Homemade Cranberry Sauce

adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

Cranberry Collage

  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brandy (my addition)

Rinse the cranberries under cold water. Zest the oranges. Add the cranberries and zest to a medium saucepan. Squeeze the juice from both oranges into the saucepan. Add the maple syrup and brandy and stir it all together. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s nice and thick. If the sauce still seems a little thin, just simmer longer until it’s the right consistency.

Transfer the sauce to a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in the fridge.

Gnocchi, Cauliflower, And Gorgonzola Gratin

from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers


  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (I used panko bread crumbs and it was still very good).
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper.
  • 1 lb vacuum packed gnocchi (the recipe says the best gnocchi is this kind — not refrigerated or frozen).
  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves
  • 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Position oven rack about 5 inches from heating element and heat broiler (I waited till later to heat my broiler). Pulse bread, melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in food processor to create coarse crumbs, about 6 pulses. (I did 7).
  2. Add 1 tbsp salt and gnocchi to boiling water and cook until tender and floating, about four minutes. Drain gnocchi and transfer to plate.
  3. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add cream, sherry, thyme, and cheese and cook until cheese is melted and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in gnocchi and simmer until gnocchi is heated through about one minute.
  4. Transfer gnocchi and cauliflower to 3 quart broiler safe baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and broil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Thanksgiving Playlist

For your family’s Thanksgiving meal, I offer up my Thanksgiving playlist from last year. Enjoy!

Home – Michael Bublé
Shine on Harvest Moon – Betty Carter
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays – The Carpenters
Thanksgiving Theme – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Our House – Crosy, Stills, Nash, & Young
Mashed Potatoes – Rufus Thomas
I’ve Got Plenty to be Thankful For – Bing Crosby
Plymouth Rock – Count Basie
Mayflower Rock – Dizzy Gillespie
Turkey in the Straw – Vassar Clements
Gobblers – Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel
Happy Together – The Turtles

>Thanksgiving Menu: The Sides

>The following recipe is from my good friend, Karen:

Grandmother Adams’ Corn Bread Dressing for 10 to 15 People

4 boiled eggs
1 10″ skillet corn bread (or more, no sugar)
one loaf white sandwich bread
2-3 bunches green onions with tops
4 stalks of celery
2 teaspoons sage (or more if dried)

Cook corn bread (do not use sugar).

Dice eggs, onions, onion tops, and celery.

Break corn bread and white bread into small pieces and place in large bowl.

Pour natural broth from turket and boiling water into corn bread and bread, mix with wooden spoon and hands until corn bread and bread form a mush. (Note: I used one whole box of chicken broth and almost a whole second box.)

Add all ingredients to mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour dressing into 10x14x2 pyrex pans and cook for 20 minutes or so, at 400 degrees, until top is just brown.

The following recipes are from The Texas Holiday Cookbook:

Cranberry Sauce

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
4 cups (1 lb) cranberries

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil about 5 minutes.
Add cranberries and cook until berries pop, about 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that accumulates. Cool and refrigerate up to 1 month. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Note: I omitted 1/2 c water for 1/2 c Grand Marnier.

Mashed Potatoes with Sour Cream and Cream Cheese

6 large (about 3 pounds) Russet potatoes
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 – 1 1/4 cups warm milk or half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste

Preheat oven to 325-350. Peel potatoes and cut into 6 or 8 chunks. Place in large saucepan with cold water. Water should just cover potatoes when all are added. Cook over high heat until water boils, reduce heat slightly, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain well and return to saucepan over low heat, tossing well to cook away any remaining liquid. Using a masher or electric beater on low speed, mash potatoes, adding warm milk just until potatoes begin to take on creamy texture but before all lumps are gone.
Add cream cheese, butter, and sour cream, mashing or beating until potatoes are smooth. Stir in salt and pepper and adjust seasoning. Add more milk, if smoother, thinner potatoes are desired.
Place n 2-quart baking dish and bake until heated through and peaks turn brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. May be refrigerated 2-3 days before baking. Makes 10 servings.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

1 (29-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup mini-marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325-350. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange sweet potatoes in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with pecans, brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until marshmallows are golden around edges. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Campbell’s® Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 can (3 1/2 ounces) French fried onions
3 cups cooked French style green beans (or two 10-ounce packages frozen, or two 1-pound cans), drained
Dash pepper

In 1-quart casserole, stir soup and soy sauce until smooth; mix in 1/2 can onions, beans, and pepper. Bake in a 350° oven 20 minutes or until bubbling. Top with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes more. 6 servings.

>Thanksgiving Menu Teaser: The Appetizers

>My husband and I are hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner this year, so there’s been a lot of planning and anticipation for the past couple of months. We’ve hosted all of the other major holiday meals for our family, but not Turkey Day. I will eventually post our entire menu, but to whet your appetite (nice pun, no?), here are the appetizers.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

from Frightfully Festive Halloween Recipes & Party Ideas, 2002

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
½ (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup solid-pack pumpkin
¼ cup pineapple preserves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Beat cheeses, pumpkin, preserves and spices in medium bowl until smooth. Cover; refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or until cheese is firm enough to shape.
2. Shape mixture into round pumpkin; place on serving plate. Using knife, score vertical lines down pumpkin. Place pretzel rod in top for stem.
3. Cover loosely; refrigerate until serving time. Serve with crackers.

Spinach & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
From Fine Cooking 63, pp. 86c
February 1, 2004

1 lb. medium white mushrooms (about 24), wiped clean
5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 slices white sandwich bread
4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 lemon

how to make
Set an oven rack 6 inches from the top element and heat the broiler to high. Completely remove the mushroom stems; thinly slice the stems. Set the mushroom caps stem side up on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Broil until the mushrooms are brown and completely tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
Pulse the bread in a food processor until it forms uniform crumbs. In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until the breadcrumbs crisp and turn light brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe the pan clean. Return the pan to high heat, add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil and the scallions, and sauté until browned and softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushroom stems and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until the stems soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until almost evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts, about 1 minute. Add the cream and 1/3 cup Parmigiano, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the cream reduces slightly, about 2 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper; let cool.
Discard any liquid that may have accumulated in the mushroom caps. Mound the spinach mixture into the caps; top with the breadcrumbs (press them into the filling) and the remaining 1 Tbs. Parmigiano.
Heat the broiler to high. Broil the caps until the breadcrumbs brown a little more and the mushrooms heat through, 1 to 3 minutes. Squeeze the lemon half over the caps. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips
The mushrooms can be broiled and stuffed up to two days ahead and refrigerated, covered. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature and then broil as directed above until the breadcrumbs are browned and the mushrooms are heated through.

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