Saturday, December 18, 2010

Festive Cranberry Corn Salsa

Here is another holiday dish tradition that we absolutely love. While I don't use canned goods often, a few for a quick salsa is a valuable time-saver around the holidays.

We love serving this salsa with blue corn chips. They look so pretty together.

And it makes a great gift.

I always gift it with a bag of organic blue corn chips so it can be used immediately.  Crucial:  since the salsa hasn't been preserved, gift it immediately, and keep it refrigerated (tastes great for up to a week and can be frozen for a few months).  I always make a nice note card with the gift explaining this.

Cranberry Corn Salsa Recipe:
I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine a few years ago, but can't find a direct link to it. It is featured on this website, check it out for a printable version of the recipe.

1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (can substitute with parsley)
1 16 oz can whole-berry cranberry sauce (or same amount of leftover fresh cranberry sauce)
1 15.25 oz can whole-kernel corn, drained (I use no salt; for less corn, use the 7 oz can)
1 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies

Combine all the ingredients then chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes to build flavors.

So, for something different this holiday season, or anytime, enjoy this cranberry corn salsa with blue corn chips, or your favorite corn chips. This salsa also tastes terrific with ham or pork, chicken or turkey sandwiches, and with cottage cheese.

For the fresh version of this Cranberry Corn Salsa, please see this post.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Split Pea and Ham Soup, A Holiday Comfort Food

Around the holidays we traditionally have a ham dinner on Christmas eve and from the leftovers we make this wonderful split pea and ham soup, that even our teenage children love.  My favorite recipe comes from the New Basics Cookbook.

The recipe has a lot of ingredients but it is relatively easy and quick (although, I always cook it about an hour longer than the time called for in the recipe to really break down the peas).  And fresh ingredients are a must for success!  We are careful about our salt intake so we use ham sparingly and don't add salt.  Low-sodium broth helps, or I use my own no-salt broth when I have it on hand.

This recipe is so good I deviate only a little from the original.  

It's even better the second day

Split Pea and Ham Soup
  •  1 lb dried green split peas
  •  5 cups chicken stock
  •  5 cups water
  •  1 meaty ham bone
  •  2 ribs celery, diced
  •  3 tbls chopped fresh Italian parsley
  •  1/2 tsp crumbled, dried tarragon leaves
  •  4 tbls unsalted butter (or olive oil, or half butter and half oil)
  •  1 cup diced peeled carrots (I leave peel)
  •  1 cup diced onion
  •  1 leek, white part only, rinsed and sliced
  •  1 cup slivered fresh spinach leaves
  •  2 tbls dry sherry

    My method: Rinse the split peas in a strainer, and then combine with stock and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the ham bone, celery, 1 tbls of parsley and tarragon. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add carrots, onion, and leek. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes, then add to the soup, along with spinach. Simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from the heat, remove the ham bone, and shred the meat from the bone, removing any excess fat. Return the meat to the soup, add sherry, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley. Stir and heat through. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Really Nice Small Businesses to Shop this Season, and Anytime!

12/1/11: I'm sad to say that Wrentham Antiques Marketplace closed in June 2011
Wrentham Antiques Marketplace
on Rte 1A in Wrentham Massachusetts, Wrentham Antiques Marketplace, is my all time favorite place to shop, visit and chat with owners and friends, Kathy and Chuck, and if they're not there, with Jane who is always friendly and helpful.  And, often, I get to chat with antique-curious customers who make the short trek like I do to browse the many unique items . . .
Enter the marketplace . . .
I am charmed . . . 
I start thinking how I'd like my house to look  

This looks cozy
Stunning vintage glassware for gracious entertaining
I can never wait to get to the vintage clothing area and start trying on hats and things
I chose this vintage pearly dress to wear in some creative way over the holidays
More fun accessories to choose from
And if you're not sure what to make for the holidays, this vintage Hoosier's cabinet has it listed for you. Why reinvent the wheel!
Well-crafted furniture that becomes a conversation piece in your home
Well worn furniture that begs you to touch and you can almost hear age-old stories
An old fashioned Christmas

Kitschy salt and pepper shakers - adorable!  And made in the USA.  (I bought these for my sister who I know will get the biggest kick out of them!)
A unique Chinese basket

Hidden treasures
You're Welcome!  And thank you for providing local jobs, fine quality local products and services, and a great shopping experience, always!

My expedition continued a few miles north on Rte 1A into Norfolk, Ma, to a lovely shop, With Heart and Hand

"A home furnishings store with an upscale country look."  There a several rooms full of country primitive and country chic furniture, decorative items, everyday ware, hardware, a large chic boutique with jewelry, accessories, clothing and there's a home decorating area upstairs with homespun decorator fabrics. 

Right next door is the Eagle Brook Saloon.  A nice place for lunch.  (Another great place for lunch if I didn't want to head north so quickly, is Cafe Assisi, a small quaint Italian bistro, right near Wrentham Antiques at the intersection of Rtes 1A and 121, just off of Rte 495.)

Turning around, I headed back, south, and stopped at the charming Wrentham center.  

Here, there is a fun shop for ladies called Bambi's.  The store is being remodeled so selections were limited, but I picked up a few novelty item stocking stuffers and at 50% off.

Next door is mmm-Marcia's Sweet Pantry. 
She makes cakes, pies, and dessert trays to order.  Sells chocolates, candy, teas and other goodies.  I picked up pumpkin whoopie pies and assorted "turtles".
I'm stopping by before Christmas to pre-order a chocolate "gingerbread-looking" house filled with assorted chocolate goodies.  If it's anything like the easter egg we ordered a few years ago, it's sure to be a hit

That was it for the day.  But if I had started earlier, I would have turned up Pine Swamp Road in Cumberland, Rhode Island, from Rte 121 and stopped at:

Pine Swamp Place for a look at Arlene's awesome silk floral arrangements in swags and wreaths, assorted country gifts and wares, snowmen, candles and charming ornaments.  

Then, I would have headed down Wrentham Road toward Mendon Road, still in Cumberland, RI.   A right takes me to With Heart and Soul, a lovely boutique with Pandora, John Madeiros and other brand name jewelry, Vera Bradley, Brighton, chic clothing and accessories, entertaining ware and much more. Although, I shopped there last week and found this cool bag made from seat belts!

And, If I really wanted to cap the day in style, drinks and dinner next door at Andrew's Bristro.  Here is a picture of a delicious scallop dinner I had there this summer: