Showing posts with label cranberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cranberry. Show all posts

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kate Carlisle's Favorite Cookbook (plus Asparagus Recipe)


Kate Carlisle’s Favorite Cookbook (plus Asparagus Recipe)
By Kate Carlisle, author of A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY

Award winning author Kate Carlisle spent over twenty years working in television production as an Associate Director for game and variety shows, including The Midnight Special, Solid Gold and The Gong Show. She traveled the world as a Dating Game chaperone and performed strange acts of silliness on The Gong Show. She also studied acting and singing, toiled in vineyards, collected books, joined a commune, sold fried chicken, modeled spring fashions and worked for a cruise ship line, but it was the year she spent in law school that finally drove her to begin writing fiction. It seemed the safest way to kill off her professors. Those professors are breathing easier now that Kate spends most of her time writing near the beach in Southern California where she lives with her perfect husband.

A lifelong love of old books and an appreciation of the art of bookbinding led Kate to create the Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring rare book expert Brooklyn Wainwright, whose bookbinding and restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery and murder. Find Kate online at

Time and time again, I turn to a cookbook that I bought from a sale rack at the local bookstore. Just a lucky find. It’s a thick old thing that would normally intimidate me. (I don’t cook much, so I tend to stick with friendly little cookbooks with lots of pictures and words like “quick and easy” on the cover.) But it was on sale, so how could I resist?

It’s become my go-to cookbook because this thing has recipes for just about everything. It’s 20 years old by now, with food stains on many pages and notes scribbled in the margins. “This one is delicious!” or “Yum!” or “Under no circumstances should you ever attempt this one again.”

In my latest Bibliophile Mystery novel, A COOKBOOK CONSPIRACY, Brooklyn Wainwright is asked by her sister Savannah to restore a leather-bound cookbook/journal she’s planning to give to her ex-boyfriend, an obnoxious celebrity chef. Brooklyn immediately sees that this book is a treasure. It was handwritten during the Revolutionary War by Obedience Green, an indentured servant who may also have been a spy. In the margins of this cookbook, in addition to notes about the recipes, there are strange symbols that could be a secret code.

Then the obnoxious chef is murdered, Savannah is discovered hovering over his body with a bloody knife in his hands, and the priceless cookbook is… gone. Vanished. Is it possible that a 200-year-old conspiracy had something to do with his death?

In my go-to cookbook, I recently tried a recipe called Chinese Asparagus. “Yum!” I wrote. Then I decided to modify it… and I’m proud to say, I like my Asparagus Sauté even better. It’s colorful and delicious!

Kate Carlisle’s Asparagus, Cashew and Cranberry Sauté

2 lb asparagus, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 T cornstarch
2 T cold water
1 C chicken broth
1 T soy sauce
1 T dry white wine
1 t maple syrup
2 T sesame oil
1 T olive oil
½ C cashews
½ C dried cranberries

In a small sauce pan, mix together cornstarch and cold water with a whisk. Add broth, soy sauce, white wine, and maple syrup. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Simmer until slightly thick, about one minute.
In a wok, heat both oils until shimmering. Add the asparagus and cashews. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the sauce and cranberries. Cook for one more minute. (Note: If you want to make this a complete meal, sauté shrimp along with the asparagus and cashews, then serve over white rice.)

* * *

Thank you, Kate, for a delish posting!  As always, delightful.   ~ Daryl aka Avery

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mini Holiday Pastries using Leftover Cranberry Sauce from Cleo Coyle

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, I've been playing with recipe ideas for "leftovers" to include in my November Newsletter (going out next week). I think these baby size pastries would be perfect for your extra cranberry sauce. The bright red color of the filling combined with my homemade glaze makes them a sweet addition for holiday trays. Leave off the glaze and you have an attractive dinner appetizer.

(If you don’t have cranberry sauce on hand, raspberry jam works equally well for flavor and color.)

This also makes a nice holiday recipe for waistline watchers because using reduced fat crescent rolls and reduced fat cream cheese will lower the calorie count. The mini size of the pastry makes portion control easier, too. Pair one or two with a filling cup of coffee or tea and you've got a lighter dessert option than a large slice of cake or pie.

You may be tempted to eliminate the cream cheese from this recipe. My advice is don’t. I’ve tried it without, and it’s not as tasty. The cream cheese perfectly offsets the tartness of the berries in the filling.

A quick note before I share the recipe: As some of you may have noticed, after a very long lag between my free, seasonal newsletters, I re-launched the Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter in October. It’s now monthly; and when you sign up, you are entered automatically in my weekly Free Coffee Drawings. If you’d like to subscribe, simply send an e-mail that says “Sign me up!” to

Okay, let’s start baking...

Cleo Coyle, looney for
leftovers, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s 
Baby Berry Pastries

Or how to use your leftover cranberry sauce!

To download this recipe in a free PDF that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes 16 mini pastries


For the easy pastry
1 package of Crescent Rolls (8-count, regular or reduced fat)
½ cup whipped cream cheese (regular or reduced fat)
½ cup cranberry sauce or raspberry jam 

For the glaze
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon milk (or water)
3/4 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

NOTES FOR RECIPE SUCCESS: Yes, these appear stupidly simple to make but things can go very wrong in the process. For foolproof success, see my “Cleo notes” at the end of this recipe.


Step 1 – PREP PAN: Pre-heat your oven to 375º F. (Pre-heat for 30 full minutes just to be sure the oven is hot enough.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The cranberry sauce will ooze out and stick to the pan. The parchment will prevent sticking and also protect the delicate pastry bottoms from the pan’s direct heat.

Step 2 – UNROLL CRESCENTS: Once your oven is fully pre-heated, begin to work. Keep your dough cold throughout this process and you’ll have less trouble cutting and shaping it. Assemble ingredients first, and then break open the crescent roll tube.

Work directly on the lined baking sheet. Crescent rolls come in 2 small sheets. They are perforated, forming 4 triangles per sheet. Separate the 8 triangles in two rows, leaving space between each triangle and row.

Step 3 – SPREAD THE FILLING: Using the back of a small spoon, gently spread about 2 teaspoons worth of whipped cream cheese onto the pastry triangles. On top of that spread a layer of the cranberry sauce (again, about 2 teaspoons per triangle).

Step 4 – SLICE THE TRIANGLES: Carefully cut the 8 large triangles in half lengthwise, creating 16 very narrow triangles. Cutting puff pastry can be difficult, but I find that a pizza cutter slides with ease through the sticky dough. Just be sure to wipe the blade clean between cuts.

Step 5 – ROLL INTO BABY CRESCENTS: Starting from the largest end of each narrow triangle, roll into crescents. As you roll, very gently stretch the narrow dough lengthwise. 

Roll the triangles into 16 baby crescents. Carefully lift and re-position the pastries on the lined baking sheet, allowing room for rising. For best results, bake pastries immediately.

Step 6 – BAKE: In your well pre-heated oven (375º F.), bake the pastries for about 10 to 12 minutes. Watch carefully. You want a nice golden brown pastry, but you don’t want the bottoms to brown too much or burn. Allow them to cool before glazing (or the glaze will not harden properly).

Step 7 – MAKE THE GLAZE: Over low heat, combine 1 Tablespoon of butter and 1 Tablespoon of milk in a small saucepan. Do not allow these ingredients to boil or you’ll have a scorched taste in your glaze. After butter melts completely into the milk, begin to add the ¾ cup of powdered sugarUsing a fork, whisk in a little at a time, adding the complete amount. The glaze should drizzle easily and harden fairly quickly once poured. If too loose, add more powdered sugar; if too thick, add a touch more milk. When you’re happy with the consistency, use the fork to begin drizzling glaze in a back-and-forth motion across the cooled mini pastries. 

NOTE: If the glaze hardens up on you before you’re finished, simply return the pan to the heat and re-whisk.


*Cleo Note #1: AVOID DISASTER – KEEP THE DOUGH COLD. Why? Crescent rolls are “laminated” dough (aka puffed pastry). This means layers of dough have been folded with layers of butter or shortening. Consequently, as the dough warms, the butter melts and the dough becomes impossible to cut or shape properly. 

DO: Assemble your ingredients first, and then unroll the cold, stiff dough and work quickly to form the pastries. If you have trouble cutting or rolling the crescents during the making of this recipe, pop the entire sheet pan of them into the refrigerator for a few minutes, allowing the dough to chill and stiffen before resuming recipe. Also note: Laminated dough should be kept moist, so be sure to wrap any unused dough in plastic before storing in the fridge.

*Cleo Note #2: CRANBERRY SAUCE – CHILL, BABY! You can use whole or jellied cranberry sauce. Canned or homemade is fine or swap in raspberry jam. Just make sure whatever you use is cold or room temperature and not warm or the pastry will melt and you’ll have a mess. In my photos, you see homemade cranberry sauce. See my PDF for a quick recipe.

*Cleo Note #3: CREAM CHEESE – Whipped cream cheese is what I recommend for this recipe because it’s much easier to spread. If you want to use regular cream cheese, allow it to soften to room temperature and work it a little with a fork so it spreads with ease on the delicate dough.

*Cleo Note #4: PRE-HEAT FOR REAL – Puffed pastry must have high heat to rise properly, and far too many oven thermometers are inaccurate. Forget the little “beep-beep” ready-bell on your oven. Pre-heat the oven for a good 30 minutes before baking, just to be sure. Read my past post “Is Your Oven Lying to You” for smart tips on keeping it real as we enter holiday baking season. To read that post, and pick up a few more recipes, click here, and don't forget to...

Eat (leftovers)
with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle author of 

To get more of my recipes, sign up to win
free coffee, 
or learn more about the two
bestselling mystery 
series that I write with my
husband, visit my online coffeehouse at...

Shameless Plug...

"A Favorite Book of the Year"
Reviewer's pick 2010 ~
Now a national bestseller in paperback 

For a peek at some of the
firehouse-inspired recipes 
featured in
Roast Mortem,
click here.

To purchase the book, 
click here or here or here.


"...a tasty tale of crime and punishment,
lightened by the Blend's frothy cast of
lovable eccentrics." ~ Publishers Weekly

For a peek at some of the chocolate 
recipes featured in Murder by Mocha,
click here

Now a national bestseller
in hardcover 

To purchase the book, 
click here or here or here

Audiobook produced by AudioGo (BBC Audiobooks America) Available at iTunes and


Saturday, April 2, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

Since I still have only one functional leg (at least until mid-April, or maybe even later, but I don't want to think about that), my cooking is limited.  Bless my husband for stepping up, but we've always shared the cooking (the one who doesn't cook gets to do the dishes--from which I'm also exempt for as long as it takes).  Maybe I could manage, but while I love to cook, doing it with the gas flames at eye level is asking for trouble.

I debated briefly about trying to come up with a recipe here using only ingredients in the bottom half of the kitchen, plus the oven and the microwave, which I can reach.  However, I'm not sure anyone would eat the results.  Lots of carbohydrates, a few canned goods, and vegetables.  Plus I can't reach any of the mixing bowls or measuring devices.  No, I think I'll skip that idea.
So I decided to review the worst foods I've ever eaten.  Surely you all have meals that you remember for their sheer awfulness?  I hope you'll share your favorites--or do I mean least favorites?  Anyway, in no particular order:

--My mother was a good plain cook, when I was growing up:  meat, starch, veg, in separate piles.  We didn't eat casseroles, and forget about spaghetti with sauce.  We did glom onto TV dinners early (I still have a sneaking fondness for them).  However, after I left home she started to get more creative with her recipes, and one daring attempt stands out:  roast lamb with coffee and cream.  I think it might have been a Scandinavian recipe, but it was a mistake from the beginning.  We never spoke of it again.

--Along the same lines, I had a post-college roommate whose cooking skills were best expressed in her succulent pan-fried hot dogs.  She did go on to become an MD, but that required no culinary achievements.  Like my mother, she was once inspired to tackle lamb, this time lamb chops with pineapple.  Not a success.  That one was never seen again either.  Not long after that she volunteered to do all the dishwashing, if my other roommate and I would do the cooking.  Good deal all around.

--The year my husband and I were first married, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by another couple.  They were having some marital issues, which in the end resulted in She locking herself in the bathroom, leaving He with a turkey (cooked, luckily) and the task of making gravy.  He had no idea how to make gravy (and he a Ph.D. scientist!).  As I recall, faced with a pan of turkey drippings, he started randomly throwing flour and water at it until it resembled wallpaper paste.  Uh, that's not how you make gravy. 

I will confess that I am not innocent of kitchen failures.  I started "cooking" when I was about eight, and my first achievement was burnt sugar (kids will eat anything), followed closely by a fudge pyramid (the stuff solidified before it hit the pan, and I think it was crunchy).  The first loaf of bread I attempted, when I was in high school, resembled a brick and was inedible (I think the yeast had died an untimely death, but what did I know?).  Not an auspicious start.

I persisted, and became a fair cook.  When I graduated from college my first purchase was Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I can still recite recipes verbatim--and still make many of them, as does my husband.  Still, not all of my efforts are successful, even today.  Take, for example, a dessert recipe that I tried out a couple of years ago.  It sounded just dandy on the page.  In my own defense, I am good at following recipes, and I don't randomly add ingredients just to see what happens (unlike my daughter, who has come up with some very interesting recipes, and we've eaten...most of them).  But somehow this recipe got away from me, and resulted in a mess so ugly I had to take a picture of it--once I stopped laughing.  [One cannot be too serious in a kitchen!]

You should never be afraid of food, and of experimenting with it.  Nor should you throw out your old favorites, just because they're old.  If you enjoy eating the results, go for it!

To take the bad taste out of your mouth, I'll share with you a cheesecake recipe given to me by a friend (with a definite sweet tooth!).  You can't have too many cheesecake recipes, right?  If you make this right, you get a layered effect.  If things get muddled in the middle, it still tastes great!


1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs mixed together with 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine.

Press into bottom of 9" springform pan (after spraying pan with cooking spray). Bake at 350 degrees F. for 7 minutes, remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees F.

1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups combination of fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries and raspberries
3/4 cup cranberry juice (or cran-raspberry)
Mix sugar and cornstarch, add berries and juice and bring to a boil in 2 quart saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 7‑8 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick. Put into blender and blend until smooth. Strain, pressing mixture with back of a spoon through strainer/colander so only skin of cranberries is left. Discard skins. Set aside to cool.
Filling 2:

4 packages cream cheese (8 oz ea.)—(you can use half low fat and half regular cream cheese if you want)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 tsp. grated orange peel
Beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until just blended. Stir in whipping cream and orange peel.

Pour half mixture on top of crust. Carefully spoon half of the cran-raspberry sauce over filling. VERY CAREFULLY spoon remaining filling over cranberry mixture in pan (that is, if you want layers; if you like swirls, just go for it). Cover the remaining cran-raspberry sauce and put in fridge.
Place a shallow pan half full of hot water on lower oven rack and then put the springform pan on rack above. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes‑‑until edge of cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from edge of pan, but center still jiggles slightly when moved. Run small metal spatula around top edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Turn the oven off and open the oven door about 5 inches. Let cheesecake remain in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, cool in pan on cooling rack for another 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
Remove side of pan, and spread remaining cran‑raspberry mixture over top of cheesecake.

What is your single most awful food memory?  Your biggest cooking failure?  Your most inedible restaurant order?  Leave a comment and I'll pick a winner for a copy of one of my Orchard Series books with recipes (they all work, I promise!), and maybe a package of antacids.  Or we could put together an anthology of Recipes You Should Never Try.  Have fun with it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coconut-berry granola goodness!

The dudes LOVE Halloween.
It is their favorite holiday -- and
yes, they love it even more than
Christmas. Why? Well, there's the
costume thing for one. The what-will-
I-be-this-year debate starts in early
August and goes on through September
when we finally committ to our
costume. Then there's the whole free
candy thing. Yeah, what's not to love?
Um, the dental bill comes to mind.

I try to help out by eating the odd Mounds
or Snickers out of their bags when they're
not looking, but truly, the only way to
really help and to save myself some hefty
dental bills is to offer a yummy alternative.

Coconut-berry granola:

8 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup oat bran
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup dried cranberries and blueberries
(mixed together) or raisins work
equally as well


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, oat bran, coconut and almonds. Spread on a large cookie sheet in an even layer (2 cookie sheets may be necessary). Bake for 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Allow to cool for a few minutes then put it back in the large bowl. While the oats are toasting, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil and honey in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the coconut extract. Pour the syrup over the granola in the bowl and stir until fully coated. Spread evenly on the cookie sheet again and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet then mix in the dried cranberries and blueberries. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Yum!!!

And now for today's prize...

A cute Halloween cupcake bag,
skull cupcake liners, Halloween
cupcake toppers that are
also bookmarks (appropriate,
yes?) in the shapes of ghosts,
witches, etc, and Halloween
Quins (flat sprinkles) in the
shapes of pumpkins and bats.

Just leave a comment to win
today's prize! The winner will
be announced at the end of the
day! Good luck and a treat
filled Halloween!

Jenn McKinlay

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

I thought these cookies would make a nice transition from cookie week to Iron Chef cranberry week. I love cranberries, especially the burst of flavor they release when you bite into them. A lot of cookie recipes use dried cranberries, which are fine, but there's nothing quite like fresh cranberries, even in cookies.

1 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 bar premium white chocolate (about 1.75 ounces) chopped into bits

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.

2. Cream the butter with the sugar.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time.

4. Mix in the cinnamon, baking soda, and flour.

5. Add the vanilla and oats.

6. Stir in the cranberries and white chocolate.

7. Drop the dough onto the greased cookie sheet one tablespoon at a time. Don't worry about making them perfect. They melt into rounds.

8. Bake 14 - 15 minutes.


~ Krista


Wow! We are totally overwhelmed by the number and variety of Iron Chef ingredient suggestions you sent us. What a creative group of people you are. We wish all of you could win. We'll be having more contests, so please come back and enter again. You can enter more than once, and you can enter the same ingredient again, too. Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions!

The winner of a Junior's Cheesecake is Janel G! Her winning ingredient won't be revealed until January, so be sure to check back to see what it is!

Today, we're moving from cookie week to December Iron Chef week. Last month, Molly Ebert won our Iron Chef suggestion contest. The winning secret ingredient was (drum roll, please) CRANBERRIES! So we're off on a week of cranberry recipes!