5216200572_617e277e6b

Cranberry Coins

Kris Kringle Cranberry Coins

One of my favorite cookie combinations is a tart, dense dried fruit paired with a rich, buttery shortbread.  In a nutshell, these cranberry shortbread coin cookies. 

I wanted to send some Delicious Mail to my cousin Jaime in Mississippi, so I needed a cookie that would hold up for the journey.  Shortbread is great for that, if you have made it correctly and it’s not too crumbly.

I used some amazing dried cranberries I picked up at the Sherman Market from Willows Cranberries out of Wareham, MA.  I love Sherman for supplying me with fresh, local eggs for all of my baking, but sometimes I allow myself a little extra browsing – and it always pays off.  On my last visit I picked up these cranberries and some horseradish.  I haven’t tried the latter yet, but the former were terrific.  They were dried, but also plump and juicy.  Willows are doing it right.

A little edge of sanding sugar and these coins were ready to bake.

And stack.

And eat a little.  They were so delicious!

Today’s featured ornament is a vintage (made in Japan) porcelain bell we had on our tree when I was growing up.  There are two of them but I like this one the best because of the fancy “Merry Christmas” script.  It has a little ringer inside and the tattered green ribbon has never been replaced, which is just how I like it. 

I also like knowing that I am personally responsible for at least a few angels getting their wings each holiday season thanks to my bell duo.

For today’s Cup of Cheer, I have to show you a picture of my little tree.  It’s actually around 6 feet tall, but it seems smaller because it’s a slender thing.  Since it is my first solo tree, I decorated it the way I have always dreamed…with the large old-fashioned bulbs and a strand of homemade popcorn and cranberry garland.  That garland took me 4 episodes of “Veronica Mars” on Netflix to make (don’t judge, it’s mighty entertaining)…but it was worth it.

Do you have any “rules” for your tree?  I find that most people do…and I bet it somehow speaks volumes about personality. 

Also, a big thank you and congratulations to my four Three Sisters contest winners!  Ashley Mac, Ashley G-W, Lisa, and Fatima all have coupons coming their way!

Click for the full recipe!

Cranberry-Pineapple Relish

I am not typically a fan of relish, but that was before I knew it could be fruity.  Fruity and refreshing and delicious. Especially when paired with a sharp cheddar and buttery cracker.

Courtney made this relish for pre-Thanksgiving snacking, because she had already committed to making the cranberry sauce (our first year having it from scratch, and I will never go back).  Unfortunately, our family isn’t very culinarily adventurous and I only saw 2 other people besides us try it (cheers to Mom and Uncle Ricky) without her forcing them (semi-cheers Uncle Al). 

My favorite reply to Court’s attempted cajoling was Nana, who deferred by saying she doesn’t like anything cranberry, and she knows this despite the fact that she has never even tried it.  And don’t try to argue with her. 

I am still laughing about this.  I love my Nana.

And I loved this relish!  It was great way to get my appetite going for the big meal ahead.  The tartness of the cranberries and pineapple, the sweetness of the brown sugar and honey, and the bite of the coarse salt and ground pepper made for one tasty condiment.

I am sure it would be equally delicious on a leftover turkey sandwich, if you’re into that kind of thing.

How cute is my big sister?  I love her. 

Keep the faith, Court!  I will always try anything you make! 

Especially if it’s one of Martha’s recipes.

Click to see it!

Cranberry Lemon Bread

I have been heavy on the pumpkin this fall, so it only seemed fair to add another cranberry recipe to the roster before we switch gears to winter.  I was disappointed to see a lot of cranberry bread recipes calling for canned cranberry sauce.  Say what?

I finally found a nut bread recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens cook book with a variation for cranberry nut bread.  I omitted the nuts and swapped out the orange zest for lemon zest.  It seems to be an unofficial rule that cranberries go with orange and blueberries go with lemon, but I don’t support that rule.

This bread is delicious.  The lemon zest is subtle in both appearance and taste, but definitely balances the tartness of the cranberries.  I had actually never baked with fresh cranberries before and I admit I was skeptical when I started chopping them and saw their hollow, teeny-seeded interior…but the end result was delicious.  And lovely in color.

I am headed to my parents for a few days to celebrate the holiday and visit with family and my mom’s 3 Siamese cats (you may remember them from this post).  John will be in Plymouth with his family, and while I am sad that we have yet to spend a Thanksgiving together in 3 years, the history nerd in me can’t argue with someone spending Thanksgiving in actual Plymouth.  Or with his terrific family!

Of course, my family is wonderful, too.  I always look forward to Thanksgiving because it’s an occasion to just sit around the table and visit and eat and tell stories and make each other laugh.  I am so grateful to be a part of it.     

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful (and delicious) holiday.

 

Click for the full recipe

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

The original name of these cookies in the book I found them in was “White Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies” but even I agree it’s too early to start decking the 7-word cookie halls.  Just barely…  I definitely started my gift shopping last month and have already begun to collect fun gift bags, napkins, and festive sprinkles for my holiday baking.

Also, thanks to the lovely Jen (from JenLovesKev) I will be doing some Christmas card shopping this year at Tiny Prints!  I spent at least an hour yesterday looking at all their designs and still couldn’t decide.  They have so many great photo-card options it makes me wish I had a cute baby (for example, see Jen’s new baby girl Rowan!) or perhaps a pet to splash all over my card.  I love sending mail period, but holiday cards are in a whole other class.  I go whole hog.  Stamps, labels, stickers, new inky pens…these are happy things.  Mail is a happy thing.

So are oatmeal cookies, so let’s get back to those.  As the title implies, this variety was made even more tasty with the addition of dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.  The butter was also browned, giving the cookies a nuttier flavor and chewier texture.

Click for full recipe

Sparkling Cranberry Gems

My dear friend Jessica recently received the exciting news that she is going to have a baby girl, and since I know she loves cookies I figured whatever is inside her would probably love them too.  Jessica is from Michigan and stubbornly insists it has qualities superior to Massachusetts (go easy on her, she’s just loyal like that), so I thought her cookies should include that traditional New England staple…cranberries!

Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America, where Native Americans used them as a staple as early as 1550.  They ate them fresh or mashed with cornmeal and baked into bread.  Maple sugar or honey was used to sweeten the berry’s tartness.  By 1620 European settlers had learned the Native American way with cranberries, though they originally called them “crane-berries” because the blossom resembles the head and neck of a crane.  They were first cultivated  in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1816 and are still widely grown and harvested here today…and in Wisconsin.   

So I knew I was using cranberries, but because Jess likes her food on the healthier side, I turned to the KAF website for a recipe with whole grains and less butter and sugar than most cookie recipes.  My friends, they did not let me down.

Sparkling Cranberry Gems 
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (I used a bag of Craisins)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup coarse white sparkling sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  • Place the flour and dried cranberries in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cranberries look like they are broken down into fourths.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour/cranberry mixture, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the vanilla and butter, and combine with 2 knives or a pastry cutter until the butter is thoroughly distributed, but pieces (pea-sized) remain. Slowly add the milk while you are mixing and the dough will start to stick together.
  • Place the coarse sugar in a large zip top plastic bag.
  • Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the dough into munchkin-sized balls and place into the bag, 6 or 8 at a time. Close the top of the bag, and gently shake to coat the balls with sugar. Place them on the baking sheet, and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to flatten them a little. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  • Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, and check on them. They are done when they’re set and just beginning to brown around the very edge.
  • Remove and cool. Eat!

The overall message of these cookies was:

  1. Congratulations!
  2. I made them healthy so you could eat them all in one sitting and not feel bad. 
  3. By using cranberries I am already subtly instilling New England pride into your baby so you will stay here and never move back to Michigan!  You can’t blame me for trying…