The Best Cranberries For All Seasons

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Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries is hosting a blogger challenge. I am thrilled to participate and bring this kind of quality product to my blog.  For more than 70 years the Rhodes family has been harvesting cranberries. Just open a bag of their cranberries and you will see nothing but bright red and fresh beautiful fruit. Available all year long, I have never seen cranberries like these before. They are like jewels and I just could not wait to create some recipes with them.

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Just last week I was eating the best cranberry lemon muffin I had ever tasted. It came at a premium price from a high-end coffee shop. It was so good I went back the next day and purchased another. I knew I needed to try and make these muffins at home and I did. Light and buttery these muffins are filled with cranberries and tart lemon curd. Husband approved these muffins are perfect for all those overnight holiday guests.

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Fresh Cranberry Lemon Muffins

1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Zest of 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons milk

1 and 1/2 cups Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries (do not thaw)

1 jar lemon curd

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners that rise above the rim of the pan (like the tulip shaped liners in the photo). In large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In medium mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs; beat until well blended. Add yogurt, vanilla, lemon extract, zest, lemon juice and milk; blend well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in cranberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups filling to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 20 to 24 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely. With a melon baller tool scoop out the top center of the muffin. Fill with a small spoonful of lemon curd. Replace muffin tops.

Please note that if you use standard liners that just fit the size of your muffin tin that your yield will be up to 15 muffins and your bake time will be a few minutes less. [/recipe]

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While most of us use cranberries in baking have you thought about adding them to a main dish or entree? Tapping into my Sicilian roots I thought Cape Cod Select cranberries would be perfect in an agrodolce sauce recipe. Agrodolce translates to sweet & sour and these cranberries shine in a savory mix of onions, vinegar, apple cider, rosemary, ginger and brown sugar. Can you say dinner on the table this busy holiday season in 30 minutes? Yes, you can!

Festive Cranberry Agrodolce Chicken

4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs*

1-teaspoon kosher salt

½-teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

1 small to medium onion, chopped

1 cup Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ½ cups apple cider or juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves plus additional for garnish

1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar

cooked spaghetti squash; optional

Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add chicken; cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate. To same skillet, stir in ginger, pepper flakes, onion and cranberries; cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add butter, apple cider or juice, red wine vinegar and rosemary; stir well and bring to a boil. Gently boil for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half. Stir in brown sugar. Return chicken and any accumulated juice to pan. Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and tender. To serve: spoon cooked spaghetti squash over center of plate. Top with chicken and sauce. Garnish with fresh rosemary. Serves 4.

*We love chicken thighs in our house, but feel free to substitute boneless chicken breast if that is what you prefer. Just leave the chicken skin intact to avoid overcooked chicken.

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How about that gorgeous drink featured in my first photo? Greet your guests at the door with my Holiday Cranberry Pear Rosemary Spritzer and they may never leave. It’s your fault that you are treating your friends and family to the best of the best.

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Cranberry Pear Rosemary Spritzer

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup pear brandy

¼ cup Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Cranberries

1 sprig fresh rosemary plus additional for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ cup (4 ounces) good quality vodka

1 cup (8 ounces) cold prosecco or cranberry flavored seltzer

In small saucepan, over medium heat, swirl sugar, pear brandy, cranberries and rosemary until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes just to a boil. Let mixture steep and cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove and reserve cranberries. Remove and discard rosemary sprig. In a shaker filled with ice, combine cranberry pear syrup, lime juice and vodka; shake well. Pour over 4 ice filled glasses. Top each with ¼ cup (2 ounces) prosecco or cranberry flavored seltzer. For glass garnish: skewer reserved cranberries onto fresh rosemary sprigs and drape on top of glass.

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Thanks Cape Cod Select for sponsoring this recipe contest and sharing your delicious cranberries with me and my readers. For more fresh recipes, fabulous photos and how to purchase check out the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/capecodselect/#

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CapeCodSelect

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/capecodselect/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/capecodselec

For the store locater link: http://www.capecodselect.com/store-locator/

 

Good Grief & How do You Like Them SuperBowl Stuffed Apples

a variety of local farm apples

a variety of local farm apples

This week’s blog post is brought to you by a chance meeting with “a genius” at the Apple store. If you own an Apple anything you probably are familiar with all the friendly folks who provide such fabulous customer service and classes at your local store. I especially enjoy the “one-to-one” tutoring and yesterday I was learning about iphoto and photo organization. As I was working with Charlie I mentioned a small glitch I was having with the computer. He immediately signed me in to have a session with a repair associate and while I was at it he recommended I also meet with a business associate in case I ever wanted to turn this blog into a business. As a side note, GoodGriefCook will never be a business, but I was flattered.

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

pick your own heirloom apples getting a bath

Off to the “Genius” bar I go where Chris is now analyzing my computer. He is reading and talking in code and I fully understand how he’s earned the title of “Genius”. I have no clue what he is saying or doing, but I nod politely and go along with it. Meanwhile, the business associate joins us and asks me to tell him about my food blog. We chat for a few minutes and then I turn my attention back to Chris who has completed the diagnostics. It comes as no shock that he has figured out the computer glitch, but what he says next completely surprises me. He looks me straight in the eyes and says, “I am going to read your blog. You see I have been going through some things with grief that I don’t understand. It isn’t getting better “.

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

cranberries are the perfect bittersweet fruit

Gosh darn it if I didn’t feel like “the Genius” now. It’s not a job I trained for, but I sure could relate to what he was trying to figure out. I could not fix it like a computer, but maybe I could help in some small way. I hope I listened well and I hope that I did the best teaching of my life in that moment with Chris who was feeling so alone in the middle of that crowded Apple store.

that's Italian

that’s Italian

Are you anticipating a big crowd around your TV for the Superbowl? This recipe landed me a finalist spot in the Ocean Spray Tailgate recipe contest a few years ago and a trip to Gillette stadium where the New England Patriots play. I remember the judge, Chef Ming Tsai saying my recipe would be fit for a tailgate with Martha Stewart. I was flattered.

Big Game Cranberry Sausage Stuffed Apples

8 large Granny Smith apples

8 ounces sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup Ocean Spray® Cran•Apple™ Cranberry Apple Juice Drink

2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped plus 16 whole berries

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Slice off 1 inch from top of each apple. Core apples, but do not go through bottom. Scoop out remaining apple flesh, leaving 1/4-inch shell. Chop scooped apple flesh.

Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat, stirring to crumble, until no longer pink. Add onion and chopped apples; cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Add juice drink, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add chopped cranberries, egg, brown sugar, parsley, thyme and 1 cup cheese; mix well. Fill apple shells with stuffing. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese and the walnuts. Top each with 2 whole cranberries. Place apples in large baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.



Ocean Spray Tailgating Recipe Contest Finalist 
Lisa Keys.

Survival with Ants On a Log

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Fight or flight survival mode kicks in pretty much immediately with the news of  a sudden death.  There is an explosion going on in the brain and devastation in the heart. How does one pick up the pieces and move forward?  How can one think or do anything? Does one take cover or run away? One can’t breathe as the heart races for answers. Inability to make a decision turns me into a robot. I am happy to hand the remote control to whoever will take it. Being a robot is how I survived the first week.

Thankfully, certain extraordinary friends took the remote and led me around. This is another key way to be helpful when one just doesn’t know what to do.  Don’t be afraid to simply ask, “what do you need right now to survive this?” Then spring into action with whatever talents you can offer. Food, yard work, babysitting, running errands……..

Jason, the navy chaplain who delivered the blow offers to plan the funeral, but Dennis, a friend and pastor who knows William doesn’t hesitate to collaborate. Dennis goes above and beyond traveling from his church in Massachusetts during Easter week.  My friends, Carol, Ann, Bev and Diane, spring into action offering their homes to any marines and sailors coming to the services.  They know it is important to me to have these special visitors feel like family. My friend Lynn flies in from TN and never leaves my side. She helps me get dressed, tells me where to be and makes me eat. She is watching over my husband and daughter, too.

When Maria, whose daughter is a close friend and schoolmate of William’s, calls to be helpful my only response is, “I think I need to have a party after the funeral. I always do all my own cooking for parties, but I don’t think I can do this. Can you please recommend a caterer?” Maria takes care of it. The next thing I know we are having a wake on William’s 23rd birthday and a funeral and a party at The Taft School that honors my son like I never imagined.  Between six to seven hundred people show up to celebrate him. He is clearly “more bad-ass today (even in death) than he was yesterday”. So many to thank! Yes, help me keep up with correspondence.

That “bad-ass” phrase is one of William’s favorites and one he often uses to describe his learning of survival skills in the woods. I remember him wanting to read everything about marine, Scott O’Grady who was shot down in Bosnia in 1995 and survived 6 days in enemy territory before being rescued. Will, age 7,  is fascinated by the fact that O’Grady evades detection by camouflage and survives by eating ants.

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apparently no one could find him hiding in the tree that day

Fast forward to the teen years. One of my all-time favorite Will Keys stories involves Pastor Dennis’ daughter Abby. William and Abby are long-time friends and spending the summer together life guarding at the local lake. One day Abby comes home from the lake and asks her mother, “Mom do you know that ants taste sour? Her mother responds, “no, and how do you know?” Will got me to try some today.”  My boy had some kind of charisma and loved a girl who had a taste for adventure! So, Abby, this recipe is for YOU! It might be a fun little appetizer for your Thanksgiving feast.

Deconstructed Ants On A Log

15 Athens mini fillo shells

1/3 cup whipped cream cheese

¾ cup small dice celery hearts including the tender leaves

3 tablespoons raisins (black ants) or dried sweetened cranberries (red ants), chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bottled poppy seed salad dressing. Fill each shell with about 1 teaspoon cream cheese. In bowl, toss celery, raisins or cranberries and salad dressing. Spoon on top of cream cheese.