Cranberry Delights

A few years ago I graduated from cranberry sauce to cranberry relish (see brunch article 10/30). Relish was even more fresh and tart to me. Since I don’t have a sweet tooth, the tartness won me over. This year I wanted to explore fresh cranberries in more depth, since they are in season and can be found organic. My kitchen was so festive looking, I had a spritzer as I cooked. Made with mango sparkling water, Moscato, and pomegranate arils for more gorgeousness.

All three of these recipes do have a sweetener to temper the tart, so don’t fret. I love that the only sweetener in the cheese log recipe is honey. I use honey or maple syrup more these days instead of highly processed granulated sugar. The cheese log also has salty pistachios to further balance flavor. I adore the crunch from the phyllo and the creaminess from the brie in the second recipe, and the chunky crumbles on the oat bars in the last recipe. Ultimately, I love texture and the balance of several flavors to achieve total mouth satisfaction. I hope you do, too. 

I will be cooking for a family of 14 in Joplin on Thanksgiving Day. A huge orchestration! Next day I’ll be with my family of 12 in Kansas City. We are ordering for the first time from a local grocer. We don’t want to lift a finger this year. Have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, full of food, love and family, whatever form they come in!

Cranberry pistachio cheese log

Serves 10


The coating:
1 1/4 cups cranberries
1 cup shelled roasted, salted pistachios
The cheese log:
8 ounces goat cheese log or tub
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon EACH ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, dried thyme, dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cranberry pistachio coating mixture (in directions)
Drizzle of honey for garnish


Add cranberries and pistachios to your food processor and chop into small pieces (but don't over-process). Remove ½ cup and add it to a medium bowl. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Add this cheese mixture to a large piece of plastic wrap, and form into the shape of a log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Freezer for 20-30 minutes. We want the cheese log slightly firm so it holds its shape but is still soft enough for the coating to be pressed into it. 

Line counter with a large piece parchment paper. Add coating ingredients to parchment and spread into a single layer square a little larger than the length of the cheese log. Add cheese log to the edge of the coating and roll in coating until evenly coated, pressing coating into the cheese so it sticks. The cheese log can be refrigerated at this point until ready to serve or serve immediately. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator 15 minutes beforehand so it can soften. Drizzle generously with honey just before serving. Serve with crackers. 

Cranberry oatmeal crumble bars

Serves 8


The filling:

2 cups fresh cranberries

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons corn starch

The bars:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats 

Pinch kosher salt, optional and to taste


Add cranberries to a medium saucepan with high sides, orange zest, orange juice, granulated  sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often to incorporate the sugar. Once mixture   has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, add the corn starch, stir to combine, and allow mixture to simmer for about 15 minutes. While it simmers, make the bars.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. Add the butter to a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power to melt, about 1 minute. Add the sugars, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the flour, oats, optional salt, and stir to combine. Mixture will have some larger, well-formed crumble pieces as well as some sandier, dryer bits. Set 1 heaping cup mixture aside to be sprinkled on later as crumble topping.

Transfer remaining mixture to prepared pan, and using a spatula or your fingers, hard-pack the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust. Add the cranberry filling over the crust making sure there’s complete coverage but leave a 1/4-inch bare margin around the edges. Tip – The cranberry filling will burn if it’s touching the edges of the pan and will also stick like crazy.

Evenly sprinkle with the reserved heaping 1 cup crumble topping mixture. Tip – Before sprinkling, I squeeze the mixture in my palm to encourage bigger crumble pieces to form.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are set and center has just set and is lightly golden browned. Place pan on a wire rack and allow bars to cool for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

-Adapted from 

Three ingredient cranberry brie turnovers

Serves 12


1 box (2 sheets frozen phyllo pastry dough), defrosted

12 1-inch pieces brie cheese 

12 teaspoons cranberry sauce (see oatmeal bar recipe above)


Preheat the oven to 375. Unroll the defrosted dough sheets. Place one on a floured cutting board. Cut into three long pieces. Cut the long pieces in half. Do again with second sheet so you have 12 small triangles of dough. Roll one piece with a rolling pin to make it slightly thinner. Put piece of brie and teaspoon cranberry sauce onto bottom section of dough. Fold up to a triangle. Keep folding up until you run out of dough. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat 11 more times. Bake until the turnovers are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve.

Consumed while cooking. Spritzer with moscato, 
mango sparkling water, and pomegranate arils. Cheers!