry, getting ahead on reading, and, you know, choosing to make granola instead of opening those pesky class notes. While you may not actually understand the rules of evidence as well as you should, keep in mind how delicious procrastination was. One day, you may make those granola-crusted nuts that inspired you on Smitten Kitchen. But, until then, just remember to breathe and to take a bite of your latest creation. While it may not give you the answer as to what constitutes a Fourth Amendment violation, it will provide endless comfort in the form of mildly sweetened oats, chocolate, pecans, and cranberries. You. Are. Welcome.

All the best,

Present Outline-Avoiding Self

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Christmas Cookies

If you’re like me, you’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit.  We put up our Christmas tree over Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve been listening to carols for weeks.  I’ve been to holiday parties and have enjoyed the Christmas hymns at church.  However, despite the music and shopping and cards, it just doesn’t seem like late December.  Oh wait, maybe it’s this ridiculous weather.  Right now, New York City is gross.  It’s rainy, warm, and muggy.  How can a girl dreaming of a white Christmas get into the holiday spirit with this disgusting weather?  Well, here’s how . . .

Last Friday was my last week of teaching for the year 2011, so this past weekend, I devoted my time to Christmas cookies.  I cleaned my kitchen, I bought my supplies, I blared my holiday tunes, and I baked . . . and baked and baked and baked.  In the end, I made hundreds of cookies . . .

And then, I boxed them all up—carefully, dividing the box into sections and placing the cookies into paper cupcake cups to make everything look fancy—and I sent them all to work with Brandon.  I do this every year.  Brandon receives a little popularity, I get to bake, and I get the calorie-filled, butter-and-sugar-stuffed treats out of my house.

Well, most of them.  I kept a dozen or so, and I’m officially addicted to the mint fudge I made for the first time this year.

Every year, for the most part, I make the same cookies.  I have three recipes that are top-notch—the best:  chocolate ganache thumbprints, cranberry-pistachio cornmeal biscotti, and giant ginger cookies.  The chocolate thumbprints—Brandon’s most favorite—are rich with a slight saltiness that makes them sinfully decadent.  The biscotti are crispy, light, and because they are filled with red cranberries and green pistachios, ultra Christmas-y.  Last, but certainly not least, are my chewy ginger cookies.  They might be the most popular:  soft, spicy, and enormous.

In addition to the favorites, I usually make a candy of some sort.  In years past, I’ve made peppermint bark, but this year, I opted for some peppermint fudge.  Whoa, I had no idea how great this fudge would turn out.  No candy thermometer required.  It’s smooth, rich, and refreshingly minty.

And on top of that, I made sugar cut-outs.  I was dying to do a little decorative frosting, so I made these the day before I made the rest.  The dough was super easy, and the cookies turned out delicious.  To color the dough and frosting, I used food coloring gel—sometimes called paste.  This creates bright, saturated color—no pastel pinks and greens here—and doesn’t change the consistency of the dough or icing.  Mine is from Martha Stewart, but I know Wilton makes it, too.  Cake stores and other “fine kitchen stores” sell it.  It’s definitely worth seeking out, and, because you don’t need to use much, it lasts a long time.

Well, needless to say, all of this cookie baking (and giving) put me right into the Christmas spirit.  I promise, any of the following recipes will get you and your family ready for the holidays, too.  Enjoy, and happy holidays! Continue reading

Revamped Thanksgiving Staples

Recently, I’ve had a few people ask me, “Megan, do you have any good Thanksgiving recipes?”  Well, boy do I.  I have lots of terrific, tried, tested, and approved recipes for Thanksgiving, and I would love to share them with you.

Now, years back, when we used to live in DC, we would drive to Ohio for Thanksgiving and spend it with our families.  As guests, we usually didn’t do much cooking, but one year, I asked if I could try my hand at preparing the turkey.  My mother-in-law was kind enough to allow me to do so, and I was able to test Martha Stewart’s recipe for a brined turkey that I had been dying to try.  It was my first time fixing a turkey, and I was nervous—especially since generations of family members were doubting my techniques—but in the end, it was a total success.  The bird was moist and flavorful with a crispy skin.  What more could you ask for?

Once we moved to New York, however, Thanksgiving changed.  Instead of returning to Ohio to be with our families, we fix a feast here and invite friends over.  It has been a lot of fun, and it has allowed me to be as OCD about Thanksgiving dinner as I want to.  You see, I grew up not loving Thanksgiving.  I mean, I loved the family togetherness, but I’m not a mashed-potato-lover, and yams covered in marshmallows don’t get me excited.  In fact, the only food I really looked forward to on Turkey Day was the pie.

But once I got full control of the menu, I was able to revamp it and reinvent the “perfect Thanksgiving dinner.”  I stay true to the basics—turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, etc.—but prepare them in a more modern, if you will, fashion.

Below is a list of links to my favorite recipes.  These are recipes that will, no doubt, be on my Thanksgiving table this year.  I hope they make it on yours as well!

Brandon's lovely "tablescape"

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