Bring the tartness of cranberries to the table

Deep red fruit has a fresh, clean flavor and a nutritional punch that will brighten holiday foods

    Cranberries are an iconic Thanksgiving side dish, but they can be used in a wide variety of holiday foods as well.
    This tiny, tart fruit — the official state fruit of Wisconsin — can be used in traditional sauces and chutneys, as well as muffins, quick breads, jams, jellies, stuffing and desserts.
    Cranberries, which were called crane berries by early settlers because of the blossom’s resemblance to the crane, are a healthy, low calorie fruit.
    They contain a significant amount of antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other maladies, may be beneficial in the prevention of ulcers and have natural antibacterial properties.
    Cranberries are grown in 18 counties in central and northern Wisconsin. Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state.
    Although the fresh fruit is only found in grocery stores for a relatively short time, berries can be frozen whole for as long as a year.
    Frozen and dried cranberries are also found year-round in stores.
    Fresh cranberries will bounce if you drop them and are firm to the touch. They should be shiny and plump and range in color from bright light red to dark red.
    When preparing cranberries for cooking, sort out the bruised fruit, then rinse the berries in cold water. You can quickly chop cranberries in a food processor.
    Fresh cranberries can be stored for as long as two months in a tightly sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.
    Because they are so tart, the berries are usually mixed with sugar or other sweeteners.
    Try substituting sweetened, dried cranberries for raisins in recipes for a tangy change. Reconstitute dried cranberries just as you would raisins, by soaking them in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.
    Cranberries should be cooked only until they pop. Otherwise, they not only begin to turn to mush, but they also turn bitter.
    Following are cranberry recipes from the

Cranberry Brie Bites

1 8-ounce package crescent roll dough
1 8-ounce wheel brie
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans
6 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 375° and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
    On a lightly floured surface, roll out crescent dough and pinch together seams. Cut into 24 squares. Place squares into cups of a greased mini-muffin tin.
    Cut brie into small pieces and place in each cup. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, some chopped pecans and one sprig of rosemary.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes, until crescent pastry is golden.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen and thawed cranberries
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup. white chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

    In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer, whip until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until evenly incorporated.
    Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and transfer batter to the a greased and floured 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack about 20 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.
    Place white chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof bowl. Set aside.
    Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour hot cream over the white chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth. Pour over coffee cake and let set about 10 minutes.


Turkey, Brie And Cranberry Mustard Panini

For cranberry mustard:
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 teaspoons coarse ground mustard
Dash kosher salt
For paninis:
8 slices bread
8 ounces turkey breast
4 ounces brie, sliced into four pieces
6 leaves fresh sage, sliced
Olive oil

    To make the cranberry mustard, place ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste, adding more mustard or salt if needed.
For the sandwiches: Heat up a grill pan, or panini pan, over medium heat.
    Lay out four slices of bread. Place one piece brie on each slice. Divide the turkey over the brie. Top each sandwich with another piece of bread, then brush or spray olive oil over the bread, top and bottom.
    Toast each side of the sandwich about two minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted, weighing down the sandwiches as they cook.
    Once toasted, pry up the top piece of bread and spoon a couple of tablespoons of cranberry mustard over the top and scatter around some sliced sage. Cut each panini in half and serve.
    If you don’t have any leftover brie, cheddar cheese makes a great flavor combination.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash With Dried Cranberries and Dijon Vinaigrette

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and sliced lengthwise in half
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dried cranberries
For vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

    Place butternut squash chunks and halved Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and toss to distribute the oil evenly. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and toss again. Spread vegetables evenly on the baking sheet, flipping the Brussels sprouts so the cut side is down. Roast in a 450-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, tossing vegetables gently once or twice. Scatter dried cranberries onto baking sheet for the last five minutes of roasting time.
    Place baking pan on a rack, toss vegetables with the remaining olive oil and allow to cool slightly.
    In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard and rice wine vinegar. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking continuously until the ingredients are emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    Gently place roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl or platter. Pour on the Dijon vinaigrette and toss gently. Serve warm, lukewarm or cold.


Cranberry Crumb Bars

For crust and crumble:
14 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds
For filling:
2-3/4 cups frozen cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
For glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

    In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat until combined. Press three cups of the mixture into the bottom of an eight-inch square baking pan that’s been greased and lined with parchment paper that overhangs the edges.
    Mix almonds into remaining crust and set aside.
    In another large bowl, combine cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir in orange juice. Spoon cranberry mixture over crust. Crumble almond crust mixture, clumping small bits of it together with your hands evenly over filling.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven about 1-1/4 hours, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Let cool completely.
    In a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cranberry bars and let set about 20 minutes before slicing into bars.


Cranberry Stuffing

1 large sourdough boule, cut into cubes
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
2 medium onions, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped sage
1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

    Tear or slice bread into cubes and leave out overnight to dry out. You can also dry bread on baking sheets and bake in a 200-degree oven for 20 minutes.
    In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery and apple and cook about eight minutes, until soft and fragrant. Stir in parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary and cook one minute, until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining butter and parsley.
    Place bread and cranberries in a large bowl and add onion mixture and chicken broth. Transfer mixture to a large buttered baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven about 45 minutes, until cooked through. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes, until bread is golden
    Garnish with parsley before serving.


Cranberry Apple Pie

For crust:
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shortening, cut into chunks
1 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons ice water
For filling:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups fresh cranberries
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling, optional

    To make the crust, whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and gradually work into flour with a pastry cutter until it resembles a coarse meal.
    Add vinegar and four tablespoons ice water. Toss mixture gently, then add remaining ice water until dough begins to come together. You may need to add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until all the flour is moistened.
    Separate dough in half and form two evenly sized balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and press to slightly flatten. Transfer to refrigerator if using within 24 hours, otherwise place in the freezer.
    When ready to use dough, remove from freezer and thaw 15 to 30 minutes before rolling out one ball as the bottom crust. Roll out the other and slice into strips for lattice topping.
    Place bottom crust in pie pan and brush with egg white. Place in the freezer
    In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, then stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
    Combine apples and cranberries in a large bowl. Add brown sugar mixture and toss to coat, then arrange apple cranberry mixture in a mound in pie dish. Cover with a lattice crust. Brush crust with remaining egg whites and sprinkle with course sugar, if desired.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven about one hour, until apples are soft and crust is deep gold color.


Sparkling Cranberry Cheesecake

For cheesecake:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
Zest of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, finely crushed
5 tablespoons. melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
For cranberries:
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 325º and grease an 8” or 9” springform pan with cooking spray.
    In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, then add sour cream, orange zest, flour, vanilla and salt. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Press mixture into an eight or nine-inch greased springform pan.
    Pour filling over crust. Wrap bottom of pan in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in 325-degree oven about 90 minutes, until center of cheesecake only slightly jiggles. Turn off heat, prop oven door open and let cheesecake cool in oven for one hour
    Remove aluminum foil and refrigerate cheesecake in pan at least five hours and as long as overnight, until firm.
    In a medium saucepot over medium heat, combine water, orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar and heat, stirring, three to four minutes,  until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and toss until fully coated.
    Transfer cranberries to parchment paper and let cool about 15 minutes. When cool, toss in remaining sugar and place atop cheesecake. Serve.






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