Crazy for Cranberries

‘Tis the season for the crazy, crunchy little fruit that will pucker your sucker.  The historic cranberry is now used in an endless array of yummy dishes.  If you like to make your own cranberry sauce to accompany a Thanksgiving turkey, consider this Super Simple gem.  I call it “What a Pear Cranberry Sauce.”

What a Pear Cranberry Sauce

1 orange

½ c sugar

1 star anise (or ¾ tsp anise seeds)

1 (3”) cinnamon stick

½ c raw honey

2-3 pears, peeled & cored, cut in ½” cubes

4 c fresh or frozen cranberries (16 oz)

Grate zest from the orange to make 1 tablespoon.  Squeeze the juice into a measuring cup, adding water or cranberry juice, if needed, to make ½ cup.  In med saucepan over high heat, stir oj, grated zest, sugar, anise & cinnamon stick, until sugar is dissolved, 1-2 min.  Stir in honey & pears; bring to boil.  Then reduce heat to med and stir occasionally till edges of pears are barely tender, just 1-2 min.  Stir in cranberries.  Cook, stirring occasionally, till cranberries start to pop & pears are tender, 5-6 min.  Let cool.  Pour into serving bowl.  Serve cool or cold.  Makes up to 4 cups.

KISS Tip:  Make this up to 3 in advance.  Cover and store in refrigerator.

I love cranberries at any season of the year, so much so that I wrote an entire cookbook dedicated to this historic little fruit.  Check out “Cranberry Cooking” by  Cathy Burnham Martin for more than 130 Keep It Super Simple recipes using cranberries… from beverages, sauces, side dishes and snacks to desserts, entrees, appetizers, and soups!  Try the following appetizer that is both marvelously easy and jaw-droppingly delicious! The cranberry-crab combination surprised me and became a go-to favorite.

Cranberry Crab Tarts

8 oz cream cheese (plain or with chives), softened

1 can crab meat, drained

2-3 green onions (green portions), thinly sliced

45 mini phyllo tart shells

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

Combine cheese, crab and onions; push into one corner of a large plastic food storage bag.  Snip off the tip of the bag’s corner to create a pastry bag.  Squeeze the bag to push some crab combo into each tart shell.  Spoon some cranberry on top.  Bake 10 min at 350°F and serve hot.

KISS Tips:  You can make the crab cheese combo ahead and store in the refrigerator until needed.  You can even fill the tarts up to 2 hours ahead of time without losing their crispiness.  Keep this Super Simple by purchasing pre-made phyllo tarts.  I find them in boxes of 15 in the frozen dessert section of the supermarket.  To add some zestiness to the flavor, add a couple tablespoons of prepared horseradish to the crab-cheese mixture. 

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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