Sangria – with apples & cranberries

Thanksgiving Sangria.

2 bottles Merlot
2 apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup triple sec
1/3 cup apple cider

Mix all together in a large jar or pitcher and allow to stand at least an hour before serving.


Coconut Custard Pie

Oh we haven’t had this in so many years. My sister, Gail copied this recipe from Mom years ago. And a good thing too! As Mom’s memory started to fade she spent a lot of timing cleaning out the house, often the result was a bit sad. She threw away most of her recipes thinking that she typed them up on the computer!

Thank you Gail. And thank you Mom, for everything.

2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup biscut mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter or margerine
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flake coconut
1 pie crust, we think

Combine milk, sugar, biscut mix, eggs, butter, and vanilla in blender. Cover and blend on low speed for 3 minutes. Pour into greased 9-inch pie pan (the recipe doesn’t say to line the pan with pie crust, but we don’t remember ever having it without a crust.) Let stand about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with cocunut. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

Apple Galette

Another favorite from this Thanksgiving.

This is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe on the

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 apples (1 1/2 pounds), peeled, and thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
One 8-ounce frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 large egg, beaten

4-ounce soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled in chunks
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup tart dried cherries

Preheat oven to 375F.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add apples, sprinkle with salt. Saute until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk sugar, spices and arrowroot in a small bowl, until no lumps remain. Sprinkle spices and lemon juice on apples and toss to blend. Cool to lukewarm.

Place pastry onto a sheet of parchment paper. Dust with flour and roll-out into 12-inch square. (cover the top with plastic wrap for ease of rolling)

If desired, cut off corners to make a circle. We left it in a square.

Brush with egg wash. Arrange apples, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges over up and overlap the apples a bit. Brush edge with egg wash.

Place parchment and all on a baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes until pastry is deep golden brown.

Meanwhile toss the goat cheese, almonds and cherries in a small bowl until evenly mixed. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Remove the galette from the oven, sprinkle the cheese mixture evenly over the filling. Return to over and bake 5 minutes to soften the cheese.

Cool 20 minutes, serve warm or at room temperature.

Brie in Puff Pastry

This Thanksgiving Morgan and Kelsey came up with a number of new recipes to try. This was the number one success. Fat in fat, what is not to love?

1 Wheel of Brie, 8 oz.
1 Sheet of puff pastry, thawed
Raspberry jam
1/3 cup pecans, diced finely
egg wash

Cut top rind off the brie.

Roll out the puff pastry so that it is about 10″ x 10″, large enough to wrap around the cheese.

Spread with about a tablespoon of raspberry jam. Press pecans into jam. Center on the puff pastry. Pull up the pastry so that it completely encases the brie. Twist/pinch the top together and tie with a piece of kitchen twine.

Brush with egg wash.

Bake at 375F for 25 minutes until lightly browned. Serve warm. Yum.

Apple Crisp

This works well with many fruits. Morgan made something similar using apples, pears and cranberries.

1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, optional

5-6 cups peeled, sliced apples (2 pounds)
2 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350F

Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon & a pinch of salt. Cut in butter until pea-size crumbles form. Set aside.

Peel, core and slice fruit and place in 10x6x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar.

Top with crumb mixture. Sprinkle with a grating of nutmeg or a sprinkle of ground cloves, if desired.

Bake 350F 40-45 minutes. Serves 6

Venison Chops with Dried Fruit

Usually I use venison like beef. But I was given these chops by my daughter’s beau. The butcher we use never cuts us chops like this, think lamb chops. So I hunted up a recipe, because let’s face it, these were special.

This is adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for venison chops on

The end result was indeed special. I bet if I had Emeril’s ingredients it would have tipped the scales.

1/4 cup mixed dried cranberries & cherries
1/2 cup dry red wine (I used the end of a bottle of Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2011, I love this wine)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 venison chops, maybe 2 oz. apiece
2 Tbsp. finely minced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup water

Soak the cranberries and cherries in the wine for 10 minutes.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron), heat the oil over high heat. Be careful not to let the oil smoke. Add the chops and sear, 2-3 minutes per side. The chops should easily be pulled from the pan when they are properly browned.

Remove to a plate. Add the onions & garlic and cook for a minute. Drain the wine from the fruit and carefully add it to the pan, stir. Add the fruit, soup mix, water and chops. Stir & flip the chops, cook for 2 minutes, just to heat through. The chops should be rare.

Serve over soft polenta made with muenster cheese stirred in at the end.

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes & Capers

Adapted from EatingWell: October/November 2005

Serves 2

1/2 – 3/4 lb. cod fillet
olive oil
ground black pepper
1/2 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp. sliced oil cured olives (green olives substitute fine)
2 tsp. capers, drained and chopped
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450F. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet or coat with cooking spray.

Rub cod with 1 tsp. oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes until done. (Fish will flake)

Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp. oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until softened. Add tomatoes, cook about 2 minutes, add olives and capers, stir. Add oregano and vinegar, remove from heat and serve over fish.


Paella, such a simple concept, protein and rice. Such a yummy end product. So much trouble to cobble together a recipe. Every time we make Paella out comes 3 or 4 cookbooks and of course the internet searches. The list of ingredients and directions are always so long. And we want to mix up the ingredients. Saturday we added chorizo and chicken. Sometimes we want just fish!

So here is Saturday night’s version, sort of.

Olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half
2 small (3-inch) chorizo sausages, sliced

1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced (or mixed peppers)
1 tomato, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

3 cups water with chicken bullion or stock
2 good pinches of saffron
1-2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

artichoke hearts, canned or frozen
1 cup of peas
1 cup of medium shrimp
6 large sea scallops
~1/2 cup white wine, if you have it (we did not)

Add the spices to the stock, heat in a medium saucepan to a simmer.

In a large, wide pan heat the olive oil. Brown the chicken and chorizo, set aside.

Add the onions and garlic, saute a couple minutes then add the red peppers. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add more oil if needed. Add the chopped tomato and cook till softened.

Add the rice and toast, stirring. Rice turns white then back again and then toasts just a bit.

Add the stock and the artichoke hearts, chicken and chorizo. Bring to a simmer. Cook, taking care that the rice does not burn, about 10-15 minutes. (I like to cover the pan for at least part of the cooking)

Add the peas and shrimp. Cook another 10 minutes. Add the scallops and wine and cook until done. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Risotto with Butternut Squash & Sage

For you Kelsey.

From The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop.

This is a time consuming recipe because you have to cook the squash and then cook the risotto. Shortcut the process by cooking the squash in the microwave (or my favorite, the pressure cooker) with a little broth.

Serves 4

6 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, minced
6 large sage leaves, minced
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1/2 small squash)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. Keep warm on low heat.

Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a heavy-bottomed pot (medium size). Add onion, saute until translucent. Stir in minced sage and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in squash and cook 2 minutes, stirring.

If you are cooking the butternut squash in the pot:
Add wine and 1 cup broth, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Add more stock if needed. Uncover and cook off any extra liquid.

Stir in the rice and cook until the rice changes color, about 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup stock. (If the squash is cooked in the microwave, stir in the wine, squash and 1/2 cup stock.)

Cook, stirring until the stock is absorbed (not boiled off!).

Add another 1/2 cup stock, repeat. Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is creamy and cooked about 25 minutes. If you run out of stock add hot water.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter.

Serve in soup bowls. Top with more cheese, of course!

In our house this is the main course rounded out with salad, topped with nuts.