simple

Cranberry Squares

So, sorry for the handful of you that follow this blog. I stopped writing for several reasons, but I hope to be back for good. Having a full time job means I don’t leave work till the sun starts setting, so I have NO time to take photos unless it’s the weekend. And I’m not exactly always in the mood to cook a huge dinner for one.

My grandmother started making these delicious squares I think for Christmas years and years ago. I knew they were good, but I didn’t know how easy they were to make. I am no baker, but I haven’t messed them up. There’s still hope for you non bakers out there!

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It’s a pretty straightforward recipe. You’re simply beating and stirring in ingredients then baking them till they become one unified, cake like substance.

These used to be an after dinner treat, but I decided to start wrapping them up and taking a square or two for breakfast. They’re great alongside a glass of milk of cup of coffee.

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A few things before we get to baking:

  • This dough will be very thick. Some wet fingers to squish it to the sides with a little bit of elbow grease and the dough won’t stand a chance.
  • I added orange juice the first time I made these because I was so worried about the dough being so thick. Doesn’t really help that much but the flavor is spot on. Some orange zest would be great here, too.
  • I’ve actually never used fresh cranberries to make these, but I know my grandmother does. Frozen cranberries are perfectly fine.
  • I typically don’t use pecans because they’re so expensive. They add a nice crunch, but if you don’t have any, worry not. The almond flavor comes right through in each bite.

Cranberry Squares

  • Servings: 16-18 squares
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon almond flavoring
  • 1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/8 cup fresh orange orange juice
  • 2/3 cup pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for five minutes.
  2. Add butter, almond flavoring, and orange juice. Beat another two minutes.
  3. Stir in cranberries and pecans.
  4. Spread in 13×9 inch greased and floured pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. When a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean, they’re done!

30 Minute Alfredo with Sun Dried Tomatoes

No matter how much I try to come up with a unique or different recipe, I always end up coming back to pasta.DSC_0199

When I first started making my own Alfredo sauce, I was a kid, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. All I knew was that if Ina could make it, so could I. I started with butter and way too much flour in the pan then added milk and whatever processed cheese Mom had in the fridge. And it was SO GOOD.

Correction: It was not good.

I wanted so desperately for it to be creamy and delicious and not seize up the second it started to cool down. Being the kid I was, I pretended it was just that. I pretended that it was the best thing anyone had ever created in the kitchen. I looked past the chalky, grainy texture and I kept telling myself how awesome it was.

Seeing the congealed blob in the fridge the next day didn’t do much for my confidence in the kitchen, but it did make me more determined to create a better, more edible sauce, if we’re being honest here.

Join me in the future now, where my sauce is no longer grainy nor chalky. Its silky, rich and smooth texture is what I wanted to achieve all those years ago. Its creaminess is what makes me keep coming back for more.

I tried to make this recipe as easy as possible, while keeping the number of ingredients to a minimum. This isn’t a recipe you’ll need to make a grocery trip for, because most of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.

The only thing I don’t always have on hand is heavy cream, but it’s not a necessary component (especially if you’re watching your calorie intake). I’ve made this plenty of times without cream and it’s just as good.

I also use linguine for this. As much as I love pasta, fettuccine noodles have always been too thick for me. So any kind of pasta you have is fine.

Start by melting the butter in a skillet or saucepan. Add the flour and cook for just a few minutes. The only reason you’re adding flour is so the sauce thickens. So because we don’t want to actually taste the flour, it’s important that it cooks.

To keep the sauce as smooth as possible, I don’t chop the garlic. I crush a few cloves with the side of my knife and take them out before i’m ready to serve.

Carefully add the milk and cream while whisking out any lumps. Once the sauce thickens, you’ve made a Bechamel sauce (with some garlic). Congrats!

Go ahead and add salt and pepper at this point. Some people will say to wait until you’ve added your cheese, but we’re only adding one kind of cheese here, so it won’t be over salted.

And while we’re talking about cheese, you want a good quality kind. The cheese is the main flavor in the dish so you want it shine through. Grating it straight from the block or wedge is your best option.

The most important step is next. You have to take your pan off the heat before you add the cheese. Remember that grainy sauce from earlier? This is where that happens. You can always put it back on the heat after the cheese starts to melt.

Add those sweet, tangy sun dried tomatoes and you’re done!

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30 Minute Alfredo Sauce with Sun Dried Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes

Directions

  1. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
  2. Slowly add in milk and cream. Whisk out any lumps of flour. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Take pan off the heat and add Parmesan. Once cheese is mostly melted, you can put it back on the heat to keep the sauce warm.
  4. Remove garlic cloves and stir in tomatoes.

Simple Buttercream Frosting

So I noticed I don’t have ANY sweet recipes on my blog. There’s a simple reason for that: I really am not the best baker.

It’s a damn good day when I decide to make the cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle bag and it doesn’t go awry. I over mix things, under bake cakes, and still can’t figure out what’s going wrong with my caramel sauce.

So this definitely isn’t to say I don’t try. There’s just a science to baking and I am no scientist.

Like I said earlier, burned caramel sauce after burned caramel sauce does not bode well for one’s self esteem, so I created a buttercream frosting. I knew I couldn’t burn that!

It’s pretty simple, buttercream frosting. It’s just a few ingredients and takes virtually no time at all.

Start by beating the butter with a hand mixer. In order to make the frosting fluffy, which is what we want, it’s important to fluff the butter up a bit before adding the sugar. Confectioners sugar is best here, given its powdery texture.

I added the sugar a cup at a time for two reasons: 1) You don’t want a lumpy frosting, so adding it in slowly gives the mixer time to catch up 2) I don’t like powdered sugar all over my kitchen walls and island.

About half way thorough adding the sugar is when I added the cream. You can use milk here, but I figured it’s already so full of fat and sugar, a few spoonfuls of cream won’t make a difference. If you want a thinner frosting, just add more cream or milk. Add a few drops of vanilla and you’re done.

This is a very basic recipe, so the flavors you choose to add are endless.

Simple Buttercream Frosting

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat softened butter for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Add sugar a cup at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
  3. Add in heavy cream or milk to desired consistency. Add vanilla and mix well.