Crazy About Cranberries

So, this is the time of year that I go a little crazy…about cranberries, that is!

I’m not sure when it happened, but one Thanksgiving I woke up and decided to try something new to jazz up my turkey, and I fell in love with cranberries. Oh, not the open-up-a-can-and-slide-out-the-cranberry-jelly-goo-or-whatever-that-is, but the fresh-bag-o-berries-and-super-simple-follow-a-recipe kind of cranberry love.

First I discovered the best cranberry-orange sauce ever. Here’s a little love coming your way.
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Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup
sugar, plus more if desired
Pinch
salt
One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
One cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water with the orange zest, orange juice, sugar and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Sweeten with more sugar, if desired. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Top over turkey, and you’ve just kicked Thanksgiving dinner up a notch!

Then I discovered cranberry cake. It’s about 5000 calories of awesomeness.


And paired with a cup of steaming hot tea, it’s simply divine. It’s so easy and yummy and bad for you. But since it’s the holidays, I say, “Go for it!”

Cranberry Cake
3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. butter, melted
2 T. almond extract (YES!)
3 c. flour
4 c. fresh cranberries (no substitutes)
1/2 c. pecans

Melt butter and cream with sugar and almond extract. Beat in eggs. Mix in flour, cranberries, and nuts. Pour into a greased 10 x 13 baking pan. Bake 1 hour at 350. Cut into 20-24 squares. Don’t forget to freeze several bags of cranberries to make this year-round.

And now I’m also looking forward to testing out a Christmas cranberry recipe that was just passed onto me. I’ll get back to you on that one when I try it.

For now, I’m just thankful for a Cranberry Thanksgiving!

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I’m a Granola Girl

All this talk about eating local, going green, and gardening organically makes me feel all granola-y all over. And that reminds me of a super great homemade granola recipe handed down from a few friends. You’ll never want store-bought again. Here it is!

:: Homemade Granola ::

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a large baking sheet with tin foil.

Combine in large bowl:
7 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir until oats are evenly coated.
Spread into an even layer on the baking sheet.
Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until pale gold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the oats and lower the oven temperature to 300.

While baking, combine in a small saucepan over medium heat:
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Cook until sugar fully dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Stir into sugar mixture:
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Set aside and let cool.

When oats are ready, combine sugar mixture with oats in original large bowl.
Add 1 1/2 cups whole almonds.

Transfer back to baking sheet. Spread evenly and bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees until golden brown. Let cool completely, break into small chunks, and store in an dry, airtight container.

I also like to add dried cherries to my granola when I’m ready to eat it. Yum, yum, I say!

Let them eat….COOKIES!

Today my son and I baked up a batch of hospitality to give to our new neighbors. Cookies! And the best part about making cookies is…making cookie dough. Yum, yum!

I discovered this recipe from my friend Megan, who is a Mary Poppins wanna-be. (I think she’s pretty close!) It’s been one of my favorite cookie recipes since. A little cookie heaven, I say.

Here’s Megan’s recipe:

Megan’s Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

(makes a double batch–double the fun, double the YUM!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 C sugar
  • 2 C softened butter (real butter, not shortening or margarine)
  • 1.5 C brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 5.5 C white flour
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 packages of colored M&Ms

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Add the flour a cup at a time. Mix in the chocolate chips. Form dough into balls and press as many M&Ms into each ball as possible. Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven even if they don’t look done. They will firm up on the warm cookie sheet after being in the oven.