Tracy’s Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

I was not able to enjoy my favorite cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving as my in-laws were in town and they took my husband and I on a Chinese food bender for the entire weekend.  So, this MSG-free weekend, I made my favorite condiment of all time:

Tracy’s Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

1 (12 oz.) bag of cranberries, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
Zest of 1 medium navel orange, finely grated

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan; stir to combine and loosely cover.  Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid starts to boil and the skins of the cranberries start to pop.  Stir, loosely cover and lower heat to medium and allow mixture to bubble for about 10 minutes.  Stir yet again, and turn heat to low.  Simmer 10 more minutes or until mixture has thickened.

Cool, cover and store in the refrigerator.

Cranberry Sauce

Note: I make this sauce the day before I want to start using it as it seems to be one of those dishes that tastes better the next day.

This sauce is delicious with pork, poultry, brunch and dessert.  I even sneak a spoonful of it and enjoy it all by itself.  I love the ruby-red color, the chunky texture and the way it smells and tastes like the holidays.


Homemade Applesauce

Happy Labor Day!  As today is the unofficial end of summer, tomorrow is (unofficially) the beginning of Fall!  Fall makes me think of apples and apples make me think of applesauce and applesauce makes me think of my Great-Grandma Hollingsworth who used to make homemade applesauce for me and my brother when we were little.  My brother liked his applesauce to be red, so Grandma would add some red food coloring to it.

I never got Grandma’s applesauce recipe before she passed away so I spent last Fall tinkering in the kitchen, trying to replicate her applesauce so that I can, one day, make it for my children and grandchildren.  Luckily, I came up with a more natural way to make my applesauce red.  I love the texture, flavor, aroma and color of this applesauce and hope you will enjoy it too.

Homemade Applesauce

6 pounds apples (use a mix of sweet varieties such as Gala, Fuji and Empire)
Good quality cranberry juice (no sugar added)
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Wash, peel, core and dice apples; place in large saucepot.  Add just enough cranberry juice to keep apples from sticking (start with 1/2 cup).  Add cinnamon to taste (1 teaspoon is a good place to start).  Add sugar to taste, if you are using it.  Stir to combine, cover and slowly cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until apples are soft and cranberry juice is completely absorbed.  If the cranberry juice is completely absorbed before the apples are fully soft, add a little more juice and continue cooking until apples are soft.  Run cooked apples through a food mill or potato ricer (I use a potato ricer).  Chill before serving.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

My husband and I enjoyed an early dinner with our good friends, Alyson and Lamar, tonight at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem. After having our fill of ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage and an array of sides, we somehow had room for dessert. My husband’s choice reminded me of a pie that I make for him on occasion. He loves peanut butter and chocolate paired together and this dessert fits the bill for him quite nicely. It tastes like a big, frozen Reese’s peanut butter cup!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

1 (14oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (8 oz.) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
1 (6oz.) Oreo pie crust

In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder; mix well.
Add peanut butter and mix well.
Fold in whipped topping.
Spoon into crust.
Cover pie and freeze 6 hours.
Garnish as desired and serve.
Freeze leftovers.

Baking with Friends, for Friends

The other night my husband and I got together with our friend Sophie to make some sweet treats for a friend who has been under the weather. This friend of ours is such a wonderful person who is always volunteering to help others and is well known for baking cookies to send to the troops overseas that we felt it was only appropriate to make some sweets for the lady who is always making treats for others.

To that end, Sophie made beautiful strawberry jam, I made a blueberry crumble pie and my husband served as the best sous chef we could have ever hoped for. For all the love that went into making these antioxidant rich, vitamin-packed fruity treats, I’m sure our good friend will be on the mend in no time!

Here are some shots of the pie:

Red Sangria

The heat is officially on here in New York City (Saturday and Sunday will be in the 90’s!), which means it’s a great time to make sangria.  I enjoy both the red and the white, but today I’m feeling a bit more traditional so I am going to make red sangria. 

I once made a batch of this sangria and gave a Mason jar of it to my favorite deli guy, Mr. Frank.  He drank it right on the spot, at work, and then proceeded to give everybody kisses and tell them that he loved them.   So, maybe this stuff is a love potion too…    

Red Sangria

2 750ml bottles Spanish red wine
3/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup simple syrup*
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup triple sec
2 apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
2 oranges, thinly sliced into rounds

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stir, cover and refrigerate for 2 days.  Serve over ice.

*Simple Syrup is equal parts granulated sugar and water.  To make it, add boiling water to sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Cool before use.