2015 Michigan Cherry Recipes #4 – Cran-Cherry Pie Filling

Back  about 10 years ago, before I started canning pie filling, I was shopping for cherry pie filling for a holiday pie. My brand of choice at the time was Comstock and that year they happened to come out with a Cranberry-Cherry Pie Filling. Intrigued, I had to try it. It was wonderful.

Unfortunately, by the time I went back to buy the cranberry-cherry pie filling again, which could have easily been months, they had discontinued it. Bummer!  To remedy not having a pie filling that included cranberries I opted to add a can of whole berry cranberry sauce to the cherry pie filling and the results were good, but not exactly the same.

This year after making my regular batch of Tart Cherry Pie Filling I decided to try my own version of Cranberry-Cherry Pie Filling. The results were awesome.

Cranberry-Cherry Pie Filling

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8 Pounds Pitted/Stemmed Tart Cherries

3 – 12 oz. Bags Fresh or Frozen Cranberries

5 Cups Sugar

1 1/4 Cup Clear Jel dissolved in 1 Cup Water

7 Cups Cherry Water/Juice

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

  • Rinse and pit cherries. Blanch cherries and cranberries in boiling water for one minute. Drain, reserving water/juice, and keep heated in covered stock pot.
  • Combine Clear Jel slurry, lemon juice and sugar in stock pot with 7 cups of reserved cherry/cranberry water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat until it thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat. Fold in fruit.
  • Fill jars with filling, leaving a one-inch head space. Adjust lids and process in water bath for 25 minutes.

I cannot believe how much this tastes like how I remember the Comstock version did. What a thrill. I cannot wait to make a pie or perhaps some strudel with my version.

I absolutely love canning, but when canning brings back something I loved but could no longer find, I love it even more, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Plum Goodness – Plum-Cranberry Sauce

Having our own plum tree can be both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because over the past two years we harvested more than 400 pounds of fruit, a curse because over the past two years we harvested more than 400 pounds of fruit and more than 200 of it had to be canned or processed.  Last year we only had about 85 pounds of usable fruit to work with, but seeing as I still had plum pulp and juice in the freezer from 2013, I wasn’t about to complain.

Our whole family loves plum everything.  I make jam, jelly, preserves, juice, pie filling, can the whole fruit, and even dry them and make plum fruit leather.  Still, with so much fruit, the freezer quickly filled of containers of fruit and pulp that I had to save for another day. Today was that day.

Having a wonderful stockpile of cranberries in the freezer to keep me happy until next October when they once again will be sold locally, I decided to use some of them to make homemade cranberry sauce.  Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to improve upon an old favorite, I decided that rather than use the “water” the recipe called for, I would use plum juice.  What a great way to utilize the abundance of plum juice in the freezer and make our cranberry sauce even better.

Plum-Cranberry Sauce/Spread

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  • 3 – 12 oz. Packages Cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 Cups Plum Juice
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 7 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 1/2 Cup Water

Rinse and sort cranberries.  Combine cranberries and plum juice in large stock pot and slowly bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes covered, allowing the cranberries to pop.

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Remove from heat.  Using a stick blender, puree the cranberries until the mixture is smooth.  Pour liquid into a mesh strainer, removing the seeds and skins from the sauce.

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Return the strained sauce to the stock pot and add the sugar.  Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.

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Slowly stir in Clear Jel slurry and increase heat to medium-high.  Bring to boil and boil hard for one minute.

Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars.  Process for 20 minutes in water-bath canner.

This recipe yields 5 – 12 oz. jars and 1 – 8 oz jar.

This particular recipe does not make a cranberry sauce that is jellied as those in the stores.  It is smooth and spreadable.  Not jellied enough for molding or slicing.

Plum Cranberry Sauce (1)

We especially like using this sauce on turkey burgers and pork, or even spreading on chicken like barbecue sauce.  It is sweet but still tart and the plum juice adds a subtle undertone of fruity flavor that makes this a great staple to have on hand for all sorts of meals.

An over abundance of plums might be a lot of work and at times may seem like a curse, but actually I am very grateful and love every minute of it.  From the first bud in spring, until the last plum is harvested, to the first taste of juicy fruit, and finally the last drop of juice frozen, I am Simply Grateful.

Cranberry-Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Last year I began experimenting with various citrus spreads.  For months I worked at combining flavors, sometimes using the rind, sometimes not, and learning a lot about how just the right amount of citrus can make jams and jellies really pop.

Several of the recipe that I wanted to try called for Meyer lemons.  I had no idea what these were.  I had never heard of them, let alone seen them.  From what I could gather, a Meyer lemon was supposed to be less tart, more on the sweet side.  Unfortunately, there was nothing that I could find that could be substituted here in Michigan.

Rather than not try the recipes that called for Meyer lemons, instead I decreased the amount of lemon in these recipes and substituted regular ones.  Also, I tasted the spreads often during the preparation to make sure there was enough sugar and that the spread was not turning too bitter.  Overall, I’d have to say that my marmalade and jams turned out pretty good.  Even so, learning about Meyer lemons intrigued me.

Last weekend while Hubby and I were out picking up a few things at the grocery store, I happened to walk past the produce department and on an end cap right up front they had a whole display of Meyer lemons.  I couldn’t believe it. How is it that they had them now?  Not willing to chance not being able to find them again, I picked up a couple of bags.

This morning I finally had a chance to work with these Meyer lemons and see what all the hype was about.  I slit the end off of one, cut a thin slice and popped it in my mouth.  My eyes scrunched up, the muscles in my face contracted, and I nearly choked.  This lemon was by no means sweet.  It was as tart as any lemon I’d tasted.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Maybe a bit surprised, but definitely not disappointed.  Not to be deterred, I pulled out a recipe that called for Meyer lemons and went to work.  Maybe there was something I didn’t know — maybe the lemons got sweeter as they cooked.  The recipe I chose was a Cranberry-Meyer Lemon Marmalade.  Not only would I be able to use up some of the Meyer lemons, but I’d also have a chance to use some of my stockpile of cranberries.

Cranberry-Meyer Lemon Marmalade

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  • 3 Meyer Lemons
  • 16 oz. (4 Cups) Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 3/4 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 Cup Water

Peel lemons.  Remove the white pulp from the rind by scrapping with a pairing knife.

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Cut rind into thin slivers.

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In a large pot bring the 3 Cups water with the lemon peel to boil, simmer 15 minutes.  Much of the water will cook away.  It should decrease at least by half.

Juice the lemons. I put mine in a food processor and strained the pulp through a mesh strainer.  Add strained lemon juice, cranberries, and sugar to simmering lemon rind mixture and return to boil.  Simmer 15 minutes.

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Stir in Clear Jel slurry and slowly return to boil. I turned the stove down to medium for about 5 minutes and then began to increase the temperature to high.  It took about 10 minutes for the mixture to return to boil and reach the thickness I wanted.

Remove from heat and ladle into hot jars.  Process 8 oz. jars for 15 minutes in water-bath canner.

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This recipe yielded 5 – 8 oz. jars and 2 – 4 oz. jars.

The original recipe I found online called for 7 cups of sugar and Certo pectin.  I began taste-testing the marmalade when the cranberries had popped but before adding the Clear Jel. I knew there was no way I wanted to add 7 cups of sugar to this, so I started with 3 cups and added the additional 3/4 cup before the second 15 minute simmer was done.

This marmalade is wonderful.  It has a subtle lemon flavor and the rind slivers are tender and not as bitter as regular lemons. Perhaps this is the difference everyone is talking about.  Of course this is the first time I’ve combine cranberries with lemons, so the cranberries might cut down on the bitterness of the rind as well.  Regardless, this marmalade is a keeper, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Canning Pear-Cranberry Pie Filling

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When I was a kid I hated pears. The texture, the taste, even the look of a pear was something I absolutely hated.  Not until I was an adult did I finally discover the joy of pears and all the possibilities.

The turning point for me came one warm summer afternoon when Hubby and I were enjoying a barbecue at a friend’s house.  After the grill was through spouting smoke, our hostess brought out dessert.  The moment we saw it, Hubby exclaimed, “Oh good, apple pie my favorite!”  You see, Hubby loves pie and especially apple pie.

With a coy smile however, our hostess replied, “Not quite.”

We were intrigued.  It sure looked like apple pie.  The beautiful brown sugar topping with the perfect slices of apple peeking through — what else could it be.

Well, when I took my first bite, I immediately knew what it was — pear. Very smooth and mild with just a hint of spice.  A nice change from the traditional apple pie.

Although I love pear pie on its own, I really like it with a little zip in it and that’s where cranberries come in and thus this wonderful new pie filling for the pantry shelves.

Pear-Cranberry Pie Filling

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  • 11 lbs. Pears (mixed varieties)
  • 3-12 oz. Bags Cranberries
  • 4 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups Clear Jel
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 6 Cups Apple or Pear Juice
  • 12 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg

Wash, peel, and core pears.  Slice pears 1/4 – 1/2 inch wide and soak in water containing lemon juice to prevent browning.

Boil water and blanch pears and cranberries for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.  Drain but keep warm fruit in a covered bowl.

Combine Clear Jel in water and mix until smooth.  Add the Clear Jel slurry, sugar, spice, and apple or pear juice in a large stock pot.  Stir and cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Fold in drained pears and cranberries and fill hot jars with mixture, leaving a 1-inch head space.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rims, adjust lids, and process immediately for 25 minutes at a full boil.

This recipe made 7 quarts of filling plus a pie to enjoy right away.

As with my apple pie filling, I use a variety of pears with varying textures and sweetness to really make this filling pop.  This pie filling is absolutely wonderful on its own, but to switch it up I might add a jar of apple pie filling on occasion.  This gives me even more dessert possibilities, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Triple Berry (Cranberry/Raspberry/Blackberry) Spread

My kitchen appliance/gadget wish list is long and full of tons of things that I need, want, and can only dream of ever having. On this list, at the very top, is an upright freezer to store all the canning jars I want to fill with pies, cheesecakes, meals, and quick-fix snacks.  Along with these, I would store all the fruits and vegetables I freeze every year for use during the long Michigan winters.

Right now I have a chest freezer and refrigerator with a freezer in the basement as well as the freezer in the refrigerator in the kitchen.  These freezers are constantly full and I am continually needing to reorganize everything inside of these in order to store anything new.  It is truly a source of stress that I don’t enjoy dealing with on a daily basis.

Much of the fruit that is stored in the basement freezers are there to be used in canning projects that I have not gotten to either because of lack of time or lack of ingredients.  With the stock of cranberries I picked up in October and November of 2014, I am now able to possibly make a dent in some of that fruit and clear out some space.  As much as I’d rather just go out and get that upright freezer that I’ve been wanting for so long, it’s still not in the cards.

Hubby and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum on whether or not this is a necessary expense or not.  I suppose I can survive without another freezer, and it is a “want”, but no matter if I were to use up all the fruit that is waiting to be canned, the fight for freezer space would continue.  It’s one of those unwritten laws I think.  No matter how much space I have, it is never enough.  So why do I think another freezer would solve all my problems?  Well it wouldn’t, but boy it would sure be fun filling that new freezer.

Anyway, seeing as chicken thighs are on sale this week and I want to stock up a bit while the price is good, I pulled out several bags of cranberries, raspberries and blackberries, to try a combination recipe that I thought would be fun.

Triple-Berry Spread

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  • 3 Cups Cranberries (12 oz bag)
  • 3 Clementines
  • 3 Cups Red Raspberries
  • 3 Cups Blackberries
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 1/4 Cup Water

Peel and section the clementines.  Combine the clementines with cranberries in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.

Put processed cranberry mixture in a large stock pot and add remaining berries and sugar.  Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree using a stick blender.  Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove cranberry skins and berry seeds.

Return strained puree to stock pot and add Clear Jel slurry.  Bring mixture to full rolling boil and time one minute. This thickens very quickly so be careful, it spatters terribly.

Remove from heat and immediately ladle into hot, sterilized 8 oz. jars.  Top with hot lids and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This recipe will yield 7-8 oz. jars.

Making a dent in the overflowing freezers in the basement is great, but having this new spread to add to my ever-growing list of tasty spreads is even better.  One more cranberry project under my belt, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Cranberry-Targerine Spread

This weeks canning adventures have been far less productive than last, but alas, life happens.  I was able to fit in my first of what will no doubt be many cranberry canning projects and learned a few things along the way.

I found this recipe in a book that I received for Christmas.  After making a few tweaks, I think the results were excellent, and Hubby agrees.

Cranberry-Tangerine Spread

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  • 12-oz. Package of Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Tangerine or Orange Juice
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 2 inches Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 Cup Additional Tangerine or Orange Juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Clear Jel

In a heavy saucepan, combine cranberries, water and 1/2 cup of juice.  Bring this to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 5 minutes until cranberries pop.

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Using a stick blender, puree the cranberry mixture in the pan.  Add the sugar and cinnamon stick and return to boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

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Remove from heat and strain out cranberry seeds and pulp.  Return strained spread to pan.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup juice with Clear Jel and stir till smooth.  Add Clear Jel slurry to pan and bring mixture to boil.  Boil hard for one minute, remove from heat.

Ladle hot spread into hot, sterilized 8-ounce jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space.  Apply lids and process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.  This recipe made 4 – 8-ounce jars.

I let this spread set overnight and opened one of the jars the next morning for breakfast.  The spread was smooth and mild.  There was a slight hint of cinnamon but no hint of citrus.  That’s when I realized that the purpose of the tangerine/orange juice was not to add flavor to this spread, but rather to smooth out the taste.  Cranberries can be rather tangy, to put it mildly.  They have a bite that can almost burn when used by themselves.

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I used the spread on a bagel, one side with cream cheese, the other without.  Both were delicious, but I preferred the one without the cream cheese because I could taste more of the spread on that side. It was equally delicious on water crackers with cream cheese later in the day for a snack.

Besides enjoying the fruits (no pun intended) of my labor and eating all the canned goods I make, learning something new when I’m going through the process is always an added bonus.  I have several recipes using cranberries to try in the next few days and should I find that the flavor has too much of a bite to it, I now know how to tame it down, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

2015 Canning To Do List

Now that the holidays have come to a close, I am anxious to get back to some canning.  Up until last winter I really didn’t know that there was canning beyond summer and fall.  Last winter however I canned many things and am ready to start my list of canning projects for the next couple of months.

The first thing on my to do list are sweet potatoes.  These were bought when I found them on sale for $.28 a pound at Thanksgiving.  I don’t have as many as I’d like, as we’ve been eating them, but I am excited to give these a try.  I want to use the canned sweet potato for pies as well as a side dish for pork or poultry.  Seeing as the pumpkin I canned last fall turned out so well, I am confident that these will turn out also.

Next, I have raspberries and blackberries in the freezer from last fall and definitely want to make some things with these.  Combining these with the cranberries I froze in November and December, I’m sure I can come up with some tasty syrups, sauces, and concentrates.

Mentioning cranberries, I made some plum-cranberry sauce last November to use on turkey burgers and it turned out perfect.  I am definitely going to make more of this.  I went to several grocery stores today to see if I could find a few more bags on clearance, but everything was gone.  I hope I bought enough to keep me happy until next November.

Sweet potatoes, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries should keep me busy for January.

Once I clear out some space in the overflowing freezers by using some of the berries that are frozen, I’d like to do something with white potatoes.  I found several recipes for canning potatoes that I want to try as well as methods for freezing and dehydrating.

White potatoes, as long as I can find a good deal on them, should keep me busy in February.

For March I plan on making more sauerkraut and canning cabbage in several other ways that I’ve wanted to try. Being that cabbage goes on sale for about $.14 a pound around St. Patrick’s Day, I will definitely be stocking up. Freezing, canning, and dehydrating are all on the agenda.

That’s it for the first quarter of 2015.  I have lots of jars itching to be filled in the garage and pantry shelves in the basement emptying, making space for new concoctions.

I should keep track of how many jars we go through a week.  Last week I counted only 6 jars on the counter that we’d emptied.  During the holidays though there were a few weeks that we went through more than a dozen or more.  At the end of the fall canning season October 2014 I had seven dozen jars of freshly canned food on the floor in the pantry because I didn’t have enough shelving.  Now the floor is clean and the shelves have gaps in them.

Already I’m having to ration the pickles I canned last summer.  With Grace going through a jar a week, we won’t make it till harvest time — thus why the pickle A-Frame is going to have a matching companion next year.  300+ pickles harvested for 2014 and going for 400 – 500 for 2015.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Holiday Season 2014 is over and a brand new 2015 is just beginning, full of potential and possibilities, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Thanksgiving Pies – Tradition With A Twist

I have never understood why people stress so about having Thanksgiving dinner at their home.  For me, this is probably the easiest meal to make.  You buy a turkey, clean it, make some stuffing, stuff it, then put it in the oven for 5 to 8 hours depending on the size.  Done!

Sure there are side dishes to make, but peeling potatoes, cleaning the Brussel sprouts or other vegetable, making some rolls or bread, making a salad, and baking a few pies is pretty much like dinner every other day, so where is the hassle.  Granted there are typically more people eating at the table, but it takes only minutes to peel a few potatoes or make a bigger salad.

I love having Thanksgiving.  Admittedly, I am probably a bit spoiled here though, because much of the work that would typically have to be done on Thanksgiving morning is already done for me and waiting for me in the pantry.  When Grace was cleaning up the kitchen before our guests arrived, she was surprised at how many empty canning jars she had to load into the dishwasher.  This is where all that canning and preparation I do throughout the year really pays off.

First I used canned apple pie filling for the Apple-Cranberry-Currant Pie. Next it was canned pumpkin for the pumpkin pie.  Then four quart jars of homemade breadcrumbs for stuffing, several jars of pickled beets, two jars of homemade cranberry-plum sauce, and of course we had to break out a few jars of homemade fruit-juice-lemonade concentrates to mix with club soda for drinks.  Every time I started working on something else for the dinner, I found myself heading to the pantry to raid the shelves.  It was great!

The one thing I was not able to find in my pantry, YET, were the sweet potatoes.  I have them on my list of things to still can this year, along with white potatoes, but because of my decorating agenda for the holidays, it has not been checked off my never-ending To Do List.  Still, being able to cut down on how much time I spent in the kitchen this Thanksgiving was truly something to be thankful for.

Using some of the canned pumpkin from the pantry was a new experience this year.  I have frozen pumpkin puree for many years, but canning it was a new experience.  Slicing into it after Thanksgiving dinner, I have to admit I was a bit nervous.  Handing the first slice to my father, I asked him to tell me how it was.  He slowly cut off a tiny bite with his fork and sampled it.  After swishing it around in his mouth, as if he were at a wine tasting, dragging it out longer than my racing heart needed, he smiled and told me it was wonderful.  Hubby got the second slice and agreed with my father adding, “This is probably the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever made.”  Granted I think he says that with each pumpkin pie I make, but still, being able to maintain that standard was very important to me.

My pumpkin pie recipe is nothing special, but it is always a big hit, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 Quart Jar of Home-Canned Pumpkin (for me this turned out to be 16 oz. of puree)
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • Pastry for Single-Crust Pie

Drain home-canned pumpkin and puree pulp till smooth in food processor.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, and spices with a whisk.  Add eggs, lighting beating to combine.  Add milks and mix well.

Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pie crust and bake in 375 oven for 25 minutes.  Cover pie with foil after 25 minutes and bake another 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before chilling.

This year, Grace helped with the pies and we opted not to drag out the mixer.  We mixed everything by hand and the pie turned out fine.  Sometimes it’s nice to get away from all the gadgets, although they certainly have their place in my kitchen.

The other pie we made was another traditional Thanksgiving favorite in our home — Apple.  This year, however, I decided to make it with a bit of a twist.  I added some cranberries, currents, and just a touch of brandy.  Definitely a keeper.

Apple-Cranberry-Currant Pie with Crumble Topping

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  • 1 Quart plus 1 Pint Apple Pie Filling
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cranberries
  • 1/4 Cup Brandy
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Currants
  • Pie Crust for Single-Crust Pie

Topping:

  • 2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Butter

Combine brandy and currants and let sit for 1 hour until currants are plump.

In a large bowl combine pie filling cranberries currants and brandy.  Pour mixture into prepared pie crust.

To make topping, mix flour and brown sugar and cut in the butter using a pastry blender.  Sprinkle topping over pie.

Put pie on foil-lined cookie sheet and bake 55 to 65 minutes.

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Thanksgiving is a time when people stop and take the time to remember all the things they have to be thankful for. There are so many things everyday to be thankful for, unfortunately not everyone takes the time to remember this. Thankfully this holiday reminds those that maybe forget all the things they should be grateful for everyday to stop and take notice.

This year besides the things that I am grateful for everyday, I was especially thankful for the time spent with Grace in the kitchen making pies, the cut-down amount of time I needed to spend in the kitchen away from the family preparing dinner, and a pantry that made this all possible, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Crazy For Cranberries

Last winter, around February or March, once all my Christmas decorations were stored away and the house was back to some semblance of normalcy, I decided to work on some winter canning.  Pulling out my recipes and scanning the internet for ideas, I decided that I wanted to work with some of the fruit juices I’d frozen from the summer before and experiment with combining these and cranberries.  Going to my freezer I found I had only two bags of frozen cranberries.  No worries, so I thought, I’d just run up to the store and buy some.

Well, when I got to the store, there were none to be found.  There were none in the fresh fruit section and none in the freezer sections.  I went to every market and grocery store within 20 miles, calling some and visiting most, and was told they were a seasonal item and would not be available again until late October.  This was not at all acceptable.  I needed them right then, not seven or eight months from then.  Not accepting the situation, I went to the internet.  There I found several sources for fresh cranberries, but in order to purchase them I had to buy 30 pounds or more at exorbitant prices.  The reality hit me hard, but the lesson was not lost.  I made a note right then not to make the same mistake ever again.

At the end of October, just as promised, every grocery store in my area began stocking fresh cranberries again.  I was thrilled and immediately began stocking up.  The first time I found them they were $2.50 per 12 oz bag.  I bought four bags.  With these I began experimenting with homemade cranberry sauce and combinations of cranberry, plum and mixed berry sauces.

My next trip to the grocery store, a different one this time, I found 12 oz bags for $1.99.  I bought 10 and threw them immediately in the freezer. Cranberries are the absolute easiest fruit to freeze because you just throw the bag in the freezer and that’s it.  They keep for up to a year in the freezer as is, but if you freeze them and then slip them into another freezer bag or container, they will keep even longer.

Happy that I’d stocked up on cranberries, I still kept my eyes open for any sales.  Last week, while I was picking up a few things from yet a different grocery store, this time Aldi Market, I found they had a special on their 12 oz bags of cranberries.  They had them on sale for $1.19 per bag.  Oh Happy Day!  I picked up another dozen bags and threw them in the freezer as well.

With 22 bags in the freezer, you’d think I’d be content.  But I NEVER want to find myself in need of cranberries again, so before they are out of the stores for another year, I will no doubt pick up at least another five or more bags — just to be sure.

Although canning at this point in time, due to the approaching holidays, is not realistic (there are just so many hours in the day you know), I am still finding time to bake.  Just the other day I made a batch of blueberry muffins and on a whim decided to make a second batch, but this time I added some cranberries to the blueberry mix.  They were great.  I actually thought that the combination of flavors was more satisfying than just the plain blueberry.  I love my blueberry muffins, but by adding just a cup of cranberries, it really made them pop.

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Cran-Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Cooking Oil
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 – 1 1/2 Cups Blueberries (I like lots of berries in mine)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cranberries

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Butter

Combine dry ingredients for muffins in large bowl.  Make a well in center and add egg, milk and oil.  Mix by hand until combined.  Fold berries into batter.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.

Make crumble topping by combining flour and sugar and cutting in butter with pastry blender.  Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon of crumble on each muffin and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

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One of Hubby’s favorite sayings is “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”  I am so glad that last years mishap with cranberries is definitely not going to happen again this year and we are well stocked for whatever recipes I want to concoct, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Tastes Of Fall – Pumpkin Bread

There are so many things that scream “FALL” when I hear them, see them, smell them, or taste them, and one of my absolute favorites is pumpkin bread.

Last week one of our local grocery stores had pie pumpkins on sale and I picked up 6 to can and bake with.

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After canning 7 quarts of pumpkin, I used the remaining couple of quarts in several of my favorite recipes — the first being Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread with Crumble Topping.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread w/Crumble Topping

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  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups White Sugar
  • 2 Cups Fresh Pureed Pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Dried Cranberries

Topping:

  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil in mixing bowl.  Beat until just blended.  Stir the wet mixture into the dry until batter is moistened.  Fold in cranberries.  Spoon batter into pans.
  4. Combine topping ingredients in small bowl.  Cut with pastry cutter until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of batter in pans.
  5. Bake in oven 50 – 60 minutes.

This recipe makes two loaves which is great for sharing.  Unfortunately, one of these bread didn’t even make it the day with Hubby and Grace around.  We’ve already had to break open the second bread and aren’t even on day 2.

Fall is a wonderful time of year, especially with pumpkin, apple, and pear season in full swing, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.