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.

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.

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

life is just a bowl of cherries

Pickled cherries to be exact. Strange, I know, but pretty yummy.

bowl of cherriesI really had no idea that you could pickle cherries. I haven’t even known for that long that you could pickle things other than cucumbers. But it’s cherry season and I had a large quantity of cherries on my hands and I wasn’t up for making a pie– actually, I wasn’t keen on having to pit so many cherries– so, off to the internets to find something to make with all this fruit!

pickled cherries

Ergo, pickled cherries. I just so happened to have all the ingredients in my pantry for this recipe.

Pickled Cherries

2 lbs sweet or sour cherries, stems and pits intact
3 cups (24 fl. oz.) red wine vinegar (ok, I used cider vinegar)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
3 pieces of star anise
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

  1. With a small fork or a toothpick, puncture each cherry 5-6 times to allow the pickling juice to penetrate the fruit. Place the cherries into a glass jar.
  2. In a medium pot, mix together the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to 1/3 of its original volume. Remove the pot from heat and let the pickling liquid cool down for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour the liquid over the cherries in the jar. If the cherries are not fully submerged, that’s okay. In a few hours, they will release more juice into the pickling liquid. Let the cherries cool down completely before closing the lid.
  4. Keep the pickled cherries in the seal jar in the refrigerator. To prolong the life of the pickled cherries, use a clean spoon every time you dig into the cherry jar. The pickled cherries, refrigerated, will keep up to one month. Keep in mind that the longer they keep, the more wrinkly and the more pale they will become.

I really had no idea what to expect, but the brine alone smells amazing. Pickled cherries are sweet, but spicy with a bit of a sour punch. I’ll have to think of some ways of eating them other than straight outta the jar… pickled cherries, who knew?

nature's candy

 

 

spring potato soup with chive oil

Here’s another tasty soup recipe, I’m also going to say a bit about photography.

potato soup

This is, as always, a favorite recipe that I love to make and love to eat! The recipe is tried and tested, I’ve made it a million times, find it below.

With my images I’m testing out something new. I used my Lowel Ego light for the first time with this one. I was working quickly, so I didn’t play around with it too much. I’m pretty happy with the results, I was going for the natural light look that I typically employ, only with an artificial light source– if only I could control the sun! My styling looks a little 90s… I’ll need to work on that.

I’m also testing out a new logo/watermark. I’m soliciting opinions, what do you think?new logochives

Potato Soup with Chive Oil


Ingredients:

  • 2 russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, stem removed cut into florets (surprise!)
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • chive oil (recipe here)

Directions:

Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for 5 minutes turn over and microwave another 3 – 5 minutes, until tender. Or if you prefer to use your oven, bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes.

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to pot. On medium heat, addchicken broth, milk, potatoes and bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Add sour cream, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl. Top each serving a drizzle of chive oil and an additional dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Bonus: You can also top this soup with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions for baked potato style yumminess (I highly recommend)!

take-out at home: fried rice

I was never really a fan of the typical Chinese take-out fried rice. But this is now one of my go-to recipes when I want something fast and yummy.

Fried rice with eggBelieve me, I love the ease of take-out, now and then. But sometimes, making your take-out faves from scratch is as easy as picking up the phone (and even tastier). You only need a few simple ingredients, some of these things you might already have in your fridge…

fried_rice_ing… and there’s little, to no skill involved. I’ve adapted this recipe from one of Martha Stewart’s, but I think mine is better (don’t tell her)!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 thick slice ham (8 ounces), cut into strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger (pro tip: I buy grated ginger in a tube found in the produce section)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1 1/4 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 large eggs

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add ham, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add rice, scallion greens, edamame, vinegar, and soy sauce. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Divide fried rice among four serving bowls.
  3. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Gently crack eggs into skillet; season with salt, and cook until whites are set, 2 to 4 minutes. Top each bowl of rice with a fried egg. Garnish with scallions.

Enjoy!