• 43°

Native fruit cranberry versatile

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to America, making it a perfect choice for Thanksgiving.

The many ways to enjoy cranberries make for a long list – and the simple, low sugar fruit is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This holiday season, try one or two of my favorite ways to cook and bake with the autumn staple – or get creative with your recipes.

Add a spoonful or two of the berry relish to any sandwich filling or cold salad such as macaroni or potato.  A little sauce is also delicious in a scratch meatloaf or hand-patted burger – or simply spread over the top. The tart-fresh cranberry can be added to your roasted sweet potatoes, a squash casserole, or the rice stuffing or cornbread dressing. The berries add zesty flavor to anything to which they’re added.

As if you need another reason to cook with cranberries, here’s one more. They’re known for their phytonutrients – and that’s of benefit to your good health.

At my home, no Thanksgiving table’s complete without at least one traditional cranberry congealed salad. While I usually prefer cooking with fresh berries, you don’t want to get me started on the canned cranberry sauce – I’ll never move completely past it.

Both jellied and whole berry cranberry sauce command a spot on my pantry shelf year-round.

FRESH CRANBERRY SAUCE

12 oz. cranberries

1 ½ cups Merlot wine

1 ¼ cups packed golden brown sugar

2 Tbsp. grated orange peel

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. allspice

In a saucepan, combine cranberries, wine, sugar, peel, and spices. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and cook on medium for 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced by ½ and a slightly thick syrup forms. Store covered in a bowl and refrigerate.  Serve alongside meats.

CRANBERRY-WINE CONGEALED SALAD

6 oz. raspberry gelatin

1 ½ cups boiling water

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

2/3 cup red wine

8 oz. crushed pineapple

¾ cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add whole berry cranberry sauce, wine, pineapple, and walnuts. Pour into a glass dish or a mold. Refrigerate until firm. Serve with a dollop of cream cheese fluff on top.

FRESH APPLE-ORANGE-CRANBERRY SALAD

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

6 oz. lemon gelatin

2 unpeeled, cored, ground apples

4 cups ground cranberries

1 unpeeled, seeded, ground orange

½ cup pecans

Lettuce leaves

In a saucepan, boil water. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Chill until gelatin is slightly set. Fold in ground apples, cranberries, orange, and pecans. Spoon into glass dish. Chill until firm. Serve on lettuce leaves with dollop of cream cheese fluff on top.

ORANGE CREAM DOLLOP FOR SALADS

8 oz. whipped cream cheese

1 finely grated rind of orange

1 Tbsp. sugar

Whip cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add grated rind from entire orange and sugar. Spoon a dollop of the Cream Fluff over any congealed salad.

EASY CRANBERRY-MUSTARD GRAVY

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce

½ cup chicken broth

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. whipping cream

In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add cranberry, broth, orange juice, mustard, and cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes until slightly thickened. Serve over sliced turkey breast or any meat.

VERY BERRY CHICKEN

4 boneless chicken breasts

4 boneless chicken thighs

1 oz. dry onion soup mix

16 oz. whole berry cranberry sauce

1 cup spicy French dressing

¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds

Chopped fresh parsley

In a butter greased glass baking dish, place chicken pieces without overlapping. Sprinkle onion soup over all chicken. To a bowl, add cranberry sauce and stir until spreadable. Add toasted almonds and mix well.  Spread evenly over chicken pieces. Pour evenly the French dressing over the cranberry. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes covered in foil. Remove foil and bake for additional 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings.

FOUR FRUIT RELISH

1 lb. bag fresh cranberries

6 unpeeled apples

1 unpeeled orange

1 large can drained pineapple

2 cups sugar

½ cup chopped pecans

Seed and quarter apples and oranges. Finely chop cranberries, apples, and oranges. Add pineapple, sugar, and pecans. Mix well. Refrigerate. Add to sandwich spreads, meatloaf, or hamburgers. Yields: 2 quarts.

PECAN-CRANBERRY MUFFINS

2 beaten eggs

¾ cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup orange juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add orange juice and mix well. Add flour and baking powder while alternating with oil. Mix well. Fold in cranberries and pecans. Spoon into 12 paper-lined or greased muffin cups until ¾ full. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

CRAN-BUTTER

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup honey

1 stick salted butter

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a processor, puree cranberries and honey until smooth. Add butter and lemon juice and blend 2 minutes. To a saucepan, add the mixture, and heat until butter has melted. Pour into a butter serving bowl, and refrigerate until firm. Also good with meats, vegetables, breakfast foods, and all breads. Yield: 2 cups.

CORNBREAD WITH CRANBERRIES

2 beaten eggs

1 cup sugar

1 stick softened salted butter

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 cups chopped fresh cranberries

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar. Mix well. Add butter and mix well. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt while alternating with buttermilk. Mix well. Fold in cranberries. Pour into a butter greased 9-inch square glass baking dish. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes or until center is firm and bread is golden. Good to use for stuffing or dressings.

CRANBERRY AND APPLE CRISP

3 cups fresh/frozen cranberries

1 ½ lb. peeled, cored, cubed Granny Smiths

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

¾ cup old fashioned oats

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

3 Tbsp. cut in pieces, salted butter

In a bowl, combine cranberries, apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toss. Pour into a butter-greased 8 x 8 glass baking dish. In a mixer bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, and butter that’s been cut into pieces. Drop the clusters of oats over the top of the apple mixture. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour or until bubbly and golden. Serve warm with flavored whipped cream.