Sauce in the Sauce: Cranberries

Here we go again, Thanksgiving, just a few short days away. I love you…I adore you… so, can I ask? What happened to the fall and when-the-heck did you get here? I never seem to arrive in the middle of November well prepared. It’s like I left October without my house keys, a pair of socks or a contact case, Thanksgiving arrived early, my house isn’t clean and I have no food.

Don’t know what I’d do without family to invite me over!

When going to a big family function—foreign or domestic—it’s important to wow the judges. On holidays, we go all out. The table is set with carefully starched and pressed linen napkins and cloth, bone china, antique silver flatware and cut crystal. Everything–the cheese, the bread, the wine, the vegetables and meats–is the freshest, most beautiful that we can find; brought to the table like little gifts.

But while sipping from a glass that costs more than I spend on food in a week, I’m left to wonder: how the hell did that can shaped, gelatinous blob of cranberries get deemed acceptable?

Aside from the fact that they’re delicious and more hysterical than the turkey shaped butter mold that my dad insists on lopping the head off as soon as we sit down, how does the red viscous can-mold manage to make it under the radar every year?

This year, I said I’d take on the task of reinventing the cranberry. Much easier than the wheel…Here are some fun ways to add some sauce to the sauce: that boring canned cran will never be the same!

First comes first: breakfast cooking cocktails! Thanksgiving is always served more as a lunch, so starting early is necessary. In order to stand in the kitchen while others lounge in front of football, a little morning bev is needed. Again I’ll say: it’s a holiday!

 

Poinsettia

  • 4 oz. Champagne
  • 1 t. Jellied Cranberry Sauce (the canned stuff)

Place cranberry sauce in champagne glass and top with chilled champagne. Now, you may enter the kitchen…

Cape Codder Cran

  • 1 14 oz Can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • ¼ C Vodka

Just like the cocktail! Mix all ingredients in medium sauce pan and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, serve chilled. Lime wedges optional.

Jager Spiced Cranberries

  • 1 14oz. can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 Persimmon, diced
  • ¼ C Jägermeister

Mix all ingredients in medium sauce pan and heat on medium for 5 minutes, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, serve chilled or warm with dinner or along with cheese platter! This pairs beautifully with Brie, Camembert, Gouda and mild Swiss cheeses.

CranMarnier Sauce

  • 1 12oz. bag Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 C Water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 Navel orange zest and segments, pith removed
  • 1 Persimmon, diced
  • ½ C Pomegranate seeds (click link for tips on cutting & seeding!)
  • ½ C Grand Marnier

In medium sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and add fresh cranberries, orange segments, orange zest and persimmon. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add pomegranate seeds and Grand Marnier. Serve chilled or hot (according to your preference) with the holiday bird.

Don’t forget about dessert…

Vanilla Vodka Whipped CranDip

  • 1 14oz. container Cool Whip,
  • 1/4 C Crème fraîche (cheat & buy it…)
  • 2 T Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 14oz. can Whole Berry Cranberries

In large bowl, combine all ingredients and whip with electric mixer until evenly combined and fluffy. Serve chilled with cut fruit or in a pre-fab graham cracker pie crust (frozen or chilled) for dessert.

Thanksgiving cranberries will no longer be the laughing stock of the table. That butter turkey is another story…Happy Thanksgiving!!

Bloody Genius, BloodyMary!

Even though I was the kid who rinsed off hot wings (yes, in the sink), I find myself loving spice lately. There’s just something really cleansing about the eye watering, nose running and deep belly fire that’s better than Bikram in August for a good full body rinse.

Spice helps raises metabolism, rids the body of toxins, clears out sinuses, and lowers blood pressure among other things. The fact that we inadvertently take in all kinds of toxins on a daily basis is a good reason to get rid of a few here and there.  Spicy foods like hot peppers actually help to dilate (open up) blood vessels and increase blood flow. Better blood flow = less crap. Less crap, happier body.

After a long, fuzzy weekend of purposeful toxin guzzling, I need as much blood flow as possible.

While the truly perfect solution has always involved chewing (read: cheese omelet with mustard, greasy hash browns and dry wheat toast and about 2 gallons of water), sometimes food is not quite what I’m looking for…and not yet what I’m able to manage. To make sitting upright possible, spicy drinks are the secret. They help to hydrate, satiate and get me firing on all cylinders again. If the burning in my stomach can distract from the burning behind my eyes — even better.

The Bloody Mary is the answer.

I hate to admit that I had my first Bloody Mary about a month ago. I wish I knew about this for most of my 20’s as I suffered through many long days of brain-dead zombie-time. I probably deserved that suffering though. Builds character says my dad.

Life is a learning process.

A lot of seasoned vets will tell you extra horse-radish is the way to go—but after seeing horse-radish nearly kill a woman on “1,000 Ways to Die”, I just can’t take the chance any more. After developing what seems like an immunity to the attempts of Tabasco, I knew shit was about to get real. It was time to play with fire.

I’d love to take credit for this gem—but it was Matt who decided to shove 3 of his home-grown what-do-I-do-with-them-now? jalapeños into a bottle of Absolut at the beginning of the summer. The heat emanating from this bottle is the only reason it’s been living here for more than a few weeks.

If it’s survived this long, it might really know something I don’t know…

If you’ve got a long weekend ahead, run out and grab these ingredients–it’ll save your life come Sunday. Promise.

Bloody Genius, Mary!

  • 3/4 C Tomato Juice
  • 1/4 C Jalapeño Infused Vodka*
  • 1 t horse-radish
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  • 1/8 t Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/8 t Steak Sauce (A-1)
  • 1/8 t Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/8 t Sriracha sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedge, lime wedge, Hot Pepper Pickled Asparagus** spears to garnish & take the place of celery as a stirrer

*Quick note on infusing vodka: it’s very easy! You don’t need to use a whole bottle if you don’t want that much jalapeño vodka. Slice up peppers and soak. It will get stronger the longer it sits. 24 hrs. will suffice.

**Quicker note on the Hot Pepper Pickled Asparagus: I used a variation on the recipe found on Food In Jars. Even though she has a great recipe for pickled asparagus, I like the “quick pickle” version. And these are ridiculously good.

So you’ll need to prep those two things in advance if possible. Consider it pre-gaming.

Combine all other ingredients over ice, garnish with lemon, lime and asparagus spears and you’re cured!