Thanksgiving Quesadillas

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Still have leftovers taking up precious space in your fridge? I know my fridge is bursting to the seams since we made a full Thanksgiving dinner for just two of us. So lots of leftovers, and some complaints from the peanut gallery that they need something other than Thanksgiving food.

Enter quesadillas. Now, I am a #1 fan of the Thanksgiving sandwich, and you definitely need to make sure to eat one to several of those in the days after Thanksgiving. But this quesadilla is a nice way to mix up the traditional Thanksgiving flavors to make it feel like you are eating something different. You can also mix and match what you want to put inside the quesadillas for any picky eaters complaining about the leftovers…

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THANKSGIVING QUESADILLAS

INGREDIENTS

Leftover turkey (dark meat reigns supreme here)
Cranberry sauce*
Pepper jack cheese, shredded
Chopped onion
Salsa*
Gravy
Tortillas
Butter

DIRECTIONS

Place desired amounts of turkey, cranberry sauce, pepper jack cheese, onion, and salsa on on tortilla. Season with salt and pepper (especially the turkey).

Heat pan to medium heat. Melt butter and rotate pan to coat. Place tortilla with filling down and top with another tortilla on top. Press down. Cook until golden brown, for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Slice quesadilla and top with gravy and additional salsa.

*Use the well gelled sections/whole cranberries from your cranberry sauce. If you use cranberry sauce that is too runny, your tortillas can get soggy. Same for salsa, chunkier salsa works better in this.

Thanksgiving Nachos

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Most people know exactly what they are going to make for their Thanksgiving meal. There are the must-haves of turkey, stuffing, and cranberries, and people have their own traditional or family recipes to include too. So why bother sharing more recipes for the day-of when likely 1) you literally can’t add any more dishes because of time, dishes, and space or 2) you have traditions to follow. But if that’s what you need you can look here.

Instead lets focus on leftovers. Now, the main Thanksgiving meal is great and wonderful. But leftovers are really where it’s at. The days after Thanksgiving are full of some of the best turkey sandwiches ever. But let me tempt you to try using your leftovers a new way: on nachos.

If you love to combine all your Thanksgiving food on your plate, this is for you. These nachos do just that but add a crunchy, salty tortilla chip and some salty cheese on top.

Now I do not advocate nachos and no turkey sandwiches, but think about these nachos when you are tired of eating your leftovers the same way day after day.

THANKSGIVING NACHOS
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS:

Tortilla chips
Cojita cheese, crumbled
Turkey, shredded
Cranberry sauce
Stuffing, optional
Gravy, warmed

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheet with tortilla chips. Top with turkey, cheese, and stuffing. Cook in oven for 3-8 minutes, until warmed and browned. Drizzle cranberry sauce and gravy on top.

Cranberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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Why is bread so wonderful?

I was going to start this post with the question “Do you have any leftover bread?”, but if you have leftover bread sitting around, you aren’t doing life right.

Well, let’s not be so harsh.  As a single gal, I do have problems buying and using up an entire loaf of bread myself.  Let’s not lie, there is an easy fix to this problem of just putting all the bread in my mouth, but I have to cling to some of my last dredges of self control in order to save my binges for sugar.  Thus, why I have several dinner rolls stored in my freezer in case of emergency.

So, say we have some bread laying around.  There are lots of options for what we can do with it.  Slather slices with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, fill  with melted cheese, or stuffed with lots of meat.  Today, we are going to focus on pouring some wonderful custard on top of that bread.  Bread pudding.

Before making this, I had actually never had bread pudding before.  (Another dish mom doesn’t like- mushy foods aren’t her thang).  I definitely enjoyed my first exposure- what is not to love when there is white chocolate and cranberries involved?

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
Adapted from Honey What’s Cooking

INGREDIENTS

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, divided
1-2 cups cubed bread
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 2 ramekins

In a bowl whisk together egg, milk, vanilla bean seeds, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir in craisins, 6 tablespoons white chocolate chips, and bread.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and light brown sugar.  Mix in walnuts.  Set aside.

Divide bread mixture between ramkins.  Top with streusel.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool slightly (or completely).  Top with remaining white chocolate chips.

Makes 2 ramekins, serves 2.

Cranberry Cinnamon Sugar Candied Walnuts

7-3 Cranberry Cinnamon Sugar Walnuts

During the day, I am not much of a snacker.  I tend to stick to my main meals- although you will often find me with a Diet Coke by my side.  I know it’s not the best thing to pump into my body, but I am addicted. Just hook me up to a Diet Coke IV please.

However, the sun goes down (and I can’t drink Diet Coke anymore or else I will be awake all night), and my stomach starts to grumble.  I am a night snacker- I look forward to the unwinding from my day with a sweet snack, and I often will snack and scroll through food blogs.  I have my snack staples: ice cream sandwiches, leftover holiday candy (I just found a bag of Halloween M&Ms in my closet, hurrah for being a hoarder), and pudding.  But I was ready to mix it up.

So for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I decided to look for a new snack to try.  I was assigned Desiree’s blog, Steak n Potatoes Kinda Girl.  And upon hearing her website, I just wanted a big juicy steak.  But I had a mission: snacks.  I had a great time looking through her great array of recipes, and when I saw her recipe for Salted Candied Pecans I knew I had found a new great snack.

I made a few changes: walnuts instead of pecans because that is what I had in my pantry, and I added craisins because adding craisins is always a good decision.  And these nuts did not disappoint.  Crunchy nuts, chewy craisins, and sweetness. Perfect for late night web surfing and also a great road trip snack!

Also goes great with Diet Coke.  But what doesn’t?

CRANBERRY CINNAMON SUGAR CANDIED WALNUTS
Adapted from Steak n Potatoes Kinda Girl

INGREDIENTS

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup craisins

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine walnuts, sugar, and water.  As the sugar begins to liquefy (3-5 minutes), begin stirring.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar thickens and crystalizes, about 4-7 minutes.

Decrease heat to medium low.  Continue to cook until sugar begins to harden and turn brown.  Stir in salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and craisins.  Stir to evenly coat nuts. Pour into single layer on a baking sheet and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Sausage Sandwich with Cranberries, Sriracha Mustard Aioli, and Cheddar

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This sandwich name is a doozie.

And yes, I am a 20-something-year-old who just said doozie (or is it doozy?).

I had a difficult time naming this sandwich.  The amazing topping combo was inspired by a sandwich I ate in Austin last summer named the Jackalope based on their house made sausage.  But I did not have access to my own homemade sausage nor the ability to make my own sausage, thus the longest name for a grilled sausage sandwich came to be in which I list every ingredient I can.

And yes, these toppings sound like a crazy combo, but by now, you should be used to that around here.  I love my crazy foodie combinations, and since Lubbock is somewhat lacking when it comes to the big city foodie scene, I had to take matters into my own hands and make city-food in my own kitchen.

I promise I do not put cranberries on everything I eat.  Only when it tastes delicious.  

This sandwich comes at the perfect time for everyone: since it’s summer, this is a perfect meal to grill and eat outside at the pool, beach, or park.  Just assemble your eclectic toppings before hand, heat outside with a beer in hand, grill it up, and eat it up. I am picturing a foodie sausage sandwich party with toppings galore in my future…

SAUSAGE SANDWICH WITH CRANBERRIES, SRIRACAHA MUSTARD AOLI, AND CHEDDAR
Inspired by Frank’s Jackalope

INGREDIENTS

4 links sausage, preferably smoked
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-4 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, to taste
1/4 cup mustard
2-3 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/2-2/3 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 hotdog buns

DIRECTIONS

Cook sausage according to package instructions (smoked sausage usually does not need to be precooked).  Prepare grill.

In a bowl combine mayonnaise, Sriracaha sauce, mustard, and horseradish.*  Chill for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Grill sausages, about 3-5 minutes per side, until charred.  Brush hot dog buns with melted butter and grill cut side down for 3-4 minutes.  Brush buns with mayonnaise mixture.  Place sausages on top.  Spoon cranberry sauce on top.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Place back on grill with lid closed for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

*These ingredients don’t have to be combined into one sauce but can instead be put on individually for each sandwich if you are serving people who don’t like all the flavors.

Beef Sandwich with Whole Grain Mustard and Cranberries

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So we all froze several bags of cranberries at the end of the winter holiday season, right? No? Just me? I am the only who is crazy enough about cranberries to fill a good portion of my freezer in order to have cranberries throughout the year?

I understand and accept that.

I also accept that I may be one of the few who love cranberries on sandwiches- and this is not limited to the glorious leftover Thanksgiving sandwich you eat until the beginning of December.  And it’s not just limited to turkey sandwiches either. I love cranberries on all types of sandwiches.

If you are  feeling a little adventurous one day and you see cranberry sauce at the grocery store, you may feel the urge to spread some cranberries on a roll and top it with some juicy beef, and I completely support this.

It will be wonderful, but I have a warning when you are putting this sandwich together.

I always have the urge to add more and more toppings on my sandwiches and end up with a huge sandwich that can barley fit in my mouth.  But with this sandwich especially, restraint is important. We are using some toppings with strong flavor.

Take this from me: use a light hand. When I spread way too much whole grain mustard on my first sandwich, my mouth was on fire. Who knew mustard could be spicy? Remember, less can be more. Except when it comes to the cranberries: more is more. In fact, I ate some cranberries on the side with this sandwich.

And just FYI, some grocery stores sell frozen cranberries that you can stock up on. And fresh cranberries will be back in stores in about 5 months. Just saying.

Join me in my happy, cranberry-filed world.

BEEF SANDWICH WITH WHOLE GRAIN MUSTARD AND CRANBERRIES
Adapted Slightly from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cranberries
1 cup water
3/4-1 cup granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons butter
4 6-8 ounces steak*
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 ciabatta rolls

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add cranberries and cook until the cranberries pop and most of the water is absorbed. Cool slightly and set aside.

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Melt butter. Cook two steaks (do not overcrowd the pan) for 4-5 minutes (for medium). Flip once and cook and additional 4-5 minutes. Repeat again with remaining two steaks. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice against the grain.

Warm ciabatta bread. Stir together mustard and mayonnaise Spread lightly on bread (the mustard can be potent) Spread cranberries on bread. Top with steak slices.

Makes 4-5 sandwiches.

*Use any cut of steak you like/can afford. I used a New York Strip this time because it was on sale and came in a decent sized portion.

Meringue Topped Cranberry Curd Pie

The world didn’t end, so let’s celebrate another year of my existence!

Now, my grudge against the Mayans for predicting the end of the world right before my birthday aside (quite inconsiderate of them), I am always up for celebrating anything, especially when that celebration will include dessert.  The traditional birthday celebration usually ends with cake, but I am a pie lover through and through.  And I may have made a fruitcake and a fancy layer cake for the upcoming Christmas festivities.

Besides being a pie lover, I am also a cranberry lover.  The cranberry curd comes out slightly sweetened and tart- and it is a beautiful holiday red color.  The curd is poured into a graham cracker crust, my personal favorite, and topped with meringue just to be fancy.  The meringue is absolutely divine, a nice light and fluffy topping.  Just watch it carefully while broiling- as you can see from my pie it can change in an instant.

MERINGUE TOPPED CRANBERRY CURD PIE
Adapted from Cooking Light
INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Cranberry Curd:
12 ounces cranberries
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup water, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, softened

For the Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

DIRECTIONS

For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, salt, sugar, and butter.  Stir together until moist and mixture clumps together.  Pour into pie pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.  Cool completely.

For the Cranberry Curd:

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract..  Cook for 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to burst and mixture boils.  In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 2 egg yolks.  Whisk together until smooth.  Temper the egg mixture by adding approximately 1 cup of cranberry mixture while whisking constantly.  Pour egg mixture into pan while whisking constantly.  Cook over medium heat until the filling reaches 160°F, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Pour mixture through sieve, straining out the cranberry skins.  Run through food processor until smooth.  Pour filling into crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

For the Meringue:

Preheat the broiler.

In a large bowl combine egg whites and 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Beat at high speed with mixer until soft peaks form.  In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 238°F.  Gradually pour hot syrup into egg white mixture while beating until stiff peaks form.  Transfer meringue to a piping bag and pipe on top of pie.  Broil for 30-60 seconds, or until lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

And the holiday baking continues.  Our family was recently united as my sister finished her first semester of college (!), and in a weird way, everything has gone back to how it used to be.  It feels normal yet different at the same time.  Soon we will be making all our holiday classics: sugar cookies, zucchini casserole, Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites, and Sausage Cups, but I am still enjoying trying new festive recipes.  These bars are a sweet combination of a blondie, white chocolate, and cranberries all topped with cream cheese frosting.  Yum.

Now, as I do not like coffee (not even the smell of it), I am not a frequenter of Starbucks.  I much prefer to get my caffeine drink fix from a can of Diet Coke.  But I always appreciate a baked good, and really homemade is often going to be better than any store bought treat.  These bars are pretty easy to make and a perfect way for a novice baker to dazzle at any holiday event.  Perhaps they would also go well with a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, but this I cannot attest to.  I can let you know that they taste excellent with a can of Diet Coke.

With the big C-Day almost here, it’s crunch time, but take some time and enjoy whipping up a new recipe if you can!  Here are some I have tried and loved:

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Walnuts
Chocolate Sprinkle Pretzel Bites
Black and White Cranberry Pie
Individual Pecan Pie
Blueberry and Sour Cream Pie
Cookie Dough Truffles
Chocolate Fudge
English Toffee
Salted Caramel Bark
Chocolate Brigadeiros
Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Tart
New York Cheesecake
Orange Cranberry Cookies
Fruitcake Cookies
Hazelnut Macarons with Nutella Buttercream
Gingerbread
Fig and Strawberry Baklava
Cranberry Turtle Bars`

CRANBERRY BLISS BARS
Slightly Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything via RecipeGirl
INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 ounces white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Line a 9 x 11 baking pan with aluminium foil.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.  Stir in light brown sugar and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Mix in vanilla extract and eggs.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed together.  Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.   Pour dough into pan and spread out evenly.  Bake for 19-21 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.  Cool completely.

In a bowl beat cream cheese for 1 minute.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat.  Gradually add the melted white chocolate and beat until combined. Fold in orange zest. Spread frosting in even layer over bars. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top.

Chill for 30 minutes to allow frosting to set.  Using the aluminium foil, remove from pan.  Cut into small bars or triangles.  Keep refrigerated.