C is for Cranberries

Baking with cranberries is a great way to celebrate fall. Cranberries are synonymous with harvests, cooler weather and . . . .turkey. Mmmmmm, home made cranberry sauce.

I keep a bag or two of cranberries in the freezer at all times. They are a healthy and great addition to a batch of muffins. Try tossing a cup or so into your favorite banana bread recipe.

Cranberry sauce is a snap to make, and once you have tried making your own without all the added sugars and preservatives, it will replace store bought cranberry sauces on your holiday dinner table.

Cranberry Sauce

3 cups (one bag) fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup orange juice
2 whole cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine cranberries, water and sugar. Cook uncovered over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop. With a potato masher, crush cranberries. Continue cooking until cranberries can be easily mashed. Add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until mixture reaches a thick chutney consistency. If you prefer a sauce that is less thick, add more water to thin sauce.

Remove saucepan from heat. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Transfer sauce to a clean serving bowl. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before covering and chilling until ready to serve. Cranberry sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a week’s time or frozen for later use.

This recipe will make about 3 cups of chutney style sauce. You can opt to remove the seeds and skins from the sauce by pushing the sauce through a fine mesh strainer while still warm and before chilling, but be prepared that this will give you a lot less sauce.

I sometimes double this recipe, which gives enough leftover to make a family favourite:

Cranberry Oatmeal Squares

1 cup flour
1 cup oats
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce
½ cup slivered almonds

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into oat mixture. Press half of the oat mixture into a parchment lined 8” square baking pan. Spread pressed mixture with cranberry sauce. Stir slivered almonds into remaining oat mixture. Sprinkle evenly over top of cranberry sauce and lightly pat in place. Bake @ 350 F/ 180 C for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan completely. Cut into squares.

These easy to make squares are perfect for lunch boxes, after school snacks or with tea & coffee. Or try them served warm with vanilla ice cream. Reminiscent of a fruit crisp, these squares don’t last too long each time I make them . . .especially when “Papa” comes to visit.

Happy Baking . . .

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