Ruby Red Party Cider

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: High 1 to 2 hours

Yield: About twelve 6-ounce servings

1/2 gallon (64 ounces) cranberry juice

2 large oranges

4 pieces cinnamon stick, 3 inches long

4 pieces of fresh gingerroot (each 1 inch long, peeled and crushed)

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

Pour the cranberry juice into a 4-quart slow cooker.

Using a sharp paring knife, remove four 3-inch-long strips of peel

from the oranges. Juice the oranges and strain out the pulp. Add the

peel and juice to the slow cooker along with the cinnamon sticks and

ginger. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, or until hot. Add sugar to

taste and stir until dissolved. Turn to low and serve in mugs.

You can also use cranapple or raspberry-cranberry juice in this



Dressed Up Brownies

Sometimes an occasion calls for decorating your brownies. With a few

quick and easy touches you can make an ordinary plain brownie mix

into an extra-special dessert.

Mix equal parts of confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder together.

Place a stencil over the top of the brownies and dust with the

mixture. Carefully lift the stencil off, so you don't disturb the

pattern left by the sugar mixture.

Drizzle the tops of the brownies with a contrasting color of melted

chocolate, like milk or white chocolate.

Use your favorite frosting or icing to spread over the tops of the

brownies. Or place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large

star tip. Pipe rosettes, shells, or stars on top. Chill briefly to

set the topping, then cut into squares.

Cut a brownie and arrange it on a dessert plate. Pour hot fudge over

the top of the brownie and place a couple of small scoops of ice

cream next to it.

Cover a dessert plate with a pool of raspberry sauce. Place a brownie

on top of the sauce, then arrange fresh raspberries around the


Whip cream to soft peaks. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip.

Pipe the top of each brownie with a star or rosette, then top with a

chocolate cut-out, fresh berries, or finely chopped toasted nuts.

Use any shape cookie cutter to cut out the brownies. For example, for

Valentine's Day, use a heart shaped cutter!

What to do with the leftover brownies after cutting them with a

cookie cutter? Gather the scraps together and press into balls. Roll

the balls in cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar, or ground toasted

nuts, then place them into candy cups.


Pear Tart, an Autumn Treat

Specialty tools: 8-inch springform pan

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 60 minutes

Yield: One 8-inch tart

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

2 to 3 firm, ripe pears (peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the 3/4 cup sugar and butter

until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder, and eggs

and mix well.

3. Spoon the batter (it will be thick) into an 8-inch springform pan

and spread it around to cover the bottom evenly. Arrange the pear

slices on top of the batter in a decorative fashion.

4. Drizzle the lemon juice on top, sprinkle with the cinnamon and

sugar, and bake for 1 hour. Cool the tart and remove the springform

pan before serving.

If you don't have pears on hand, then tart baking apples, peeled

peaches, and fresh apricots (cut in half, unpeeled, and pitted) also

work well.


Kelly in IL