Sunday, December 4, 2011


Aren't they lovely?  Little, red, perfect.  They just scream Thanksgiving and fall.  For the past ten days, I've been on a cranberry cooking spree.  First came the cranberry-orange sauce for Thanksgiving day--
Sadly, none of the eaters tried it...  I had it all to myself. 
Next up was cranberry orzo salad (thanks to Lisa at Pickles and Cheese)--

I can't believe that I've never cooked orzo pasta before.  I didn't even know it was pasta.  I stood in the rice aisle at Harris Teeter looking over every single box and package before I decided to try the rice section.  Et voilà!
And last, but not least, cranberry muffins for the Ex-Ex's Sunday breakfast--
Pretty darned good, if I do say so myself.  And I do!

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
from All-Time Best Holiday Recipes by the editors of Cook's Illustrated
makes 2 1/4 cups

The cooking time in this recipe is intended for fresh berries.  If you've got frozen cranberries, do not defrost them before use; just pick through them and add about 2 minutes to the simmering time.  And, if you just want the cranberries, not the orange, just leave out the zest and orange liqueur.
The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 7 days; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

1 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
12 ounces (3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)

Bring sugar, water, orange zest, and salt to boil in medium saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.  Stir in cranberries; return to boil.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer until saucy, slightly thickened, and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes.  Off heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur.  Transfer to bowl, let cool to room temperature, and serve.

Cranberry Pecan Orzo Salad with Chives

1 16-oz. package of orzo pasta
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. dried cranberries, chopped into small pieces
1/2 c. toasted pecans, chopped into small pieces
1 bunch chives
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Feta cheese, crumbled, if desired

Prepare the orzo according to directions on the package (cook for 8 minutes for al dente pasta).  While the orzo is cooking, chop up cranberries and pecans.  (Toast the pecans in a pan, stirring frequently, or in the oven at 350˚F on a foil-lined cookie sheet for about 12 minutes.  Be careful not to burn them.)
Drain the orzo and move to a large mixing bowl.  Add the cranberries and pecans.  Add olive oil and mix well.  Add balsamic vinegar and mix well.  Snip chives with kitchen shears and add to salad.  Add feta cheese, if desired.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired.

Cranberry Muffins
makes 12

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil
1 c. cranberries (I used dried; if using fresh, coarsely chop and add 2 additional tablespoons of sugar to recipe)

Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.
In another bowl, combine, egg, milk, and oil.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy).
Fold in cranberries.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.  Bake in 400˚F oven for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool in muffin cups on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Bon appétit, little red berries!

1 comment:

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

I am so glad you tried and better yet LIKED the Cranberry Orzo Salad!! I seem to be in to cranberries lately too. I made some white chocolate, cranberry, and cashew candies that I will probably post today or tomorrow. Thanks for the nice comment on my blog yesterday. We should do lunch sometime and I'll bet you know more places to go in Chapel Hill than I do! Maybe in a couple of weeks? I don't have your email.