Cranberry Bourbon Sauce Recipe

Cranberry sauce mbc 2015

Cranberry sauce.

You either like it or you don’t. You either eat the gelatinous preformed cranberry sauce out of a can, or you eat the tangy, zesty, fresh cranberry sauce of your youth. I fit into the latter category, but I was once an out-of-the-can only kind-of-girl.

Growing up, mom made a chunky cranberry sauce every year during Thanksgiving and Christmas. She had a special small cut glass bowl that she used every year to serve it in, too. She’d place that sauce on the table with a flourish. I knew it her cranberry sauce was something special.

As much as I loved all the attention she gave that sauce. As much as I liked the splash of color on the otherwise neutral-colored foods on the table, I’d wrinkle my nose to her “just try a little bit,” words of encouragement. My immature teenage self of the 60s and 70s couldn’t understand why anybody would eat the rind of an orange and lemon, let alone a tart, lip puckering concoction. Instead, I’d plop a slab of canned cranberries on my plate and watch with interest to see who ate from the glass bowl.

It would be decades before I discovered my love for the chunky, tart cranberry sauce. And even though this isn’t mom’s recipe and my husband wrinkles his nose to my Kentucky-style concoction, I make it every year as an homage to both mom and to Kentucky, the place I now call home.

I even own a cut glass bowl.

Cranberry Bourbon Sauce 
Serves 6 to 8

Cranberry sauce is the quintessential Thanksgiving holiday staple. It offers a tart, zingy explosion of flavors to complement the neutral flavors of turkey and mashed potatoes.

My recipe is punched up a notch with a splash of dusty, mellow bourbon. Take it to the next level—add a little crumbed goat cheese, toasted walnuts and then zest a lemon over the top for that extra pop.

Watch it disappear. Appetite required.

Cranberries organic mcb 2015

1 (12 ounce) bag organic fresh cranberries, wash and drained

1 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup apple juice

1/8 cup bourbon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Zest of one large navel orange

Zest of one large lemon

Dash ginger

Dash cinnamon

¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)


  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the walnuts, in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until sugar is melted. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and cook about fifteen minutes, until the sauce thickens and berries begin to explode.
  4. Remove from heat and let the sauce cool for an hour.
  5. Add walnuts if desired and stir. Serve in a cut glass bowl (optional).
  6. Cover and refrigerate for up to four days, or freeze for up to one month.

Maureen C. Berry 2015

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Pasta With Pumpkin And Sweet Sausage

Pasta w Pumpkin & Sweet Sausage mcb 2015

What’s October without pumpkin something or other?

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecake, cookies and pies. Even if you don’t like pumpkin spiced lattes gasp, you gotta admit, October makes us think all things pumpkin.

But you might have heard about the great pumpkin shortage of 2015?

Oh no Charlie Brown!

Well, don’t rush out and clear the canned pumpkin shelves just yet. But don’t wait much longer either. Libby, the company that makes 80 percent of the canned pumpkin says the canned pumpkin shortage won’t happen until after Thanksgiving this year.

On second thought, you might want to go get some pumpkin, ’cause I have a recipe that you’re gonna want to cook more than once.

Trust me.

Enter Pasta with Pumpkin and Sweet Sausage.

Oh yeah. I’m talkin’ sweet and savory. Creamy and salty.

What’s not to like?

Pasta with Pumpkin And Sweet Sausage
4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 1 /2 cups chicken stock

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 large sage stalk

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Dash shaved nutmeg

1 pound pasta

1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage

¼ light cream

Flat leaf parsley sprigs, chopped for garnish

  1. Heat a large deep bottom skillet on medium heat. Add butter. When butter foams, add onions. Stir occasionally and cook for three to four minutes or until the onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium low if the onions start to brown.
  2. If you’ve reduced heat, increase it back to medium, add the wine, stir and cook reducing the liquid to half. About four to five minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock, pumpkin and sage. Stir and bring to a soft boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer fifteen minutes.
  4. While the sauce simmers, cook the sausage in a separate skillet. If you’re using sausage links, remove the casing and break into bite size chunks before you cook it. Work in batches if necessary, careful not to brown the sausage. You want the sausage brown with a hint of pink in its center. Also, if you are cooking in batches, add the cooked sausage to the sauce as you go.
  5. While the sausage cooks and the sauce simmers (that sounds like a little jingle huh?) bring water to boil in a medium pot, add salt (optional) and cook the pasta according to the package directions. If the pasta is done before the sausage, reserve ½ cup of pasta water, then drain. Keep the pasta warm by draining the water into a large bowl, add the drained water back to the pot, return the pot to the stove on low heat and place the pasta (now in the strainer) over the simmering water.
  6. When all the sausage is in the sauce, remove the sage and discard.
  7. Add the cream to the sauce. Stir.
  8. Add the pasta to the sauce, stir adding the reserved pasta water a few tablespoons at a time as needed to bring the sauce and pasta together.
  9. Scoop the Pasta with Pumpkin and Sweet Sausage into bowls. Garnish with a lil chopped parsley and shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve immediately. Appetite required.

Got a favorite pumpkin recipe you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to share!

Thanks for stopping by,


10 Steps To The Best Chicken Chili Recipe

Chicken Chili MCB 2015

Yep, 10 steps is all it takes to make The Best Chicken Chili Recipe.

But first, I have to warn you.

There will be no Chicken Chili leftovers!

Seriously. It’s that good.

While you probably have your crock pot standbys, I know I sure do, isn’t it nice to break out of your comfort zone and spice things up?

Now maybe you’re a traditionalist and also fanatical about your chili. I get it. Elvis likes his chili, well, the way I always make it—no bell peppers, dark red kidney beans, one third pork, two thirds beef (80/20 please). Just sayin’, the man knows if I use 90/10.

The only fuss with this recipe, and I say fuss lightly, because really, if searing chicken breast a few minutes is a fuss, then go ahead and hand this recipe over to your honey, or your child-in-chef-training.

It’s really that easy. And that delicious.

Elvis approved. Appetite required.

Chicken Chili
Serves 6

½ cup all purpose flour

Dash kosher salt

Dash black pepper

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced

1 large carrot, shredded on a box grater

1 cup corn

2 (five) ounce cans diced green chiles

1 (13.5) ounce can lite coconut milk

1 cup chicken stock, plus more if needed

1 1 /2 tablespoons cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

Sour cream

Lime wedges

  1. Add flour, salt and pepper to a bag. Add the chicken and shake to coat. Shake off excess.
  2. Heat a large skillet on medium for several minutes. Add canola oil and swirl the oil in the in skillet.
  3. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken to the skillet. Cook about three minutes each side.
  4. While the chicken cooks, add onion, carrot, corn, and green chiles to the crock pot. Set the crock pot to low.
  5. When the chicken is browned on both sides, add the breasts to the crock pot.
  6. Add the coconut milk to the crock pot.
  7. Heat the chicken stock for one minute in the microwave. Add the cumin, chili powder, cayenne and salt to the hot stock. Stir. Add the seasoned stock to the crock pot. Stir. Cover the crock pot and cook on low for six hours or until the chicken falls apart.
  8. Add the white beans to the crock pot fifteen minutes before serving.
  9. Shred the chicken breasts before serving.
  10. Scoop a generous portion of The Best Chicken Chili into bowls. Don’t skimp! Serve with sour cream and lime wedges. Parsley optional.

What’s your Best Chili recipe? Let me know in the comments or find me online

Also, I have a new website coming soon! Check it out and sign up for my newsletter while you’re over there.


Maureen C. Berry 2015

Maureen C. Berry is a writer, sustainable seafood advocate, cook, emerging photographer and nap-taker. When she’s not, she tries to play better guitar and spoils with her feisty nine-year-old wire fox terrier. You can find Maureen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Potato And Bacon Soup

Potato & Bacon Soup mcb 2015

“I can eat potato soup and chili all winter long.”

That was Elvis a few nights ago after the temperatures plummeted to the high 40s and low 50s. And while it’s only early October, and I know the temps will return to normal (whatever that is anymore), I bookmarked that one for later in the year.

But the other day, Kroger had a 5-pound of russet potatoes on sale for $1.48!


I couldn’t resist. Then again, I’m a sucker for a sale! But that’s another story. It gave me the chance to take him up on one of his favorite cool-weather meals.

Enter Potato & Bacon Soup.

Here’s how I roll in Madville:

Cook’s notes: You can make the soup without the bacon, but why would you? Unless you’re not into pork. So if you want to go that route, sub the bacon fat [sobs a little at this] with two or three tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Eating potato soup is a subjective thing. Elvis likes his chunky. Me? I’m not fussy. I just like it. Hot cold, smooth, chunky. But, if you like a smooth potato soup, then instead of hand-mashing in step 9, you’ll need an immersion blender or a food processor to get a smooth texture.

Potato & Bacon Soup

2 slices bacon

½ small sweet yellow onion,

2 stalks celery


Black pepper

6 cups chicken stock

6 russet potatoes

2 teaspoons cornstarch

6 ounces light cream

Several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

  1. Fry bacon in a large stockpot on low heat until crispy. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  2. While bacon gets all nice and crispy, dice the onion and celery.
  3. Remove the crispy bacon from the pot to a paper towel. Reserve the fat in the pot.
  4. Add the onions and celery to the bacon fat, season with salt and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium low. Stir and cook about five minutes.
  5. Add stock, and increase heat to medium high. Stir and bring to a boil.
  6. Peel and chop the potatoes while you heat the stock.
  7. Add the potatoes to the boiling stock and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a vented lid and cook about fifteen minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
  8. Add the cornstarch to a small cup and add a tablespoon of cream. Stir until paste like. Add a 1/3 cup of hot stock to the starch and stir until smooth.
  9. When potatoes are fork tender, remove the pot from the heat and mash with a hand masher leaving several chunks. Or if you want smooth soup, use your immersion blender or food processor.
  10. Return the pot to the heat and stir in the cornstarch mix and remaining cream and thyme. Stir.
  11. Chop bacon and parsley. Add to pot. Stir. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to your liking. Serve immediately.

My Potato & Bacon Soup will make you happy. Even if your name isn’t Elvis.
I promise!

Summer Break 2015

Muffins July BB bananaHi ya’ll. Thanks for stopping by.

I decided to take a lil’ summer break here at A Cook Writes.

Do have more than one blog? More than one WIP?

If you said yes, then you can relate.

Here’s what I’m up to this summer:

  • I’m preparing my crime thriller manuscript for an agent. #ThorntonPark
  • I’m headed to NOLA to research and develop recipes for a shrimp cookbook, the second in my sustainable seafood cookbook series.
  • Biggest news yet, I’m launching my marketing plan for forthcoming Eating Salmon Cookbook (Storey Publishing) April 2016. It’s not too soon to find a few good homes for my book!

Plus, it’s summertime. There are strawberries to roast, flowers to pamper, herbs to tend to, and road trips to take.

What are you doing this summer?

Shoot me an email maureencberry (at) gmail (dot) com, or find me on Twitter @maureencberry

See you in September. And thanks again for stopping by.

Double Wide: The Alternate Bourbon Derby Cocktail

Nowhere is tradition more evident than springtime in Kentucky.

Kentucky DerbyFrom the foothills of Appalachia through the Bluegrass in the center. Past the corn and soy fields to the slopes and streams in the west. One annual tradition defines Kentucky the first Saturday in May — The Kentucky Derby.

For many Kentuckians, “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” and sipping Mint Juleps are like a religion. Just as frilly hats, bespoke suits, and betting on horses because of the jockey, the jersey or superstition are all the rage the first weekend in May.

As a Florida transplant to Kentucky in 2011, I got caught up in the excitement of watching the races easily enough. But sipping a Mint Julep was not something I wanted to pray about.

During the fall of 2011, my husband and I moved from the idyllic, historic community of Thornton Park in Orlando, Florida to Madisonville, his hometown in western Kentucky. I coined it Madville because I wasn’t sure how I’d adapt to a small rural town where camouflage, churches, corn fields, and tattoo parlors defined the landscape. I thought I might go mad!

Prior to our life-changing move, I chalked up the Derby as an afternoon with friends in air-conditioned lounges in Florida. We sipped red wine, admired the majestic thoroughbreds, the women’s frilly, oversized hats and the men’s bespoke suits and bow ties.

That first Saturday in May 2012 in the comfort of my Kentucky home, I mixed a Mint Julep – the drink of the Derby and as Southern a tradition as it gets. After the first sip, I realized I didn’t like the sweet, dusty flavors. But, I sipped for posterity, then stood and sang Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” the official state song of Kentucky.

“My Old Kentucky Home”
Stephen Foster

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home, ‘tis summer, the people are gay; The corn-top’s ripe and the meadows in the bloom, while the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor all merry, all happy and bright;  By’n by hard times comes a knocking at the door then my old Kentucky home, Good night!

Weep no more my lady. Oh! Weep no more today! We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home for the old Kentucky home far away.

As much as I tried, I could not like or enjoy the tradition so many Kentuckians swoon over. No matter how I tried to alter the ratio of bourbon to mint, I didn’t care for the sugary, smoky, mint concoction. It seemed Mint Juleps and I would not be friends after all.

In the Spring of 2013, still hungry for a tradition I could call my own, I queried the largest group of Kentucky food and beverage people I could find, the Kentucky Food Bloggers on Facebook. KFB is the consummate cross section of the state in the food world- journalists, cookbook authors, foodies, dieticians, moms, chefs, restaurateurs, and farmers.

I posted my query: “What’s a great bourbon Derby drink other than a Mint Julep?”

Within a day, Jonathan Piercy, radio and podcast entrepreneur messaged back, “Double Wide.”

I was intrigued. Those two words flooded my mind with a range of imagery and emotions that took me straight back to my youth in Pennsylvania. Growing up, I learned a double wide was synonymous with “low rent.” Of course the politically correct term is  “affordable living.” Little did I know, back then my childhood living conditions were only one-step above low rent. In fact, I’m certain if I’d grown up in a rural community as opposed to the inner city, I would have lived in a double wide.

Back to present day and my desire to find a traditional cocktail for the Derby. Piercy gave me the ingredients list: Ale-8-One, a ginger soda made in Kentucky, bourbon of my choice, ice, and a rocks glass.

Simple enough. In addition, I had enough of my own history to make me want to like this drink before I took the first sip. The ginger ale reminded me of my mom for whenever I had a stomachache, she’d offer me a glass of warm, fuzzy ginger ale. And Maker’s Mark was my husband’s favorite go-to bourbon. In fact, there was an unopened bottle in the liquor cabinet.

During the 2013 Kentucky Derby, I mixed a Double Wide, stood and sang “My Old Kentucky Home” in the comfort of my living room surrounded by family. I felt sure this would be my annual tradition whether at Churchill Downs, thousands of miles away on vacation, or in front of my flat screen TV. I was sure the way some feel about Mint Juleps.

By the time the 2014 Derby rolled around, I had my Derby down. Double Wide’s, Pimento Cheese sandwiches, and Sausage Balls became our stay-at-home Kentucky Derby tradition.

What do I like so much about a Double Wide?

Aside from the storytelling, the Double Wide’s dusty bourbon flavor paired with a sweet bite from the ginger and bright notes from the citrus hooked me.

If you want to shake up your bourbon mojo, don’t mind offending a few traditionalists, and you prefer a heady, smoky, tart, sweet drink with a kick, mix a Double Wide. You might score a few points with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates after all.

Cheers and may the best horse win. Um, I mean Carpe Diem.

Double Wide

Double Wide

Double Wide
Serves 1

Pour a small amount of Turbinado sugar on a plate. Slice an orange or lemon in half and run the cut side around the rim of a rocks glass. Dip the wet-rimmed glass in the sugar on the plate. Fill the glass with ice cubes. (Best bet is the oversized cubes for less melt factor.) Add the bourbon of your choice-glug, glug, glug. Pour in a little Ale-8-One. Not too much. Ale-8-One is uber sweet with a strong ginger kick. Let the fizz settle. Add an orange section or lemon twist. Stir, taste, and adjust if necessary. Toast to your favorite tradition. And don’t forget to stand when you sing “My Old Kentucky Home” during the Derby.

Serve a Double Wide with Pimento Cheese and Bacon Biscuits and Sausage Balls, or your own favorite traditional foods.

Sip responsibly. Frilly hat and bow tie optional.

Cocktail N’ Canapes

When the Creative Cooking Crew on Facebook announced its March challenge “Canapés n’ Cocktails” I knew I wanted to do something southern, something spicy. It’s just the way I’m feeling lately.

Creative Cooking Crew

As March sprung forward, UK Men’s Basketball did their thing, and the days ticked by, I forgot the official challenge name. I began to think about food and drink pairings in general.

Apple-Ginger Country Ribs & Jazzed-Up Double Wide

Apple-Ginger Country Ribs & Jazzed-Up Double Wide

When Joan announced the challenge deadline-posting schedule toward the end of the month, I decided to make Apple Ginger Country Ribs paired with a Jazzed-Up Double Wide. A Double Wide is a 50/50 mix of Ale-8-One and Maker’s Mark Bourbon with a twist. In the jazzed up version, I subbed ginger beer for the ginger ale. Wow. A pairing fit for a Sunday when you want nothing more than freedom to dig in the dirt and smell spicy, sweet aromas when you enter the house. Add a heady, fizzy cocktail and a stellar sunset? If I could bottle and sell it, I’d call it Sunday Perfection in March.

Sunset March 2015

But. Always that but isn’t there?

After I cooked, photographed, and began to write the recipe idea for the challenge, I went back to the Facebook CCC page for the “official” challenge language for my post.

Um, my creation didn’t quite fit the parameters of Cocktails n’ Canapés!

I considered using the pork for a bite-sized appetizer, you know sliced, roasted baby red potatoes ½ inch thick, a potato chip on steroids is how I liken them, plop a little shredded pork on top. Garnish with a dab of Greek yogurt, right? Yes, it sounded so right. But the next day I made a Mozzarella-Pork Flatbread. And about that time I had eaten my country rib quota for the season.

So once again I raided the fridge, freezer, and pantry.

Gulf shrimp pinwheel w remoulade 1

Gulf shrimp pinwheel w remoulade 3

Enter Gulf Shrimp Pinwheels with Remoulade and Cucumber Melon Mint Vodka-Saki on the Rocks.

Think sweet, salty, spicy, chewy, refreshing. Appetite required. Sunday’s optional.


Creative Cooking CrewThanks to Joan at FOODalogue and Laz at LazCooks for the inspiration, challenge, and dedication to this group. Check out the Creative Cooking Crew on Pinterest for more Cocktails n’ Canapés ideas and more mouthwatering inspiration.

Broccoli Burger or Big Mac

The title of this post, Broccoli Burger or Big Mac, isn’t necessarily an either/or, but rather a jumping-off point for the February Creative Cooking Crew challenge, Not Your Mickey D Burger.

First up. The Big Mac. Or Le Big Mac, as John Travolta and Samuel Jackson say in Pulp Fiction. You guys, you guys. Those three little words.

You know a Big Mac is as ubiquitous and iconic as ice cream. Whether you eat beef or choose not to, whether you’re ten or sixty, whether you live in America or Saudi Arabia, you probably know what a Big Mac is.


Creative Cooking Crew

When the Creative Cooking Crew put out its February challenge, Not Your Mickey D Burger, I couldn’t help but think about a Big Mac. Food and memories go together like that. But. I don’t eat Big Macs anymore and things were a little different back then.

Almond-crusted Broccoli Burger MCB

One broccoli patty, spicy sauce, shallots, cheese, cranberries, almonds on a whole grain ciabatta bun.

The ’70s

In 1974 when McDonald’s created the 2 All-Beef Patties jingle, a Big Mac cost 85 cents. Today, in 2015, the average cost of a Big Mac in the US is $4.62.

In the ’70s we had President Nixon and Watergate, Vietnam, Saturday Night Live, Women’s Liberation and the Great Recession. We had sky-high gas prices, the auto-industry slump and a respect for authority at an all time low. We had round silver glittery disco balls for dancing the night away. We had Donna Summer, The Bee Gees and “Le Freak.” We had smoke-filled stadiums where we rocked to Bob Seger, AC/DC, and The Who. We light Bic lighters to prompt encores. The prevailing motto was “Sex, Drugs, Rock-n-Roll.” Well…that was my motto anyway. Movies of the day included Peter Benchley’s Jaws and Stephen King’s Carrie. Both terrified, thrilled and entertained us. Music and movies, like all art and food, speaks to us in a visceral sense.

Back then, the seeds for the Food Revolution had sprouted in California with food-activist and pioneer Chef Alice Waters. We had food in boxes and cans. Julia Child was a television sensation. Representative of the food industry in corporate America, McDonald’s introduced the Big Mac in Pittsburgh-my hometown no less, and the 2 All-Beef Patties jingle, to assure consumers that while they may not be able to fill their car tank with gasoline, they can fill their bellies with a pimped out Big Mac. Smart. It hit us right where it mattered most. Our wallets, and our need and desire for hot, lip-smacking food.

Because regardless of the decade, the economic challenges, music or movies, hot food offers warmth, strength, enjoyment, memories, nutrition and safety.

The Present

Fast forward to 2015, forty some years since the introduction of the Big Mac and its McJingle. Gas prices hover around $2 (more or less) a gallon, lower than they’ve been in years. The American auto industry is no longer a pressing challenge of the day either. Modern day challenges are far graver. President Obama, the first black president in the US, deals with war, poverty, terrorism, health care, immigration and racism, and not in that order. Today’s music, a smorgasbord of pop, rock, r&b, country and electronic incorporates modern day issues, too. Topping the charts are Katy Perry, Eminem, and Beyoncé who croon about domestic violence and abuse, black lives and poverty. Movies are animated, based on gaming or relive the past with a focus on character development. We are thrilled, excited, awed and inspired. Sometimes we are disappointed. Scandal is a pervading theme.

Looking through the modern day food lens, issues include food security, Big Ag takeovers, and GMO vs. non GMO battles in courtrooms and on the streets. Celebrity chefs are household names. Cooking food is likened to a spectator sport in many economic circles. Diets evolved from the Healthy Eating Pyramid to MyPlate. Special diets are trendy and include Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Meatless, Atkins, South Beach and everything in between.

We are hungrier more than ever for change. We yearn for sameness.

With the CCC February challenge Not Your Mickey D Burger, we had an opportunity to elevate or transform the components of a traditional beef burger.

My inspiration for this Broccoli Burger came from Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen. She’s got a rockin good Broccoli Slaw recipe on the blog. I subbed, added, and transformed some of the base ingredients of the slaw for my burger challenge. Then I altered the 1974 McJingle. The result: this Broccoli Burger recipe and my version of the jingle below.

Here’s a vintage video of the original 1974 McDonald”s jingle, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, or for old times sake want to relive the 70s for a few minutes.

Here’s my McJingle version: “One broccoli patty, spicy sauce, shallots, cheese, cranberries, almonds on a whole grain ciabatta bun.”

Well, okay. Not exactly the same, but you get the picture.

Anyway. Occasionally I love to eat a traditional thick, juicy beef burger topped with melted American cheese, creamy mayonnaise and a slab of fresh tomato. But usually I don’t. It’s all about less meat these days.

Still. I think back to the days in the early ’70s when I was a young teen. I’d walk to the McDonalds restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh with a pocketful of change for a Big Mac. Those were happy, fun times.

So. Why eat anything if you can’t have fun, make a memory, fill a need or satisfy a desire?

Go ahead, put some Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz, or whatever you like to listen to on your playlist. Then make some memories while you rock out and make Broccoli Burgers.

Appetite required.

Almond-crusted Broccoli Burger MCB

Cook’s notes: I didn’t think writing out a twenty-five plus step recipe was necessary. Rather I wanted to inspire you to do something different. Something to help you think out of the box. (If that is where you are.)

Almond-crusted Broccoli Burger MCB

Here are a few Broccoli Burger cooking tips:

  • To prepare the burger, I blanched, chilled, then shredded 3 broccoli stalks and 2 crowns, and one medium carrot. This base with the other ingredients yielded 4 burgers.
  • I didn’t rehydrate the dried cranberries. My reasoning: The fruit would hydrate in the raw egg while the formed burgers chill in the refrigerator.
  • Toast sliced almonds in a 350 oven for six minutes. Let cool, then crush to coat the burger before frying.
  • I used 2 eggs, slightly beaten, to act as a binder, for protein and to add a richer flavor. I added a dash of kirin sauce to the eggs. Alternatively, you can use potatoes, mashed chickpeas, rice, tapioca, quinoa, etc. Think starch.
  • I used ¼ cup shredded cheese  and ½ cup panko bread crumbs.
  • Add chopped fresh rosemary (for a pop of pungent, pine-like flavor) into the scrambled eggs before you add to the broccoli to help distribute the herbs evenly.
  • I formed the burgers, then placed them on a cookie rack and chilled them in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
  • Make sure the skillet is hot before you cook. After you place the burgers in the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook slowly for an even brown.
  • To make the spicy sauce, I added a teaspoon of Sriracha to a ¼ cup of Kraft bottled buttermilk dressing. You can make your own buttermilk dressing, but really, why bother? Kraft does it just like McDonalds does. Perfectly consistent. Plus who needs more to do these days?
  • Thoughts on the bun. The whole grain ciabatta seemed like a healthier choice and I love the denseness of ciabatta. But that one bun is a lot of bread. Almond-crusted Broccoli Burgers were delightful and delicious without the sauce, and ciabatta, fyi. However, if you are going to go to all the trouble to make a burger, eat the burger with all the fixins’!

Check out the Creative Cooking Crew Burger Round-up. Also, head over to the CCC Pinterest board for more tempting, tantalizing recipe ideas.

Thanks for stopping by and a special thanks to Laz at Lazaro Cooks and to Joan at FOODalogue for this fun challenge!


Maureen C. BerryLike this post? While you are here, go ahead and sign up for my quarterly newsletter for more information about my forthcoming cookbooks. I will use not sell or spam your information for any other purpose than to contact you via the mailing list you have signed up for.

Thanks for stopping by,
Follow Maureen on Twitter @maureencberry

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili MCB LLC 2015I don’t know about you, but we are trying to eat less meat around here.

I won’t get on my soap box about the meat industry and carbon emissions. I do enough of that over at Seafood Lady and on Twitter. But. We are trying to shake things up because we want to feel better. And less meat makes us feel better. (Notice I am speaking for Elvis here too. No worries, he doesn’t mind.) And after my visit with Dr. Colonoscopy last week, evidently I need to eat more fiber too!

However. There’s one thing I learned over the years.

There is a fine line between eating enough fiber and eating too much fiber.

Take my Black Bean Chili recipe. Plenty of fiber. Fits the Meatless Monday meme too. And since the word “chili” is in the title, I can definitely sell it to Elvis.

There is something about cooking with black beans that makes me want to add corn to the recipe. Maybe it’s that pop of color with the finished dish, or the sweetness paired with the oh-so-tasteless black beans. Whatever. I wanted so bad, so bad to add sweet corn to this pot of chili. But with the beans and barley, I knew adding sweet corn would make this recipe fiber-heavy. And you know what that means.

What’s a cook to do?

Eat corn another day. Black Bean Chili rocks without it!

Ready to cook?

Black Bean Chili

Sweet butternut squash complements the salty, spiciness of this black bean chili. Add diced tomatoes and plop a spoonful of sour cream on top for crunch and creaminess to round out this one-pot delicious wonder.

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 shallot, minced or 2 tablespoons

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

2 cups water

3 (15 ounce) cans organic black beans, drain 2, reserve liquid from 3rd can

1 (4 ounce) can fire roasted diced green chilies

½ cup quick cooking barley

1 pound butternut squash, trimmed, peeled and chopped or 2 cups

Fresh-diced tomato and sour cream (optional)

Cook’s note: To save time, peel and dice the squash up to one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Alternatively, buy precut squash at the grocery. You can add additional water if needed at the end of the cooking cycle if chili is too thick.

  1. Toast the coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for about six to seven minutes, or until you smell the aroma. Remove from heat. Let cool. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion, stir and cook for about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, cook onions an additional minute. Add shallots, stir and cook one minute. Add garlic, stir and cook about one minute or less, just enough to release the bouquet.
  3. Add the crushed coriander seeds, chili powder, cumin, salt, black and cayenne pepper. Stir.
  4. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup of the water. Stir and increase the heat to medium.
  5. Add the black beans, green chilies barley, butternut squash and remaining cup of water. Stir.
  6. Cover with a vented lid and bring chili to a brisk simmer, about five to six minutes cooking time, then reduce heat to low and cook on a gentle simmer with a vented lid, stirring occasionally for twenty to thirty minutes or until squash is fork tender.
  7. Ladle chili in bowls. Serve immediately.

Appetite required.


Maureen C. BerryLike this post? While you’re here, go ahead and sign up for my quarterly newsletter for more information about my forthcoming cookbooks. I will use not sell or spam your information for any other purpose than to contact you via the mailing list you have signed up for.

Thanks for stopping by,


Leftovers: Carrot Fritters

Carrot Fritters

Carrot Fritters with plain Greek yogurt (and yes, those are sliced, pickled jalapeno peppers on the yogurt)

Making food for a holiday party can be a crap shoot.

You really never know what people will eat, or not. Of course it’s not prime rib or king crab left sitting on the table at my house, but piles of mashed potatoes, dressing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows or like this past Christmas, where a pound (okay, maybe two pounds) of braised carrots went uneaten.

Creative Cooking Crew came to the rescue with its January Challenge: Repurposing leftovers or how many meals can you get from one. (Thanks to Laura Lafata, the one and only La Diva Cucina.)

Creative Cooking Crew

I thought of a few leftover recipes off the top of my head. A carrot galette with roasted beets. A small pot of creamy carrot soup with cumin and cilantro. Both seemed so overdone. And I suspected Elvis would eat neither (of course I am always right about these things). I realized something else as I considered my carrots-I take leftovers for granted.

So I stewed a bit-you know, looked in the pantry and then the fridge. Then I decided to do some yoga. Afterwards I made a chamomile caramel tea latte and had a moment of clarity. There is no telling if it was from Warrior II or if it was the sugar buzz from the Agave in the tea. When I had the restaurant, I made fritters with copious amounts of leftover mashed potatoes. Everybody loved them. (I knew Elvis would love Carrot Fritters too!)

And if you’re wondering what the connection is, well potatoes and carrots are both root vegetables and both make an excellent base for a fritter.

So. Onward.

Serve Carrot Fritters (think sweet, tart, spicy and sour) as an appetizer for a small party, or as an entree with a fresh green salad for a quick midweek meal.

Carrot Fritters

You’ll want leftover carrots all the time.

Okay. Maybe at least once a month.

Appetite required.

Carrot Fritters MCB

Carrot Fritters
Yield 10-12 appetizers or 4-6 entrees

Cook’s note: The second time I made this recipe, I substituted roasted carrots for the braised carrots, but the texture was a little more dense and didn’t have the rich, meaty flavor from the braised beef. Still delish though. Roast carrots ahead several days to save time.

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon toasted, crushed coriander seeds

Dash kosher salt

Dash black pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded braised carrots, chilled and shredded on box grater

1/2 cup raw apple, Gala or Granny Smith, grated on box grater

1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeño

1 egg, beaten lightly

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)


  1. Add flour, breadcrumbs, coriander, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk.
  2. Add carrots, apple, jalapeño and egg to medium bowl. Stir.
  3. Add dry mix to carrot mix. Stir in a little at a time..
  4. Form into quarters sized disc if serving appetizers, or half dollar sized disc if serving as an entree. Arrange in a single layer on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a 10 or 12-inch skillet over medium heat for three minutes. Add butter and oil. When butter foams, add carrot fritters to the skillet. Do not crowd. Work in batches if necessary. Fry for two minutes or until caramelized brown crust forms.
  6. Turn and fry equal time on the other side. Remove from heat.
  7. Plop a spoonful of yogurt on top (or on the side) of each fritter. Serve immediately.

Check out the link to the CCC roundup for some amazing leftover ideas, and don’t forget to check out the CCC Pinterest board, too.

Thanks for stopping by and see you next month! 
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