Cranberry Orange Relish

The holiday season is upon us!  I have been truly bitten by the Christmas bug this year, and have been on the hunt for weeks searching for great recipes to try this season. 

This one fell in my lap in early November.  It comes from a chef by the name of Jennifer Hill Booker from Georgia.  Her website is www.yourresidentgourmet.com.  When I tried this relish, I knew that it would be perfect for Thanksgiving.  So, I gave it a whirl.  And boy, was I glad that I did!

What You Need:

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

1 orange, peeled and segmented

1 teaspoon orange zest

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup orange liqueur (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch sea salt

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a medium-sized, heavy bottom sauce pan.
  2. Bring the relish up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally
  3. Simmer the mixture until the cranberries burst and the relish thickens, about 25 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and allow the relish to cool.  It will thicken as it cools

What I did:

I followed the directions since this was my first attempt at making anything remotely relish-y.  I was sure that I was going to mess it up somehow, and end up with a charred lump of mess in the bottom of the pan. 

I was so wrong!   You truly cannot mess this one up at all.  Sure, you need to keep an eye on it and make sure that you do indeed stir it, but it was super easy.

Here it is on our gourmet turkey sandwiches that we had the day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, that is also bacon that you see.

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Reaction:

Scott doesn’t even really like cranberry sauce, and he liked this!  I thought it was heaven, and I’m very happy that we happened to have orange liqueur on hand.

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Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Some people may have an aversion to any cookie containing oatmeal.  Maybe it’s because Mom poured too much of it down their throats when they were growing up.  Call me weird, but to me, there is something so comforting about a hot bowl of oatmeal on any morning.  But we’re not here to talk about oatmeal.

Some of my absolute favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin.  Maybe it’s because I can fool myself into thinking that they are healthier than the average chocolate-filled cookie because they have oatmeal and raisins in them.  Just let me dream…

So, anyway, we’re taking a different path this week than the normal “peanut butter and/or chocolate” theme that I have been following.  I thought that change would be good!

On to the recipe!

Here’s what you need:

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 6oz package of dried cranberries

2/3 cup white chocolate chunks

And here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 375.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

What I did:

I wanted to try my hand at making some nice, big, chewy cookies.  I figured I owed my honey that much since everything I have been making is a little on the smaller side.  So I decided to double this recipe so I could make the cookies nice and big.  Except I didn’t have enough cranberries.  And the genius award goes to me.  Well, you do what you have to, so I didn’t put double the cranberries in.  And I’m not missing them.  There are enough berries for double the recipe, in my opinion.  Speaking of cranberries, make sure that you stir them in instead of using a mixer on them.  That will crush them beyond recognition.

The recipe calls for white chocolate chunks, but I bought chips instead.  Eh, just a different form of the same thing.  I didn’t add more chips to compensate for the lack of cranberries, and don’t notice that the cookies are lacking anything.

I used extra large eggs instead of large eggs.  You might think that there wouldn’t be that much difference, but I think it makes them moister.  You definitely need to mix the batter well, though.  I followed the instructions on this recipe pretty much to the letter.

I baked these cookies for about nine minutes on my light cookie sheets, and about seven on my dark cookie sheets.  It took several batches of burned-on-the-bottom cookies several years ago to realize that the darker the cookie sheet, the quicker the cookies will bake. Therefore, you cannot bake cookies on dark cookie sheets for the same amount of time as you can on light cookie sheets.  Sometimes, I’m just not all there.  *sigh* And thus ends my lecture on cookie sheets.  Rule of thumb – watch them.  Unless you know your cookie sheets and your oven really well, don’t leave these poor guys to fend for themselves in the oven.  That goes for any cookie that you are making for the first time.

It really did make 2 ½ dozen…once I doubled the recipe and made them twice as big as called for.

Reaction:

Scott stopped chewing long enough to give me the thumbs up sign, swallowed, then said, “These are really good!”  He took four to work with him immediately after I baked them.  He shared them with some coworkers who also sang their praises.  I believe the phrase was, “She just about lost her d*** mind when she ate them.”

These are truly some of the moistest cookies that I’ve ever made!  They aren’t crumbly at all.  Of course, keeping them in an air tight container is really helping retain that moisture.  They are also very dense.  As in, “I won’t need to eat breakfast now that I’ve eaten this cookie. Or lunch.”

On a side note: Use parchment paper when baking cookies!  I didn’t use it for the longest time, now I can’t imagine how I ever baked anything successful without it!  Nothing sticks to it, it acts as a great buffer between the sheet and the cookie…the list goes on and on about how great it is.  Sure, I know.  It’s one more thing to buy, and you can’t just wash it and reuse it.  But it’s worth it.  And I’ve used a sheet a few times before tossing it.  My mom uses it until the edges turn brown and get crumbly.  Not sure if you are supposed to use it that long…

Oh, and since I’ve started using unsalted butter, it makes everything I bake taste fresher.  Sounds strange, but there you have it.  Use unsalted butter when baking.

Final verdict:

Definitely a make-again!  I could see easily substituting the cranberries for raisins and having one awesome oatmeal raisin white chocolate cookie!