Squash Dinner Party

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Curry Butternut Squash Soup

The squash dinner party was ridiculously delicious and I have posted as many photos as I could! Thanks to Steve and Carla for hosting and providing delicious beer as usual. I missed photographing a couple dishes, but I feel like I got most of them. Everyone really did a fantastic job this time and I can’t wait until the noodle party in January…I think the drink for that one will be hilarious. I’ve posted the recipes I have or provided links as often as I could, but please send me the recipe you used for the dinner and I’ll update the post as I get them!

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the photos!

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Squash Gnocchi and pomegranate seeds

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Acorn Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

This was my dish, it came from this site, but I changed a couple things. First, I used Acorn squash instead of butternut because it isn’t as sweet. Then, I only used 1 tbsp molasses instead of  2 tbsp, again, so it isn’t so sweet.

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This pie was brought by Chris W. He made it from scratch, for real.

Chris made this amazing pie and it was perfect! Spiced well and made from pumpkins! Not Libby’s pumpkins, but real ones. I was impressed and as you can see in the photo below Sam was too. He ate a whole piece in one bite.

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Sam eats a piece of pie in one bite

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Nick blows out candles for his 28th birthday

These little cut outs were supposed to be this, but I broke the cake apart when I tried to get it out of the pan. I’ve made cakes like this before with success, but for some reason this one didn’t turn out. But these were super cute anyway and Nick and I got to eat the left overs for a few days after the party.

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Squash Gnocchi

Carla made these little  guys and people just started eating them like popcorn. Very tasty and very pretty!

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Spaghetti Squash Salad

I think Bill brought this salad. It is a spaghetti squash with loads of cilantro and I’m not sure what else, but it was very refreshing and cold. It was a wonderful counter to all the warm, sage filled dishes. He also brought a Thai inspired butternut squash soup with potato croutons. Also, very tasty.

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Squash Pierogi with squash dipping sauce

Chris H and Anna brought these and I hope Anna will send the recipe because they were the best pierogis I’ve had! And here’s the recipe:

DOUGH:

4 ½ cups white whole wheat flour

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 cup Greek yogurt thinned with 1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, yogurt/milk mixture, eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour until well blended. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let stand for 15-20 minutes.

Separate the perogie dough into two balls. Roll out one piece at a time on a lightly floured surface until it is thin enough to work with, but not too thin so that it tears. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter, perogie cutter, or a glass. Brush a little water around the edges of the circles, and spoon some filling into the center. Fold the circles over into half-circles, and press to seal the edges. Place perogies on a cookie sheet, and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to freezer storage bags or containers.

To cook perogies: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop perogies in one at a time. They are done when they float to the top. Do not boil too long, or they will be soggy! Remove with a slotted spoon. Then pan fry them.

FILLING: (as told by Chris Hutson)

I took a golden hubbard squash about the size of a toddler’s head but you could use whatever kind of squash, I bet.  and I roasted it real good, I think an hour at 350°f
then I scooped it out of the skin into a big bowl  sometimes the skin came with but that turned out to be OK and I mashed it up with a large blop of yogurt because we didn’t have sour cream and an approximately 1.5″ segment of butter off a stick and i thought it needed more so I poured in a little milk but that made it too wet so i stirred in corn flour til it stiffened back up you could probably omit the last two steps if you’d like
and I also stirred in: salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, dry mustard, celery seed, and toasted ground up pumpkin seeds and dried parsley, sage, and tarragon

I made too much so Anna thinned some down with more sage for a sauce.

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deep fried butternut squash

Chris W also brought this dish and slaved over a hot cast-iron skillet. It was kind of funny because every time he’d put one down someone would snag it so it looked like he wasn’t actually making anything. With a little salt they were perfect. Other things that were eaten that I didn’t get to photograph were impressive and it is a testament to their tastiness that they were gone before I could photo them.

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Woah! Mustache!

I think Kathy and Martin brought this one. Here’s the recipe, but more importantly, Martin has a mustache! These drinks were dangerously good. Once again, nice work on the drinks. Maybe some of these photos will inspire last minute additions or substitutions in your Thanksgiving meals. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and here’s the final recipe (for now.)

PUMPKIN MARTINI

Serves: 1

Ice

1 ounce vodka, chilled

1 ounce vanilla liqueur

1 1/2 ounces orange juice

1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, vanilla liqueur, orange juice, pumpkin puree and a pinch of cinnamon.

Shake well and strain into a cocktail or martini glass. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.

Kathy and Martin also made the soup in the first picture on this post. Here’s the recipe for that!

 

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Compote

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

3 pounds butternut squash, cut lengthwise and seeded
1/4 cup blended oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
apple, peeled, cored, chopped
2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons chilled butter
3 cups chicken stock (sub veggie stock)
pinch of curry powder
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Apple Compote, (recipe follows)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Place squash cut side up in an ovenproof pan. Drizzle with oil and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until squash is tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.In a soup pot, sauté garlic, onion and apple with 2 tablespoons of butter until it is translucent. Using large spoon, scrape squash into soup pot with onions and apples. Discard peel. Add 3 cups chicken stock and curry powder. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix in cream and lemon juice. Add mixture into a processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Finish by whisking in 4 tablespoons of chilled butter. Stir soup over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Apple Compote

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 apples, Fuji, diced
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup dried apricots, quartered
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Preparation:

Toss apple pieces with the 2 tablespoons of lime juice in a bowl. Set aside. Simmer apricots, cherries, simple syrup, water, the remaining lime juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and mustard seeds in a sauce pot for 10 minutes. Add apples and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Garnish soup with a heaping tablespoon of compote.

SIMPLE SYRUP

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine in saucepan, simmer until sugar is dissolved and syrup is formed.

BLENDED OIL

1 part olive oil

3 parts canola oil

Whisk together to combine.

 

 

 

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Mock Pecan Pie

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Mock Pecan Pie

On the eve of Thanksgiving I wanted to post a recent discovery that might be useful for some people. Nick is allergic to nuts and so he has never been able to try one of my favorite pies: pecan. I LOVE pecan pie and it is a staple at Thanksgiving, so every year about this time I start lamenting the fact that Nick will not be able to enjoy one of my favorite desserts on Thanksgiving. But that won’t be necessary this year, because I found a really good mock pecan recipe.

I didn’t even know you could mock pecans in such a way, but I found this in a depression-era cookbook while I was in the suburbs this summer. I made this pie for Nick’s birthday and we were both pleased with the results. I even brought a piece to my mom to get approval before posting this recipe. She thought it tasted just like the real deal.

The only thing to keep in mind is amount of oatmeal. When I made this pie the first time I used a full cup of oatmeal and it was way too thick, there was no custard and it tasted like baked oatmeal. Not a bad thing in general, but certainly not the texture of a good pie. I used ¾ c this time and it was much much better. I used old-fashioned oats because quick oats wouldn’t hold up and  the steel cut ones would get too hard.

I still can’t believe it is a nut-free pecan pie….Nick started calling it the Mocan Pie. I like the name. I will definitely be making this pie for his birthday next year too. Now, to the recipe!

Mocan Pie (mock pecan pie)

2 eggs, beaten

¾ c brown sugar

¾ c dark syrup

¾ c oats

¼ tsp salt

¼ lb of butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1 unbaked pie shell

Beat the eggs well then add the remaining ingredients, folding in the oats last.

Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

I hope you enjoy the pie and check back tomorrow for Squash-a-palooza pictures!

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Cranberry Upside Downer a la Dorie Greenspan

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Cranberry Upside Downer

First, a quick announcement: Happy Birthday, Nick Super! I love you so much I will be making you an amazing pie tomorrow! And I’ll post the recipe soon too since it might be good for the Thanksgiving.

Now back to this post: I have yet to buy Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours, but it hasn’t  stopped me from baking from it. In this cookbook, she has a recipe she specifically made for Thanksgiving and I had to try it. This photo is from last year’s Thanksgiving, but I will make it again this year.

I am a veteran baker, but I rarely use cranberries. They are reserved for a few weeks out of the year and then forgotten until next November. This seems tragic to me since they are so beautiful, have a unique flavor, and store wonderfully in the freezer. I plan to buy s bunch of bags in the next couple weeks and freeze them for later use, but back to the cake.  It seemed perfectly fall-like, and I thought the tart cranberries would be a nice counter to the super sweet pecan and pumpkin pies that are always present (and delicious.) The cake is wonderfully dense, with just a hint of cinnamon, the cranberries were juicy and, yes, quite tart.

Upside-down cakes have always seemed kind of magical to me. The unassuming cake is hiding the gorgeous, bright, caramelized fruit until tipping the pan reveals it! The original recipe calls for ¼ cup of walnuts, but walnuts are not welcome in our home so I took them out. If you want them just add them when you put in the cranberries. Now, without delay, the recipe:

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups of cranberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing the cake

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350F. Put an 8×2-inch round cake pan on a baking sheet.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

3. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour the mixture evenly over the bottom of the cake pan and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down with a rubber spatula.

4. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes (35-40 for a 9-inch pan), or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan, just scrape them off and return them to the cake.

6. Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave. Gently brush the glaze over the hot cake.

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Potato Leek Soup with Homemade Crackers

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Potato leek soup with Homemade Crackers

I’m sure all of you have noticed the frequency of my posts has dropped off a bit this month. It is not for lack of cooking, but lack of time to photograph it. I’m a little disappointed with myself on that front, so I’m trying to fix that. And we the holidays approaching I will certainly be in the kitchen more often.

To start: I have not, to my knowledge, used a Julia Child’s recipe before. But when I did a quick search for potato leek soup recipes, this one kept coming up! I can’t tell you how happy I was with both the results and the ingredient list. This soup is further evidence of how simply food can be cooked if you start with quality ingredients. I added corn to the soup when I made it this time, not because the recipe needs it, but because I had a bunch of leftover corn that needed to be used. It was a nice addition, but optional to the point that I didn’t put it in the recipe.

The simplicity of the soup was compliments by little homemade crackers I made while the vegetables were simmering. The crackers are equally easy and do not contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or any other crazy stuff. AND they taste great. Some would say better than store-bought, I just say different. These little guys will be in every bowl of soup I make this winter.

Julia Child’s Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients
3-4 cups of diced peeled potatoes (1 lb.)
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, including the tender greens
2 quarts water
1 Tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream or 3 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons minced chives or parsley
Then:

1.  Simmer vegetables, salt, and water together, partially covered for 40-50 minutes in a 3-4 quart saucepan.

2. Mash the vegetables into the soup with a fork as you adjust salt and pepper.

3. When ready to serve, bring soup back to simmering. Then off the heat, stir in the cream or butter (if you want) and top with chopped chives or parsley.

Makes 2 quarts of soup for 6-8 servings.

Now the Crackers. So good, so easy.

Simple Crackers

2 Cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 Cup warm water

1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400.

  1. Lightly grease two large cookie sheets. Combine the dry ingredients, and then stir in the water, oil and mix until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Divide the dough in half and flatten each half on a cookie sheet. Use a small rolling pin or even your fingers for a rustic, uneven look. Once the dough is spread thin, use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares. The elasticity in the dough will make the crackers shrink slightly and pull away from each other; this makes them easy to bake without sticking together.
  3. Brush lightly with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with the topping of your choice. I used chopped rosemary, sea salt, garlic, onion powder, fennel and cumin.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crackers are golden and crispy.

Tomorrow will feature another Thanksgiving recipe.

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Winter Squash Galette

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Winter Squash Galette

My favorite holiday of the year is approaching quickly: Thanksgiving. This incredible day celebrates everything I hold dear, food, family, and friends. Thanksgiving also happens to be when the weather changes and deeply fragrant dishes grace tables across the county. To celebrate this perfect holiday I make one of my favorite cold-weather dishes. The cheese and sweet squash make an intriguing combination, and a yeasted dough is easy and delicious. This is a recipe from Deborah Madison’s cookbooks.

I made this dish for Thanksgiving last year and it was so delicious I will be making it again this year. I am only getting around to posting my Thanksgiving photos from last year now because I shot the dinner for Saveur magazine. These little galettes are visually pleasing and look fancy enough to steal the show from the ever-present turkey at this year’s meal. Don’t be intimidated by the tart dough, it is easy and TOTALLY WORTH IT. The winter squash galettes reheat well so don’t feel like you have to eat all of them in one sitting.

I’ll be posting several recipes over the next couple days that would work for Thanksgiving dishes! Enjoy!

Winter Squash Galette

Serves 6

  • Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil (see below)
  • 2 1/2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut
  • 1 small head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for the squash
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten

Make the dough. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and brush the cut surface with oil. Stuff the garlic into the cavities and place the squash cut side down on a sheet pan. Bake until the flesh is tender, about 40 minutes. Scoop out the squash and squeeze the garlic cloves. Mash them together with a fork until fairly smooth, leaving some texture.

Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sage and cook until the onion is soft and beginning to color, about 12 minutes. Add it to the squash along with the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle and spread the filling over it, leaving a border of 2 inches or more. Pleat the dough over the filling, then brush the edges with beaten egg. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, as needed

Makes one 9-, 10-, or 11-inch tart, pie or galette, 6 to 8 individual shells

The egg contributes to the strength and suppleness of the dough. If you don’t eat eggs, leave it out and add an additional 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon oil.

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water in a medium bowl and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Add the oil, egg, and salt, then stir in the flour. When the dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the dough out. Roll it into a thin circle and use it to line a tart or pie pan or to make a free-form galette. (For individual tarts, divide it into 6 pieces, shape into balls, and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes before rolling them out.)

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Apple Pie Filling!

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Apple Pie Filling

A couple weeks ago I bought a bunch of apples from the last farmers’ market of the year. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with 5 lbs of apples, but once I got them home it was obvious. I was going to can them. What else do you do with pounds and pounds of produce?  This worked out perfectly because every year my husband’s family and my own get together for Christmas and have a gift exchange. It has become something of a tradition for us to put together a collection of foods we’ve put up over the summer. This year the baskets will feature ginger pear jam (post coming soon) pasta sauce, pickles, and this, apple pie filling. There will be other treats too, but I’m debating what to do exactly so I’ll post about those later.

Anyway, this recipe is safe, comes from the Ball canning website and it makes about 7 (16 oz) pints.  Here’s the thing with canning: it is becoming popular and recipes are popping up every from crafting websites and magazines to the New York Times website. It is exciting to see, but before you try a recipe, verify that the methods used are safe. Nothing ruins your day like a nice serving of botulism.

Here are a few sites that my friend and chef, Carla, shared with me when I asked her about the recipe I was planning to use.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/pages/all_recipes/215.php?catID=Home-Canning&pageNum=1

http://www.homecanning.com/

http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/

Check them all out and decide what sounds good over the winter, then plant your garden accordingly!

Here’s the recipe for Apple Pie Filling, the original came from Ball, but I doubled the spices. And use whatever apples you’d like! We used a few different varieties for a more interesting flavor.

You will need:
12 cups sliced peeled cored apples, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning (about 12 medium)
Water
2-3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 or 4 tsp ground cinnamon, generous
1 tsp ground nutmeg, generous
2-1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
1-1/4 cups cold water
1/2 cup lemon juice
7 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:
1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) BLANCH apple slices, working with 6 cups at a time, in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
3.) COMBINE sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large stainless steel saucepan. Stir in apple juice and cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, return to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Drain apple slices and immediately fold into hot mixture. Before processing, heat, stirring, until apples are heated through.

4.) LADLE hot pie filling into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

5.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Before dumping this pie filling into the pie crust, you will need to add a thickener. You need 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed in with a bit (1/4 c?) of cold water. When combined, stir into the pint of filling. Each pint needs this cornstarch/water slurry. This slurry prevents clumping when you add it to the filling. You will need 2 pints of filling to make a 9 inch pie.

I’m giving away two of the 6 jars we got, the rest will be enjoyed by friends and family sometime this winter. Enjoy!

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Wheat Berries with Cranberry Sauce

MG 48121 614x410 Wheat Berries with Cranberry Sauce

Wheatberries with Cranberry sauce

I haven’t posted in awhile, so I thought I better get cracking on the November recipes. Please forgive the quality of the photo, it is a little dark and a bit off color because I took the picture around 5:00am when we were actually eating this. I didn’t have time to take it up to the studio to photograph it properly before eating it. Anyway, this is a wonderful and simple breakfast for winter mornings. Wheat berries require about an hour to cook so I boiled them while I was making dinner the night before. They reheat well with some apple juice or water and only take about 5 minutes to get warm. When they are hot divide them into your serving bowls, add the cranberry sauce and top with a little vanilla yogurt! Instant breakfast! Wheat berries, in case you are wondering, have about the same nutritional profile as oatmeal. They are very good for you and can help break the monotony of oatmeal everyday for breakfast during the winter. The variations of toppings are endless, but this combination is my favorite so far.

So here is the recipe:

Boil 2 cups of water for 1 cup of wheat berries. Rinse and pick through the wheat berries before throwing them into the boiling water, let the water come back to a boil, then simmer the wheat berries for about an hour. The little grains will be soft and some will have burst open. Drain any excess water and set aside.

You can top the wheat berries with whatever you’d like, but I made a cranberry sauce since it is November and the cranberries are flooding the store. Cranberries are not only visually appealing, but the  the sound of the cranberries popping is one of the happiest sounds I can think of. The recipe for this sauce is fairly basic too. Here it is:

1 12 oz bag of cranberries

3/4 cup of sugar

juice of one orange + enough bottled orange juice to make 1 cup

2 tsp orange flower water

a pinch of salt

Pick over the cranberries and rinse them. Then combine all the ingredients in a pan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve sugar, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, for 10 min. or until thickened. Transfer to a dish, and cool to room temperature, uncovered. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy! And another post will be up sooner, rather than later!

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