Recipe: Zinful Orange Cranberry Sauce

If you’d been given the task of bringing the Cranberry Sauce to the family Thanksgiving table, this is definitely a recipe to try. The flavors of the red wine and cranberry, combined with a citrus-y touch of orange make this cranberry sauce recipe a simple and delicious addition to any style of holiday spread.ZinfulOrangeCranberrySauce

The recipe is incredibly simple.  Into a medium sauce pan, mix 1 cup of dark red wine (I used a deep, dark Zinfandel but you’re welcome to use whatever wine you like.), 1 cup of sugar, and most of a bag of fresh cranberries (saving 1/2 cup of berries to add at the end of the cooking process), the zest and juice of one navel orange, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook this mixture on medium until it starts to boil, then reduce and cook at a low simmer until the sauce becomes thick and all the berries have popped.

While the sauce is cooking, chop the saved 1/2 cup of berries to a fine dice.  Once the sauce is thoroughly cooked, stir in the diced berry pieces and remove from heat.  Move the completed sauce into a resealable container and store in the fridge until you need it.

If you only have a white wine on hand, feel free to use that in place of the Zinfandel in this recipe, or check out the other cranberry sauce recipes on this blog.  While I don’t remember ever enjoying cranberry sauce when I was younger, it has become one of my favorite sides for holiday meals.

Happy Holidays!


Leftover Recipe: Stuffing Waffles with Turkey Gravy

I’m always looking for a new and unique way to use leftovers, especially from holiday meals.  We seem to have extras of everything in the fridge, so I find it very exciting when a new idea comes around.  This recipe idea was one that my husband found and it really looked fun.  A new way to use my waffle maker other than just making waffles?  I’m IN!

I started by making the turkey gravy that would go on top of our dinner.  Basically, I reheated the leftover gravy from Thanksgiving and, using James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, flour, and chicken stock, I thinned the gravy out to make more and then added chunks of leftover turkey.  Once this was done, I turned my attention to making the waffles.StuffingWaffles&TurkeyGravy

I preheated my waffle iron and then sprayed it with cooking spray before starting.  Using a large cookie/muffin scoop, I put one scoop of cooked stuffing into the center of each quarter of the waffle iron and let it all cook for 7-10 minutes.  Seriously, it was that simple.  I didn’t add anything to the stuffing… it was already moist enough that it toasted up nicely in a short amount of time.  When the waffle was crispy, I turned it onto a plate, topped it with turkey gravy and added a side of homemade cranberry sauce.  It was a really delicious way to enjoy our favorite parts of Thanksgiving in a new and tasty way.

I hope you’ll try this way of making your leftovers into something different instead of just reheating the same meal for a few days in a row.  As yummy as that is, having a new and unique meal that incorporates your leftovers can be really fun.  Honest!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season with lots of leftovers…

Recipe: Chardonnay Cran-Blueberry Sauce

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”  That’s what Thanksgiving is, in our family.  This is my most favorite holiday… the one dedicated to giving thanks for each and every blessing, for spending time with family and friends, and for sharing lots of wonderful food.  There’s no expectation of gifts or presents… it’s all about the presence

As we start this week of the Thanksgiving holiday, I start cooking in stages.  I’ve already cut up half of the bread for my holiday stuffing, made a loaf of “stuffing bread” (a simple italian bread recipe to which I add poultry seasonings and herbs) and will brown up the sage sausage that goes into my stuffing later this afternoon.  I’m making as many things ahead of time as I can, so that my holiday won’t be entirely spent in the kitchen and away from my family.  While I could just as easily have opened a can of cranberry sauce, this recipe is one that I started making last year and found it to be a wonderful addition to our holiday meal.  It’s my Chardonnay Cranberry Sauce.  Jelled and chilled (this recipe really does need to have time to sit in the fridge), this sauce can be used on sandwiches just as easily as it compliments a turkey dinner…. and it’s sooo much better than something out of a can!ChardonnayCranberrySauce

I start with a bag of cranberries and pour them into a saucepan. Remove a half cup of the cranberries and chop these fine and set aside for a bit.  This year I added a half cup of blueberries to the cranberries, just for a little variety and a touch of sweetness.  To the berry mixture, I added 1 cup sugar, 1 cup James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay, some orange zest, a dash of nutmeg, a little salt and a bit of lemon juice.  I set the heat to medium and simmered the mixture until the berries popped and the sauce began to thicken.  I tend to get a bit impatient, waiting for the berries to all pop, so I like to use a potato masher to squish anything that hasn’t popped.

Once the sauce is nicely thickened, add in the reserved chopped cranberries and stir to combine.  You’re not heating these berry pieces through, so remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool before transferring it to a container and popping it into the fridge.  This can be made a few days ahead of time, but you’ll want to use this within a week (if it lasts that long) after the holiday.

Enjoy this yummy cranberry sauce… it’s become one of my favorite parts of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!

Recipe: Chardonnay Cranberry Sauce

I’ve been looking at cranberry sauce in a different light this year…  I used to make a simple cold relish-like cranberry mixture, but have found that I really like the thicker consistency of a cooked cranberry sauce instead.  It works better in a leftover sandwich and just tastes better to me.  I posted a sauce recipe that was blended with figs and cassis, but that just didn’t seem “clean” enough for me.  I wanted that true, tart cranberry taste on both the first bite as well as the finish so here, dear reader, is the result of that search.

Cranberry Sauce Collage

I started with my sister, Jessica’s, cranberry sauce recipe and deviated a bit.  Here are the directions to Jessica’s Cranberry Sauce:

Empty a 12-oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan and transfer 1/2 cup of said cranberries to a small bowl.  Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest, and 2 Tablespoons of water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.  Increase heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries.  Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.

I loved the idea of making a cooked cranberry sauce, but wasn’t so sure about having so many whole berries in the final product.  Apparently, when our mum made this for Jess, she stomped all the berries down and made jam instead of cranberry sauce, so I was warned to make this ahead of time.  We each have our preferences, so my version uses the following changes to Jessica’s basic Cranberry sauce recipe…

  • Grate half an orange instead of using a strip of zest – next time I’ll probably try grating the entire orange or grate half an orange and half a lemon.  The citrus taste is pretty darn yummy.
  • Replace the water with 2 Tablespoons of James River Cellars’ Reserve Chardonnay.  I think our stainless chardonnay would work well in this recipe as well, but I’m planning to use an entire bottle of the Reserve Chardonnay throughout my Christmas dinner, so you’ll see it pop up a few more times before the holiday meal is complete.
  • I lightly chopped the 1/2 cup of reserved berries (as seen in the center photo) so the uncooked berry pieces aren’t as huge.

I like the small changes I made to my sister’s fabulous cranberry sauce… they seem more in keeping with the way I cook and the final product is really tasty.  Feel free to experiment with flavors that you enjoy and come up with your own version of a new family favorite.

It’s really all about playing with your food…and using The Force to come up with something new… are you ready to try it?




Recipe: Cranberry Fig Sauce with Cassis

Just a warning…. Cassis is NOT wine.  It’s a black-currant flavored liqueur you can find at the liquor store, labeled “Creme Decassis”.  It’s lovely when added to a Chardonnay to create a drink called “Kir” and especially tasty when added to a sparkling wine, creating a pink concoction called a “Kir Royale”.

But I digress…  Cranberry Fig Sauce with Cassis2

I was searching for a new cranberry sauce recipe to use for our Christmas dinner.  I’ve been using the same recipe for years now and wanted to find a cooked sauce recipe that would be easier to use for sandwiches and such after the holiday when I came across one on epicurious that called for Cassis.  Since I happened to have a bottle in the fridge, I thought this was worth a try.

Their recipe calls for the following ingredients:  1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup + 2T creme decassis, 1-12 oz bag fresh cranberries, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 T ketchup.

For my version, I adjusted the dried cranberries down to 3/4 cup craisins and added 5 diced dried figs.  I also added 1T orange juice and 1/2T lemon juice.  It seemed to need a little citrus flavor but not an entire piece of fruit.  These two juices did the trick.

I actually followed their directions – since I’d never made this before, I wasn’t comfortable straying too far from the written word this first time out of the gate.  They read as follows:  Bring 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup cassis to boil in heavy saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add fresh cranberries (ok… I’ll admit that mine were frozen, but it hardly mattered); return to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until cranberries pop and sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in dried cranberries, ketchup and 2T cassis.  Note: This is where I also added the dried figs, orange juice and lemon juice.  Chill until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.

Since we’re a week away from Christmas, I’ll most likely use this sauce for sandwiches and the like and make another batch on Friday.  Maybe by then I’ll have come up with some way to incorporate wine into the recipe, but until then… buy a bottle of Creme Decassis, make a few drinks (it’s delish with champagne) and try this recipe.

May your holidays be warm and bright… and spiked with wines in some tasty new ways!