Cranberry Clementine Sauce

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I’m an introvert.

I’m told that I don’t seem that way online, but it’s the truth. Just cause I’m super open and friendly with you guys doesn’t mean that translates into real life. It doesn’t. I’m actually kinda uncomfortable around strangers and my default reaction is to fall completely silent. You know one of those girls you saw inn public once that you think are ‘stuck up’ because they don’t talk to anyone and have a mean ‘resting face’? Yeah, I’ve probably been that girl you saw once or twice somewhere.

I can’t help it. And frankly, I don’t want to. 9 times out of 10, I’d rather be the person that no one ever hears from because they don’t talk rather than the person that you hear from ALL THE TIME because they just don’t know how to stop talking.

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However, starting tomorrow, all of that is going to change. I’m gonna become the super outgoing girl that always seems to have something to say and kinda sorta maybe doesn’t know how to shut up. At least online. And for the next 12 days.

Know why?

Because tomorrow will mark the start of the 12 Days of Christmas on Cooking is My Sport.

What’s the 12 Days of Christmas, you ask? It’s the series I started last year where I share 12 Christmas-themed recipes of sweet, sugary goodies to commemorate this holiday season. I’m doing it again this year, and have been working my behind off in the kitchen to try and make sure I’ll be on time for each post.

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It’s not an exaggeration, guys. I said “12 Days of Christmas”, and 12 days is what y’all are gonna get. 12 straight days of me, my rambling posts and a crap-load of high sugar cookies, cake, candy and other Christmas treats. Think you can handle it? Cause I’m not so sure.

Actually, I’m not even sure if I can handle it myself. Most of you are bloggers, so you can appreciate how…challenging it’s gonna be to bake, photograph, edit and write up posts for 12 sets of goodies. I’ve already said a prayer and knocked on wood. Hopefully I’ll be successful.

Anyway, this series basically means that for the next 12 days (by blogging standards) I’m gonna be the annoying person that never stops talking, because my goal will be to put a post a day until Christmas Eve.

Hopefully the content of  the posts will make up for me constantly popping up on your blog reader….I kinda think they will.

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Oh, that’s right. You’ve been looking at cranberry sauce for the past several paragraphs. Isn’t it pretty? It’s also friggin delicious. I first made it for our Thanksgiving dinner this year and my grandma announced that it was good enough to eat all by itself on a spoon. I concur.

In fact, I concurred so much, that I went ahead and made a second batch of it soon after (which is what you’re looking at in the pictures). That second batch gave me an idea for the first post in the 12 Days of Christmas series….

Which you guys will have to wait until tomorrow for.

For now, let’s  just sit tight and focus on the cranberry sauce itself. It’s sweet, tart and ‘citrus-y’ all at once. The addition of cinnamon and star anise cuts through both the sweetness and tartness by giving it an earthy, licorrice-y after-taste. The consistency of the sauce is also key here- it’s gotta stay on the spoon all by itself so that you can almost chew it. Anything else just isn’t acceptable.

Right now this is my favorite cranberry sauce- especially when it’s versatile enough to transform into a completely new, delicious recipe.

But like I said: that’ll have to wait til tomorrow.

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Cranberry Clementine Sauce

Recipe Courtesy of Anne Burrell

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

 Directions

1. In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise.

2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Spiced Turkey Breast

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The president came to town two days ago, guys.

My town, that is. If any of you out there follow news from The White House, then you may have read or seen that President Barack Obama was in East Lansing, MI on Friday afternoon for a few hours to sign a new agricultural bill at Michigan State University (which also happens to be my alma mater). It’s not everyday that the President comes to town- especially this lame town- so, it created somewhat of a stir in the media in the days leading up to his visit. I’ve been a fan/admirer/supporter/whatever you wanna call it of Barack Obama since before he was even elected into office, so I was happy that he was stopping by my hometown and my school…partly.

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The actual signing and remarks that he gave were closed to the general public (meaning you either had to be a government official, related to one, or somebody with a lot of money & connections- of which I am neither), so I couldn’t be there in person to see him and was relegated to watching the whole she-bang at home on television. It all felt kinda bittersweet.

See, this isn’t the first time that Barack Obama’s been to East Lansing. He also came to Michigan State University all the way back in 2008 when he was still campaigning in his first bid for the presidency. I was just a sophomore back then, so I still lived on campus at the time. It was a Thursday that he came back then. I think that presidential elections usually bring about a general kind of high charged atmosphere, particularly in the fall when it gets close to Election Day.  But that first time that then-Senator Obama came to MSU…the atmosphere was positively electric on campus. Special police forces were called in for security and crowd control. Roads were blocked off. It was pretty much a given to most students on campus that if you didn’t have a test or quiz (or weren’t exactly…fans of the presidential candidate) then you were going to skip class to try and get a spot on the field where the rally was being set up. Heck, I even knew people that planned on voting Republican that year that were still planning on going to hear Barack Obama speak, if nothing else for the historical implications of the event. It was one of those things where “everyone” was going to go and be apart of.

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October 2nd, 2008-The day we made Obama an Honorary “Spartan for Life”

Which was why it sucked so badly that yours truly was not at the rally with everyone else seeing the man who would become the first African American man elected President of the United States speak, but instead at her job in the dorm cafeteria. Yours truly was a broke college student that couldn’t afford to take off work from either one of her three jobs at the time. So she missed her chance to see the future-President when he came to town for the first time, just like I was denied my chance to see him two days ago when he came again for the second time.

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February 7th, 2014- I’m not a member of, or family member of a member of Congress. I’m also not rich or ‘well connected’, so this is the day that I’m yet again denied the chance to see President Obama speak in person. Just saying.

It’s all good though, guys. I’m not bitter about it. Good things come in threes, so the way I figure it: the President will somehow, for some reason come back to Lansing for a third time within the next couple of years and the stars will somehow align so that I’ll be able to go and see him in person without any hindrances or obstacles- right? Of course right.

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I kinda liken this recipe to  this story in that they both feel like things that are definitely right place, but wrong time kind of things. For a long time now, I’ve had a crazy craving to have turkey and gravy with stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce. My American friends will know that these are typically foods that aren’t eaten at this type of year, but instead around November for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas.  But yeeeeeah: my tastebuds weren’t gonna wait that long to kill that craving again, so I just finally decided to roast a bird and throw the other stuff together anyway, and to heck with holiday traditions. To make things easier on myself, I did decide to just cook a turkey breast (which is my favorite part of poultry anyway). I went with the same recipe for homemade cranberry sauce that I used for Thanksgiving, and also found a very quick and easy recipe for stuffing muffins using only Stovetop mix (I’ll post it later this week) that took me literally less then five minutes to put together. It all hit the spot…then made bomb.com leftovers when I smashed them all together between two pieces of toast.

Sometimes it’s about right place, wrong time- then sometimes it’s about right place and making your own time.

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Spiced Turkey Breast

Recipe Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 (4 1/2 to 5-pound) turkey breast, on the bone, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 10 cipollini onions
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°

2. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, garlic, cumin, oregano, allspice, chili powder, brown sugar and oil.

3. Place the turkey breast in a nine by thirteen-inch roasting pan. Spread the softened butter over the top and side of the turkey, then spread the mustard mixture over the top and sides of the turkey to form a crust.

4. Add the onions, carrots, and chicken stock to the pan. Roast for 45 minutes.

5. Cover the pan loosely with foil and continue to bake for another 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 175 degrees F. Allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

6. Remove the vegetables and arrange on a serving platter. Remove the turkey and place on a cutting board.

7. Pour about 1/2 cup of the pan juices into a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the remaining pan juices. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Season the pan juices with salt and pepper and pour into a serving pitcher.

To serve, slice the turkey into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the turkey slices on the serving platter with the roasted vegetables and serve with the pan juices.

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Cranberry Sauce {Thanksgiving Recap}

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It’s the last day of our Thanksgiving Recap and I have a small confession to make: before this year I’ve never even had any kind of cranberry sauce before. We’ve always had it at our Thanksgiving Dinner in the past, it’s just that we had usually got the stuff that came in a can- you know, those gelatinous disc things? Well, those are the reason that I was never felt particularly motivated to try cranberry sauce. Whenever it came my way, I immediately passed it right on down the table without so much as taking even a little bit.

Now guys, beware. I’m about to go on a mini-rant. Maybe you’re a fan of canned cranberry sauce. Maybe your family is like mine and always serve it at Thanksgiving. That’s fine. I don’t want to step on your toes. You’re free to disagree with me. This is just my humble opinion talking here. Then again, since you’re reading my blog, that means you’re entitled to it.

To me, canned cranberry sauce looks just disgusting. Really. I don’t understand how anyone can be motivated to eat that stuff. I mean, it’s called a SAUCE. How can something with the consistency of jello, be called a sauce? Guys,when you take it out of the can, it stands up all.on.its.own! How does that not make you want to hurl? Not only that, have you ever looked at the ingredients in that stuff? High fructose corn syrup is right there at the top of the list, along with who knows what else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who screen nutrition labels like a hawk. I don’t call foods out as ‘bad’ or ‘good’. I just don’t believe in that. But if I’m gonna eat something that does have HFC in it, I want it to at least LOOK appetizing to me. If cranberry sauce looks like anything to me, I say it looks like some kind of wacky science experiment from Bill Nye the Science Guy, but definitely not something I’m supposed to want to put in my mouth. Blegh.

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Okay. Rant over. I’m cool now. Moving right along. For many years, I shunned cranberry sauce completely, but last and this year were somewhat different. I saw a lot of recipes on other blogs and in magazines featuring sandwiches made from Thanksgiving leftovers with turkey, dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce. I thought that they looked pretty good, and really wanted to try one…there was just the matter of that friggin canned cranberry sauce.

I was NOT going to use it. Nope. Wasn’t gonna happen.

However, there still remained the option of making my own…

Well, I never can turn down a challenge, so I went recipe a-hunting. One of the most popular ones for cranberry sauce that I found came from Ree Drummond, aka, The Pioneer Woman. It sounded pretty easy as well as tasty so I went ahead and saved it. Bright and early on Thanksgiving morning, when everyone else was still fast asleep and I was preparing to roast the turkeys, I also threw this together on the stove top.

Holy schnapps, guys. It was a really, really, REALLY tasty!

It only took a lick off my fingertip for me to find out that I actually LOVE homemade cranberry sauce! The maple syrup gives the sauce  an autumn, harvest-y flavor, while the citrus from the orange was a further enhancement to the tartness of the cranberries. It also made my kitchen smell really good. And best of all, the sauce is actually a SAUCE- meaning it doesn’t stand up on it’s own. It was a perfect sweet-element to complement the savory-ness of the turkey, gravy, and dressing. The combination of all those flavors may sound weird, but trust me: they WORK. I’m thrilled that I went ahead and made this. It was so worth it.

Moral of the story: canned cranberry sauce sucks. Homemade cranberry sauce is awesome. It must be a (pre)Christmas miracle… or something.

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Cranberry Sauce

Recipe Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

*One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
*1 cup cranberry juice
*1 cup pure maple syrup
*3 tablespoons orange juice
*1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Directions

1. Wash the bag of cranberries under cool water, and then throw them into a medium saucepan. Pour in the cranberry juice and maple syrup.

2. Add the orange juice and orange rind (you could also do lemon rind and lemon juice – anything citrusy). Stir together and turn the heat on high until it reaches a boil and the berries begin to pop.

3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking over the lower heat until the juice is thick, about 10 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat. Allow to cool, and then chill in the fridge until Thanksgiving dinner is ready. It should have a nice jelly-like consistency.

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