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Those little red jewels

Cat Campbell/The Madera Tribune

Cranberry orange shortbread cookies fit right in with both Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Aren’t cranberries wonderful?

I am glad that they are included in many holiday traditional feasts. I can remember being amazed a long time ago when I first learned that cranberry sauce is so easy to make. I love it so much I do not wait until this time of year to enjoy it.

It is very good served along with a pork roast or even mixed into a tangy barbecue sauce for chicken or ribs. I must admit I have also just eaten it all by itself, as a snack or placed it over vanilla ice cream. But even if you dislike cranberry sauce, there are so many other ways to incorporate cranberries into your cooking.

Here are just a few and I hope you see something that you would like to try.

Fresh and simple cranberry sauce

1 pound (about 4 cups) fresh whole cranberries

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1. In a colander, rinse the cranberries and remove any that are blemished or otherwise unsuitable. Remove any stems you may find.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring now and then. Continue boiling about 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the cranberries and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil mixture about 5 more minutes (same stirring directions) until the cranberries begin to pop. Pour the sauce into a bowl or container and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Cranberry salad with apples and walnuts

1 bag mixed green salad medley (that is about half spinach leaves)

2 green apples, sliced (can leave peels on)

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese (or use your favorite kind; feta works well)

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Apple cider vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granules

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

1. In a large bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, or a jar with lid, mix all vinaigrette ingredients. When well blended, drizzle over the salad and toss. Serve immediately upon adding the dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Cranberry orange shortbread cookies

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

1 teaspoon almond extract

Zest of 1 orange

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, optional

Additional sugar to coat cookies before baking, optional

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a food processor, combine the cranberries and 1/4 cup of sugar. Process just until the cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour and remaining sugar. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender, until mixture becomes very fine crumbs.

3. Stir in almond extract and the cranberry-sugar mixture, orange zest and orange juice, if using. Using your hands, mix and knead the dough until it starts to stick together enough to form a ball.

4. Shape dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter then wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill dough for at least 2 hours (and up to 72 hours if necessary).

5. Preheat oven to 325. Cut slices of dough about 1/4-inch thick. If desired, place about 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and coat cookie slices with sugar. Place slices on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are set. (I find it takes 12 minutes in my oven, but many ovens vary.)

6. Allow cookies to cool for several minutes before removing them to a rack. Let them cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Cranberry cake

Since the eggs are the only leavening in this recipe, make sure you have beaten them well enough and do not skip that step. It is a very simple cake; nothing fancy.

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350. With a mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5 to 7 minutes. The mixture should be almost double in size. Add the butter and vanilla; continue mixing for 2 more minutes.

2. Add flour and stir until just combined. Add the cranberries and stir to thoroughly mix.

3. Spread mixture in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

4. Let cake cool completely before cutting into small servings about 1-by-2-inches each. (You can cut the slices any size you wish, but if you are having a party, the smaller pieces are easy for guests for grab.)

Cranberry oatmeal cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1 container (18-oz.) uncooked regular oats

1 bag (12-oz.) fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed, until creamy. Add eggs, honey, vanilla and salt; beat until well blended.

2. Gradually add flour and oats, beating at low speed until well incorporated. Stir in cranberries, raisins, orange zest and walnuts.

3. Shape cookie dough into 1/3-cup-sized, 1/2-inch-thick rounds on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 2 dozen.

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