Uncommonly Good

Brie and Cranberry Sauce

Update: I posted this about a year ago and today came across another tasty way to combine these two flavors. These baked brie bites come from Joy the Baker.

They are hot little treats on a stick… all full of melty cheese.

Joy the Baker suggests Cherry Jam, and she says you can use your personal favorite jelly or jam but my mouth immediately watered for cranberry sauce.

This would be a great way to introduce new flavors to kids or anyone who steers clear of anything different. They won’t see the rind on the brie, and they won’t see the lumpiness of the homemade cranberry sauce. They’ll probably just ask for another one.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programing

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I subscribe to a handful of food and recipe blogs and newsletters so my mailbox usually has a half-dozen or more recipes in it each day. I’ve noticed brie and cranberry sauce in the subject of  more than a few emails the past few weeks.

Cranberry Brie

Here’s how I put them together.

I sliced a small loaf of  French bread into slices about a half-inch thick. They went into the toaster oven and I turned the oven to about 325° or so just to warm the bread and barely toast it.

I smeared each slice with a thin spread of butter (I happened to have unsalted butter at room temp today) and topped it with a thin—about 1/8″ thick—slice of Brie. Then I slid the baking sheet back into the toaster oven at the same setting for a few minutes. It won’t look melted, but after a few minutes touch the cheese with a knife to see if it’s ready. When it’s soft and smearable it’s time to take it out.

Next I spread cranberry sauce on top of the cheese and slid it back in the oven for another minute or so. Just long enough to take the chill off the cranberry sauce.

Then I ate them. All by myself. I think I’ll go make some more.


December 29, 2010 Posted by | Appetizer, Sauce | , , | 1 Comment

Homemade Cranberry Sauce. Yes! It’s really that easy.

My holiday plate may be four inches deep with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy (no liver please), green bean casserole and all the other classics, but it’s not complete without a generous tablespoon or two of homemade cranberry sauce smushed down in the middle of everything. I make sure a smear of that crimson tartness is in every bite I take.

I always offer to bring it to family meals to be sure it’s on the table.The recipe is on the back of the package of cranberries. You can find them in a plastic bag in the produce department.

This is best served at room temperature. If you make it days ahead of time keep it in the fridge and take it out and let it warm to room temp before scooping into a small bowl for serving. If you have to make it the day of the event make it as early as possible. Let it cool 10–15 minutes and pour it directly into the serving dish. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce to keep a skin from forming. Put it in the freezer for a few minutes for a quick cool down and then leave it out to adjust to room temp before serving.

Keep in mind this will bubble up as it cook, so choose your pan wisely. Place it over medium-high heat.


Homeade Cranberry Sauce

1. Cranberries go into the pan. These are still frosty from the freezer.


Homeade Cranberry Sauce

2. Add the sugar.

Homeade Cranberry Sauce

3. Add the water.

Homeade Cranberry Sauce

4. Stir to disolve the sugar.

Homeade Cranberry Sauce

5. Cook until all the berries pop. Stir occasionally.

Homeade Cranberry Sauce

6. Remove from heat.

Homeade Cranberry Sauce

7. Let it cool some and before it congeals pour it into a container for the fridge.

If there are leftovers, pour it over a block of cream cheese and smear it on a cracker. My mom spreads it on toast like jelly.

I  recently discovered the joys of Cranberry Mustard, but it’s not cheap! I will shortly be pureeing a small batch of sauce to see if I can come up with my own home brew of cranberry mustard. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


December 8, 2010 Posted by | Sauce | , | 2 Comments

Leftovers Lasagna, NOT Leftover Lasagna—yet

Lasagna and Breadsticks

Leftovers Lasagna and Cheesy Parmesan Breadsticks

I thought my brother was coming to town over the weekend so I offered to help mom out by fixing lasagna for a family dinner/football watch party on Saturday night. I offered because I had a package of ground beef and two packages of Italian sausage I needed to freeze or use.

I’m still out of a job so my mom wouldn’t have let me cook if I was going to have to buy anything.

I cooked up the meat the same day, bagged it up and put it in the fridge.

Turns out my brother got sick and had to cancel, but fortunately I found out before I’d committed to using the entire three plus pounds of meat. I split the meat into three freezer bags and put it in the freezer.

Game night rolls around so I pulled one bag out of the freezer and made a quick batch of spaghetti for Dillon and I to eat during the game. It was really good! The dinner, and the game! We won!

I have a tendency to make too much pasta for the sauce I’ve prepared so this time I went on the conservative side and ended up with just the right amount for dinner, but then had leftover meat sauce when we finished.

I was still in the mood for lasagna so on Sunday I whipped this up with the leftovers… thus the title.

Following my plan to use only what I had on hand I pulled out an opened tub of cottage cheese for the cheese layer. I added an egg, a scoop of sour cream (just because I like it) and mixed it up. I also had some slices of provolone and Farmers cheese handy.


Leftovers Lasagna: Layered and Read to Bake

Instead of boiling the lasagna noodles, I tried a tip I saw on TV recently. I soaked the noodles in a casserole dish filled with hot water. I used hot water from the tap and let the noodles soak while I mixed the cheese and got everything ready to layer. It worked like a charm.

Since I wasn’t making a full size lasagna, I put this together in a loaf pan. I was able to use scissors to cut the noodles to the right length and size. The noodles were a tiny bit crispy, but if I’d let them soak 5–10 minutes longer, or poured boiling water over them they would have been perfect. At any rate it removed one gigantic step from the process.

So I layered it and put it in the oven and went to work on my cheesy Parmesan breadsticks.

Cheese Parmesan Breadsticks: Before

Cheese Parmesan Breadsticks: Before

I popped open a can of Pillsbury Breadsticks and dried the casserole I used to soak the lasagna.

Pillsbury Original Breadsticks

Pillsbury Original Breadsticks

I swirled a splatter of olive oil in the bottom of the dish. I wanted to use melted butter, but opted for a healthier fat. I separated the breadsticks and coated them with oil. I left them flat and sprinkled my own blend of seasoning over the top and then turned the breadsticks and seasoned the other side. Next I grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses over that. I twisted the sticks as directed added more cheese and then put the dish in the oven next to the lasagna.

About 12 minutes later the breadsticks were golden brown.

Cheesy Parmesan Breadsticks: After

Cheesy Parmesan Breadsticks: After


Leftovers Lasagna: After

Leftovers Lasagna: After

Very impatiently, I tried to wait the suggested 5-10 minutes to let the juices set a bit before cutting it, but I still dipped it out pretty juicy. No matter. It tasted great!

Now I have leftover Leftovers Lasagna to warm up for lunch or dinner the few days.


December 6, 2010 Posted by | Casserole | , , , , | Leave a comment


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