Monthly Archives: November 2015

Cranberry Sauce 2.0 – Happy Thanksgiving!

For this Thanksgiving I’m taking you from cranberry sauce out of a can to cranberry sauce 2.0! I’m also taking you behind the scenes of my first Thanksgiving in Ohio. I’m sure you are all in the thick of cooking, probably have your cranberry sauce made, and won’t even read this until tomorrow. Nevertheless, I feel I need to put this out there into cyberspace because I am thankful today, and did I forget to mention – I love cranberry sauce! I love the color. I love how tart and sweet it is all at the same time. I love how it’s a great partner to turkey, but if it spills into the stuffing or sweet potatoes – even better! I love the fact you only need only 3 ingredients to make it. That’s without my splash of course, but we’ll get to that.

Remember this? I do and will admit, I even love cranberry sauce from a can!

On the first Thanksgiving we spent in Ohio back in 2003, we decided against travelling anywhere as we had just moved a couple of months before and the thought of a long drive, or rushing to the airport, was too much to think about. What we did instead was plan a fun weekend at home full with games, good food, and going to the movies. I thought it would be a great idea if we all cooked together for the holiday. Before Food Network told us it was cool for kids to be in the kitchen, mine already had aprons with their names embroidered on them! Here is what I remember… I was in charge of the turkey, my older son was in charge of the desserts, his younger brother helped with the cranberry sauce, and my husband just made a mess, so he was given the job of setting the table! And we laughed a lot.

What I learned from this experience was several things: first, since it was my then, 5 year old making the cranberry sauce, I learned how high raw cranberries can bounce and quickly scatter all over the kitchen! I also learned the importance of keeping a lid on the pot when cooking (they sometimes pop out!). I learned my older son was great at following directions and liked pumpkin pie. I learned that my husband while a menace in the kitchen was great at selecting wine, picking out good music, and setting the table which is where his expertise lies. I learned I didn’t play well with others in the kitchen but still loved every minute of it! Finally I learned how even though most people think of Thanksgiving as a time of being with a big extended family and lots of friends (and I was sad we weren’t), for us it was just as great if not better being just us four.

Today as I sit and write this post, I think of all I am grateful for. One of the first things that comes to mind is cranberry sauce! It reminds me of that wonderful Thanksgiving day in 2003 which taught me so much about my family. So here goes, my cranberry sauce recipe with what I think you’ll agree – a Splash of Sherri!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving wherever and with whoever you are with – be Grateful.

2 – 12 ounce bags of fresh cranberries washed
1 cup sugar (you can add more, it depends how sweet you like it)
2 cups water
3/4 cup dried cranberries (my secret ingredient)
¾ cup canned mandarin oranges in juice drained
½ to ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans(depending on how nutty you would like it)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (my other secret ingredient!)
Recipe makes about 5 cups and feeds a lot of people! Feel free to cut it in half.

Cook the cranberries, sugar, and water in a covered saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, add the dried cranberries and continue to cook another 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open, stirring occasionally. When checking the sauce to stir, be mindful to lift the lid away from you, as some cranberries might pop up as I found out the hard way! Remove from heat and allow it to cool a little before adding in the vanilla. If you add it when it’s too hot, it will evaporate quickly. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Before serving, add the walnuts and oranges. You can alter the amount to your liking.

A couple of tips before I leave you… Cranberry sauce thickens as it cools they are full of natural pectin. If it is thicker than you like, add a little water or juice to it. This year, I added pineapple juice because it’s what I had on hand, orange juice would work too, as would water. Add one tablespoon at a time, till the desired thickness. Second, you can always make it sweeter, so be conservative to start. Then if it’s not as sweet as you would like it, add a little sugar. One reason my recipe has 1/2 the sugar if not more than most, is the dried cranberries add a lot of sweetness. Oh, and you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to make this. It’s so easy, why not make it next week?

An Egg Sandwich that is Simple, and Absolutely Delicious!

No matter how you put it together, an egg sandwich is simple and absolutely delicious. It’s a whole meal in one neatly wrapped package. I’ve been enjoying egg sandwiches for a long time – since high school in fact. In those days it was an English muffin with an egg in one hand, and books in the other as I ran out the door to school. I think handheld meals are the best way to enjoy a healthy breakfast when pressed for time and let’s face it, there are so many variations and are so yummy! With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and recipe websites blitzing every holiday recipe known to mankind, I thought I would go a different route and offer a healthy breakfast alternative for you my wonderful readers. This is a two for one, as I’m also giving a shout out to one of my favorite coffee places here.

Recently I had an egg sandwich I can’t stop thinking about! It was at Fox in the Snow and not the kind you want to eat on the run. Instead, you want to sit and savor every bite with a steaming hot cup of coffee. Fox in the Snow is a bakery/coffee shop here in Columbus, Ohio. Cute name right? It’s located in an old garage and has a cool urban feel – which for me is a plus! It doesn’t hurt that the owners are Brooklyn transplants – something this New York girl was happy to find out! The menu is simple – great pastries and great coffee. I went in last week for a quick bite. A friend told me about their egg sandwich and said it was a must have so I ordered one with a hot mocha and as I waited listened to the album playing in the background.

The fluffy egg soufflé which is so light and rich sits on top of fresh crusty bread. It is topped with cheese (which I think is gruyere or Swiss), arugula, and a Dijon spread. (It ordinarily comes with bacon but not for this girl) Since they are a little far from where I live, I had to come up with something to tide me over until my next visit, so I decided to try my hand at making a lower fat version.

That was last Friday and I have made two of them since! Of course it’s not exactly like the one I had at Fox in the Snow. However, it has all of the components and is quite delicious in its own right and something I don’t feel guilty having a couple times a week. I think you’ll really enjoy it too!

The Sandwich
1 ciabatta roll or other fresh roll of your choice lightly toasted
3 to 4 egg whites*
1 slice of good melting cheese (gruyere, Swiss, or white cheddar)
handful of arugula
salt and pepper to taste

The Spread
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (use your favorite brand, I like Maille)
2 teaspoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise (you must use Hellmann’s)

First prepare the spread by mixing the mustard and mayo together in a small bowl, and set aside.

Place a small nonstick frying pan on the stove on medium heat. Spray it with canola oil or add 1 teaspoon of butter if you wish. Crack 3 to 4 eggs in a bowl and discard the yolks (or put them in a container for later use). Whisk the egg whites quickly with salt and pepper to taste and place in the prepared heated pan.

Lightly toast your roll while preparing your omelet. After you flip the egg, place the cheese on top to melt while the other side is cooking.

To build the egg sandwich, spread both pieces of the bread with the mustard, then place the egg with cheese on top, the arugula, and finally the top of the bread.

*You could use two whole eggs if you prefer. Crack them in a bowl, add a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk till fluffy then continue with the recipe)

We Should be Holding a Pie or Something!

We should be holding a pie or something! Actually, they should be holding a birthday cake – or two!

A few weeks ago, my husband and his dad were headed out for a bike ride. Before they left I ran out with my camera to take a quick picture of them. I think you’ll agree, too cute not to! The matching shirts were kind of a coincidence – so that worked out in my favor! While I was taking the picture, my father in law said “we should be holding a pie or something.” And with these 8 little words I smiled and thought, I wish they were holding a pie so I could blog about them. Then I realized, they didn’t need a pie – that’s not what my blog is about. It’s not about how many ways can you make a cookie, or 6 photos of the same brownie shot on different plates, in 6 different angles. It’s about food and the connection we have with it, it’s about family, friends, life events and my journey in this world.

Without pie in hand, they left with two bikes on the car rack, in matching shirts, and a cooler in tow filled with goodies for the day. Among the homemade cookies were tuna fish sandwiches, potato chips, clementines, apples, 6 bottles of water and granola bars. That’s how a Jewish mother packs a cooler – filled to the brim until you can’t close the lid! Several hours later, they came home tired, sunburned and with an empty cooler!

So today’s post is all about my birthday boys, father and son, one birthday on the 12th the other on the 13th. It’s easy to remember who’s birthday comes first. My father-in-law will remind you he came first so naturally his birthday is on the 12th! Happy birthday to 2 of my favorite guys!



In Honor of Sunday… May I Present to you – The Bagel, with Vegetable Cream Cheese!

In honor of Sunday morning …. May I present to you – the bagel with vegetable cream cheese!

It’s 11am on Sunday morning and if I was back in New York right now, I would be standing on line at a bagel place. I’d be standing behind someone drinking coffee, maybe texting or talking on their cell phone, hair unkempt (lots of hats on Sunday mornings!) reading the Post patiently (or maybe not so patiently – it is after all NY). Standing there in the warmth of the store I would inhale the aroma of Sunday.

Chances are if you are one of my neighbors in Columbus, Ohio – you are not having this kind of experience today. It’s challenging to say the least to get a good bagel here. Northeast friends, brace yourself and take a deep breathe… we don’t have bagel places like you do! The closest we have to a NY bagel is Bruegger’s Bagels (a 25 minute drive from my house) or our favorite, Sammy’s Bagels

So today instead of standing “on line” –  yesterday I went “online” and placed my order for a dozen bagels which were then delivered to my doorstep at 4am this morning. I have to admit, the experience isn’t the same. However, it must be similar to how children feel on Christmas morning when they run down to open presents. When I order bagels, which is probably a couple times a month, I run downstairs like a little kid and open the front door to my house, only to find a big brown bag filled with bagels! I open the bag and breathe in… Sunday has arrived!

The fun of this also brings me back to my childhood for a 3 reasons. One, my dad was a milkman. Two, we always had seltzer delivered. And three, Charles Chips – enough said!

So after all of this, you are probably wondering if there a recipe somewhere in here? Yes! I like to eat my bagel with vegetable cream cheese – which is even more challenging to find here than a good bagel! So yesterday, I made it myself.  If you have never had vegetable cream cheese before it’s a must. It’s creamy and has crunchy little gems of flavor. It’s so easy to whip up and to adapt to your liking! Enjoy your lazy Sunday, I certainly am!

This recipe is open for adaption. If you don’t like carrots, skip it or add red or green pepper instead. The same goes for all the other ingredients. Listed are what is traditionally found in vegetable cream cheese and how I like it. Recipe fills a a little bit more than a 16 ounce container. In my house, that’s enough for one breakfast!

2 packages of 1/3 reduced fat Philadelphia cream cheese close to room temperature
6 tablespoons finely sliced green onions (scallions)
4 tablespoons finely diced carrots
4 tablespoons finely diced radish
3 tablespoons finely diced celery (place on a paper towel after dicing and pat it dry)

Dice all of the vegetables very finely. I have seen some recipes suggest grating the vegetables. I don’t recommend that. It makes for a very different texture and flavor.

With a hand mixer, cream the 2 packages of cream cheese until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and blend just to incorporate. That’s it! If you don’t have a mixer, you can use a food processor to whip the cream cheese, then fold the vegetables in by hand. Enjoy!


Ode to my Mother-in-law Joan, and her Snickerdoodles

This post is an Ode to my Mother-in-law Joan, and her Snickerdoodles. First, the Snickerdoodle… Where did it originate? Who thought of the name? Why do so many people love it? One theory about it’s origin lies in New England. It is possible it is just a nonsense made up word. Need I remind you of the whoopie pie? Another theory could be, it is of German origin, from the word Schneckennudel (“snail noodles”). I’m sure there is some in-depth research done on this topic, but I’m satisfied with the ones I have found! Plus, who can argue with Schneckennudel? Why so many people love it – is easy! It’s a cookie that is crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a delicious hit of cinnamon in every bite and a little tang from the cream of tartar.

For me, it originated in Pleasant Hills, Pennsylvania in the 90’s. It was the first time I had ever heard of one, seen one, or tasted one. I was well into my 20’s and I’m pretty sure it was Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law Joan was the person who introduced me to this soft, fluffy, cinnamon laced cookie. She baked them almost every time we visited. There they sat in a tin, along side the other tins filled with cookies I had never tasted before: gingersnaps, spritz cookies, rum balls and chocolate gobs. Opening each tin was like unwrapping a birthday present and finding a surprise inside. After all of this, you probably think the snickerdoodle is my favorite cookie – but you would be wrong. I like them just fine but they are far from my favorite cookie. On the other hand, my boys and husband absolutely love them.

Over the years I have attempted to make them but they never came out as good as my mother-in-laws. Once they seemed so different my boy’s coined the term “Sherri-doodle” cookies! After a while, I gave up trying to make them. This past summer, my mother-in-law Joan passed away. I think in many ways her passing is the reason I have had such difficulty writing my blog. For me, food is so personal and has a strong connection to people and events in my life. Just thinking about writing seemed trivial and just sad. Plus, I loved her phone calls after I posted and knew I would miss that. It was the one thing we had most in common. We both love to read cookbooks, try new recipes, share our love of baking with others, and had a mutual admiration for the other when it came to the culinary arts.

I have always anticipated sharing some of her recipes with my readers. I guess it’s true what they say, don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today. The past couple of weeks I faced my baker’s block and today I am facing my writer’s block. I attempted the Snickerdoodle once more. This time, using my mother-in-law Joan’s recipe, they were delicious. The recipe comes from a community cookbook entitled Tried & True Recipes, The Best from Beth Israel Center’s Sisterhood and submitted by Judy Weiss. So here’s to you Joan, the first in many tributes to your fantastic baking and cooking – of course with a Splash of Sherri! I just couldn’t bring myself to use Crisco as the original recipe calls for. Crisco is something we didn’t agree on!

1 cup butter softened (or Crisco)*
1 – 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs (bring to room temperature)
2 – 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Add the flour to the butter mixture, mix and then chill the dough. (I was a little impatient here and didn’t chill the dough). They came out great, but will chill the dough the next time to see if there is a difference.

Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. I used a cookie scoop that was 2  1/2 teaspoons. Roll the ball in mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart for 8 to 10 minutes. Joan’s notes say to bake 10 minutes for soft cookies, 12 -15 for crisp cookies. With the small scoop, I ended up with 80 2 1/2″ cookies! The cookies will puff when they bake and then flatten to a crinkled top.

*Some recipes call for 1/2 butter and 1/2 Crisco.