Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the Kitchen: Spiced Cranberry Sauce

If you ask me my favorite Thanksgiving food, I'll tell you it's cranberry sauce, which I know sounds crazy- I mean, what with gravy, and mashed potatoes, and pie and all that? It's true though- I am obsessed with cranberry sauce- but not just any cranberry sauce. It has to be real, from scratch sauce- not that business in the cans. Every time I make this sauce, people ask for the recipe (and tell me they usually hate cranberry sauce, but not this one), so I thought it was about time I shared it!

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

1 bag whole, fresh cranberries
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of that same orange, plus enough water to make 1 cup
1 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Rinse cranberries thoroughly, picking out any super squishy ones, and picking off any stems.
Zest and juice orange.
In a non-reactive saucepan, bring water+juice mixture to a boil, add sugar, spices, and cranberries. Reduce heat to med-low until berries start popping and the sauce has thickened.
Remove from heat, cool to room temp, then cover and chill in fridge.

You can make this ahead of time, and to make a bigger batch, just multiply everything except the liquid, which you'll only need an extra half cup of per extra bag of cranberries. Super easy, super good. I'm going to sneak a spoonful right now actually.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I hope you have a wonderful time with people you love.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Little Friendsgiving Get Together

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Gathering with family and friends (or friends that are family) around a meal that took hours of planning and prep adds up to an amazing day in my book. This year a lot of our friends are traveling for Thanksgiving though, so I used the fact I was working on some Thanksgiving recipes as an excuse to get everyone together for a little Friendsgiving- little in more ways than one.

For a more relaxed get together, I started with all my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, deconstructed them a bit, and shrunk them down to finger foods. Our menu included:

Roast Turkey-Polenta 'Sliders' with Crispy Sage
Stuffing Bites with Gravy for Dipping
Yam Kebabs
Pumpkin Tartlets with Gingerbread Crust
Spiced Cranberry Punch

The beauty of this menu is that even if you're not up for making a turkey, you can still pull this off with a store bought roasted turkey, or even just a turkey breast. I seriously enjoy prepping a roast turkey, so I went for it, but I know it can seem daunting, so if you're stressed, just skip it!

Ready for all the recipes? Everything's below, except for the Yam Kebabs- you'll find those over on The Jungalow today!

Roast Turkey-Polenta 'Sliders' with Crispy Sage
Serves 8

Roast turkey, sliced and heated
Polenta- a store bought, pre-cooked loaf is perfect for this dish
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
Fresh sage leaves, washed

Pre-heat oven to 350°.
Slice polenta into discs, about 1/4 inch thick.
Brush olive oil onto a baking sheet, coating well.
Place polenta slices directly onto baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until polenta is firm and crisp on the outside.
While polenta is baking, prepare crispy sage by melting butter over med-low heat in a small skillet. Once butter is melted and sizzling, add sage leaves and cook until crisp- about 5 minutes. Remove sage leaves.
When polenta is done baking, top each slice with 1-2 slices of turkey and a sage leaf. Serve warm, with gravy, if desired.

Stuffing Bites
Serves 8

8 cups dry bread cubes
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (for a vegetarian version, substitute 1/2 c melted butter)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup minced italian parsley
1-1.5 cup turkey (or chicken) stock

Preheat oven to 350°.
In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and place on paper towel to drain. Remove all but 1/2 cup of the bacon drippings. Add carrots, mushrooms and onion to drippings and saute´ until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, nutmeg, pepper, and parsley.

In a large bowl, combine bacon and bread cubes; add vegetable mixture. Drizzle with enough stock to moisten bread, tossing lightly until combined. For this recipe, you want the stuffing to be slightly more moist than you would your regular stuffing recipe.

Grease a mini-muffin tin. Using a cookie scoop, or two spoons, divide stuffing into mini-muffins. Bake for 12 minutes, until dry and slightly crisp on top. Serve warm, with gravy for dipping.

*Stuffing can be baked at the same time as the polenta, if you have room in your oven. Just pull it out earlier and keep warm until polenta is done. *

Pumpkin Tartlets with Gingerbread Crust 
(Adapted from Sift and Whisk and my mom's pumpkin pie)
Serves 16, depending on tartlet pan size

Gingerbread Crust

2½ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
½ cup molasses

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, spices, and salt. Sprinkle in butter cubes and pulse until they are about pea sized. Add molasses and pulse until mixture comes together, forming a ball. Turn out onto plastic wrap, shape into a disc, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Roll dough into a thin sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough into squares (or circles if you're feeling confident) large enough to cover your tartlet pans, with about 1/2 inch overhang. Gently place dough into tartlet pan, pressing lightly to ensure crust is flush with pan sides. Run the rolling pin over the top of tartlet pan to trim dough, removing any dough that sticks to the outside. Poke the crusts all over the bottom with a fork. Freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.
Place the tart pans on a baking sheet. Press foil squares, shiny side down, tightly against the crust. Fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, remove foil and beans, then bake for another 2 minutes uncovered. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Filling

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

In a large bowl, beat eggs; stir in pumpkin, sugar, and spices until combined. Gradually mix in evaporated milk until smooth and combined. 

Once tart crusts are cool, return to baking sheet. Fill each with pumpkin mixture until full to the top, without spilling over. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until set (filling will still jiggle slightly). Place on cooling rack until room temp. Transfer tartlets to fridge, covered, if you prefer your pumpkin 'pie' cold. 

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. 

Spiced (and Spiked) Cranberry Punch
Serves 16

1 32 oz jar pure cranberry juice
3 3 inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
Zest of 1 orange, in large strips
8 bottles ginger beer
4-6 orange slices 
Whole cranberries to garnish
Bourbon to taste, if desired

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups juice, spices, and orange zest to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out orange zest, cardamom pods and cloves. Cool spiced juice to room temp, then add to the rest of the juice. Refrigerate juice until chilled. Just before serving, mix with ginger beer in a punch bowl (or a big pot, like I did). Float orange slices and cinnamon sticks on top.  Thread whole cranberries onto a cocktail pick to garnish each glass. Let guests help themselves to punch, and add bourbon to their taste. 

Happy Friendsgiving! (And a big thank you to all my real life friends who let me photograph them for this post).

Original recipes, styling, and photography by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

In The Kitchen: Breakfast Polenta with Butternut Squash

Last year I was delightfully surprised to find that polenta is super easy to make. Ever since, I've been a bit obsessed- topped with a meaty ragu, or roasted mushrooms- it's basically my favorite meal. Because it's so easy, I even started making an extra large pot each time, so that there would be leftovers for breakfast. When I made a recent batch- this time with the addition of butternut squash- for a post on The Jungalow, I saved some so I could share the breakfast version with you too! 

Breakfast Polenta with Butternut Squash 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2-4 (depending on how much leftover polenta you have)
2-4 cups left over creamy butternut polenta
1/4 cup milk for each cup of polenta
Dried cherries (I prefer the tart, Montmorency variety)
Roasted pepitas
Maple syrup
In a small saucepan, heat up left over polenta, stirring in milk, until smooth, and hot. 
Serve polenta in bowls, topped with dried cherries, pepitas, and maple syrup. 
So easy and SO good- especially this time of year, when the mornings are chilly! Even better- there are a ton of other ways to dress up left over polenta for breakfast- anything you'd put on oatmeal will work here- dried fruits, nuts, spices, butter, brown sugar, honey- whatever strikes your fancy! You can even go savory with an egg, or sauteed greens. 
Make sure to visit The Jungalow today to get the recipe for the butternut squash polenta, if you haven't already. I can only hope you'll become as obsessed as I am! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

In the Kitchen: Grilled Shishitos

Some of you probably know that in addition to my photography work, I'm also the editorial director for The Jungalow, but you may not know that I'm also the food contributor there. Since I rarely make an appearance over here these days, I thought I'd start sharing my Jungalow recipe posts here too!

Today I've got a recipe for a veggie my mister and I are obsessed with- shishito peppers! Seriously- we love these little peppers so much we've got some growing on the back stoop!

Pop on over to The Jungalow for the recipe, and lots of boho home inspiration too.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Urban Jungle Bloggers

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know all too well what a crazy plant lady I can be. I mean, probably 1 in every 3 photos features plants or flowers! It follows then, that as soon as I heard about Urban Jungle Bloggers, I knew I needed to join up! This online community of bloggers, from all over the world, are all sharing their take on life with plants! It took me a few months to actually get a post together (and I'm still a few weeks late), but the May theme- 'Plant Gang' was easy enough. Meet (some of) my gang...

I rescued the big philodendron from the clearance section at Home Depot. He was very sad looking, but now has almost doubled in size and has new leaves regularly!

The pothos and air plant in the bathroom used to have a little staghorn fern friend, but he didn't survive. I'd love to add some plants to this room.

Do any of my fellow Urban Jungle Bloggers know the proper name of this plant with the holes in the leaves (below and top of post)? I've gotten conflicting info from my usual plant people- some say it's a kind of pothos, others say it's a monstera. The leaves are small and the vines get very long.

Well, there's a little intro to part of my plant gang! Are you a plant person too? You should join the Urban Jungle Blogger community!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Produce Portraits: Black Radish

More than a year ago, after a friend showed me a photo of one, I became obsessed with tracking down these black radishes. Last week my search finally ended with a visit to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

I'm not usually a huge radish fan, but when they're thinly sliced, layered onto a slice of baguette with some good butter, and then sprinkled with salt, my opinion changes entirely. These had a very earthy flavor with a milder kick than most radishes and while we ate them fresh, I think they would be quite nice roasted as well (possibly pickled too- although with my vinegar aversion I wouldn't know).

What new produce have you tried lately? I love finding new-to-me fruits and veggies to try (and to photograph), so let me know if you find anything interesting!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Simple Christmas Eve Table

If you're still working out what to do for your holiday table, I have a simple and affordable option for you that even has a built-in gift!

Life has been kind of hectic lately, which has me craving simple things at home- especially when it comes to decor. The simplicity of both the aesthetics and the effort involved made this the easiest table. Plus, when your meal is over, you can send each guest home with a plant that will last beyond the holiday season!

To create a similar table for yourself you'll need:

  • Loose pine branches (if you don't already have some, you can find branches for sale at home & garden stores, or even the grocery store)
  • Small plants
  • Assortment of old bottles (or any bottles you happen to have at home)
  • Skinny candles (available at most craft stores)

Start by transferring your plants from their plastic pot to a small jar. I used small mason jars which you can find in the canning section, if you don't already have some.

Next, create a base layer of pine branches, arranging them so they fan out on both ends of your table.

Now add the plants, placing them on top of the branches (or making room for them between the branches). Place the plants close enough together to create the runner effect.

Place the candles in the small bottles, and layer them in, varying the height of the bottles.

Clip a sprig of pine for each place setting and place on top of the the napkin.


Our Christmas Eve tradition is a simple pot of soup and some good bread- an easy meal that can be made ahead of time and enjoyed after the Christmas Eve service. Just set the table ahead of time, then dish out bowls of soup, pass around the bread and pour a festive drink.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Friday, November 28, 2014


Hello all and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend.

I have some strangely sad news- the domain I've used for this site for the last few years was basically stolen from me due to an error on the side of the company I purchased the domain from. So, now goes to a fake version of my blog that's really just redirecting you to buy cheap Air Jordans.  It's strange how something so seemingly meaningless can suddenly feel so important when it's taken from you. I won't lie- I cried a few tears as I tried to sort this mess out.

For the time being, I've reverted back to I'm considering how to handle things for the long term- possibly by merging the content over to live with my photography website.

I'll keep you posted, but for now, avoid the impostor site!


Friday, September 12, 2014

Homemade Cocktail Cherries

Years ago, while celebrating my birthday at a spot in Seattle where a friend was tending bar, the Luxardo cherry entered my life and cocktail cherries have never been the same for me. Old Fashioned's have long been 'my drink', and while I once subscribed to the idea that cherries had no place in one, that tiny little Luxardo gem won me over. 

Neon red, almond flavored, sickeningly sweet, cherries, these are not. The Luxardo cherry tastes (and looks) like a real cherry, with the added complexity of the maraschino flavor from the Luxardo. Perfect in any drink that calls for a cocktail cherry, or even as an ice cream topping, their only downfall is that, at nearly $20 for a 14 ounce jar, there is no room for them in my budget. Good thing I'm not afraid of a little r&d in the kitchen, eh? Affordable version, here we come!  

The key to these is the cherry- a sour cherry. If I lived in Italy, I'd use marasca cherries, like Luxardo does, but sour cherries are the best option in the US. If you don't live somewhere sour cherries grow, you can usually find sour cherries in the frozen fruit section of nicer grocery stores or order them online. Although they don't grow well in Southern California, I lucked out and found fresh ones at a tiny little Armenian market, where I considered buying everything they had in stock.

If you're using fresh cherries, you'll need to pit them. My favorite cherry pitting tool is this little contraption that attaches to any mason jar. It's easy to use and keeps the mess contained, all for under $10.

After pitting, freeze the cherries. I find they absorb more flavor this way, and freezing them also means you can keep some on hand for future cocktail cherries. To flash freeze, arrange cherries, so they're not touching, on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer for about 24 hours. Transfer to container or zipper bag and store in freezer.

When you're ready to make the cocktail cherries, you'll need:

1 pound frozen sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water or cherry juice
1 cup Luxardo maraschino liqueur
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stir and continue to simmer until sugar has dissolved.

Add vanilla, Luxardo, and cherries. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Cool to room temperature. Pour equal parts cherries and liquid into clean jars and refrigerate 3 days before using. Store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

Original recipe, styling, and photography by Danae Horst for Gather and Hunt. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Return of the Blog

Remember that trip to Joshua Tree I mentioned back in the Spring? Well, at long last, here are the photos from that adventure!

Our visit to Moorten Botanical Gardens in Palm Springs was one of the highlights of this trip. Every imaginable variety of cacti can be found on display here! They even have a great selection of plants for purchase- we definitely brought one home with us.

Camping in Joshua Tree will be an adventure we remember forever. We hiked a bit, watched a gorgeous sunset , and camped in the shadow of a rock formation- all against the backdrop of this stunning landscape.
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