homemade ketchup? yes, please.

I hate to admit this, but my seven-year-old has recently entered the stage of all foods must be dipped in ketchup in order for me to eat this.

DIY ketchup | sagebrousseau.com

I pick my battles, so I go with it, the only problem was when we ran out of ketchup… this was an emergency situation! I did a quick Google search and learned that making my own ketchup was relatively fast and easy and I had all the ingredients on hand. Ketchup-crisis averted.

At first, I was skeptical. Would it taste as good as the brand I’ve always bought? Would it pass muster with the picky eater? To my surprise, homemade tastes far better than store-bought ketchup, and my child-tester LOVED it! Score! I haven’t bought any ketchup since.

DIY ketchup | sagebrousseau.com

Here’s my recipe for the best ketchup you’ll ever try (bonus: no high-fructose corn syrup):

DIY Ketchup

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cups water

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently to avoid spattering, for 20 to 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Adjust the flavors as necessary, you can add up to another tablespoon of sugar or a little more worcestershire sauce to get the taste you desire. Serve and enjoy!

P.S.: Happy New Year, I hope your 2015 is happy and healthy so far! I’ve been down and out with a massive cold, but now I’m back.

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christmas bonus: bourbon pecan fruitcake bites

Like many folks, I have never been a fan of the traditional fruitcake.  Ridiculed for its brick-like appearance and studded with unnatural glossy green and red “fruits,” it never really tasted any better than it looked.

mini fruitcakes | sagebrousseau.com

Why does fruitcake have such a bum rap? Generally speaking, fruitcake is just a mixture of brandied fruits and nuts with a spiced batter to hold them together… sounds delicious, where did this holiday treat go awry? Since I enjoy reveling in Christmastime traditions, and fruitcake being among the most time-honored, I am determined to make a more palatable recipe!

Despite the fact that this is a dessert composed mainly of nuts and fruits, it is not technically a health-food. However, I did shop my favorite local natural-foods store for the necessary ingredients: dried fruits and nuts. I had all the other tasty ingredients already in my kitchen: butter, eggs, sugar… and bourbon, of course.

Bourbon Pecan Fruit Cake Bites bourbon pecan fruit cake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Yield 24

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups diced mixed dried fruits (I used dates, cranberries, and crystallized ginger– you could also try apples, apricots or golden raisins)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¾ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 6 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ to 1 cup flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Soak nuts and an dried fruits (omit crystallized ginger, if using) in bourbon for 8 hours. Preheat oven to 325º Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, add egg and beat. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and cinnamon. Reduce speed on mixer and add flour mixture. Batter should be thick. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruits (including ginger) and nuts to the batter, fold into batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. If batter appears dry you may add some of the left over bourbon a teaspoon at a time.

Line mini-muffin pan with paper liners, use a measured scoop to fill each with a rounded teaspoon of batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly and the cakes are a light golden brown.

bourbon fruitcake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Because of the alcohol content, fruitcake may be stored (covered in the refrigerator) for up to one month, but these are so tasty, I don’t think that will be a problem! Happy Holidays.

perfect holiday charcuterie in only five steps

So it’s the holiday season, and you’re either hosting this year or have been asked to contribute something to the celebration or meal, have you thought about a charcuterie and cheese plate? Get the perfect plate in just five easy steps.

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#1: Select your cheeses. To make it easier, pick from these categories: soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard (bonus points for something smoked). Seems simple enough– I went with Brie, Blue Cheese, Manchego, Aged Cheddar, and Smoked Gouda– sure to please any crowd.

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#2: The vehicle. This is generally crackers or some crusty bread. Done.

#3: Something sweet. Fresh fruits like grapes, or apples are a no-brainer, you could also try fresh figs, or dried fruits like apricots, pears and cranberries. Honey is another great option, I love a slice of Manchego drizzled with a bit of honey– yum!

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#4: Something savory. Salted nuts or olives are always a nice addition to your cheese plate. But pickles, like cornishons, are my all-time favorite.

#5: Meat. We’re talking cured meats here, like Prosciutto or Salami. How about Sopressata or Bresaola?

If you’re still having a hard time choosing, or you don’t want to go it alone, check out the selection from Sid Wainer & Son or their cheese collections available at Costco.com.

Happy yummy holidays!

not your grandmother’s rice pudding

You either love rice pudding or you hate it. I L-O-V-E it, and my grandmother’s recipe was actually pretty darn good.

coconut rice pudding | sagebrousseau.com

It’s so simple to make, and really may be my most favorite food. I loved when my Gram would make it for me when I was a little girl, it was her favorite too and we’d eat it together with spoons from the pot (“let’s not bother with bowls”), gobbling it down, right off the stove top.

Now, I savor every grain of warm, chewy rice before its warmth fills my belly, thinking about my Gram and imagining her here with me. It’s the perfect treat on a cool Autumn afternoon.

gram's rice pudding | sagebrousseau.comHere’s my spin on the classic recipe, scented of vanilla with a hint of cinnamon and coconut milk for a rich, creamy finish.

Coconut Rice Pudding

  • 1 14oz. can of coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine coconut milk, milk, rice and cinnamon in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently for for approximately 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and no longer liquidy.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar, salt and vanilla.
  3. Eat all of it immediately. Serve warm or chilled.

coconut rice pudding | sagebrousseau.com

cranberries: New England’s superfood

It’s no wonder why cranberries are a staple of holiday cooking and eating, since they are freshest and in season September through December.

cranberries | sagebrousseau.com

There is no food more quintessentially New England than the cranberry, documentation from Ocean Spray even suggests that the first commercial cranberry harvest took place in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816. Not only are cranberries one of only three berries native to the U.S. (blueberries and Concord grapes are the other two), it is also considered a superfood full of antioxidants and rich in vitamin C and fiber.

Eating foods with antioxidants in them are believed to protect the body from “free radicals”, which are cells that have been damaged. Composed of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, the antioxidants help repair the damage to cells that free radicals have gotten a hold of and helps keep your immune system strong. Cranberries are higher in antioxidants than almost all other fruits and vegetables out there (outranking cherries, red grapes, and broccoli)!

cranberries | sagebrousseau.com

cranberry bread | sagebrousseau.com

I prefer eating my antioxidants in the form of baked goods, don’t you? Try this tasty cranberry bread recipe from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association:

  • 1/2 C. Butter
  • 1 Tbs. Grated Orange Peel
  • 3 Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 2 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 2 C. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, Chopped
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1Tsp. Vanilla
  • 3/4 C. Buttermilk
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 C. Pecans, Chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray bottom only of 9″ X 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Beat butter, sugar, orange peel and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt, add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating at low speed just until blended. Fold cranberries and nuts into batter. Turn into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

 

apple cider donuts

Despite what the thermometer reads today, it is Fall in New England and that means it’s apple cider season!

Apple Cider Donuts

The onset of Autumn weather instantly fills me with a sense of nostalgia, I suddenly crave sweaters, bonfires, and apple cider. Of course apple cider is especially delightful served hot, but in my opinion the best way to consume cider is in donut form! Temptation got the best of me recently and I bought a donut pan… I know, now I have no excuse but to make and eat donuts all the time. Well, maybe not. But it is a lot of fun making your favorite treats at home.

ingredients

I can’t say these donuts are quite as satisfying as the true, fried variety, but they are tasty and you can bake these up at home and feel slightly less guilty when you polish off one (or more) with your morning coffee, or a glass of milk.

Ingredients:

yield: one dozen (this recipe can easily be cut in half)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp soft unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • for topping (optional):
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (or to taste)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Spray two donut pans with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another smaller bowl, blend the eggs, buttermilk, apple cider and butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into prepared donut pan. You want to fill each donut mold about 3/4th of the way full. Place donuts in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until fluffy and slightly golden. Invert donuts onto a cooling rack, and let cool while you prepare the cinnamon sugar topping.

Place melted butter in a small dish and cinnamon sugar on a larger dish. Brush each donut with the melted butter then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Delish!

bite of donut

what I did on my summer vacation

Oh, hi. You may have wondered where the heck I’ve been…The Salted Slate

Overall, this summer was relaxing, but things got busy. I saw old friends, spent some time in the White Mountains and on Cape Cod with my family. But the best thing that happened this summer was that my dear, dear friends opened a restaurant in Providence, RI called The Salted Slate, I’m so proud of them! I’m also very proud to have played a role in this exciting endeavor, of course with photography, and it was really fun being a part of the process. Look at these yummies.

Appetizer

If you are in or anywhere near Rhode Island, you simply must check out the Salted Slate for dinner, lunch, or Brunch (there are donuts) the menu is fantastic and focused on local fresh ingredients including house-cured meats. The atmosphere is quite nice too, modern yet rustic with plenty of tables and a cozy bar.

The Salted Slate, 186 Wayland Ave., Providence, saltedslate.com

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Fresh ingredients

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