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Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Cranberry Quartet

Due to popular demand, (okay, one of my friends messaged me on Facebook) here’s a few of my favorite cranberry recipes. I’m talking sauces and salads here, not baked goods…that would be a hugely long post! Cranberries always entice me with their tart-sweet flavors; not overly sugary like some fruits, with a little texture and gorgeous color. I learned at the state fair that they’re Wisconsin’s top crop. Who knew? So away we go…


The closest thing to a classic cranberry sauce that I make. Super easy, super quick, you’ll never buy it in a can again (unless it’s for a different recipe, as seen below!).

Cranberry Marmalade Sauce

(adapted from Bon Appetit…barely)
1 1/2 cups orange marmalade
2/3 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
12 oz bag fresh cranberries (or frozen will work here)

add-marn Combine juice, marmalade, and cinnamon stick in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally (or constantly, if you’re holding a drink in your other hand and want a little peace and quiet).

add-cranAdd cranberries and let it return to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 5 or 10 minutes, until the berries burst. You can let just a few pop, or all of them if you want a softer sauce. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. You can make this in advance. I always do.

If you have leftovers (after you eat leftovers), combine 1 1/2 cups of this with 8 oz. Fat-free Catalina dressing, pour it over some chicken breasts in the slow cooker, and cook for 4-6 hours on low. Makes a yummy, barbeque-y filling for wraps or a great entree. Really. I know it sounds odd. You can also use a can of whole berry sauce if you don’t have leftovers or if it’s, like, July and cranberries aren’t anywhere to be found in stores.

My Great-Aunt Lela’s Cranberry Relish

lelas No holiday meal was complete without this relish when I was young. My cranberries weren’t as red as usual, I think…this is not as vibrant as it normally is. This is an old-fashioned gelatin mold, but I just serve it in a crystal bowl because I think it’s pretty. I’m sure it was incredibly labor intensive for Lela, but in the age of food processors, takes about 15 minutes, start to finish.

1 cup boiling water
1 small box lemon Jello
1 cup sugar
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1/2 cup nuts (I use pecans)
12 oz fresh cranberries
1/2 apple, any kind (I used a Honeycrisp here); roughly chopped
1/2 seedless orange, NOT peeled, roughly chopped

Dissolve the Jello and sugar in the boiling water. A small child is usually willing to do this part, as I don’t enjoy stirring until stuff dissolves. Unless I have a glass of wine in my other hand that needs to be consumed.


While it cools a little, combine all the other ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until pretty finely chopped. The original recipe says to grind them , so that’s how they should look.

Add the Jello mixture and pulse to combine, then pour into your prettiest crystal bowl and chill. Can be made a day or two ahead, even though it’s all raw. I’m pretty sure all that sugar acts as a preservative. But it’s the holidays, right?

I’ve halved the original recipe here and it still makes 4 cups. Feel free to double it if you’re having lots of people or taking it to a potluck. It’s really a refreshing salad, or relish as Lela would say!

Cranberry Salsa

When we were at the apple orchard last month, I saw cranberry salsa in their store. I was intrigued, but already had every member of the family loaded down with tasty treats, so waited until I was home and experimented. This recipe, if I do say so myself, totally rocks. Actually, that’s what my kids said. It’s great on chips, over cream cheese with crackers, or in a wrap with some leftover turkey.


12 oz cranberries
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 orange, unpeeled (yes, I used the other half from the relish)
2 Tbsp lime juice
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro,
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger


Combine all in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Salsa consistency…you know what that means. My family was eating this straight out of the food processor bowl, they liked it so much. I had to fight them off to put it in the serving bowl. Oh, and add another jalapeno if you want more heat…we’re pretty wimpy around here.

Cranberry Freeze

I think this recipe is my friend Janene’s. I remember being at Bunko in Louisiana and discussing how much her family hated cranberry sauce, so they had another form instead. Yes, we Army wives really know how to solve world problems when we get together. Anyway, I ended up with this recipe in my files and I think that’s where it originated.


1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 oz cream cheese, softened and whipped
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 cup chopped pecans

Stir together the lemon juice and cranberry sauce. Spread in bottom of plastic wrap-lined loaf pan.

Mix cream cheese, mayo, sugar, and nuts. Fold into whipped cream and spread over cranberries (gently, so it doesn’t blend in with the berries). Freeze at least 2 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from mold by pulling out using the plastic wrap. Slice into 1/2” slices with a thin sharp knife.

I admit, I’m not sure if this is a salad or more like a dessert. It’s a little sweet and very delicious, though, so serve it as you like!

I hope you try at least one of these this year. We have all four of them in the frig right now...I told the kids cranberries will keep them healthy and able to play over the long weekend, so they're more than willing to have some at every meal!

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