A) Super cranky and fighting crowds at a mall trying to find a gift that can be considered thoughtful while cursing the mind shattering sounds of the Salvation Army bell ringers,
B) Blissfully spending evenings sipping holiday cocktails with my favorite people, decorating Christmas trees, and making seasons bright because I've purchased all my gifts online before Thanksgiving.
For the second year in a row, I've done option B. And. It. Has. Been. Fantastic. I'm totally the irritatingly cheerful one wishing everyone a Merry Christmas more than two full weeks before the big day. I have all my thoughtful presents wrapped, and some are even homemade (what else do you do when your boyfriend wants a Willie Nelson tree topper? You make it, of course)!
When the holiday spirit is all up in my business like this, I enjoy every day and night so much and I don't want December to end! Tonight Marney and I went for our first snowy walk of the season. It was beautiful and still outside, with tiny flakes slowly blanketing the path and our heads while also illuminating the beautiful Minneapolis lakes and parks.
Earlier this week, my amazing friend Ann (i.e. the Hostess with the Mostess) threw a lovely holiday dinner party and I brought this cheesy, nutty, sweet appetizer. The color is so perfectly suited to holiday parties, it's a beautiful addition to your menu and table. If you don't like brie, the sauce is just as good (if not better) as a condiment on a cheese tray, complementing Swiss, havarti, and bleu cheese exceptionally well.
The cranberry sauce recipe makes at least a quart and you won't need it all for your baked brie appetizer. I recommend you use leftover sauce in the following ways:
- Shake 2 Tbsp sauce with 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 4 Tbsp olive oil in a jar to make a dressing for a field green salad with feta and toasted nuts.
- Mix 1 Tbsp sauce with 1 Tbsp mayonnaise and spread on a turkey or apple/cheddar sandwich.
- Mix a spoonful or two into your morning yogurt or oatmeal (or yoatmeal)
- Drizzle a spoonful over ice cream.
- Make a batch of piping hot popovers and eat slathered in sauce.
- Substitute for jelly in a PB&J sandwich, or anywhere else you would use jelly (like in baking).
I got the recipe for this sauce from my co-worker Lori who's husband was an editor on a country cookbook several years ago (so sorry I can't find the name of the book) and this recipe is in the book.
Baked Brie with Root Beer Cranberry Sauce
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer, with lots of leftover cranberry sauce
1 can root beer
1 bag cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 wheel brie cheese
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
Crackers, apple slices, and/or pear slices for serving.
Optional: pulse cranberries in a food processor. I did this because I like a more chutney-like consistency in my sauce.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring root beer and cranberries to a boil. Whisk in sugars and cornstarch, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chill to set.
To serve appetizer, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut top rind off brie. Scoop as much cranberry sauce and toasted pecans you can fit on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is soft and gooey. Serve with crackers, or apple/pear slices.
ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Vegetable Crepe Cake
TWO YEARS AGO: Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese
THREE YEARS AGO: Green and Lean Loaf