Cranberry Thyme Dip

Creamy Cranberry Thyme Dip AppetizerBuy 418

It’s cranberry season! I love cranberries, I think they taste great and have a beautiful color. (Apparently they are also very healthy, which is nice, although that is not something I’m usually very concerned with as you probably have noticed). I’ve got a number of cranberry recipes in the making and to warm up I’ll start with the dried version of the fruit in this dip. It’s deliciously sweet, sour, salty and herby all at the  same time.

Cranberry Thyme Dip
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme or 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dehydrated toasted onion
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped dried cranberries
Instructions:
  1. Grind all dry spices in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine powder.
  2. Whisk cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, thyme, salt and onion together until creamy.
  3. Fold in the cranberries.
  4. Serve with baguette or crackers.

Food Photography and Styling: This dip gave me the chance to use for the first time this little purple dish from Sur La Table that I’ve had in my prop closets for more than a year. I tried to use it several times but its color just never really worked with anything. As soon as I thought of adding cranberries to this dip I knew the bowl would be perfect! Just another good reminder to never throw out any props, no matter how useless they may seem. :)

The trickiest bit about this photo was the styling of the uniformly white dip. I sprinkled some chopped cranberries and some thyme leaves over it to break up the white surface, to add some color and to create a focal point. I placed the bowl and the crackers on one piece of brown packaging paper to visually group these items together and to ground them to the surface. Without the paper the dip and crackers looked disconnected and lost on the table. I liked the background mostly empty and only placed one small antique salt shaker (which was very similar in color to the surface) in it.

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Roasted Vegetables with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetables Tarragon VinaigretteBuy 412

Roasted vegetables are delicious but I’m sometimes at a loss as to what to serve them with so I’ve come up with a series of intensely flavorful dipping sauces that perfectly complement the subdued taste of roasted veggies. Today’s sauce is a mustard/tarragon vinaigrette that has a bit of sour, a bit of licorice, a bit of heat and a bit of creaminess to it. It’s a nice contrast to the winter varieties that I picked here, some butternut squash, some shallots, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and carrots. Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Vegetables with Tarragon Vinaigrette
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
For the vegetables:
  • 10 baby potatoes, quartered
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 10 Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 2 carrots, quartered and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup 1- to 2-inch cubes butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon homemade seasoning salt (get the recipe here)
For the vinaigrette:
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions:
For the vegetables:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk canola oil and seasoning salt together in a bowl.
  3. Add the vegetables and toss to coat.
  4. Spread the vegetables on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast the vegetables until tender (35 to 40 minutes).
For the vinaigrette:
  1. Whisk all ingredients together.
  2. Either drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables or dip the vegetables in the vinaigrette.

 

Food Photography and Styling: I was in the mood for something other than wood and chose my zinc-coated metal tray for this shot. The blue/gray color of this surface went well with the orange carrots and squash and the texture in the metal made the photo look interesting without the need for many additional props. I sprinkled some tarragon leaves in the composition and shot from overhead to show off the different shapes of all the vegetables.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham CrackersBuy 304

Rather than sharing one of my own recipes I’ll direct you to these awesome graham crackers by Martha Stewart today. I had never made graham crackers myself until I baked these and I will never buy them from the store again. This recipe is great and very easy.

I cut a little star out of cardboard and used it as a template to cut out the center of these guys with a knife but if you have an actual cookie cutter in that shape that would probably be a lot easier. I baked the crackers a few minutes longer than the recipe states because I like them a little on the dark side. If you feel the urge you can substitute – you guessed it – pumpkin spice for the cinnamon, both version are excellent!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Graham Crackers
 
Author:
Recipe type: Desserts
Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cups light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Instructions:
  1. Head on over to Martha Stewart for instructions.

Food Photography and Styling:  I wanted this photo to feel cozy and warm and at the same time somewhat outdoorsy and fall-like. To do that, I charred the marshmallows to give them a campfire-burned look and stuck them on twigs to make the connection to the outdoors. I put the paper underneath them to break up the surface visually and also to protect the wood from marshmallow goo. I thought plain graham cracker squares would look a little boring so I cut out the stars in the middle.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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Huevos Rancheros Con Carne

Huevos Rancheros Con CarneBuy 411
This recipe is for those of you who like super-substantial, hardy breakfasts that will get you through 3/4 of the day. I am not in that group, I eat tiny, light breakfasts but I’m up for huevos rancheros for lunch or dinner anytime! I put my homemade chili powder to use in this recipe, added some jalapeño, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes and some ground beef for extra substance. I finished the sauce with cilantro and scallions and then poached eggs directly in the sauce in the oven. I found that this technique works really well, you just have to make sure that the sauce is nice and hot right before you put the raw eggs on it and cover the whole thing loosely with aluminum foil while in the oven to keep the eggs from drying out. You can easily make the sauce ahead of time as long as you heat it up before poaching the eggs. You can eat these huevos straight, with a tortilla, with rice or even with roasted or fried potatoes. I tried all these options and they were all very tasty!

Huevos Rancheros Con Carne
 
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast/Main
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons homemade chili powder (get the recipe here)
  • 2 jalapeños, diced (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~1.3 pounds ground beef (90 percent lean)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • one 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • one 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes (whole, not drained), processed into a puree in the food processor
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 – 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • a few drops lime juice
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering.
  2. Add onion, chili powder and jalapeños and cook on medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the beef and cook on medium heat until it's no longer red (about 8 minutes).
  5. Add tomato paste, all tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Use right away or store in the fridge until the next day.
  8. When you're ready to poach the eggs, stir the cilantro and the scallions into the sauce and then fill the sauce into a casserole pan (or into individual casserole pans).
  9. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  10. Heat the casserole pan/s up until the sauce is hot and place the pan/s on a baking sheet.
  11. Put raw eggs on top of the sauce and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  12. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have the desired consistency (about 9 - 12 minutes for a runny egg).
  13. Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice over the sauce and serve with tortillas, rice or roasted potatoes.

Food Photography and Styling: From my experience eggs are by far the most difficult food to style and photograph. You have little control over what an egg will do once you put it in the oven or the pan and even if it behaves well and looks nice the yolk will start to shrivel up so quickly that you have no more than a few minutes until you have to start over. I had the set ready and was going for a rustic, early morning look. I had placed the spent lime wedge in the frame beforehand because I thought its color went well with the red of the sauce. As soon as the dish was ready I sprinkled some ground black pepper over the egg, mainly to break up the fairly large and pure white area around the yolk and took the shot right before the yolk started to seize up.

 

Lens: I took this photo with my 105mm f2.8 NIKKOR macro lens. You can find the current version of this lens through the following link (I use an older version that is no longer being sold): AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens.

Camera: I used my Nikon D600 to take this photo. You can find the current version of this camera through the following link: Nikon D610 DSLR Camera.

 

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