SWEET CRANBERRY BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

Yes, another breakfast casserole. But this one is definitely Thanksgiving- and Christmas-themed. While I’m thinking on one that includes pumpkin, enjoy this tasty creation.

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10 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, torn into bite-sized pieces

1-14 oz can whole cranberry sauce

8 eggs

3/4 cup half and half

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup pecans halves

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly butter 13×9 baking dish

2) Spread rolls over bottom of baking dish; drop cranberry sauce by teaspoonfuls over rolls; set aside

3) In medium-sized bowl, mix eggs, half and half, brown sugar, and cinnamon; pour over rolls; bake in oven 45-50 minutes until done in center; scatter pecans over top and bake additional 5 minutes; serve

Servings: 6

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PECAN-CRAISIN-LEMON CHOCOLATE ‘N CHOCOLATE BARK

This is a variation on Pistachio-Craisin-Orange Chocolate ‘N Chocolate Bark . It’s delicious (though I do lean more toward the pistachio version), and just as easy to make. Add or subtract toppings to your heart’s desire and you’ll have a beautifully sweet treat to share.

Pecan-Craisin-Lemon Chocolate Bark

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

zest of one lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), divided

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

1) Line a large  (12×17″) cookie sheet with parchment paper

2) Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and stir in half the lemon zest (reserving half for topping); pour melted chocolate onto prepared baking sheet and smooth into a rectangle

3) Pour white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and drop by spoonfuls on semi-sweet chocolate; using a knife or wooden spoon, swirl chocolates together until your swirl is just right

4) Sprinkle pecans, Craisins, and remaining zest over top and lightly press into chocolate; if you have the space, cool in fridge 30-40 minutes until chocolate is hard; if you don’t have the fridge space, cool on counter to room temperature; break into pieces of whatever size you think you can limit yourself to and serve (we like it cold, but it’s wonderfully tasty at room temperature)

CRANBERRY-APPLE-BALSAMIC PORK TENDERLOIN

Over the years, this recipe has probably been the most requested by family and friends. It has it all–ease of preparation, beauty, taste, taste, and taste. Junior Too says it’s the balsamic, I think it’s the Craisins and balsamic, and Senior is too content enjoying it to waste time picking it apart. Regardless, last night it was once again well received by our wonderful guests who helped us scrape the casserole dish clean. More than the usual thumbs up 🙂

Cranberry Apple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds

3/4 cup white cooking wine

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used cherry balsamic this go around but I think I prefer basic balsamic–one too many notes)

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup Craisins

1 apple (I used Gala), diced (Note: this ingredient is optional but a lovely addition)

1 tbsp parsley

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees (for warming)

2) In shallow bowl, mix flour, salt, and pepper; set aside

3) To large skillet (quite large or you may have to prepare in 2 batches) add olive oil and heat over medium-high

4) Meanwhile, dredge pork tenderloin rounds in flour; place in skillet and cook 4-5 minutes each side until browned and no longer pink; remove rounds from skillet (leave all those tidbits in the bottom for the sauce to come) and lay side by side in large casserole dish; place in oven to keep warm

5) Reduce skillet heat to medium and add cooking wine and water; in small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar and cornstarch and stir into wine; stir in Craisins and apple and cook 5 minutes until sauce thickens; remove from heat

6) Remove pork tenderloins from oven and pour Cranberry-Apple-Balsamic sauce over the top; sprinkle with parsley and serve

Servings: 4-6

PINEAPPLES FOSTER (NO FLAMBE, NO RUM, BUT PLENTY OF YUM)

A while back, I whipped up an unusual version of my Bananas Foster by substituting pineapple for bananas. And…yum! Clean plates again. Er, possibly licked clean 🙂

Pineapples Foster

olive oil

1 fresh whole pineapple, skin removed and cored

4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 tbsp brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (pecans would be nice too, maybe better, hmm?)

frozen vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream, enough for 4 generous scoops

1) Brush a swirl of olive oil across surface of a large skillet; heat to medium high

2) Cut pineapple into 8-10 rings; place 4 pineapple rings in skillet and cook 1-2 minutes each side until surface brown lightly; remove from skillet and place one ring in center of each of 4 plates

3) Lower skillet heat to medium-low; cut remaining pineapple rings (4-6) into small wedges

4) Add butter to skillet; as it melts, add brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and ginger; stir to combine; add Craisins, walnuts, and pineapple wedges; stirring constantly, cook 4-5 minutes until pineapple is heated through; remove sauce from heat (leave in skillet to keep warm)

5) Place a generous scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt in center of each pineapple ring; pour sauce over frozen yogurt; serve immediately and let the plate scrapers have at it!

Servings: 4

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 05/17/12.

AMAZING CRANBERRY-PECAN MIXED RICE

Obviously, I’m not as big on side dishes as I am on entrees and sweets, but this recipe is so good I have to pass it on. Although I used mixed rice this go around, wild rice is lovely too. Also, I did make it with chicken Rice-A-Roni once and it was delicious in its own right. Of course, that might have something to do with the cranberries, pecans, and roasted red peppers. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a combination like that.

Amazing Cranberry Pecan Mixed Rice

2 cups mixed rice (I used Rice Selects’ Royal Blend brand containing Texmati, white, brown, wild, and red rice)

1 chicken bouillon cube

3/4 cup dried and sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 scallions, sliced thin

1 large roasted red pepper, chopped fine (I used jarred and, in the past, opted for a mix of red and yellow that was not only tasty but very pretty)

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup sherry cooking wine (or the non-cooking kind, AKA very drinkable)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1) Prepare rice according to package directions, adding bouillon cube to water in which rice cooks

2) During the rice’s last 5 minutes of cooking, to large mixing bowl add: Craisins, pecans, scallions, roasted red pepper, olive oil, sherry cooking wine, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; mix well; stir in cooked rice; transfer to a lovely serving bowl and send out into the world 🙂

Servings: 8

BLUEBERRY-ORANGE-POMEGRANATE SMOKED SALMON SALAD

Bear with me while I say it again: I’m not a fan of fish, and as for salmon… But since it isn’t all about me, I make sure Senior and Junior Too get their weekly quota of stuff from the sea. Fortunately, I chose smoked salmon for this salad, of which I think I just might become fond. Of course, the blueberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, Craisins, goat cheese, and pecans played a big part in making this meal a keeper. Enjoy!

BLUEBERRY-ORANGE-POMEGRANATE SMOKED SALMON SALAD

6 cups romaine lettuce

4 cups spinach

1 cup fresh blueberries

1-11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained and segments chilled

1  cup pomegranate seeds (arils)

1/2 cup Craisins

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup pecans

8 oz smoked salmon, flaked

Dressing suggestion: raspberry vinaigrette (our favorite is Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette)

1) To large salad bowl, add romaine and spinach and toss to combine.

2) Scatter over lettuce and spinach: blueberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, Craisins, goat cheese, and pecans.

3) Top salad with salmon and serve with dressing

Servings: 4-5

PISTACHIO-CRAISIN-ORANGE CHOCOLATE ‘N CHOCOLATE BARK

It was the picture that made me give this Swirled Chocolate Bark from www.inspiredtaste.net a try. With minor changes, I presented this impressively decadent dessert to a houseful of what proved to be very happy Halloweeners. Not only was it incredibly easy to make, but you can add or subtract toppings to your heart’s desire. This recipe will definitely be hanging around my kitchen, especially with Christmas in the forecast.

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz white chocolate chips

zest of one orange, divided

1/3 cup shelled and roughly chopped pistachios

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (Craisins)

1) Line a large  (12×17″) cookie sheet with parchment paper

2) Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and stir in half the orange zest (reserving half for topping); pour melted chocolate onto prepared baking sheet and smooth into a rectangle

3) Pour white chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl; microwave, pausing and stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate melts; remove from microwave and drop by spoonfuls on semi-sweet chocolate; using a knife or wooden spoon, swirl chocolates together until your swirl is just right

4) Sprinkle pistachios, cranberries, and remaining zest over top and lightly press into chocolate; if you have the space, cool in fridge 30-40 minutes until chocolate is hard; if you don’t have the fridge space, cool on counter to room temperature; break into pieces of whatever size you think you can limit yourself to and serve (we like it cold, but it’s also amazing at room temperature)