Cranberry Sauce

With Thanksgiving less than a week away now, I thought it might be a good day for a double dose of sweetness. Don’t forget to check out today’s other post, pumpkin pie!

Sometimes instead of picking out the melon from my fruit salad, I’ll give it a try, just to see if I suddenly like it. I don’t (still tastes like watered down perfume to me) but I try because you just never know. Like for example butterscotch, cooked carrots, and small pieces of apple in foods like Stuffed Acorn Squash or Asian Lettuce Wraps. I never liked any of those things, but over the years my tastes have evolved. Which is really great for someone that loves food as much as I do.

That’s sort of what happened with cranberry sauce. Every Thanksgiving I would put a little on my plate, give it a try, and pretty much always decide that there were just more important foods on the plate.

That may still be a little true (the part about there being more important foods on the plate) but I’ve really come around in the cranberry sauce arena. It’s not my favorite food on the table at Thanksgiving, but it’s totally necessary, especially when you have a delicious recipe.

With hosting a Thanksgiving meal on my own for the first time this year, I searched for the perfect recipe. And I think I found it! A little sweet and a little tart. The only changes I made were to cut the recipe in half (and it’s listed that way below). And bonus, I re-purposed the leftovers into a killer muffin.


Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients
1 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
scrapings from half of a vanilla bean (optional, they can be expensive, but if you have one use it!)

Directions
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugars and salt in the water and orange juice. Add the cranberries and cook until the cranberries begin to pop (this part is fun! sounds like popcorn!) Cook cranberries, stirring occasionally for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Once thick, remove from heat and add stir in the orange zest and vanilla bean. Cool to room temperature and store in fridge until ready to serve. For a nice touch, garnish with a little orange zest when serving.

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

I’ve already posted 2 awesome snacks from our Bayday (Soft Pretzel Bites and Veggie Pizza Appetizer) but we certainly couldn’t survive the hours at the beach on salty, savory, treats alone. Nope. We needed something sweet. Usually when I think about a sweet dessert to share with a group my mind jumps straight to chocolate. And don’t be fooled, last minute I did whip up some brownie bites, but for the main attraction I had a vision of a light and summery cupcake. From there I decided on Strawberry Lime Cupcakes.

The recipe I used for the cupcake caught my eye right away (well, pretty much anything that uses cream cheese does that). You might be skeptical, but I used cream cheese in a coffee cake once and the result was a moist and tender crumb, I figured that would be perfect for my cupcake base. I made a few changes to really up the strawberry flavor and sub lime for lemons and I think that was a good decision.

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

(Cupcake adapted from Cooking Agents; Frosting Sunny Side Up Original)

Cupcake

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/3 cup strawberry puree* **
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

*I used a pint of strawberries which made about 1 cup of puree. I processed the strawberries in my food processor and then pressed through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds. This process really helped to concentrate the strawberry flavor (more so, I think, than fine chopping alone)

** The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil instead of strawberry puree. I accidentally poured a little too much (1/3 cup) which is why my measurement reads 1/3 instead of 1/4. If you live in a really humid environment maybe cut it back to 1/4.

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a measuring cup combine the strawberry puree, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla, set aside.

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese and butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the liquid ingredients in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Careful not to over mix.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

Strawberry Lime Frosting

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry puree
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth, adding more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency. (Just be careful not to cover your kitchen in powdered sugar, which has never happened to me)

Garnish cupcakes with chopped strawberries and lime zest.