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Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

It’s that time of year  (my favorite time of year), where we start to prepare for Thanksgiving.  The best holiday that ever was.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that Thanksgiving is a big deal for me, and that over the course of November I post recipes once or twice a week, helping you put together your Thanksgiving menu from appetizers to dessert.  It’s also when we roll out our very long, very comprehensive Guide to Holiday Eating (look for the snowflakes in the sidebar). I may hate everything about winter but holy cow do I love the holiday season.

First up this year we have a chipotle cranberry sauce.  Now, if the idea of a cranberry sauce that is spicy and not sweet and citrusy completely turns you off, try this one.  But, for you more adventurous folks, let me tell you about this sauce.  It’s tart, it’s a little bit sweet, it’s smokey and spicy, and the perfect spread for funky cheese and crackers, turkey, cornbread, muffins, or mashed potatoes.  I’m loving it on everything.

Also, here’s what I don’t understand.  Why would anyone buy canned or jarred cranberry sauce that’s bland and full of chemicals when you could make this at home in half an hour with the smallest amount of effort.  Seriously, this stuff is easier to make than pecan pie.  You mix all the ingredients together and then let them simmer.  Exactly.  Not to mention that the sound of cranberries popping is one of my favorites. Hear it for yourself:

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

For me, the best part of that video is the middleish when it’s been silent for a while and you were getting bored and then POP! Remember when I promised to do monthly videos and then didn’t follow through at all? I bet you’re glad that happened.

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp chipotle spice

1 tsp cumin

2 cups fresh cranberries

Juice from one lemon

Bring water, spices, and sugar to a boil.  Add cranberries, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, until the cranberries burst.  Squeeze in lemon juice. Remove from heat, cover, and cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

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Fall Donuts

This month I decided to give up processed sugar (as well as all processed sugar substitutes).  I did it for two reasons.  First off, I have been looking for a way to cut artificial sweetners out of my diet, specifically heavily processed candy and soda.  Very specifically diet coke. I love me some diet coke.  Secondly, I wanted a kickstart. I’ve been tired, sluggish, cranky, and downright hard to deal with lately.  I haven’t felt like cooking or writing or waking up, and I was hoping that a sugar-free period would allow my body to rediscover an energetic, sugar-free life.

Mostly, at the near end of the month, I feel the same.  I don’t have much more energy and getting out of the bed is still totally the pits.  I haven’t lost any weight and my hair is still frizzy. But, what did I really expect to happen? That one day, a few weeks into October, I would wake up Penelope Cruz? Unrealistic. Mostly I wanted a way to say goodbye to the sugary crap that was killing me slowly, and that I have accomplished.  I haven’t craved soda yet, and the only chocolate I want is on a croissant (I guess that reveals my real dependence- butter).  What I have been craving, like it is my job, is a donut.  I want a donut.  On November 1st, I will eat all the donuts. (PS- Donut or doughnut? I’ve gotten mixed feedback. I prefer donut).

I’ve been saving this recipe since last fall, and I have to tell you, these donuts have been in my dreams.  They’re light, delicious, and covered in tasty chocolate that makes your mouth water.  Mostly, they epitomize the things I love about this time of year.  The beautiful colors, the slightly richer food, frying things in my backyard… oh fall.

Still on a quest to kick my ass into gear I’m thinking that in November I’ll excuse myself from white carbs and alcohol that isn’t red wine.  Thanksgiving aside, of course.  We’ll see.  Fall is always a hard transition for me, I don’t expect there is a magical cure to the shorter, darker days and the dreary prospect of a long winter.  If there is, please let me know.  Also, I’d love to hear what worked for you, if you’ve tried something similar!

Fall Doughnuts

Doughnuts
3/4 cup milk, warm
1/4 cup heavy cream, warm
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, very soft
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Peanut oil, for frying

Glaze
1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup hot water

Chocolate topping
2 cups dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups fall-colored chocolate candy, crushed

Mix milk, cream and yeast. If you’re using a stand mixer, go ahead and combine them in the bowl for your mixer. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Add sugar, butter, yolks and flour. In a stand mixer, or by hand, mix together and then knead until it forms a ball. Add warm water as necessary.

Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch. Use a biscuit cutter (3 to 4 inches) to cut out circles. Use a smaller cutter (or a doughnut roller, if you have one) to cut a 1-inch hole from the center.

Heat your oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Two or three at a time, drop your donuts into the oil. Let fry one minute, flip, and then another minute on the other side.

While your doughnuts cool, make your glaze. Combine all ingredients. Dunk your doughnuts in the glaze and set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in cream. Dip each donut in the chocolate and then sprinkle with chocolate candy.

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Boiled Peanuts

Last spring, the National Peanut Board sent me some peanuts and coke as part of a national campagin to raise awareness about how delicious it is when you put peanuts in your coke.  During the email exchange they asked me if there was anything else they could do and I said “well, if you’ve got any green peanuts…”  And here we are.

When we got home from Savannah & Charleston we were very excited to see a box full of peanuts on our doorstep.  Well, I was very excited.  Dan didn’t know what to expect.  I put them aside until this past Saturday, when we held our second annual Eastern North Carolina Barbeque.  As you may know, smoking pork takes a zillion hours, and with party goers arriving as early as 11, I wanted something for people to nosh on.  Namely, I wanted boiled peanuts for people to nosh on.

First of all, for those of you who have never had a boiled peanut, they’re heaven. The specialty of roadside stands across the south, they’re salty, mashed-potato like, perfectly delicious peanuts.  You boil the green peanuts for hours in salted, spiced water, then eat them hot.  A delicacy, in my opinion.

They were a hit. Thanks, Peanut Board!

Boiled Peanuts

1 lb fresh green peanuts

2 quarts water

1/2 cup kosher or sea salt

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp chipotle spice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Boil for 3-5 hours, or until peanuts are tender.  Strain and serve.

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