Deborah’s Delights…“Razzle Dazzle” togetherness

by Deborah Eisenhut

Cranberries may be the quintessential holiday berry but they are also the most versatile winter fruit for recipes from starters to drinks. It isn’t any secret that berries in general and cranberries specifically, are great sources of cholesterol-fighting soluble fiber, Vitamin C and other valuable antioxidants. Although this time of year, most of the three pounds consumed per capita, is in the form of juice, cranberries had been cultivated by Native Americans for calming teas and healing poultices, probably long before the first “holiday gathering”.  

As nations, communities and families, we have learned so much these last two years about what is really important in our lives, what matters the most to our well being and comfort levels.  We have learned that life is too short to choose complicated plans for holiday gatherings and entertaining.   Go with the simplest, most impressive dishes you can serve and these berries sure fit the bill.  Remember the days before and after heavy holiday cooking, when something light and fresh might be well received.

Since cranberries are so versatile, try these easy delicious recipes for simple “razzle dazzle”, to fill in during holiday busy times, nutritious treats without the frazzle.  Happy simple and comfortable Christmas days to you all!

Cranberry Jazzy Sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 (12 oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup pineapple preserves
3 Tbls prepared horseradish
1 Tbls spicy mustard
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil, stirring often over med/high heat ;add cranberries. Bring mixture back to boil stirring often reduce heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until berry skins start to pop and mix thickens.  Remove from heat.  Stir in remaining ingredients; let cool then cover & chill.  Serve over a block of cream cheese with assorted crackers.

Hot Spiced Cranberry-Apple Cider
3 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1 1/2 cups apple cider
3 Tbls sugar
4  thin slices peeled fresh ginger
5 cardamom pods
2 strips 4 inch long plus orange slices for garnish
5 whole cloves plus extra for studding orange slices
Combine all ingredients except garnish in saucepan and simmer covered 5 minutes; remove from heat and let stand covered 20 minutes
Strain into heatproof pitcher then into garnished heat proof glasses.  Best to double this recipe!

Chicken Cranberry Walnut Pizza
Chop 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves into bite size pieces.  Saute in a skillet with olive oil until browned & almost completely cooked.  Season with salt & pepper.  Spread 1 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce over prepared pizza crust of choice, top with cooked chicken, 6 oz chopped Brie & 6 oz shredded mozzarella & 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.  Bake 400 preheated oven for 20
minutes or until cheese melted and crust brown.  Another one you might want to double!

Whipped Cranberry Salad
2 (12oz) bags fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 (20oz) can crushed pineapple VERY well drained
1 cup chopped pecans
4 cups Cool Whip
2 cups mini marshmallows
Chop cranberries coarsely in a food processor.  Put them in a ziploc bag with sugar and refrigerate 12 hours. Add the pineapple and nuts to berry mixture & fold in Cool Whip & marshmallows.  Chill until served.

Try a simple meatloaf supper and cover meatloaf with whole cranberry sauce before baking instead of usual ketchup & brown sugar topping.

Cranberry Nut Torte
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter melted
Place cranberries in a greased 9 inch pie plate; sprinkle with brown sugar and nuts
In a small bowl beat egg and add sugar, beat in flour & butter, mix well
Pour over berries. Bake 325 for 40 minutes or until brown.  Serve warm with whipped or ice cream.

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