Cranberry Relish

The big week is here! My menu is finalized, most of the groceries have been bought, and I’ve even started my food prep! One thing I have discovered since hosting my first Thanksgiving 2 years ago is that things can quickly go from calm to chaotic. I don’t know if it’s just me, but by the time I’m ready to get dinner on the table, all kitchen organization has gone out the window. I’m trying to find the last remaining inches of counter space to carve the turkey, gravy is usually bubbling over on the stove, and all of my potholders have magically disappeared. So each year it becomes that much more important for me to have a) a time line and b) as much prepared ahead of time as possible, even if it means putting out-of-town visitors to work!

This weekend my mom and sister came to visit (since they are sadly not able to come on Thanksgiving day). We had a lot of fun hanging out and playing with the baby, but I still had turkey day prep on my mind. At one point we got on the conversation of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes and my sister said that her favorite was Cranberry Relish. I have never made it before so I didn’t know how far in advance it could be made, she told me the she usually likes it best after it has sat for a few days. So I decided to put her right to work! She whipped up this relish in no time at all. That beautiful cranberry red is reason enough for this to make it’s way to your Thanksgiving table, but it also tastes amazing. It’s a perfect combination of sweet and tart. And it’s crazy easy!



Strawberry Sorbet

As much as I love rich and decadent chocolate desserts, I think it’s also important to balance your menu. So if you have really heavy dinner, you’re probably better off going with a lighter, more refreshing, dessert. Today I’m taking that  lighter approach to Valentine’s day.

Sorbet is cold and refreshing and a nice lower-fat alternative to ice cream. But don’t confuse this sorbet with that neon rainbowy stuff from your childhood. This sorbet is PACKED with a sweet powerful strawberry punch and naturally has the most beautiful reddish-magenta color. It would really be the perfect finish to a heavy Valentine’s dinner.


Individual Strawberry Brownie Tarts

As I promised on Facebook last week, this week is going to be full of Valentine’s worthy treats. Lots of pinks and reds. And of course some chocolate too!

These Individual Strawberry Brownie Tarts are the perfect dessert for impressing your Valentine. A rich and chocolatey brownie topped with a delicious (and simple!) cream cheese frosting, juicy strawberries, and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Decadent and impressive, but surprisingly easy! For the brownie I stuck with a simple one-bowl recipe. While the brownies were baking I cleaned out the bowl and used it for the simple frosting. If you realllly wanted you could make them just a few steps easier by using boxed brownie mix and store bought frosting, but you might find that the (very few) extra steps for the homemade version are worth it. And you can definitely use store bought chocolate syrup (like Hershey’s).

As for the “individual” part of this dessert – I used a this heart shaped mini-cake pan from Wilton. You could also use ramekins or even a regular muffin tin (making 12 instead of 6, so they aren’t too thick). Or if you don’t feel like messing with individual dessert you could also use a pie pan, tart pan, or spring-form pan.  No matter which option you choose, I’m sure your Valentine will be impressed!!


Yeasted Coffeecake with Cranberry Cream Cheese Filling

Much like last year, I had a good amount of cranberry sauce left over from our Thanksgiving meal. With last year’s leftovers I made a batch of cranberry white chocolate chip muffins that we totally loved. I wanted to make them again this year, but I also couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to experiment and try something new. And when it comes to baking experiments in my kitchen it’s go big or go home. I settled on a fun “all day” sort of project, Yeasted Coffee Cake with Cranberry Cream Cheese Filling.

My first attempt was delicious, but….. ugly. I rolled the dough a touch too thin, added a touch too much filling, and chose an odd shape that resulted in a whole lot of spillage. To be honest, I was pretty bummed. I had visions of gorgeous golden brown cake and what I had was a mound – of deliciousness, but still a mound. You know the saying, if at first you don’t succeed…. So I was back in the kitchen on Tuesday. There was still some spillage, but the overall cake was much more aesthetically pleasing.

The only thing not pictured is a simple vanilla glaze. It was an after thought but really added a nice sweetness to the tart cranberries. I’ll include it in the recipe below and let you decide if you want to use it or not.

Oh and one last thing, yes this can be somewhat time consuming, with the multiple risings and steps, but don’t let that scare you! Most of the time is just spent waiting! To me the most challenging part was shaping the dough, but that was also the most fun!