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.

 

pancakes, syrup and snowdays

Ok, so I’ve always really loved McDonald’s Flapjacks… at least I did as a kid.

pancakesIt’s been decades since I’ve enjoyed anything from McDonald’s, but I vividly remember eating and enjoying the McD’s pancakes and begging my mother to replicate their succulent flapjack-ness at home. We always made the fluffy Bisquick type of pancakes, which are tasty… but not the same. It’s taken me a few years to perfect my own pancake-making abilities, I think it really comes down to the recipe. Wanna know My secret?

silver dollar cakesDry buttermilk powder. Here’s my favorite recipe straight off the back of the buttermilk box:

  • 1 envelope of dry buttermilk powder
  • 1 cup of AP flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Add beaten egg, water and oil. Beat just until batter is smooth. Drop from a spoon onto a hot, buttered griddle and cook until top is full of tiny bubbles and underside is brown. Turn and brown other side.

snowman cake

(Please excuse this quick-and-dirty action shot of someone enjoying her snowman pancakes). Today’s snowday was a perfect excuse to make and enjoy some homemade flapjacks!

soup-er bowl sunday

One thing I really can’t get enough of in the winter is soup!

IMG_3427_copy

There’s nothing like cozying up to hot bowl of soup with a good book, while the snow is falling. Easy for lunch, simple for dinner… I love soup! But soup from a can just doesn’t do it for me anymore now that I know how easy making a tasty batch of soup really is. This recipes for Sweet Potato & Chipotle soup is one of my go-tos this winter. Serve it with a little sour cream, and maybe a piece of cornbread, yum!

soup