Cranberry Love

This time of year you see them—bags of fresh cranberries in the produce section of the market.  You know them as the main ingredient used to make fresh cranberry relish at Thanksgiving, but have you ever thought beyond that?  Me neither…until now.  I am quite fond of the fresh cranberry these days.  I bought two bags last week in preparation for a recipe I was testing for a friend: pickled cranberries.  Two bags was way too much.  What to do with all those fresh cranberries?  I was inspired by the holiday baking season and created two recipes: Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins and Cranberry Orange Sauce.  So, three recipes later, I am dreaming up new ways to use this once a year ingredient…and I am in love.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup flour  (I use Jovial Flour. Check it out http://www.jovialfoods.com/)

1 cup almond meal

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup canola oil

2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup turbinado sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Combine flour, almond meal, brown sugar, spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda using a whisk
  • Add canola oil, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla. Completely incorporate all ingredients
  • Fold in the fresh cranberries and mix thoroughly
  • Place paper baking cups in a muffin pan and fill with with the batter (I use a large cookie scoop for the perfect amount)
  • Sprinkle top of batter with turbinado sugar
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes

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Pickled Cranberries

1 bag of fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon allspice berries

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1 – 2″ cinnamon stick

2 tbs orange zest

  • Combine vinegar and sugar in a saucepan
  • Bring to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, allspice, and cloves.  Continue simmering for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add cranberries and stir to incorporate.  Continue to simmer until cranberries start to pop, about 4-6 minutes.
  • Add orange zest and remove from heat
  • Pour mixture into a mason jar and seal
  • Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, then place in refrigerator.  Will keep for about 4 weeks refrigerated.

* Makes a great garnish for holiday drinks–especially hard ciders–or paired with a buttery cheese on a cracker!  If you find other inventive ways to use this sweet tart ingredient, please share in the comment section.

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Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon orange zest

  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan and place on medium heat
  • Simmer until cranberries pop and become soft (add more water if mixture gets too thick)
  • With the back of a wooden spoon, smash cranberries as the mixture starts to reduce
  • It is done when it is the consistency of a melted jam
  • Place in a small mason jar and refrigerate.  Use within 7-10 days.

*This sauce was created as a topping for orange sorbet but could also be used as a plate garnish for a festive dessert or a topping for ice cream.

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